WASHINGTON, D.C. - July 9, Family Research Council (FRC), a coalition of groups concerned about religious liberty, and Members of Congress, participated in a Capitol Hill news conference urging support for Rep. John Fleming's (R-LA) military religious freedom amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. The amendment protects the right of servicemembers to not only hold religious beliefs but to act on them and speak about them. The House Armed Services Committee adopted the amendment last month to address growing religious hostility within the military. Rep. Fleming's amendment has found bipartisan support in the House, but the Obama administration issued a statement expressing strong opposition to the amendment. A similar amendment by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) passed the Senate Armed Services Committee with broad bipartisan support.
FRC released a new report at the press conference documenting incidents of hostility toward religious expression in the military.
In April, religious liberty concerns were heightened after anti-Christian activist Mikey Weinstein met with senior Air Force officials at the Pentagon and pressed for the court-martial of Christian servicemembers who share their faith. More than 170,000 Americans signed petitions calling on Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to protect the religious liberties of military personnel through policies that guarantee those liberties. Concerns among the American public increased following a Rear Admiral's speech at a National Day of Prayer event in which he recounted a story of his decision to violate military rules preventing him from giving a Bible to a soldier who had attempted suicide.
Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry Boykin, executive vice president of FRC, outlined the purpose of the news conference:
"We will stand with servicemembers who wish to exercise their First Amendment rights of religious liberty. We will encourage legislation to protect the religious liberty of military members, and we will do all we can to inform the American public about the attacks on religious liberty in the military. We must do all we can to ensure that our servicemembers have the right to practice the very freedoms that they risk their lives to defend."
Tony Perkins, president, Family Research Council
Rep. John Fleming (R-LA)
Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK)
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX)
Ron Crews, Ch. (Col.) USAR (Ret.), executive director, Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty
Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry Boykin, executive vice president, Family Research Council
Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., president, Center for Security Policy
Christian Robey, political director, Media Research Center
Mark Trammell, Esq., legal director, Liberty Counsel Action
Ken Klukowski, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council
Tommy Sears, executive director, Center for Military Readiness
WHAT: News Conference on Military Religious Freedom Amendment; release of new report on religious hostility in the military
WHERE: The House Triangle
WHEN: 11:30 a.m. Eastern, July 9
Coalition members supporting this effort include:
Tim Wildmon, president, American Family Association
Tom Fitton, president, Judicial Watch
Mat Staver, founder and chairman, Liberty Counsel
Gary L. Bauer, president, American Values
Sandy Rios, radio host, Sandy Rios in the Morning
Paul Caprio, director, Family-Pac
Elaine Donnelly, president, Center for Military Readiness
Arthur A. Schulcz, counsel, International Conference of Evangelical Chaplain Endorsers
Ken Blackwell, chairman, Ohio Faith and Freedom Coalition