Protecting our first freedoms:
Faith, conscience and speech

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What Happened to Colonel Who Didn't Want to Praise an Airman's Same-Sex Marriage

The Daily Signal commentary by Tony Perkins

November 16, 2017

"“His career is likely over,” First Liberty Institute’s Michael Berry told Fox News’ Todd Starnes, “and he will likely have to retire as a colonel instead of a general.” Berry, who’s representing Bohannon in the case, could only shake his head. “This sends a clear message—if you do not have the politically correct viewpoint, you are not welcome in the military. The military is no longer a place of diversity and inclusion if you are a person who holds to a traditional belief on marriage.” ... 

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Will Anti-Religious Military Policies Under Obama Change With Trump, Mattis?

The Stream

November 3, 2017

"Spiritual fitness is just as important as physical fitness in the military, says First Liberty's Deputy General Counsel and Director of Military Affairs. Religious hostility in the military is nothing new. But we’re seeing more of it, said First Liberty Institute’s Deputy General Counsel and Director of Military Affairs Mike Berry. In an interview with The Stream, Berry said he hopes that this will change under President Trump and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. “This shouldn’t be something novel or new, this concept of promoting religious freedom within the military,” Berry explained. The Congress that established the Continental Army expected we would have “a healthy respect and promotion of religious freedom.” That has continued through the years. Religious freedom attacks have been rejected because the nation and its leaders understood that troops should be spiritually fit as they were physically fit. He believes we’ve lost sight of that in recent years. "

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Transgender Americans Won't Be Allowed to Serve in Military, Trump Announces

The Daily Signal

July 28, 2017

"President Donald Trump announced Wednesday morning that the U.S. military will not accept openly transgender individuals, reversing an Obama administration policy directive. Earlier this month, Defense Secretary James Mattis had said he would delay new admissions of openly transgender Americans into the military until Jan. 1, on the advice of military brass. But Trump’s announcement appeared to seal the matter, at least for the time being."

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House Conservatives Try Again to Block Funding for Transgender Treatments in Military

The Daily Signal

July 26, 2017

"Some House Republicans are taking another shot at blocking funding for gender transition surgeries in the military, projected to cost about $3.7 billion over the next decade. Earlier this month, 23 House Republicans joined Democrats to defeat an amendment by Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., to block the funding for transgender treatments in the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA. The NDAA sets priorities for military spending."

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Chaplains to Army: Cease training that assaults biblical beliefs

Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty

April 1, 2017

Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty has sent a letter to the acting Secretary of the Army regarding the outgoing Secretary of the Army's decision to sign a directive just hours before his resignation that wastes valuable resources on a plan to provide "training on implicit or unconscious bias." "The military exists to protect our nation, not to be used as a laboratory for social engineering-and especially not from an outgoing official's 11th hour order," said Chaplain (COL) Ron Crews, USA (Retired), executive director of Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty. "This directive does nothing to increase military readiness but wastes valuable training time just to promote a political agenda." Pub. 3/27/17

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Freedom of Conscience on Hacksaw Ridge

Breakpoint radio commentary by Eric Metaxas

November 28, 2016

And now there's an amazing, powerful film about one man who was willing to give his life, but whose conscience and deeply held religious beliefs would not allow him to take the lives of others. Mel Gibson's new movie, "Hacksaw Ridge," tells the story of Desmond Doss, a Seventh Day Adventist from the hills of Virginia, who enlisted in the Army with the understanding he could serve as a medic-and therefore not violate his firm belief in "thou shalt not kill." Times in which florists and bakers are being hauled before civil rights commissions, being fined, losing their businesses; times in which pharmacists in Washington State can lose their licenses for refusing to dispense abortion pills; times in which churches in Massachusetts can run afoul of "public accommodation" laws requiring gender neutral bathrooms-we do indeed have a model in Desmond Doss.

