Anyone who knows me knows that for my whole life I’ve been a huge supporter of our U.S. military personnel, who I too congratulate about their victory in Iraq. But when our president and officials in the U.S. Department of Defense exchange a war abroad for a religious war at home, can’t we see something else is seriously awry in this administration?
It’s one thing to watch “Merry Christmas” be omitted from signs in your favorite department store, but quite another to see Bibles withheld from wounded warriors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, or WRMC. It’s true! On Dec. 2, Tony Perkins and the Family Resource Council, or FRC, reported that it discovered a September memo released at the esteemed military hospital, in which Navy officials announced that “no religious items (including Bibles, reading material, and/or artifacts) are allowed to be given away or used during a visit.”
Thank God for those in the FRC as well as Rep. Randy Forbes and other members from the Congressional Prayer Caucus, who demanded to meet with WRMC and Naval officials about the matter. Just a few days ago, Vice Admiral John Mateczun confessed that the memo had not been properly evaluated and was being rescinded, and the WRMC posted a public apology on its website.
But imagine if the FRC had not found this memo. Imagine how many others like it aren’t found and circulated around the federal government alone?
If you think this is an isolated circumstance, consider in the last six months alone the following dozen-plus examples reported by the FRC, Rep. Forbes office, and a few of my own I found, which document how religious freedom and Christian liberty in particular have been limited, quarantined, omitted, or outright obliterated.
- The Air Force Academy apologized for merely announcing Operation Christmas Child – a Christian-based charity and relief program designed to send holiday gifts to impoverished children around the world (November 2011).
- The Air Force is building an $80,000 Stonehenge-like worship site for “earth based” religions, including “pagans, Wiccans, druids, witches, and followers of Native American faiths” (November 2011).
- The Marine Corps consider tearing down a Camp Pendleton cross meant to honor fallen heroes (November 2011).
- Air Force officials strip religious curriculum from a 20-year-old course on “just war theory” (September 2011).
- The Department of Veterans Affairs censors references to God and Jesus during prayers at Houston National Cemetery (June 2011).
- Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate has passed the $662 billion 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which includes a repeal of Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice that states: “Any person subject to this chapter who engages in unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex or with an animal is guilty of sodomy” (December 2011).
- Health and Human Services unveils new health-care rules that ignore basic conscience protections for medical workers with faith-based objections to abortion and contraception (August 2011).
- Officials at Health and Human Services denied funding for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ successful program for sex trafficking victims because of the church’s teaching on human life (November 2011).
- Administration officials refuse to intervene in the closing of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (December 2011).
- President Obama lobbies for the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which tramples on the faith of employers in hiring, firing, and promotion decisions (October 2011).
- The Pentagon releases new regulations, forcing chaplains to perform same-sex “weddings” despite their religious objections (September 2011).
- Secretary Hillary Clinton demonizes other countries’ religious beliefs as an obstacle to radical homosexual rights (December 2011).
- Just last week, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation sent a letter to officials at Travis Air Force Base demanding the removal or transfer of a nativity scene and a menorah that are part of a larger holiday display on the base (December 2011).
Of course, the mainstream media have barely touched the fray of any of these stories about the U.S. military trampling on religion and religious rights. But do you think they would have reported them if the faith and practice being restricted was Islam?
What is going on in the U.S. military? We invest billions of dollars to protect our troops’ physical wellbeing and then dash to the wind their First Amendment rights? What is so difficult about the feds understanding the Free Exercise clause, in which they “… shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”?
And how many of these religious perversions are direct results of President Obama being in office? They are in fact a fulfillment of Obama’s progressive plan and promises made during his first run for the Oval Office, trickling down from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to Capitol Hill and the Pentagon.
And if these religious restrictions occurred in the last six months, imagine what will happen in another four years if Obama is re-elected? Our service men and women, as well as our devoted military Christian chaplains, deserve better.
Gone are the days when a commander in chief rallies the troops with a religious presidential call, like when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared in his Christmas address to the nation on Dec. 24, 1944 (the first Christmas after D-Day): “Here, at home, we will celebrate this Christmas Day in our traditional American way – because of its deep spiritual meaning to us; because the teachings of Christ are fundamental in our lives; and because we want our youngest generation to grow up knowing the significance of this tradition and the story of the coming of the immortal Prince of Peace and Good Will. [FDR then prayed for the troops] We pray that with victory will come a new day of peace on earth in which all the Nations of the earth will join together for all time. That is the spirit of Christmas, the holy day. May that spirit live and grow throughout the world in all the years to come.” (Also watch the YouTube video of Reagan’s Christmas greeting to the nation on Dec. 23, 1981.)
In many respects, we need to turn back the clock in America to our founding principles, values and liberties, and those include the intricate and pivotal role that religion and Christianity played in our early republic. It is not time to flee religious liberties but re-embrace them, especially during this sacred Christmas week. I’ll do just that in Part 2 when I specifically share with you the beliefs I know can restore our homes and country.
Until then, we would do well to carry out, and our leaders would do well to mimic, the passions and call of the leader of the Continental Army, General George Washington, who stated in his Farewell Address as president: “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens.”
(As a way to promote patriotism and continued concern for our military, my wife, Gena, and I are inviting everyone to join us on Jan. 7, 2012, for the premier of the documentary, “Answering the Call,” about my trips to Iraq to encourage the troops. You can get tickets via KickStartKids.org. I also encourage participation in care packages for our troops via Give2TheTroops.org and as we recently did via Operation Patriot Care Package III to those in Afghanistan, mission excerpts of which will be aired on “The Sean Hannity Show” on the Fox network this Friday, Dec. 23, and posted at PatriotCarePackage.com.)