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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Family Research Council (FRC) Executive Vice President Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry Boykin submitted a written statement to the U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee today. His comments were related to a hearing held by the Military Personnel subcommittee regarding "Religious Accommodations in the Armed Services."
The hearing was the first opportunity Members of Congress had to question the Department of Defense (DOD) publicly about the issue. During the hearing, Subcommittee Chairman Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) recognized the need for additional hearings in coming months to assess DOD policies and to ensure that service members can exercise and express their faith.
In his statement, Gen. Boykin made the following comments:
"A growing trend in the military reveals a remarkable disregard for what have been assumed as basic religious liberties of service members in the past. The Family Research Council (FRC), as a non-profit organization dedicated to the defense of the family, faith, and freedom, has grown increasingly concerned as military chaplains and service members share their stories of career reprisals, discriminatory and retaliatory actions, and muzzling of speech all occurring because of particular religious beliefs that others have decided to no longer respect or tolerate."
Gen. Boykin said of the new DOD instruction on religious liberties:
"Though cautiously optimistic that DOD has taken an initial step to comply with the law, FRC remains concerned with the need for further implementing regulations and further interpretation from the military departments."
"Continued instances of discrimination and retaliation against members of the military for speaking about, sharing, or explaining their faith cannot be tolerated in a free society. Careful phrasing in regulations, while necessary, only goes so far. Unless the new policies required by [recent defense authorization bills] are backed by action that is faithful to Congress' legislative intent, those policies will remain empty words on a piece of paper."
Gen. Boykin was one of the original members and former commander of the U.S. Army's Delta Force. During his 36 years in the Army, Gen. Boykin commanded the Army's Green Berets and the Special Warfare Center and School, and served as the Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence.
To read FRC's comprehensive study of religious liberty violations in the military, "A Clear and Present Danger: The Threat to Religious Liberty in the Military," click here: http://frc.org/clearpresentdanger