Marine Commander Refuses To Take Down ‘God Bless The Military’ Sign

Casey Harper | Contributor

The commanding officer of Marine Corps Base Hawaii is standing up to anti-religion activists, saying he will not take down a “God bless the military” road sign.

The sign in question reads “God bless the military, their families, and the civilians who work with them,” but the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) is demanding the sign be taken down or moved to a chapel, saying it violates the Constitution by endorsing religion on government property.

But commanding officer of the base Col. Sean Killeen is refusing.

“Our legal team has conducted exhaustive research on this issue,” Killeen wrote in a response letter to MRFF. “Several Supreme Court cases and other federal cases, to include the 9th Circuit, support the conclusion that the message on the sign does not violate the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. ‘God bless’ is commonly used in our culture in a number of contexts and there are numerous references to God in this nation’s symbols, songs, mottos, and oaths. This sign has the secular purpose of conveying a message of support, but does not advance or inhibit religion or any particular faith, nor does it foster excessive government entanglement with religion.”

The sign has been in that spot for over a decade and was put up to support those deployed in response to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The dispute is on the verge of a legal battle.

MRFF argues that if the sign is left up, dozens of other religious groups should be allowed to put up signs as well, including the Church of Satan and the Jedi Church. It says their signs could say “Satan Bless” or “May the Force be with.”

“Your claim that the sign is merely a message of support simply cannot hold water if you simultaneously refuse to allow service members of other religious faiths or of no faith to display similar ‘messages of support.'” Mikey Weinstein, founder and president of MRFF, wrote in response to Killeen’s refusal. “To the contrary, your insistence to display the sign in isolation demonstrates an intent to promote religion over no religion and to show preference for one religion (Christianity) over others.”

MRFF’s legal affairs coordinator Tobanna Barker responded to Killeen’s decision saying his argument that the sign broadly applies to everyone is disingenuous.

“Your claim that the sign ‘has the secular purpose of conveying a message of support’ is implausible,” Barker wrote in the letter. “First, the sign plainly fails to show support toward service members whose religious faiths do not include the Judeo-Christian ‘God,’ or toward those who practice no religion at all.”

The Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty supports of Killeen, saying the courts have repeatedly ruled in favor of similar signs.

“We commend Col. Killeen for his decision to abide by the U.S. Constitution and decline to remove a perfectly legitimate sign, which was erected when service men and women were being deployed shortly after 9/11,” Chaplain (COL) Ron Crews, USA Retired, executive director of Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, said in a statement. “From the founding of our country, every president, including President Obama, has called on God to bless America. This sign can certainly do so as well.”

Courtesy ADF

Courtesy Alliance Defending Freedom

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