Clear and Present Danger: A List of Offenses – Prepared by Family Research Council

A Clear and Present Danger: The Threat to Religious Freedom in the Military – Courtesy of Family Research Council from Thomas More Law Center on Vimeo.

Prepared by Family Research Council (

Casey Weinstein – 2004

United States Air Force (USAF) Academy grad (1977) and attorney, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein’s son, Casey, was a USAF Academy cadet at this time. Casey complained that flyers that were placed on all cadets’ breakfast plates advertising Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. Distribution of the flyers stopped after that. (In 2005, Mikey Weinstein founded the Military Religious Freedom Foundation [MRFF], headquartered in Albuquerque, NM).[1]

Weinstein emerges as a major critic of the USAF Academy – February 19, 2005

Mikey Weinstein emerged as a critic of the Air Force Academy and appeared on Good Morning America. Weinstein warned: “What you’ve got is a lusty and thriving religious intolerance that is objectively manifesting itself in prejudice and discrimination and is obliterating the First Amendment, civil rights and the US Constitution.” According to Weinstein one group in particular posed a risk at the Academy: “There are senior people that view evangelical Christianity at the Air Force Academy the way that you and I would view gravity. Pick up a pen and drop it and it falls on the desk. Well, it just exists, it’s gravity.”[2]

Air Force Superintendent General John Rosa responds – February 19, 2005

After apologetically telling the Good Morning America audience that misdeeds had taken place at the Academy, the Superintendent, General John Rosa, presciently warned of an overreaction that could threaten religious liberty.[3]

Weinstein complains about USAF Academy course on religious sensitivity – May 2005

In response to critiques from Weinstein and others, the Air Force created a task force to review the religious climate at the Academy. The Air Force sent a warning about “religious respect” to all installations worldwide, and the Academy started a course, “Respecting the Spiritual Values of All People” (RSVP) that, as described by theWashington Post, made a good-faith effort to correct problems at the school. Weinstein called this effort “putting lipstick on a pig” and blamed the religious climate on “a leadership that encourages the evangelicals and tolerates bias.”[4]

USAF Academy Task Force reviews Academy’s religious policies – June 22, 2005

The Task Force found no widespread religious discrimination at the Air Force Academy.[5] However, some cadets and staff were deemed insensitive to various religious beliefs.[6] Weinstein responded by saying the Academy’s religious climate is “Inquisition 2.0,” and charged that evangelical Christians have “weaponized the gospel of Jesus Christ.”[7]

Weinstein sues the Air Force – October 2005

Weinstein sues the USAF alleging “severe, systemic and pervasive” religious discrimination in that service.[8] In particular he objected to a statement by Brig. Gen. Cecil R. Richardson,the Air Force’s deputy chief of chaplains, in the July 12th New York Times saying, “We will not proselytize, but we reserve the right to evangelize the unchurched.” [9]

Weinstein dismissed – October 26, 2006

Weinstein’s suit is dismissed by U.S. Judge James A. Parker in Albuquerque, New Mexico, because “it contained only vague allegations that the academy is biased in favor of evangelical Christians and improperly allowed evangelizing. Parker also ruled the group of graduates making the allegations lacked legal standing to bring the claims.”[10]

Christian Embassy targeted by anti-Christian group – December 2006

Weinstein asked for — and received — a Department of Defense (DOD) Inspector General investigation of seven officers who appeared in a video for Christian Embassy ministry. The Inspector General (IG) concluded in August 2007[11] that the video was inappropriate, but Weinstein was not satisfied. After seeing the IG’s report, Weinstein told Beliefnet that even though the Air Force suggested corrective actions MRFF “wanted to see courts martial.”[12]In its press release MRFF also stated, “MRFF intends to file expeditiously a comprehensive Federal lawsuit that will rapaciously pursue legal remedies to the multitude of horrific Constitutional violations this DOD/IG report reveals.”[13][14]

Anti-Christian leader finds an ally in the USAF: Chief of Staff – February 2009

Early in President Obama’s first term, in a major turning point for Weinstein’s relationship with military leaders, he met with Air Force Chief of Staff Norton A. Schwartz. Weinstein said that Schwartz “acknowledged that there [was] a problem” regarding religious freedom in the military.[15]

Anti-Christian group praises USAF leadership – December 2009

In a sharp turnaround from the previous four years, by the end of 2009 Weinstein was praising Air Force leadership. The Academy Superintendent complimented Weinstein as well.[16]

Calling Commissioner Gordon – February 2010

As a measure of how cozy the relationship between Weinstein and the Air Force Academy Superintendent, Lt. Gen. Mike Gould, had become, Weinstein and Gould devised a secret code word to ensure that Weinstein could have instant access to Gould. “We have our own bat-signal,” Weinstein boasted.[17]

