I have written on these pages about unwelcome changes in the U.S. military. The affirmation of homosexual and lesbian soldiers who openly flaunt their “lifestyle” has contributed to the marginalization, and punishment, of Christian military personnel. As one recent example, the Air Force censored a video created by a chaplain, Captain Douglas Hess, because it included the word “God.” Originally posted on the YouTube channel of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, the Air Force feared that the use of the name of God in the video would offend Moslems, agnostics, and atheists. It was based upon a poem, “God Created A First Sergeant,” by Chaplain Hess, and was developed into a video with narration. First Sergeants are senior non-commissioned officers who look after enlisted airmen. The video was modeled after last year’s Super Bowl commercial titled, “God Created A Farmer” with the voiceover by the late Paul Harvey. Although the Air Force has removed the video, my readers can watch the touching video here.
In an email obtained by Fox News, the chief of the Air Force News Service Division, stated, “Proliferation of religion is not allowed in the Air Force or military. How would an Agnostic, Atheist or Muslim serving in the military take this video? I would not recommend using this at all.” He also took issue with the wording of the video. “The choice of ‘On the Eighth day’ verbiage to begin this video is highly suggestive from the book of Genesis in the Bible and has Christian overtones,” he wrote. (Score 100% on that one, Chief! Of course, it could also be that the chief is anti-Semitic as well. But I digress.)
In response to these efforts, Representative John Fleming (R-Louisiana) has proposed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (“NDAA”) that would protect the religious rights of military personnel, including Christian service members, who increasingly face growing hostility towards their faith in Jesus Christ. Representative Fleming, a member of the Armed Services Committee, stated:
The men and women who put their lives on the line to defend our freedoms should not have their own religious freedom jeopardized during their military service. . . . My amendment is necessary to ensure that men and women of faith will not be discriminated against in the Armed Forces, and will be free to exercise their religious beliefs.
Importantly, the Obama Administration “strongly objects” to Rep. Fleming’s proposed amendment, stating said the Fleming amendment would have a “significant adverse effect on good order, discipline, morale, and mission accomplishment.” Rep. Fleming responded, “This administration is aggressively hostile towards religious beliefs that it deems to be politically incorrect.” Indeed it does seem to be that way. Nevertheless, the Armed Services Committee passed Representative Fleming’s amendment on a 33 to 26 vote. However, the Obama Administration has threatened a veto of the House version of the NDAA, which might not be the wisest plan in light of Mr. Obama’s third undeclared war. The Washington Blade (self-described as “America’s Leading Gay News Source”) noted, “[The Fleming Amendment is] seen as a way for troops to harass their gay colleagues for religious reasons without fear of reprisal.” Further, Zeke Stokes, spokesperson for OutServe-SLDN, the network of LGBT active-duty military, stated, “The fact is that [the Fleming] amendment would protect inappropriate, defamatory, and discriminatory speech and actions – a significant expansion of current protections – and would leave commanders with no recourse against such prejudicial conduct when it occurs in their units.” [Emphasis added.] The Fleming amendment buttresses the First Amendment freedoms of speech and free exercise of religion because it permits speaking about one’s personal beliefs, which can only be restricted in cases of “military necessity” and only if they do “actual harm.” This is in contrast to the Obama Administration policy that prohibits expressions that “threaten,” but may not harm at all. If passed, the Fleming amendment would make it far more difficult for this Administration to punish and court-martial soldiers for sharing their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ with their colleagues.