Congressman Jim Bridenstine and Others Form Coalition to Support Religious Freedom in the Military
Congressman Jim Bridenstine (OK-1) joined with Congressman John Fleming (LA), Tony Perkins of Family Research Council, and others to announce that they have formed a coalition concerned with addressing the growing religious hostility within the military. The House of Representatives adopted a military religious freedom amendment last month as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. A similar bill has been introduced in the Senate. Both received broad bipartisan support, but the Obama Administration issued a statement expressing strong opposition to the amendment.
At the press conference Tuesday announcing the coalition, Bridenstine referenced the first President, “Today is the 237th anniversary of General George Washington’s general order establishing the Chaplaincy. In that general order, he stated, ‘The blessing and protection of Heaven are at all times necessary but especially so in times of public distress and danger --The General hopes and trusts, that every officer and man, will endeavor so to live, and act as becomes a Christian Soldier defending the dearest Rights and Liberties of his country.’
“Unlike General George Washington, nobody here is suggesting that every soldier be Christian or that every soldier live and act like Christians. But we are suggesting that the President allow Christian soldiers to have the right to live and act like Christians…or whatever faith.”
Congressman Bridenstine said he has seen a culture of silence develop from a fear of retribution for speaking out against the politically correct standards currently enforced in the U.S. military. He cited the tragedy at Fort Hood as an example: “On November 5, 2009 we all witnessed the consequences of a military culture too focused on political correctness and not on good order, discipline, and common sense. On that day, Major Nidal Hassan allegedly massacred 13 and wounded 29 at Fort Hood, Texas. Hassan’s superiors were aware of his extremist views. He certainly did not keep them private and even made PowerPoint presentations detailing them. Everyone knew Major Hassan was a ticking time bomb, but no one wanted to say anything. It is clear that fear of retribution – of being labeled ‘intolerant’ – contributed to the culture of silence. 10 minutes of terror. 13 people dead. 29 wounded. These are the hideous, but entirely predictable consequences, of political correctness in the military.”
In closing, Bridenstine quoted two presidents. “In 1778, General George Washington said that ‘purity of morals were highly conducive to order, subordination, and success in an army’.
“To the contrary, President Obama issued a statement that our religious liberty amendment would have ‘significant adverse effects on good order, discipline, morale, and mission accomplishment.’ I think President Washington was a little more qualified to discuss military morale than our current President.
“I am honored to stand with these men and women today in defense of religious liberties in the military, but I think there is another important message today. Whatever the President does or does not write in a signing statement about the so-called “adverse effects” of religious liberties in the military, it will not be able to smother the love of God which burns so brightly in the hearts of most of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines.”
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