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Obama Threatens to Veto Military Bill Because It Protects Religious Groups

Daily Signal commentary by Roger Severino and Melanie Israel

October 27, 2016

Included in the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act is an amendment offered by Rep. Steve Russell, R-Okla., that applies decades-old religious exemptions from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (1964) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) to federal grants and contracts. The Russell Amendment is sound policy that will prevent the administration from stripping contracts and grants from faith-based social service providers whose internal staffing policies reflect their faith. Jewish day schools and Catholic adoption centers, for example, are not liable under Title VII for being authentically Jewish or Catholic, and their staffing policies shouldn't disqualify them from federal grants and contracts either. But Obama's veto threat is actually the strongest proof of why the Russell Amendment is needed.

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Protect Your Military Chaplains from a Bully

FRC blog by Chris Gacek

September 2, 2016

In attendance were several uniformed military chaplains. They included the Chief of Chaplains of the Air Force, Maj. Gen. (Chaplain) Dondi Costin, who delivered a benediction while in uniform. Several members of the House and one United States Senator were also in attendance. This allowed anti-Christian activist "Mikey" Weinstein an opportunity to attack Maj. Gen Costin and two other chaplains for their participation in the event by filing a complaint with the Inspector General of the Department of Defense, Glenn Fine. With typically histrionic and excessive rhetoric, Weinstein asked that all three be formally disciplined. Weinstein presents a pretext for attacking Rep. Forbes and the event based on the Congressman's opposition to the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and his orthodox Christian beliefs about sexuality and marriage. Given Weinstein's longstanding track record of anti-Christian animus, his raising of LGBT issues is mere window-dressing.

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Air Force rules officer can keep Bible on desk

Washington Times

August 18, 2016

The Air Force has ruled an officer broke no rules by keeping his Bible on his desk after receiving a complaint last week about the presence of the holy book. The Scriptures had been removed from the workstation of Maj. Steve Lewis of the 310th Space Wing, following a complaint from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), alleging the presence of the book violated the First Amendment's establishment clause. But an investigation into the incident found "no abuse of liberties has occurred," said Lt. Col. David Fruck, chief of public affairs at the 310th Space Wing. Mr. Fruck said keeping a Bible on one's desk is "well within the provisions" of Air Force regulations regarding religious expression.

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U.S. Marine court-martialed for refusing to remove Bible verse in her workspace

First Liberty

August 10, 2016

United States Marine Corps Lance Corporal (LCpl) Monifa Sterling was court-martialed after she refused to take down Bible verses she had posted in her workspace and for reposting the verses after her supervisor threw them in the trash. A trial court ruled against Sterling, giving her a bad conduct discharge and reducing her rank. Sterling appealed to the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals, but the appeals court also ruled against her. First Liberty Institute stepped in and appealed Sterling's case to the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF)- the highest military court. On August 10, 2016, the CAAF ruled against Sterling, denying her constitutional right to religious freedom. First Liberty announced they will appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Pentagon issues sex change manual, allows extended time off for process

Washington Times

July 14, 2016

n announcing his intention to remove the ban on transgender personnel, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter last year said the rules were "outdated and are causing uncertainty that distracts commanders from our core missions." Robert Maginnis, a retired Army officer who has opposed President Obama's policy of gays in the military and women in land combat, said Mr. Carter is "delusional if he believes our military needs transgenders/transsexuals to remain the ‘finest fighting force in the world.' Transsexuals suffer from more psychiatric pathologies than the general population, and active suicide ideation and major depression episodes occur more frequently within this group," Mr. Maginnis said. "Creating a bureaucracy to sort out transgender issues will go down in the history of our armed forces as the worst waste of defense dollars ever.

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Five Things You Need to Know About DoD's New Gender Identity Polic

Daily Signal commentary by Daniel Briggs

July 6, 2016

Last week, the Department of Defense ended its recognition of service members' biology and supplanted it with a radical ideology pushed by the Obama administration. As other commentators pointed out recently (here and here), there is no military justification for this move. 1. Military medical providers' religious freedom, freedom of conscience, and professional discretion are threatened. 2. According to the new policy, discrimination based on gender identity is a form of sex discrimination. 3. The accommodation language means...what, exactly? 4. Standards are now anything but standard. 5. The Department of Defense looked beyond our borders for justification.

