Looking Forward to 2020

The year 2020 looks to be a promising one, if the momentum of religious liberty in America can be maintained from 2019. The effect of the Trump Administration has been largely positive on religious liberty in the US military, though it has sometimes taken a bit of time for the “new” policy perspective — that is, the constitutional one — to trickle down to action officers.

Multiple websites noted that one of the highlights of church/state issues this year was the ruling on the Bladensburg Cross — a Supreme Court ruling that defended the right of the cross to continue to stand. While encouraging, particularly in that it wasn’t a “close” decision, it is notable that two Supreme Court justices thought a cross-shaped memorial built in the early 20th Century violated the US Constitution.

The Manchester VA initially removed a Bible from a POW table — but soon returned it, and the fight is now on for the principled defense of religious liberty.

Similarly, Shields of Strength was discriminated against due to a complaint from Michael “Mikey” Weinstein — but that action, too, is now being fought.  A decade ago, actions like these would be lamented but largely ignored.  Now defenders of religious liberty — and military religious freedom — have risen, and they are successful.

Finally, the perennial malcontent Mikey Weinstein ended the year being universally derided and laughed at because he tried to complain about “Jesus candy” being sold at military retail stores.  For the uninitiated, those were candy canes — Christmas, of course, being the commemoration of Jesus’ birth.  Weinstein would have been shocked to learn, no doubt, that just around the corner from that display the store was selling books about Jesus, too — and not just any books, but ones saying He was the Messiah and encouraging conversion to the faith.  But Bibles are allowed, as are candy canes — and Mikey made himself a laughingstock.

There will always be conflict between the constitutionally-protected religious exercise and those who would seek to undermine it. The question is how the conflict is handled. In the past two years, the US government and its departments have generally become more protective of free exercise and generally less apt to knee-jerk restrict it in response to a random private citizen’s complaint. That is a good thing.

It’s a good thing we need to maintain.

Remember, there’s an election this year.

More to come.


One comment

  • William Robinson

    Thank you, CFP, for taking on the task of being such an able defender of religious liberty, especially in the military. I join thousands who consider you the Defender of the Decade. I realize you certainly don’t have to do this, so thank you for obeying this particular call on your life. It’s worth the time, effort, and energy required, and nobody does it better than you.

    Please keep fighting the good fight, because what’s good for Christians relative to religious liberty is good for every other faith tradition—and those of no faith at all. It’s what genuine liberty is all about—liberty for all.

    Thanks again, CFP. Happy New Year!