Conservative religious leader disinvited to Air Force Base – February 25, 2010

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, a Marine Veteran and ordained minister was disinvited to address the National Prayer Luncheon at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, D.C. after he spoke publicly in opposition to the Obama Administration’s effort to repeal the ban on open homosexuality in the military. The invitation was revoked even though Mr. Perkins had made clear he had planned to give a devotional, non-political message.[18],[19]

International ministry leader disinvited to Pentagon – May 6, 2010

Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, and President of the international relief ministry, Samaritan’s Purse, was disinvited to the Pentagon’s National Day of Prayer service by the Army because of his comments about Islam. His invitation was revoked because Graham referred to Islam as an evil religion and “horrid” for its treatment of women. Graham expressed regret for the decision, but maintained his strong support for the military.[20]

Christian prayer is banned at military funerals – July 26, 2011

After going undercover, U.S. Rep. John Culberson (R-TX) confirmed that the Houston National Cemetery was preventing Christian prayers from being said at military funerals. According to Todd Starnes’ report, “[Culberson] witnessed volunteer members of the honor guard from the Veterans of Foreign Wars being prohibited from using any references to God.” In October 2011, the Veterans Administration (VA) settled a lawsuit filed by the Liberty Institute regarding religious freedom and free speech at the cemetery. The VA agreed to numerous terms that helped to restore prior policies there and paid $215,000 in legal fees.[21][22]

Air Force pulls ethics course from curriculum at air base – July 27, 2011

For 20 years, an ethics training course for nuclear missile officers was conducted by a chaplain at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. It included texts from the Bible and materials related to just war theory by Saint Augustine. This course was pulled for “thorough review” by the Air Force primarily due to its use of Christian reading materials.[23]

Air Force Chief of Staff chills religious speech in service-wide memo – September 1, 2011

Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz issued a service-wide memo entitled, “Maintaining Government Neutrality Regarding Religion.” Schwartz wrote: “Leaders at all levels must balance Constitutional protections for an individual’s free exercise of religion or other personal beliefs and its prohibition against governmental establishment of religion.” For example, they must avoid the actual or apparent use of their position to promote their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates. “Commanders … who engage in such behavior may cause members to doubt their impartiality and objectivity. The potential result is a degradation of the unit’s morale, good order and discipline.” In the 9/1/11memo, Schwartz also warned commanders against open support of chaplain-run events stating that they “must refrain from appearing to officially endorse religion generally or any particular religion.” He adds, “Therefore, I expect chaplains, not commanders, to notify Airmen of Chaplain Corps programs.” Finally, Schwartz advises anyone who has concerns “involving the preservation of government neutrality regarding religious beliefs” to contact a military attorney.[24][25][26]

Walter Reed Medical Center bans Bibles and religious material – September 14, 2011

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the leading medical institution for the U.S.armed forces, issued an official patient and visitor policy banning Bibles. It stated, “No religious items (i.e. Bibles, reading material, and/or artifacts) are allowed to be given away or used during a visit.”[27] In December 2011, the policy was rescinded after a political firestorm erupted in the House of Representatives.[28][29]

Air Force Academy apologizes for its promotion of Christmas charity – November 3, 2011

Air Force Academy Commandant of Cadets, Brig. Gen. Richard Clark, called Mikey Weinstein to apologize for a Cadet Wing email that promoted Operation Christmas Child (OCC), a charity that sends toys and toiletries to millions of needy children around the world at Christmas. OCC is affiliated with Rev. Franklin Graham’s, Samaritan Purse. Clark released a statement explaining the Academy’s retraction of its support stating that “[u]nder orders from Air Force headquarters … only the Chaplain Corps is responsible for advertising faith-based programs.” (This incident followed the Schwartz memo by two months, see above.)[30]

Anti-Christian group threatens suit over nativity and menorah on Travis Air Force Base – December 18, 2011

The MRFF threatened to sue Travis Air Force Base (Solano County, California) for including a nativity scene and menorah in their holiday display. The MRFF claimed the display violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The Air Force Base refused to remove the display, finding it did not violate the Constitution.[31]

Army censors Catholic chaplains in worship services – January 29, 2012

The Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Military Services issued a letter to Catholic chaplains to be read to their military parishioners across the armed services. The clergy asked them to resist implementation of the HHS contraceptive and sterilization mandate in Obamacare. A similar request was made across America to civilian parishioners that Sunday. However, this request did not reach the ears of those in the Army. As a statement issued by the Archdiocese explained, the Army letter was distributed but not read publicly, after collaboration between the Archdiocese and the Secretary of the Army led to the deletion of a sentence from its text.[32] Kathryn Jean Lopez of National Review Online observed, “So not only were chaplains told not to read the letter, but an Obama administration official edited a pastoral letter.”[33]

