Todd Starnes

A high-ranking Coast Guard official said at a National Day of Prayer event that religious liberty in the U.S. military is being threatened and that service members are being told to hide their faith in Christ, according to a taped remarks obtained by Fox News.

“As one general so aptly put it – they expect us to check our religion in at the door – don’t bring that here,” Rear Admiral William Lee told a National Day of Prayer gathering on Capitol Hill. “Leaders like myself are feeling the constraints of rules and regulations and guidance issued by lawyers that put us in a tighter and tighter box regarding our constitutional right to express our religious faith.”

The crowd of religious leaders and lawmakers cheered for nearly a minute when Lee vowed to defy any attempt to curtail religious liberty within the Armed Forces.

“I am coming out today to tell you I am not going to run from my religious beliefs, from my right under the Constitution to tell a young man there is hope,” he declared.

Lee told the audience he had set aside his prepared remarks and instead chose to speak from the heart about the challenges facing Christian service members.

“The problem that men and women like me face in uniform who are in senior leadership positions is that the higher you are – the more vulnerable you are to being taken down,” he said. “You get in the crosshairs of those people who lay in wait outside the gate – waiting to take us to task for expressing our faith.”

In recent days, the Pentagon has been accused of infringing on the religious liberty of Christian service members.

LCDR Nate Christensen said in a statement the Dept. 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),” the statement read.

But there have been dozens of complaints about the military targeting Christians. Last month an Army briefing labeled Evangelical Christians and Catholics as examples of religious extremism - linking them to Al Qaeda and Hamas. In another incident, an Army officer warned subordinates that the Family Research Council and American Family Association were domestic hate groups.

Todd Starnes

Todd Starnes is the host of Fox News & Commentary – heard daily on 250+ radio stations. He’s also the author of “Dispatches From Bitter America.” To check out all of his work you can visit his website or follow him on Twitter @toddstarnes. In his spare time, Todd is active in his church, plays golf, follows SEC football, and eats barbecue. He lives in New York City.