US

Retired Colonel: Service Members’ Religious Liberties Under Threat

Catrina Head Contributor

WASHINGTON — Enlisted service members and officers are scared to go to Bible studies, have lost positions because they endorsed the Christian doctrine of marriage and have been forced to remove Bible verses from public view, retired Col. Ron Crews, executive director of Chaplain Alliance For Religious Liberty charged Monday.

“Not too long ago there was a cadet at the Air Force Academy who outside of his dorm room, they had little whiteboards and he had written a Bible verse. … He was told he had to erase it because it was offensive,” Crews said at the Reserve Officer’s Association Building Monday. “Now people could write … some lyrics from a song, but a Bible verse was deemed offensive, and our view is that that’s wrong.”

The Monday event was held as a “coming out party” of sorts for the organization and a way to raise awareness about the issue of religious liberty in the military, according to Crews.

Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk, who was among the guests at the Monday event, claimed he was relieved of his duties as first sergeant of a training squadron and forced to take leave because he disagreed with his commanding officer’s position on gay marriage, on religious grounds.

According to the Liberty Institute, his commander told Monk that if he did not agree with her on the grounds that objecting to gay marriage was discrimination, he would be relocated.

After the incident, Monk filed a complaint and the Air Force opened an investigation. The investigator assigned to his case accused Monk of making false statements, but upon further examination, cleared him of the accusations. When asked about the matter Monday, Monk referred The Daily Caller to his attorney, as the case is ongoing.

Republican Louisiana Rep. John Fleming has sponsored an amendment that would specify, “Except in cases of military necessity, the Armed Forces shall accommodate the beliefs, actions, and speech” of service members. Fleming and Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, chairman of the House of Armed Services Committee, were honored for their work on the amendment at the event Monday. Monk expressed his appreciation of the congressmen and organization’s work.

“Rep. Fleming has been absolutely essential to protecting the religious freedoms of service members,” Monk said.

During the panel Monday, retired Maj. Gen. Douglas L. Carver blamed the rise of secularism in today’s society for what he described as shrinking religious freedom in the military.

“Our culture is changing,” Carver said. “People perhaps are losing their foundations upon which this nation was found. … It’s not unusual to see a young person who has not held Holy Scripture in their hands in the United States of America.”