When a Man Drafts a Woman

When a Man Drafts a Woman

September 21, 2021

When the Biden administration unveiled its new maternity flight suits this spring, a lot of people were incredulous. Why would the military waste its time on something so unnecessary? But now, with Democrats about to force women to register for the draft, it's clear: we're going to need a lot more of them.

According to Biden's party, forcing women into combat is the only path to "pure equality." Of course, the idea of parity probably sounds great until you're putting your only daughter on a bus to boot camp. That's the uncomfortable reality facing a lot of parents as the House debates the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) this week. Thanks to Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.) and a handful of Republicans, America is on the brink of a fundamental departure from the Western worldview by asking women to fight its wars.

According to Democrats, that's only fair. "The current male-only registration sends a message to women -- not only that they are not vital to the defense of the country, but also that they are not expected to participate in defending it," Houlahan argued. Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) was appalled, firing back, "We don't need to draft women in order for women to have equality in this nation. Women are of worth and of value right now -- and we are equal with men without having to pass a new law that would require 50 percent of this country, our daughters, our sisters, and our wives, to have to be drafted." The committee disagreed -- breaking with principle and public opinion to include the change in the final bill.

Obviously, four years after Barack Obama, Biden is just picking up where his old boss left off -- injecting every sick form of political correctness into our military, no matter how dangerous or unpopular. "Ground combat is barbaric..." the editors at NRO point out. "It is not a video game. It is not a movie, where young Hollywood starlets karate-kick their way through masses of inept thugs and goons. When we order women into ground combat, we are ordering them into situations where men larger and stronger than they will show no mercy." Just look at the Middle East. What parent, watching the Taliban machete and rape its way through Afghanistan, would sentence our girls -- especially unwilling ones -- to killing fields like that one? I know I won't.

And the moms and dads in the House Freedom Caucus won't either. The conservative group issued a strongly-worded statement against the bill, urging members to reject Biden's political posturing. "Voting for this NDAA would be a vote to force all women, some of whom have no interest in the military, especially in combat roles, to register for Selective Service," they wrote. "Don't force women into combat."

Of the 763 amendments under consideration, few have been as explosive as the draft. And it's not, as FRC's Lt. General (Ret.) Jerry Boykin points out, because women aren't capable. As he explains in his op-ed for the Washington Examiner, many have served their country with distinction. But it's one thing to let women choose this path and another to force them into it. As a father of three girls, I would support my daughters if they decided to serve in the military, but I will not stand by and allow the government to force them -- or any other woman -- to take up arms against their will. It's unnatural, unbiblical, and, as Hartzler insisted, unnecessary.

"This is a solution in search of a problem," she insisted. "There are adequate numbers of males... [who have already] registered for the selective service. And if there was a crisis, I feel confident that enough people would volunteer and step up to meet that crisis. And we already have women serving valiantly. Over 16 percent of our military are women who voluntarily serve, so [changing the draft] is not necessary, and I think it's very concerning."

At the end of the day, FRC's Owen Strachan has written, men and women are unique. Equal in value, yes, but different in function. "Men don't ask women to protect them," he went on. "Period. This isn't about politics; this is about the essence of manhood, honor, God." Sparing our wives and daughters from the horrors of combat isn't some rigid and oppressive attempt to stifle women; it's an informed, compassionate, practical position based on volumes of research and centuries of fighting. If we allow the woke Left to redefine gender roles on the backs of our 18-year-old girls, then America is truly lost.

The real war on women is a war of women. The House Freedom Caucus understands that. It's a shame the Biden administration and countless Democrats don't.

For more on the debate, check out "Women Should Not Be Drafted into Selective Service" by FRC's Mary Beth Waddell.

Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Keeping Tabs on Jabs

September 21, 2021

After repeatedly shooting itself in the foot for months, the Biden administration has finally lurched one step in the right direction -- and two steps in the wrong. This week Biden lifted the travel ban on most of Europe, replacing it with requirements that all foreign entrants to the U.S. must be vaccinated AND have a negative COVID test within 72 hours AND cover their nose and mask for the entire duration of the transcontinental flight.

White House coronavirus response coordinator Jeffrey Zients said, "we know vaccines are effective including against the delta variant, and vaccines are the best line of defense against COVID." Great! So it's entirely unnecessary for fully vaccinated individuals to take a COVID test or wear a mask on the plane, right? ... Right? Given the overwhelming evidence proving the efficacy of multiple vaccines (a stunning scientific achievement), the White House can't believe the vaccine is ineffective; they must believe the American public can't be trusted to make the simplest of logical inferences.

Zients followed that sentence with one more telling: "so this vaccination requirement of course is the best tool we have in our arsenal to keep people safe and prevent the spread of the virus." What about leading by example, sincere persuasion, cooperating with private partners? Our government is staffed by people who believe "of course" a government mandate is the only way to accomplish something.

Until recently, the Biden administration insisted on maintaining the travel restrictions, even after the E.U. overtook the U.S. in vaccinations this summer, angering U.S. allies in the process. Yet a State Department spokeswoman insisted replacing the travel ban with a vaccine passport was "driven by the science." White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki agreed, "If we were going to make things much easier for ourselves, we would have [lifted the travel ban] ... earlier this summer." If science drove the change, what took so long? Efficacy of the vaccines, the Delta variant wreaking havoc among the unvaccinated, and vaccination rates in Europe and the U.S. haven't changed since the summer.

Unfortunately, observers of the Biden administration have come to expect that "science-driven" is a euphemism for "politically expedient." In recent weeks, the Biden administration has announced plans to unilaterally mandate vaccines for all federal and military employees, all federal contractors, and all private employers with at least 100 employees. President Biden has made it clear he plans to vaccinate everyone in America except for those illegally swarming across the southern border. There are fears that instituting a vaccine passport for foreign air travelers may be a preparatory step to instituting a vaccine passport on domestic flights.