Air Force removes “God” from unit’s logo – February 7, 2012

The Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers complained to the Air Force about a logo from the Rapid Capabilities Office. It used to read in Latin “Doing God’s Work with Other People’s Money” and was changed to “Doing Miracles with Other People’s Money.” Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) and 35 other lawmakers sent a letter to Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Norton Schwartz demanding an explanation for the removal of a non-religious reference to God. The Air Force said they would investigate. “It is most egregious,” as Rep. Forbes told Fox News, “The Air Force is taking the tone that you can’t even use the word ‘God.'”[34]

Army General withdraws from speaking at West Point after protest for anti-Christian groups – February 8, 2012

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) launched a campaign to bar Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin (USA-ret.), a founding member of the Army’s Delta Force and former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, from speaking at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. CAIR and MRFF said their opposition was based upon Gen. Boykin’s “Islamophobic” comments.[35] Gen. Boykin voluntarily withdrew from speaking at the event, stating in an interview with OneNewsNow that the pressure on the Academy, which the Obama Administration did not resist, was overpowering.[36]

Pennsylvania Army Reserve training document labels Evangelical Christians and Catholics “extremists” – March 2012

As part of a presentation on extremism at a Pennsylvania Army Reserve Equal Opportunity training brief on extremism the instructor included “Evangelical Christianity” and “Catholicism,” as examples of religious extremism. The list also included Al Qaeda, Hamas, Islamophobia and the KKK. When asked where she obtained her information, she referred to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a left-wing fundraising powerhouse that has attempted to discredit Christian organizations. Upon learning of this incident, the Catholic Archdiocese for the Military Services stated it was “astounded that Catholics were listed alongside groups that are, by their very mission and nature, violent and extremist.”[37][38]

Weinstein claims credit for cessation of Bible sales – June 12, 2012

Weinstein took credit for the Pentagon putting an end to the sale of military-themed Bibles. For example, The Marine’s Bible used the Holman Christian Standard Bible as its translation and contained a “Special Prayer and Devotional Section for Marine Personnel.” The cover contained a picture of the Marine Corps Seal, part of a flag blowing in the wind, and scenes of combat with a red transparent overlay. The Pentagon claimed trademark problems were to blame, but Weinstein took credit for the revocation and called the Bibles a “national security threat.” Sales of such Bibles had begun during the presidential administration of George W. Bush.[39]

West Point study links pro-life groups to terrorism – November 2012

Dr. Arie Perliger of the United States Military Academy, while analyzing “right-wing extremism,” compared pro-life groups to the KKK and Neo-Nazi groups. The study, titled “Challengers from the Sidelines: Understanding America’s Violent Far-Right,”[40] claimed that radical right-wing ideology is grounded, in part, on the principle that “since every human being is created in the image of God, it is by definition a sin to end their lives before they have been able to ‘enjoy love and life of this planet,'”(p. 38). With respect to anti-abortion attacks, Perliger observes that “pro-life violence is driven by several ideological building blocks that are enhanced by religious-based convictions, i.e., fetuses are human beings created in God’s image, and as such should be accorded the rights of humans from the moment of conception; any violent acts to end their lives are immoral and should be prevented,” (p. 38).[41][42]

President Obama issues negative signing statement on religious freedom amendment to defense bill – January 3, 2013

President Obama signed H.R. 4310 (“National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013” (NDAA)) into law and issued a signing statement. He commented on an amendment to the NDAA, Section 533, which was passed to increase religious liberty protections for service members and chaplains. The President offered up these remarks indicating his intention to elevate special protection for homosexuals above religious liberty:

Section 533 is an unnecessary and ill-advised provision, as the military already appropriately protects the freedom of conscience of chaplains and service members. The Secretary of Defense will ensure that the implementing regulations do not permit or condone discriminatory actions that compromise good order and discipline or otherwise violate military codes of conduct. My Administration remains fully committed to continuing the successful implementation of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and to protecting the rights of gay and lesbian service members; Section 533 will not alter that.[43]

Army removes cross and steeple from chapel – January 24, 2013 (date of news story)

The U.S. military ordered soldiers to take down a steeple and board-up the cross-shaped windows of a chapel at remote Forward Operating Base Orgun-E in Afghanistan. The soldiers were required to keep the chapel religiously neutral. In 2011, a similar situation occurred where soldiers were forced to remove a cross at a chapel at Camp Marmal, Afghanistan.[44][45]

Utah airmen is reprimanded and his reenlistment contract terminated for objecting to a gay marriage in the West Point Chapel – February 10, 2013

A 27-year veteran of the Utah Air National Guard, TSgt. Layne Wilson, was reprimanded after sending an e-mail on December 2, 2012, to what he believed was the chaplain’s office at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Wilson expressed disagreement with the performance of a same-sex marriage in the Cadet Chapel. At the time, the Defense of Marriage Act was still federal law. Instead of responding privately to Wilson, the Commandant of Cadets notified the Utah Air National Guard. Wilson was told via email from Lt. Col. Kevin Tobias, “You are herby reprimanded. As a noncommissioned officer you are expected to maintain a standard of professional and personal behavior that is above reproach. You have failed!” The Air National Guard also terminated his signed, six-year reenlistment contract; instead, Layne received only a one-year extension. However, after his attorney objected, his six-year contract was reinstated, but a June 19 memo left the reprimand in place.[46][47]

