(Fox News)“It’s been a steady attack on faith and religious freedom that we’ve seen in our military like we’ve never seen before,” Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) told Fox News. “We are getting a lot of calls from soldiers saying ‘we’re afraid of going to church, we’re afraid to be seen praying, we’re afraid that would hurt our careers, our promotions.’”
Rep. Forbes put several questions to SECDEF Hagel, who has only been the SECDEF for a couple of weeks, on Thursday. In Hagel’s defense, he has only been SECDEF for a couple of weeks.
Forbes asked questions about instances of the Christian faith coming under attack in the military including:
- Commanders barred from disclosing any programs that are tied to the Chaplaincy or any programs involving religion;
- The Air Force banning the word ‘God’ from an Air force patch logo – even though the reference had no religious connotation;
- A directive that banned Bibles at Walter Reed Hospital;
- An Army Reserve training program that listed Evangelical Christians and Catholics as examples of religious extremism;
- An Army email that listed prominent Christian ministries like the Family Research Council and American Family Association as “domestic hate groups.”
“When you get the U.S. military starting to paint in the minds of soldiers that Catholics and Evangelical Christians are the equivalent of Al Qaeda or Hamas – that’s a big problem,” Forbes said. “That’s not a little problem.”
Forbes also asked whether the military is enforcing section 533 of the National Defense Authorization Act. The Act, signed into law last year, includes a conscience provision clause protecting the religious rights of troops. The section reads, “No member of the Armed Forces may — require a chaplain to perform any rite, ritual, or ceremony that is contrary to the conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs of the chaplain; or discriminate or take any adverse personnel action against a chaplain.