The Liberty Institute recently published a 2014 edition of a 400-page report entitled “Undeniable: The Survey of Hostility to Religion in America” (PDF). Sections I, II, and III are “attacks” in the public arena, schoolhouse, and against churches and other religious ministries, respectively.
For the first time, the report now includes a dedicated Section IV: “Attacks in the Military.”
Similar in theme to the “Clear and Present Danger” published by the Family Research Council, the Liberty Institute report includes a list of 46 incidents representative of the hostility toward religion within the US military [emphasis added]:
Hostility once unthinkable, such as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs telling grieving families as they arrive at their loved one’s funeral site that they may not have a religious funeral service, is becoming increasingly routine. Another line of hostility is a new wave of lawsuits attempting to eliminate all symbolism that touches on the numinous from our nation’s veterans memorials…
Religious freedom in the military is protected by the U.S. Constitution, Department Read more
US Rep Sam Johnson (R-Tx), a Vietnam era Air Force fighter pilot, wrote at the Christian Post that attacks on religious liberty in the United States “resemble my time in the Hanoi Hilton.”
You see, I endured painful torture at the hands of communists. I brutally experienced what it’s like to truly lose the privilege to worship as you see fit. As a prisoner of war in Vietnam for almost seven years, more than half of that time in solitary confinement, I withered away in a cellblock so isolating it could only be called Alcatraz.
Referring to a report by Senator Ted Cruz, Johnson says Read more
Father Ray Leonard is a civilian contract chaplain who filed a lawsuit after the US military refused to allow him to perform services during the budget crisis known as the “government shutdown” last year.
Father Leonard’s lawsuit has been dismissed as moot (PDF), essentially because the government allowed him to return to work after it re-opened.
Legally, if a defendant reverses a policy in response to a lawsuit, the courts will not (necessarily) consider the claim moot. In this case, however, the judge decided the military did not change its mind because of his lawsuit, but because the government re-opened. Paraphrased, this “mootness” exception says Read more
Chaplain Ray Leonard, the civilian contract Catholic Priest now famous for suing the US government after he was banned from his congregation during the government shutdown, has now said he has experienced official retaliation as a result of his suit:
A Catholic priest has been the target of government retaliation…
The government’s alleged retaliation against Father Ray Leonard began with depriving the civilian priest of two months of his salary, even after the Department of Justice (DOJ) had allowed him to continue his ministry…
Chaplain Leonard’s attorney from Read more
Mark Mueller of the Star-Ledger has an interesting piece on the Rev Ray Leonard — the contract Catholic priest and military chaplain who sued for access to his congregation during the government “shutdown.” It turns out Chaplain Leonard served for 10 years as a priest in China:
During a decade spent teaching and helping the needy in some of China’s most impoverished and oppressed regions, the New Jersey priest learned what it was like to live in a land without religious freedom.
It kindled a greater appreciation for his liberties at home.
That may have played a role in how he reacted to the US government forbidding him from serving his parish: Read more
The Thomas More Law Center filed a lawsuit on Monday on behalf of Catholic military Chaplain Ray Leonard, who was prohibited from ministering as a chaplain because he was deemed “non-essential” to military morale and readiness.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Department of Justice reversed the DoD’s ruling and informed TMLC that Father Leonard could resume his duties:
In response to the lawsuit, three attorneys from the Department of Justice contacted TMLC attorney Erin Mersino by phone and Read more
Catholic priest Father Ray Leonard has filed a federal lawsuit against the Department of Defense and the Navy for prohibiting him from ministering to the military community at the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in Georgia. Leonard is a civilian contractor who had been hired to begin his service on 1 October 2013.
The priest was one of thousands of civilian military employees and contractors furloughed because of the failure of Congress to reach a deal on funding the federal government. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has since recalled some Defense Department workers, but civilian military chaplains were excluded.
The lawsuit seeks a judgment that would Read more