Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. FFRF.org

John Compere: The war on military religious freedom

Vol. 36 No. 08 October 2019
John Compere                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

By John Compere

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here is a wicked and wanton war disrespecting, disparaging and denying the American constitutional right to religious freedom for the men and women serving our country.

The U.S. Constitution prohibits our government or its representatives (which includes the military) from promoting or endorsing a religion. The Supreme Court has continuously confirmed this constitutional prohibition as the law of our land. U.S. Armed Forces regulations also prohibit the military from promoting or endorsing a religion.

The secular military mission is to defend our nation against enemies (not promote or endorse a religion). The secular sworn service oath is to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution (not to a deity or a religion). The military is nonreligious by law, regulation, custom and necessity (neither anti-religion nor pro-religion).

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides our historic trinity of religious liberties — (1) freedom from religion, (2) freedom of any religion or no religion, and (3) freedom for religious speech. It prohibits our government from lawfully “respecting” a religion. These freedoms cannot deny or disparage others retained by the people (Ninth Amendment).

Like our diverse nation, the military is composed of individuals with many religious and nonreligious beliefs. There is no belief uniformity. There are 10,000 distinct world religions and American Christianities alone comprise more than 2,000 vastly different versions. The Department of Defense recognizes religious diversity with its official list currently including 221 different belief groups for the military. Its 2010 survey showed that more than one-third of its members are not Christians.

Like all Americans, military members desire and deserve the right to determine, enjoy and practice their own religious or nonreligious beliefs. They do not want the religious beliefs of others, especially superiors, imposed on them in the military workplace while they are performing military duties. Military chapels provide places for religious worship and military chaplains provide religious instruction. Any military member refusing to obey the Constitution, military regulations and sworn service oath may choose a civilian career.

Self-righteous Christians demand their right to religious freedom but do not respect the same right for others. They presumptuously proselytize their uninvited and unwanted religious beliefs on others, especially subordinates, in the military workplace, interfering with military mission and duty. Their disruptive distractions adversely affect military morale and efficiency. Prompt and proper prevention occurs when military leaders demonstrate intelligence, integrity and insistence on compliance with the law, regulations and the service oath.

Over 61,000 military men and women (95 percent of whom are Christian) have complained and requested their right to religious freedom, to which all Americans are entitled under our Constitution, be respected and protected. They are fortunate the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit constitutional rights organization dedicated to ensuring military members have the right to religious freedom, exists to respond to their requests for representation. Its motto is “Fighting for our service members’ rights, so they can fight for ours.” (www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org)

As a result of its advocacy, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize seven times.

Also, as a result of this advocacy, it regularly receives hate mail (from those claiming to be Christians) acrimoniously attacking the representation of their fellow Americans. These radicalized religionists contemptuously contend only those who share their particular religious beliefs are entitled to religious freedom. Their bigotry is exceeded only by their hypocrisy.

FFRF Member John Compere of Texas is a retired brigadier general in the U.S. Army and member of Disabled American Veterans.