Anti-Christian indoctrination via email at Fort Campbell, KY – April 10, 2013

Todd Starnes of Fox News revealed an internal e-mail from an Army Lt. Colonel at Fort Campbell, KY (home of 101st Airborne Div.), advising three dozen subordinates to be on the lookout for soldiers who might be members of “domestic hate groups.” Family Research Council was listed as an “Anti-Gay” group along with American Family Association. While commenting about the groups that were singled out, the e-mail warned that they, “do not share our Army Values.”[48]

Weinstein meets with top Air Force officials at the Pentagon – April 23, 2013

Three representatives of MRFF (Mikey Weinstein, Larry Wilkerson [former chief of staff to Colin Powell], and Ambassador Joe Wilson [husband of Valerie Plame]) met with several high-ranking Air Force officials along with USAF staff members to hear various complaints about military life and religious observance. Weinstein told Sally Quinn (Washington Post) in an interview after the Pentagon meeting that Christian “proselytizing” is a “national security threat.” He added, “What is happening [aside from sexual assault] is a spiritual rape…. it is sedition and treason. It should be punished.” Quinn noted that the three men were speaking of proselytizing by “‘dominionist’ or fundamentalist evangelical Christians.”[49]

Sally Quinn’s column in the Washington Post discusses the Weinstein-USAF meeting – April 26, 2013

Sally Quinn, long-time columnist, reported that the “Air Force published, but has yet to distribute, a 27-page document, which includes a cover sheet that states: ‘COMPLIANCE WITH THIS PUBLICATION IS MANDATORY.'” Quinn was referring to manual AFI 1-1 (see below, May 2013) that made a number of potentially troubling statements regarding the free exercise of religion. For example, it condemned not just the “actual” but also the “apparent” use of one’s position to promote one’s religious beliefs. It also indicated noncompliance could result in court martial.” Weinstein observed to Quinn: “You need a half a dozen court-martials real quick.”[50]

After Weinstein meeting, Pentagon confirms policy – April 30, 2013

The Pentagon confirmed to Fox News that Christian evangelism is against regulations. In a written statement to Fox News, Lt. Commander Nate Christensen said, “Religious proselytization is not permitted within the Department of Defense.” He declined to say if anyone had been prosecuted due to this policy.[51]

Air Force officer told to remove Bible from desk – May 2, 2013

Air Force person nel had been told that they might express their beliefs as long as they do not “make others uncomfortable.” This rule led to an officer being asked to remove a copy of the Bible from his desk. According to the Fox News report the “officer was told he could no longer keep a Bible on his desk because it ‘[might]’ appear that he was condoning a particular religion.”[52]

Air Force statement – May 2, 2013

“When on duty or in an official capacity, Air Force members are free to express their personal religious beliefs as long as it does not make others uncomfortable…. Proselytizing (inducing someone to convert to one’s faith) goes over that line.” – Lt. Col. Laurel Tingley, in a statement to Fox News[53]

Department of Defense statement – May 2, 2013

“The U.S. Department of Defense has never and will never single out a particular religious group for persecution or prosecution…. Service members can share their faith (evangelize), but must not force unwanted, intrusive attempts to convert others of any faith or no faith to one’s beliefs (proselytization).”[54]

Coast Guard Rear Admiral speaks at National Day of Prayer event – May 2, 2013

Coast Guard Rear Admiral William Lee spoke at a National Day of Prayer event as “a man of deep abiding faith who happens to wear a uniform.” Lee addressed the issue of religious freedom in the military describing an occasion on which he gave a Bible to a Coast Guardsman who tried to commit suicide. “The lawyers tell me that if I do that, I’m crossing the line,” Lee said. “I’m so glad I’ve crossed that line so many times.”[55]

Air Force releases AFI 1-1 – May 2013

The Air Force manual “Air Force Instruction 1-1” (AFI 1-1) was internally released in August 2012 but distribution to all airmen as a paper pocket copy started in May 2013. Section 2.11, “Government Neutrality Regarding Religion,” contains language consonant with Mikey Weinstein’s comments after his April 23rd meeting at the Pentagon with high-ranking USAF officials.[56][57]

A painting including a Bible verse is removed – May 31, 2013

Weinstein complained to the Pentagon about an inspirational painting in the dining hall of Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. It focused on a depiction of a policeman and included a Scripture citation and the image of a cross. The painting was reportedly removed 56 minutes later.[58]

