Only One Pennsylvania Congressman Had the Courage to Defend Soldiers’ Religious Freedom
(Harrisburg) — Increasingly the religious freedoms of Christian military personnel is under assault whether it be chaplains who feel harassed for not endorsing homosexuality or the US Government ordering Bibles be burned in Afghanistan. On July 10th a letter was sent to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta asking for an explanation to recent actions taken by the Department of Defense (DoD). The American Family Association of Pennsylvania (AFA of PA) was pleased to see one Pennsylvania Congressman’s name on the letter, but wonders where the other eighteen were. The AFA of PA thanks Congressman Mike Kelly for signing onto the letter to Leon Panetta and standing for the religious freedoms of our soldiers, sailors and Marines.
“Supposedly the decision by the DoD has nothing to do with religion. But in light of recent religious liberty attacks, one wonders why after nine years they have now withdrawn their permission to allow LifeWay Christian Resources to place military insignia on the Holman Christian Standard Bible that they publish,” commented Diane Gramley, president of the AFA of PA.
The July 10th letter notes the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) is taking credit “for the revocation of permission for B&H Publishing group to use official emblems on its military-themed Bibles.” It also notes that each branch of the service responded to MRFF on the same day with similarly worded letters.
The Congressmen are expressing frustration that outside groups are limiting the religious freedoms of our military and that the DoD has not renounced these attempts nor stated “its intentions to preserve religious freedom in the military.” Clarification is being sought as to how the decision to revoke the trademark permission was made and steps DoD is taking to protect the First Amendment rights of our military personnel.
“It is quite clear where our first Commander-in-Chief would have stood on the issue of military Bibles in the hands of our nation’s soldiers. He wanted members of our first Army and Navy to observe the Sabbath and only do labor that was absolutely necessary on that day. He also encouraged the men to ‘live and act as becomes a Christian soldier.’ George Washington understood the importance of good order and discipline in the military and he also fully understood its origin — the Bible,” Gramley further stated.
George Washington’s original General Orders:
February 26, 1776
All Officers, non-commissioned Officers and Soldiers are positively forbid[den from] playing at Cards, and other Games of Chance. At this time of public distress, men may find enough to do in the service of God and their country without abandoning themselves to vice and immorality.
July 9, 1776
The Hon. Continental Congress having been pleased to allow a Chaplain to each Regiment, with the pay of Thirty-three Dollars and one third pr month—The Colonels or commanding officers of each regiment are directed to procure Chaplains accordingly; persons of good Characters and exemplary lives—To see that all inferior officers and soldiers pay them a suitable respect and attend carefully upon religious exercises. The blessing and protection of Heaven are at all times necessary but especially so in times of public distress and danger—The General hopes and trusts that every officer and man will endeavor to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country.
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