Pennsylvania National Guard Discriminated against Trail Life USA
After researching the organization online, it was quickly discovered that the organization restricted membership to certain persons. Army values and policy prevent discrimination against gender or sexual orientation within our ranks, which in turn led to the first-level reviewer denying the request.
The Army does have that policy, but that’s not how it’s meant to be applied — as is evidenced by how many religiously-related groups with which the Army interacts.
Disturbed at the apparent discrimination against the group, they called on First Liberty Institute and the Independence Law Center. They wrote letters to the National Guard, which, according to the Guard, was the first time the leadership had heard about it:
It was not until after receiving the letter from the group’s attorneys that the issue was raised to the appropriate level for a legal and full staff review. There, it was determined that granting a tour to the organization would not violate policy and should be permitted. The decision has been reversed and the tour is being granted.
Granting the benefit of the doubt, it would appear an overzealous ‘first level reviewer’ denied the request and never consulted their chain of command. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that a person would sincerely try to fairly apply policies and misunderstand them. Once the legal letters showed up, the chain was informed and overturned the incorrect decision. The ‘first level reviewer’ should still be counseled.
Alternatively, it could be that the first level reviewer wasn’t overzealous, but rather seized upon an opportunity to put the screws to a religious group out of animus. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that ‘first level reviewers’ let their personal attitudes influence what is supposed to be official policy, and such attitudes have become socially popular in recent years.
Now, it seems, the local unit understands the proper, tolerant, non-discriminatory course of action for the future. Regrettably, it will not likely be the last time a unit of the US military has to be reminded not to discriminate on the basis of religious belief.