A soldier is punished for serving Chick-fil-A – June 5, 2013

Army Master Sergeant, Nathan Sommers, was punished for serving Chick-fil-A sandwiches at his own promotion party in honor of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Sommers was investigated, reprimanded, threatened with judicial action, and given a bad efficiency report. The invitation said, “In honor of my promotion and in honor of the Defense of Marriage Act, I’m serving Chick-fil-A sandwiches at my promotion party.” Sommers was told that “he [was] no longer a team player and was not performing up to standards.” Chick-fil-A and DOMA were frowned upon.[59]

Fleming Amendment is adopted – June 5, 2013

The House Armed Services Committee adopted an amendment by Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The Fleming Amendment protects the rights of armed services members to hold, act upon, and practice freely their religious beliefs as long as they do not interfere with any Constitutional liberties of others.[60][61]

Air Force removes video that mentions God – June 7, 2013

The Pentagon directed the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, in Trenton, New Jersey, to take down a video that mentioned “God” because it might be offensive. It read: “On the eighth day, God looked down on His creation and said, ‘I need someone who will take care of the Airmen.’ So God created a First Sergeant.” The video was modeled after a Super Bowl commercial and clearly was made to honor First Sergeants. “Proliferation [sic] of religion is not allowed in the Air Force or military.” The chief of the Air Force News Service Division questioned how “an Agnostic, Atheist or Muslim serving in the military [would] take this video,” and recommended not using it at all.[62]

President Obama “strongly objects” to Fleming Amendment – June 11, 2013

On June 11th, after the House Armed Services Committee approved its version of the NDAA (H.R.1960) with Rep. Fleming’s language, a White House Statement of Administration Policy was issued indicating that the President’s senior advisers would recommend a veto because they strongly object “to section 530, which would require the Armed Forces to accommodate, except in cases of military necessity, ‘actions and speech’ reflecting the ‘conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs of the member,’…[and which] would have a significant adverse effect on good order, discipline, morale, and mission accomplishment.”[63][64][65]

Senate Armed Services approves similar rights of conscience language – June 13, 2013

FRC was told by Senate Republicans that the Senate Armed Services Committee included language similar to the H.R. 1960 protections in its version of the National Defense Authorization Act. The bill was passed out of Committee on June 13, 2013.[66]

Chaplain’s is ordered to remove a religion-themed essay from USAF base website – July 24, 2013

Lt. Col. Kenneth Reyes, a chaplain at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) in Alaska, was told to remove a religious essay that he posted on the base website. The essay was entitled, “No Atheists in Foxholes: Chaplains Gave all in World War II” referring to a comment made by Father William Cummings, a Catholic priest, who observed that there “[t]here is no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole.” President Eisenhower repeated the phrase during a speech to the American Legion in 1954. Mikey Weinstein’s MRFF sent a demand letter to JBER’s commander, Col. Brian P. Duffy, claiming to represent 42 anonymous service members assigned there who were offended by the post. MRFF claimed, “through redundant use of the bigoted, religious supremacist phrase, ‘no atheists in foxholes,’ he defiles the dignity of service members.” The essay was taken down within five hours of receipt of the complaint. MRFF wanted the chaplain to be reprimanded. However, Col. Reyes’ article was restored to the base website in mid-August with a disclaimer placed on the site.[67][68][69][70]

An Army assistant chaplain is threatened for sharing her Biblical beliefs on homosexuality via Facebook – August 6, 2013

An Army chaplain’s assistant, stationed near Colorado Springs, Coloradowas ordered to remove a Facebook post or face disciplinary action including, possibly, a reduction in rank and pay. One Sunday evening, the airman was listening to a pastor endorse homosexuality. Afterward, she posted on her Facebook page her frustrations with pastors endorsing homosexuality and denying it to be a sin. Her commander called her into his office on Monday and ask that she remove the post because it created a “hostile and antagonistic” environment. Intense pressure was placed upon her after her pastor, Todd Hudnall (Radiant Church), made the Army’s actions known to the public. She removed this posting to her personal Facebook page.[71][72]

Drag queen group performs at Air Force Base LGBT Diversity Day – August 8, 2013

A “Diversity Day” celebration at the Los Angeles Air Force Base featured eight cultural presentations including a well-known drag queen group (“Jules and the Brunchettes”). USAF spokesperson, Peggy Hodge, stated, “Drag acts to this day represent the struggle for freedom and equality of the LGBT community, while at the same time providing a deep-rooted historical form of entertainment for the LGBT culture.” She added that such performers hearken back to the Stonewall Riots, the beginning of the gay rights movement. They are a “symbol of gay pride and unity.” Starnes wrote, “In addition to the drag queens, there were performances by an Irish dance troupe, a Polynesian entertainment group, Japanese drummers, Native American dancers, Hispanic folk music, and cloggers.”[73]

Department of Defense training materials suggest conservative viewpoints are “extremist” – August 22, 2013

A Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act request produced Department of Defense (DOD) anti-discrimination training materials implying that some conservative organizations are “hate groups.” Students were told to be aware that “many extremists will talk of individual liberties, states’ rights, and how to make the world a better place.” The documents repeatedly cited the leftwing Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as a resource for identifying “hate groups.” One document suggested that the American colonists who rebelled against British rule were members of an “extremist movement.”[74]

Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Phillip Monk is relieved of duties over gay marriage – June 25, 2013; files complaint – August 20, 2013; is given a Miranda warning by Air Force investigator – August 27, 2013

A 19-year veteran of the Air Force, Senior Master Sergeant Phillip Monk, was relieved of his duties after he disagreed with his openly gay commander, Maj. Elisa Valenzuela, when she wanted to severely punish an instructor who had expressed religious objections to homosexuality. Valenzuela incorrectly told Monk that opposition to same-sex marriage constituted discrimination. Monk disagreed. Valenzuela relieved Monk of his duties as First Sergeant for the unit. Monk was also placed on restricted liberty and was no longer permitted to be physically present in the unit’s buildings or facilities located at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, TX. News of these events broke around mid-August 2013, and Monk filed a formal complaint against Valenzuela on August 20, 2013. In an August 27, 2013 meeting with an Air Force investigator, Sgt. Monk and his attorney, Michael Berry (Liberty Institute), were told that Monk is under investigation criminally for violating Article 107 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) — making a false official statement. Monk was read his Miranda rights at that time. This step was puzzling because Monk had made no official comments on this matter-an essential element of an Article 107 violation. The Air Force action appeared to be retaliation for Monk’s discrimination filing against Major Valenzuela.[75][76][77][78][79]

Naval Base Chaplain is threatened with arrest for offering religious services after being furloughed during government shutdown – October 4, 2013

Fr. Ray Leonard, a contract Catholic military chaplain at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in Georgia was furloughed in the wake of the government shutdown. Subsequently, when he offered to continue to provide religious services on a volunteer basis, he was threatened with arrest. The threat of arrest extended to entering his on base office or visiting the on base chapel. The subsequent lawsuit, filed by the Thomas More Law Center, is pending.

In closing:

James Madison once described religious freedom as the “lustre of our country.” The examples presented above should give us great concern that we have entered a period in which members of the armed services are being subjected to speech codes and restrictions on the free exercise of religion. We recognize that there must be a healthy respect for the beliefs of members of all faiths and those who are not Christian believers. Concurrently, we affirm that religious expression is a right foundational to our Constitution, which those being penalized have sworn with their lives to uphold.



[1] Steve Rabey, “Christian Emphasis on Evangelism at Heart of Air Force Academy Scandal,” Religion News Service. Jun. 2, 2005; Reprinted at:

[2] “Air Force Academy Under Fire: Religious Intolerance,” Good Morning America (ABC News Transcripts), Feb. 19, 2005. (8:00 AM ET).

[3] “Air Force Academy Under Fire: Religious Intolerance,” Good Morning America (ABC News Transcripts), Feb. 19, 2005. (8:00 AM ET).

[4] T.R. Reid, “Religious Differences Part of Cadet Training; Air Force Academy’s Program Urges Respect,”Washington Post. Jun. 1, 2005, p. A3; online at:

[5] Pam Zubeck, “Academy to get new religion guidelines; ‘Lack of awareness’ found by study, but no discrimination,” The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colorado). Jun. 23, 2005, p. A1.

[6] Bill Vogrin, “Christianity case against Air Force Academy dismissed,” The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colorado), October 27, 2006; online at:

[7] Paula Amann, “Blunting bias in the Air Force; D.C. rabbi named to address religious intolerance,” The Washington Jewish Week, Vol. 41 No. 26 (June 30, 2005), p. 1; online at:

[8] Alan Cooperman, “Air Force Withdraws Paper for Chaplains; Document Permitted Proselytizing,”

Washington Post, October 11, 2005, p. A3; online at:

[9] Laurie Goodstein. “Evangelicals Are a Growing Force in the Military Chaplain Corps.”

The New York Times. July 12, 2005; online at:

[10] Bill Vogrin, “Christianity case against Air Force Academy dismissed,” The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colorado), October 27, 2006; online at:

[11] Inspector General. “Alleged Misconduct by DOD Officials Concerning Christian Embassy.”

United States Department of Defense. Report No. H06L102270308.July 20, 2007.

[12] Koons, Jennifer. “Report Says Pentagon Erred in Allowing Christian Video.” Beliefnet. Aug. 6, 2007.

[13] Press Release. “DoD Inspector General Finds Misconduct by Pentagon Generals Participating in “Christian Embassy” Promo Video: Military Religious Freedom Foundation’s Expose Vindicated.” Military Religious Freedom Foundation. Aug. 2, 2007.

