Anyone who knows me knows that for my whole life, I've been a huge supporter of our U.S. military personnel, whom I congratulate about their victory in Iraq. But when our president and officials in the U.S. Department of Defense exchange a war abroad for a religious war at home, can't we see that something else is seriously awry in this administration?
It's one thing to watch "merry Christmas" be omitted from signs in your favorite department store but quite another to see Bibles withheld from wounded warriors at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. It's true! On Dec. 2, the Family Research Council reported that it had discovered a memo released in September at the esteemed military hospital, in which Navy officials announced that "no religious items (including Bibles, reading material, and/or artifacts) are allowed to be given away or used during a visit."
Thank God for those in the FRC, as well as Rep. Randy Forbes and other members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, who demanded to meet with officials at Walter Reed and in the Navy about the matter. Just a few days ago, Vice Adm. John Mateczun confessed that the memo had not been properly evaluated and was being rescinded, and Walter Reed posted a public apology on its website.
But imagine if the FRC had not found this memo. Imagine how many others like it aren't found and are circulated around the federal government.
If you think this is an isolated incident, consider the following dozen-plus examples reported in the past six months alone by the FRC and Rep. Forbes' office and a few of my own I found, which document how religious freedom and Christian liberty in particular have been limited, quarantined, omitted or outright obliterated.
--The Air Force Academy apologized for merely announcing Operation Christmas Child --a Christian-based charity and relief program designed to send holiday gifts to impoverished children around the world.
--Yet the Air Force is building an $80,000 Stonehenge-like worship site for "earth-based" religions, including "pagans, Wiccans, druids, witches and followers of Native American faiths."
--The Marine Corps considered tearing down a Camp Pendleton cross meant to honor fallen heroes.
--Air Force officials stripped religious curriculum from a 20-year-old course on "just war theory."
--The Department of Veterans Affairs censored references to God and Jesus during prayers at Houston National Cemetery.
--The Democratic-controlled U.S. Senate passed the $662 billion National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, which included a repeal of Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which states: "Any person subject to this chapter who engages in unnatural carnal copulation with another person of the same or opposite sex or with an animal is guilty of sodomy."
--The Department of Health and Human Services unveiled new health care rules that ignore basic conscience protections for medical workers with faith-based objections to abortion and contraception.
--Officials at HHS denied funding for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' successful program for sex trafficking victims because of the church's teaching on human life.
--Administration officials refused to intervene in the closing of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
--President Barack Obama has lobbied for the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would trample on the faith of employers in hiring, firing and promotion decisions.
--The Pentagon released new regulations that force chaplains to perform same-sex "weddings" despite their religious objections.
--Secretary of State Hillary Clinton demonized other countries' religious beliefs as an obstacle to radical homosexual rights.
--Just this past week, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation sent a letter to officials at Travis Air Force Base, demanding the removal or transfer of a Nativity scene and a menorah that are part of a larger holiday display on the base.
What is going on in the U.S. military? Why is it so difficult for the feds to understand the free exercise clause of the First Amendment, which says they "shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"?
And how many of these restrictions of our religious liberties are direct results of President Obama's being in office? And if these occurred in just the past six months, imagine what would happen in another four years if Obama were to be re-elected. Our service members, as well as our devoted military Christian chaplains, deserve better.
Gone are the days when the commander in chief rallied the troops and nation with a religious presidential call as Ronald Reagan and Franklin D. Roosevelt did. FDR declared in his Christmas address to the nation Dec. 24, 1944 (the first Christmas after D-Day): "Here, at home, we will celebrate this Christmas Day in our traditional American way because of its deep spiritual meaning to us; because the teachings of Christ are fundamental in our lives; and because we want our youngest generation to grow up knowing the significance of this tradition and the story of the coming of the immortal Prince of Peace and Good Will. ... We pray that with victory will come a new day of peace on earth, in which all the nations of the earth will join together for all time. That is the spirit of Christmas, the holy day. May that spirit live and grow throughout the world in all the years to come." (Watch Reagan's 1981 Christmas greeting to the nation on YouTube. It's titled Ronald Reagan Christmas address (12/23/81).")
In many respects, we need to turn back the clock in America to our founding principles, values and liberties, and those include the intricate and pivotal role that religion and Christianity played in our early republic. It is time not to flee religious liberties, but to re-embrace them, especially during this sacred Christmas week. I'll do just that in Part 2 when I specifically share with you the beliefs I know can restore our homes and country.
(In continued support of our military, I'm inviting everyone to join my wife, Gena, and me on Jan. 7 for the premiere of the documentary "Answering the Call," about my trips to Iraq to encourage the troops. You can get tickets via http://www.KickStartKids.org. I also encourage participation in care packages for our troops via http://www.Give2TheTroops.org and, as we recently did, via Operation Patriot Care Package to those in Afghanistan, mission excerpts of which will be aired on Sean Hannity's Fox News Channel show Dec. 23 and posted at http://www.PatriotCarePackage.com.)