Senator Cruz Defends Religious Freedom, Chris Rodda Embarrasses Herself
On Tuesday, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tx) sent a letter (press release, PDF) to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper highlighting the US Army’s kowtowing to Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s demands to restrict religious liberty in the Armed Forces. Some of the language may seem very similar to what was written on this site the same day [emphasis added]:
The [MRFF] has been waging a campaign against the chaplaincy, and frankly, against religious freedom in the military generally. In response, the Army has censored chaplains’ religious speech based on the flawed and arbitrary notion that military chaplains may not carry out their official duties outside of a religious ceremony that occurs within the four walls of a chapel.
As with other members of Congress in the recent past, Cruz reminded SecDef Esper that legislation Congress has passed, and the President has signed, requires the military to defend religious liberty in its ranks — not restrict it [emphasis added]:
Not only do the Army’s actions violate the longstanding religious freedom principles of the First Amendment, they show a disregard for Congress’s intent as expressed in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and Section 532 of the FY2014 National Defense Authorization Act (Section 532). These statutes plainly protect military chaplains’ religious expression, whether conveyed via social media, email, or other means.
President Trump has issued clear guidance regarding existing law in this area. In 2017, the President issued Executive Order 13798-Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty.
Shortly thereafter, the United States Attorney General issued a guidance memorandum interpreting religious liberty protections in federal law. Congress directed the DOD to implement a comprehensive training program for chaplains and judge advocates that further incorporates EO 13798 and the Attorney General’s guidance within DOD.
To date, the DOD has not complied with Congress’s directive.
Weinstein’s MRFF, which is delighted at any attention it receives, quickly issued its own release calling Cruz a “cretin”, and Chris Rodda slapped together a nearly 900-word blog post that did little more than summarize Cruz’s letter. Despite repeatedly calling Cruz “factually-challenged,” Rodda cited only a single fact that Cruz got wrong: One of the officers involved was a line officer, not a chaplain.
In closing her blog, Rodda encouraged Cruz to contact the MRFF to get the “FACTS” and avoid “embarrassing [him]self” in the future. Something about people in glass houses comes to mind.
Besides, if that’s the only thing Cruz got wrong, Rodda’s blog does more to prove Cruz’s point than refute it.
Well done, Chris! Blogs like yours make this easy. Keep’em coming.
Her blog is yet further proof the MRFF has a horrible record of follow-through and a complete inability to articulate and defend a position beyond saying “I’m offended, court-martial someone.” When you ask them to explain, they simply can’t. Their argument is predicated on passion and hatred, not principle or freedom. They desire only that those who they dislike are made to suffer; beyond that, they are blind.
The pattern here has been interesting: The military, in some cases, has bent to the demands of Mikey Weinstein. As a result, Congress passed legislation to prevent it from doing so. In a few cases, the military is still bending to Weinstein, and Congress has now taken to reminding the military its conduct is contrary to the law they passed and the President signed — as well as the President’s Executive Orders and the Attorney General’s guidance. The US military is a part of the Executive Branch of government. Both the Executive and Legislative branches have given the military guidance on how to treat religious liberty — as well as Mikey Weinstein’s attempts to restrict it.
Mikey Weinstein claimed “victory” when the US Army Chaplain Corps promulgated “guidelines” that essentially muzzled its chaplains. But there is an important point some have missed: The Chaplain Corps doesn’t dictate Army policy. It seems those who do make Army policy are now receiving some helpful guidance from their superiors on what they’re supposed to be doing.