[14] Alan Cooperman, “Inquiry Sought Over Evangelical Video; Defense Department Asked to Examine Officers’ Acts Supporting Christian Group,” The Washington Post. Dec. 11, 2006, p. A3; online at:

[15] Eric Lichtblau, “Questions Raised Anew About Religion in Military,” The New York Times, Mar. 1, 2009, p. 14; online at:

[16] Dan Elliott, “Air Force Academy says religious climate improving,” The Associated Press, Dec. 16, 2009; online at:

[17] Lance Benzel, “Secret code will alert AFA leader of religious intolerance,” The Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO).Feb. 19, 2010; online at:

[18] Jennifer Wishon. “Tony Perkins ‘Disinvited’ to National Prayer Luncheon.” CBN News. Feb. 25, 2010; online at:

[19] “Air Force Disinvited Conservative to Luncheon Because of Anti-Obama Stance, Documents Show.” Oct. 28, 2010; online at:

[20] Mike Emanuel. “Franklin Graham Regrets Army’s Decision to Rescind Invite to Pentagon Prayer Service.” Apr. 22, 2010; .online at:

[21] Todd Starnes. “Texas Lawmaker Calls for Congressional Probe Into Ban of Christian Prayers at Military Funerals.” Fox News Radio. Jul. 26, 2011; online at:

[22] Karla Dial, “Veterans Affairs Settles Houston Cemetery Case,” Citizenlink. Oct.20, 2011; online at:

[23] Markeshia Ricks. “Air Force yanks nuclear ethics course.” Air Force Times. Aug. 4, 2011; online at:

[24] Norton A. Schwartz. “Maintaining Government Neutrality Regarding Religion.” Memo published on Sept. 1, 2011; online at:

[25] Markeshia Ricks. “Schwartz: Don’t endorse religious programs.” Air Force Times. Sept. 16, 2011; online at:

[26] Kari Huus. “Air Force rules limit size of tattoos, role of gospel.” NBC News. Aug. 22, 2012; online at:

[27] Chief of Staff C. W. Callahan, Commander, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. “Subject: Wounded, Ill, and Injured Partners in Care Guidelines.” Policy Memo 10-015, pg. 4. Sept. 14, 2011.

[28] “Whoops! Walter Reed Temporarily Bans Bibles.” NBC Washington News. Dec. 19, 2011; online at:

[29] Liz Farmer. “Walter Reed Accidentally Bans Bibles.” Washington Examiner.Dec. 18, 2011; online at:

[30] Todd Starnes. “Air Force Academy Backs Away from Christmas Charity.” Fox News Radio. Nov. 4, 2011; online at:

[31] Todd Starnes. “Air Force Will Not Remove Holiday Display.” Fox News Radio. Dec. 18, 2011; online at:

[32] Statement from Archdiocese for Military Services. Released Feb. 3, 2012.

[33] Kathryn Jean Lopez. “Army Silenced Chaplains Last Sunday.” National Review Online. Feb. 3, 2012; online at:

[34] Todd Starnes. “Air Force Removes ‘God’ From Logo.” Fox News Radio. Feb. 7, 2012; online at: stories/air-force-removes-god-from-logo.html.

[35] Eric Eckholm. “General Withdraws from West Point Talk.” The New York Times. Jan. 30, 2012; online at:

[36] Chad Groening. “Boykin Relieves Pressure on West Point.” OneNewsNow. Jan. 31, 2012; online at:

[37] Starnes. “Army Labeled Evangelicals as Religious Extremists.” Fox News Radio. Apr. 5, 2013; online at:

[38] Joseph Austin. “Army begins investigation of training briefing that had labeled “Catholicism” an extremist group.” Catholic News Service. Apr. 22, 2013; online at: briefing-that-had-labeled-catholicism-an-extremist-group/.

[39] Todd Starnes, “Group Calls Military Bibles a National Security Threat,” Fox News Radio. June 12, 2012; online at:

[40] Arlie Perliger. “Challengers from the Sidelines: Understanding America’s Violent Far-Right.” The Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. Nov. 2012; online at:

[41] Rowan Scarborough. “West Point center cites dangers of ‘far right’ in U.S.” The Washington Times.Jan. 17, 2013; online at:

[42] Ben Johnson. “‘Pro-life paradigm’ motivates domestic terrorism:West Point report.” Feb. 4, 2013; online at:

[43] White House. “Statement by the President on H.R. 4310.” Jan. 3, 2013 (

[44] “Army Regulation 165-1.” Army Chaplain Corps Activities. Headquarters of the Department of the Army. Washington, D.C. Dec. 3, 2009; online at:

[45] Todd Starnes. “Army Removes Crosses, Steeple from Chapel.” Fox News Radio. Jan. 24, 2013; online at:

[46] Todd Starnes, “Airman Punished for Objecting to Gay Marriage in Military Chapel,” Fox News Radio, Jul. 11, 2013; online at:

[47] Todd Starnes, “Military Will Not Rescind Reprimand for Airman Opposed to Gay Marriage,” Fox News Radio, July 19, 2013; online at:

[48] Todd Starnes. “Army Email Labels Christian Ministries as ‘Domestic Hate Groups.'” Fox News Radio. Apr. 9, 2013; online at: ups.html.

