Ken Blackwell

It was a rare and welcome victory for religious freedom for our all-volunteer military. Congress approved—and President Obama the day after Christmas signed—the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This new law contains stronger language than ever before that assures our service members do not have to give up their own freedoms while protecting ours.

This new law contains some of Sen. Mike Lee’s (R-Utah) provisions to assure better implementation of freedom guarantees. In the past, the Obama administration has largely ignored protections for service members. This law provides clear deadlines for the Defense Department to issue new regulations. Military commanders should no longer be in doubt about America’s historic commitment to religious freedom in the ranks.

This underscoring of basic freedoms by our Congress should never have been necessary.

We have seen under this administration an unprecedented looking away as the basic rights of service members have been infringed. Political correctness seems to be the Order of the Day. This administration has been more interested in using the military as a laboratory for radical social experimentation than as the sword and shield of the republic.

The need to protect such freedom goes all the way back to Gen. George Washington in the Continental Army. When he assumed command of the Army in Massachusetts in 1775, he soon learned there would be an anti-Catholic demonstration by some zealots among the largely Protestant force. “Pope’s Day” had been observed for more than a century among New England Puritans. It featured sports and games, but it ended with a spectacle. An effigy of the Pope was stuffed with straw and live cats. Set ablaze, the screaming of the cats was said to be the screaming of the Popes in hell.

His Excellency put a quick end to such overt religious bigotry. He reminded his officers that the cause of America needed help, maybe from Catholic Quebec, surely from Catholic France. And he sternly forbade such a “childish” and “ridiculous” display. Washington put an end to Pope’s Day, not only in the Army, but in the nation at large.

This is a far cry from today, when Bibles have been banned at Walter Reed military hospital near Washington, D.C. Family Research Council (FRC) quickly sought congressional support to have those Bibles restored to our wounded warriors.

We have regrettably seen the U.S. Air Force Academy whipsawed by zealous atheizers. These people claim to be for religious freedom, but they jump at every opportunity to impose atheism in the ranks.


Ken Blackwell

Ken Blackwell, a contributing editor at Townhall.com, is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council and the American Civil Rights Union and is on the board of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. He is the co-author of the bestseller The Blueprint: Obama’s Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency, on sale in bookstores everywhere..
 
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