Army Captain Russell Rippetoe was killed on April 3, 2003 when the enemy detonated a car bomb at a military checkpoint in western Iraq.
When they recovered Capt. Rippetoe’s body, they discovered that he was wearing an inspirational dog tag created by Shields of Strength, a family-owned company in Texas.
The dog tag was adorned with a Bible verse from the Old Testament, Joshua 1:9.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go,” the verse read.
President George W. Bush referenced the captain’s dog tag during a Memorial Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery.
After the ceremony, Shields of Strength was overwhelmed by telephone calls and orders for replica dog tags.
For more than 20 years, they’ve either sold or given away more than 4 million dog tags emblazoned with the official logos of the military branches along with Bible verses.
Their mission is to “share the love, hope, forgiveness and power of God’s Word with others and to see people victorious in life’s battles and in a relationship with Jesus Christ.
For decades, soldiers went into battle knowing that around their necks was a reminder that the Lord Almighty was by their side.
“Those dog tags were a source of strength and hope and encouragement, particularly for our members of faith in the military,” First Liberty Institute attorney Michael Berry said during an interview on The Todd Starnes Radio Show.
In 2019, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation got wind of the replica dog tags and became enraged.
The MRFF, founded by Mikey Weinstein, has developed a notorious reputation for being triggered by public displays of Christianity within the military.
They are especially aggrieved by Nativity Scenes on military bases during the Christmas season.
The MRFF demanded that the Pentagon pull the trademark licensing - arguing that it was against the law, Berry said.
“It took less than 48 hours for the Department of Defense to turn around and tell Shields of Faith after 20 years of working together to stop,” the attorney said.
Cease and desist, the Pentagon declared, telling Shields of Faith they could no longer produce or sell licensed items with religious content.
“They cited Mikey Weinstein’s complaint in an article,” Berry told me. “It really did surprise me how quickly our Pentagon capitulated to the threats of a bully.”
First Liberty Institute has filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Military on behalf of Kenny and Tammie Vaughan, the owners of Shields of Strength.
First Liberty says the military’s edict violates the Free Exercise Clause, the Establishment Clause and the Free Speech Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
“There’s no legal reason for the military to discriminate against Shields of Strength,” Berry said.
“The Pentagon is saying, ‘Oh, we’re more than happy to license dog tags that don’t have any Scripture on them. That’s perfectly fine. But if it has a Scripture verse, then it’s now prohibited. It’s outlawed.”
Berry told me the military’s decision has been heartbreaking for the Vaughan family. They consider themselves to be patriots.
In years past, they would get calls from commanding officers requesting hundreds of thousands of complimentary dog tags emblazoned with Joshua 1:9 for troops bound for deployment.
But now, they must reject those requests.
“He tells me with tears in his eyes that he has to say no to chaplains, to commanding officers and military units,” Berry said.
Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-TX) told me he was disgusted by the Pentagon’s capitulation.
“It just pisses me off to no end, to be honest with you,” said the member of the House Armed Services Committee. “All they care about is their social agenda. And they legitimately say the United States is their big social experiment.”
I reckon we should not be all that shocked to learn that our woke military waved the white flag of surrender to a bunch of anti-Christian thugs who earn a living by being offended.