"We have not yet gotten to the point of requiring vaccinations on domestic flights, but everything is on the table. We consider these things literally on a daily basis," said Fauci. Zients agreed, "we're not taking any measures off the table." It's unclear how big this table is, but here's a suggestion they should consider daily: end the comical mandates forcing vaccinated individuals to wear masks everywhere. Perhaps then Americans will believe their claims about vaccine efficacy. Instead, the Biden administration decided to double the fine for refusing to wear a mask on an airplane: "We clearly have a track record that shows we're pulling available levers to require vaccinations," added Zients -- and some unavailable, unconstitutional levers, too.

Indeed, the Biden administration is grasping at straws now, as Biden's approval sinks to 31 percent in a new poll of Iowa voters, so it's not a surprise they found the unconstitutional levers tempting. Biden promised to end the COVID pandemic, but it might just end him.

Military, Religion, and Vaccine Mandates

September 21, 2021

Under the Biden administration, the armed forces have been aggressively pushing soldiers to get the COVID vaccine or face the consequences. The new rules threaten to harm military retention and recruitment. For Christians, vaccine mandates pose a host of complex questions and conscience concerns. Monday, First Liberty Institute attorney and Marine Corps reservist Mike Berry joined Tony Perkins on "Washington Watch" to discuss the military's recent efforts to force service members to get vaccinated.

Tony Perkins: All branches of the U.S. military have set deadlines for service members to get the COVID vaccine. Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps active-duty service members have deadlines in November. Last week, the U.S. Army announced that active-duty soldiers have until December 15th to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Those who do not get the COVID shot could face a possible discharge from the military. For those seeking waivers to avoid immunization, there are essentially two options -- medical or religious exemptions. But some have been reportedly told that pursuing religious exemptions would be futile... Let's start with this. Is it futile for members of the military to seek a religious exemption from the vaccine?

Mike Berry: Absolutely not. Federal law, regulations, the Constitution... they all protect the right of service members to request religious exemptions from this vaccine mandate and any military official, any commanding officer or anyone in the chain of command who tries to say otherwise is simply not telling the truth. And I suspect that many of them are, whether wittingly or unwittingly, misleading their troops...

TP: Now, Mike, last week, the military said that the request for religious exemptions was going to be sent to the chaplains, if I understand correctly. And that was going to be based upon denominational positions on the vaccine. But the reality is, you know, the denominations haven't taken issues on the vaccine themselves. This is more of an individual religious liberty issue, is it not?

MB: That's absolutely right. And again, any military commander or person in a position of authority who tries to do that and by that, I mean tries to direct a service member or coerce or compel them to speak to a particular chaplain of a denomination or to provide some sort of denominational position is playing a very dangerous constitutional game. Because not only does the law not require that in many instances; the law forbids government officials from forcing or compelling service members to essentially prove the legitimacy or validity of their religious beliefs. And one of the things First Liberty has been advising service members of for four weeks now is the only thing you have to establish as the service member is sincerity. Your belief just has to be sincere. It doesn't even have to be reasonable in the eyes of somebody else as long as it is sincere. Then the burden shifts to the government. The government now has to carry the water, not you. And so that's why I say that these commanders and other officials are playing a very dangerous constitutional game.

TP: So, Mike Berry, we have a lot of members of the military that listen to our program, and I've actually been in communication with some who have emailed me about this concern. What do they need to do? How can they find out more about their rights, in terms of exerting a religious exemption? And where might they find legal help?

MB: At First Liberty, we've been experiencing the same thing, hundreds, I mean, thousands of people nationwide across all sectors of society and hundreds who are in the military, whether they're active duty or reserve, they're being harassed, they're being intimidated, they're experiencing all sorts of hostility. So what we did is we created a... COVID vaccine toolkit... It explains the law regarding vaccine mandates. There's an entire section devoted to service members and what service members can do... There is an entire section devoted to the military with a template that service members can use to fill out that will essentially enable them to submit a religious exemption request. And what we're telling folks, is we can't represent everybody who wants to submit a religious exemption request. But if your request is denied, send it to us at FirstLiberty.org. We can review it and evaluate it and determine whether or not the request was denied properly or improperly, and if it was denied improperly, let's look at whether or not we should appeal that.

TP: Mike, what has been your experience thus far with those making the religious liberty exemption claim?

MB: Unfortunately, so far, Tony, it's just as you described at the beginning of our segment, which is they've been experiencing a lot of hostility and a lot of subtle and sometimes not so subtle coercion and commanders have been telling them, you can submit this request, but it's an exercise in futility because I'm not going to grant it or the military is not going to grant it. I mean, in one instance, an officer who's at the U.S. Naval Academy told me that every person at the Naval Academy in the faculty and staff who is not vaccinated was told they had to report zero eight hundred in the morning. They were all rounded up in a room. They were given one last chance to get vaccinated and if they weren't, then they were told, well, you can submit a medical exemption request or religious exemption request, but we're telling you we are not going to favorably recommend that you get the exemption. And we believe the Navy will deny all of them... What I'm telling people is, look, there will be some that get denied... We understand that that's the way that the law works. Not every request for exemption is going to be granted, but the number can't be zero. And thus far it's been zero, and that's a legal impossibility and it defies logic.

TP: Well, Mike Berry, we're going to encourage those that want to take this stand and exert this freedom to [contact] you if they need help, because you certainly will stand with them. Mike Berry, always great to talk with you. Thanks so much for being with us today.

**To read more from Mike Berry, see his piece "The Military Vaccine Mandate and the Right to Religious Accommodation."