[49] Sally Quinn, “Hagel should make it clear: Religion, military don’t mix,” Washington Post. Apr. 27, 2013, p. B2; published online April 26, 2013 under headline, “U.S. military should put religious freedom at the front,” online at:

[50] Sally Quinn, “Hagel should make it clear: Religion, military don’t mix,” Washington Post. Apr. 27, 2013, p. B2; published online April 26, 2013 under headline, “U.S. military should put religious freedom at the front,” online at:

[51] Todd Starnes, “Pentagon: Religious Proselytizing is Not Permitted.” Fox News Radio. Apr. 30, 2013; online at:

[52] Todd Starnes, “Air Force Officer Told to Remove Bible from Desk.” Fox News Radio. May 2, 2013; online at:

[53] Todd Starnes, “Air Force Officer Told to Remove Bible from Desk.” Fox News Radio. May 2, 2013; online at:

[54] Todd Starnes, “Pentagon: Religious Proselytizing is Not Permitted.” Fox News Radio. Apr. 30, 2013; online at:

[55] Todd Starnes. “Rear Admiral Says Religious Liberty Under Threat in Military.” Fox News Radio. May 3, 2013; online at:

[56] Air Force Instruction 1-1, Air Force Standards. Certified by General Norton A. Schwartz. Published Aug. 7, 2012. online at:

[57] Markeshia Ricks, “New booklet outlines Air Force standards.” Air Force Times. May 5, 2013; online at:

[58] Todd Starnes, “Air Force Removes “Inspirational” Painting.” Fox News Radio. May 31, 2013; online at:

[59] Todd Starnes, “Army Punishes Soldier who Served Chick-fil-A.” Fox News Radio. Jun. 5, 2013; online at:

[60] Ken Klukowski, “Amendments Protecting Soldiers’ Religious Rights Approved by Committee.” Breitbart. Jun. 7, 2013; online at:

[61] Rep. John Fleming and Senator Mike Lee Press Release. “Fleming Applauds Passage of Religious Liberty Amendment in Senate Committee.” Jun. 17, 2013; online at:

[62] Todd Starnes, “Air Force Removes Video that Mentions God.” Fox News Radio. Jun. 7, 2013; online at:

[63] Ken Klukowski, “Breaking: Obama Threatens Veto of Religious Protection for Military.” Breitbart. Jun. 12, 2013; online at:

[64] Todd Starnes. “Obama ‘Strongly Objects’ to Religious Liberty Amendment.” Fox News Radio. Jun. 12, 2013; online at:

[65] Office of Management and Budget, Executive Office of the President. “Statement of Administration Policy: H.R. 1960 – National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2014.” Jun. 11, 2013; online at:

[66] U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services, Chairman Carl Levin. “Senate Committee on Armed Services Complete Markup of The National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2014.” Jun. 14, 2013; online at: SASC_NDAA_061413.pdf.

[67] Todd Starnes, “Chaplain Ordered to Remove Religious Essay from Military Website,” Fox News Radio. Jul 24, 2013; online at:

[68] Ken Klukowski, “Military Censors Christian Chaplain, Atheists Call for Punishment,” Breitbart. Jul 24, 2013; online at:

[69] Alex Murashko, “Air Force Republishes Chaplain’s ‘No Atheists in Foxholes’ Article to Base Website,” Christian Post. Aug 24, 2013; online at:

[70] Letter, Blake Page, MRFF to Col. Brian P. Duffy, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. July 24, 2013.

[71] Todd Starnes, “Airman Facing Punishment for Religious Beliefs,” Fox News Radio. Aug 6, 2013; online at

[72] Todd Starnes (Fox News Channel) interview, “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins,” Aug. 7, 2013; online at:

[73] Todd Starnes, “Air Force Says Drag Acts Symbolize Gay Pride,” Fox News Radio. Aug 10, 2013; online at:

[74] Press Release, Judicial Watch. “Defense Department Teaching Documents Suggest Mainstream Conservative Views ‘Extremist.'” Aug. 22, 2013

[75] Todd Starnes, “Airman Punished for Objecting to Gay Marriage,” Fox News Radio, Aug 14, 2013; online at:

[76] Michael Berry, Liberty Institute, “Request for Redress of Grievances under Article 138, UCMJ,” to Elisa Valenzuela (Major, USAF), Aug. 20, 2013.

[77] Todd Starnes, “Airman Punished for Opposing Gay Marriage Files Complaint,” Aug. 20, 2013; online at:

[78] Ken Klukowski, “Christian Airman Punished by Lesbian Commander Now Being Investigated for Talking to Media,” Breitbart. Sep. 6, 2013; online at:

[79] Tony Perkins Interview of Michael Berry (attorney, Liberty Institute), Washington Watch Radio. Sept. 6, 2013; online at:

Switch to mobile version