Congressman Explains Military Religious Freedom Bill
On FoxNews (video), US Rep John Fleming (R-La) said the NDAA clause the House passed and the Senate cleared through the Armed Services committee says that:
…military members are fully entitled to express their faith, as long as it is within certain confines, which would be military readiness, good order and discipline, military necessity, and of course without any coercion to others, and for some reason, the [Obama] administration has been against that.
That’s what Michael Weinstein calls a “nasty amendment” that is a “license to kill?” On its face, it is a preeminent and explicit protection of constitutional liberty. If “religious liberty” is one’s objective, one should clearly support such legislation that broadly protects the liberty of all faiths. Then again, if you believe, as Michael Weinstein does, that only certain religious beliefs (the “right” kind, by his definitions) are worthy of religious liberty, then you might oppose this legislation. While your opposition might negatively impact all religious liberty in the US military, at least you might be able to prevent the “wrong” religions from being expressed by US troops. Interestingly, Rep Fleming indicates he doesn’t think the law should even be necessary:
The current language, I think, is somewhat adequate, but it is a little bit vague and is not being properly enforced.
In other words, Rep Fleming believes these protections are already in the law, but that is not how the Executive branch is applying the law. In point of fact, the President essentially dismissed the language last year in a signing statement, and again this year opposed it, which led Rep Louie Gohmert (R-Tx) to say
It seems like the only group that it is politically correct to be intolerant of are Christians.
The DoD recently said they would finally promulgate regulations implementing last year’s NDAA provisions, as they are required by the law, this October.
As an aside, the reports mark an interesting contrast in the portrayal of the legislation. While FoxNews frames it as a religious liberty issues, CNN went out of its way to say, without attribution,
In effect, a proposed amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, would limit a military officer’s possibilities when addressing proselytizing by troops or other activities that could lead to religious run-ins.
CNN’s statement is true only if such “proselytizing” or “run-ins” had no effect on “good order and discipline,” which is what the current policies already reportedly are, anyway.