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U.S. Marine court-martialed for refusing to remove Bible verse in her workspace

First Liberty

March 15, 2016

United States Marine Corps Lance Corporal (LCpl) Monifa Sterling was court-martialed after she refused to take down Bible verses she had posted in her workspace and reposted the verses after her supervisor threw them in the trash. A trial court ruled against Sterling, giving her a bad conduct discharge and reducing her rank. Sterling appealed to the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals, but the appeals court also ruled against her. First Liberty Institute stepped in and filed a petition with the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF)-which is the highest military court and whose cases are subject to review by the U.S. Supreme Court-asking the court to hear Sterling's case and protect her religious liberty rights. In October 2015, the CAAF accepted the case and it is expected to be heard in 2016.

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U.S. military health officer draws complaint for writing blog post promoting prayer

Christianity Today

January 14, 2016

"If you desire to improve your health in this new year, just give yourself a little something to work with. During my grandfather's story he said, 'A person can't pray for a new job and expect to get it when they haven't even filled out an application. You have to give God a little something to work with,'" he added. However, Col. Thomas Hundley's post was met not with approval but rejection by the activist group Military Religious Freedom Foundation headed by Mikey Weinstein, who filed a complaint about it with the Army Regional Health Command in Virginia, according to

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Navy forces chaplain to choose between faith and job


March 17, 2015

Five months ago the Navy called him the "best of the best." But now, Chaplain Wes Modder could be kicked out of the military over issues of intolerance and insensitivity to other cultures. Lt. Cmdr. Modder has been accused of failing to show "tolerance and respect" in private counseling sessions regarding issues pertaining to faith marriage and sexuality - including homosexuality. On March 16 the Navy rejected Modder's claim that he was being singled out because of his Christian faith. LTG (Ret.) Jerry Boykin, who now serves as executive vice president at the Family Research Council, said a chaplain isn’t worth anything if he isn’t allowed to minister and counsel according to his faith. "The Navy has to decide whether it wants a chaplain corps or social workers only.”

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Former SEALs chaplain could be kicked out of Navy for Christian beliefs


March 9, 2015

Michael Berry, a military veteran and attorney with Liberty Institute a law firm that specializes in religious liberty cases is representing Modder. "We are starting to see cases where chaplains have targets on their backs," Berry said. "They have to ask themselves, ‘Do I stay true to my faith or do I keep my job?' They want chaplains to be glorified summer camp counselors and not speak truth and love into people's lives. There are some anti-religious elements in our military. Anytime somebody wants to live their faith out - there are people who say that is offensive."

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U.S. Navy Removes Bibles from Hotel Guest Rooms

Citizen Link

August 12, 2014

"It's tiresome to see senior military leaders needlessly cave in to activist groups offended by anything Christian," said Chaplain Ron Crews, executive director of the group. "A Bible in a hotel room is no more illegal than a chaplain in the military. They are there for those who want them."

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Groups push military for more religious liberty

Washington Times commentary by Gary Bauer

May 28, 2014

U.S. troops are fighting to defend the First Amendment but are not being allowed to fully exercise it, a member of the House Committee on Armed Services said Wednesday. Rep. John Fleming, Louisiana Republican, criticized the military for appearing "zealous to shut down expressions of faith. This is our military telling service members to raise their hands and ask permission before they dare to utter an expression of faith," Mr. Fleming said during a speech at the Family Research Council.

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Pentagon rules under scrutiny by religious rights proponents

Washington Times

February 1, 2014

"Overall, we're very optimistic with caution," said Elaine Donnelly, who heads the Center for Military Readiness. "If you really look at it, the accommodation is there to protect religious liberty. Religious expression, counseling and ministry are very, very important, and can and should be accommodated in the armed forces." The issue received an airing on Capitol Hill on Wednesday when members of a House Armed Services subcommittee on military personnel issues closely questioned Pentagon officials over reports that military chaplains were facing bias and restrictions for their beliefs on issues such as same-sex marriage.

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