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ICC Note: Over the past several years, military personnel and religious leaders in the United States have become increasingly concerned by attempts to remove expressions or symbols of faith from all branches of the US military. Some troops have been discouraged or censored for sharing their religious beliefs and religious symbols have been removed from military chapels.  Last week, the House of Representatives Subcommittee for Military Personnel held a hearing to examine these religious freedom abuses and to question the Military Religious Freedom Foundation about incendiary statements by it’s leader, including “We’ve created this foundation to be a weapon. We going to lie down a withering field of fire and leave sucking chest wounds.” 

11/20/2014 United States (Charisma) – Some say the U.S. military is now so hostile to religion, many believers in the ranks are afraid of mentioning their faith.

Because of past cases, Congress has specifically ordered the military to stop suppressing religious liberty. But there have been enough new cases in recent months that the House held a new hearing on the subject this Wednesday.

Of those testifying at the Subcommittee for Military Personnel hearing, most believe the military is becoming more hostile to troops’ religious liberty.

That belief led some of those panelists to point out the irony that it’s the troops guarding Americans’ liberty who may be most in danger of losing their own.

Retired Army Chaplain Col. Ron Crews told CBN News about one example.

“A Christian officer who wrote an article about ‘my faith has sustained me in my career’ getting pulled from a Department of Defense newsletter,” Crews said. “And at the same time an atheist writes ‘atheism sustains me’ and that’s remaining.”

Former Navy pilot Travis Weber, with the Family Research Council, pointed out, “There are still ongoing situations in which service members telling the story of their faith and how it impacts their lives in the service are being suppressed.”

Weber mentioned the case of the U.S. Air Force Academy this spring making a cadet remove a religious message he wrote on a dry erase board.

Weber also discussed the Navy Exchange Service Command ordering all Gideon Bibles be removed from Navy lodges in case their presence might offend someone, an order now on hold after much pushback.

Former Marine officer Michael Berry, with the Liberty Institute, said he worries about the effect on recruiting.

“If we start to see religious liberty being stripped away from our military, I don’t think you’ll see anybody, regardless of their political affiliation, regardless of their patriotic streak or whatever it might be,” he said. “They’re not going to want to join an organization where their religious freedoms are not protected.”

The main opponent of these panelists at the hearing was Michael Weinstein, who told CBN News they overlook the actions of overbearing, pushy Christians who intimidate others in the ranks.

Some accuse former Air Force officer Weinstein of waging a war on Christians in the military. But Weinstein said he’s waging a war on aggressive Christian proselytizers.

“The people that they think are victims are the ones persecuting the Christians that we represent,” Weinstein told CBN News shortly before he testified.

“We represent almost 40,000 members of the U.S. military and veterans, and 96 percent of our clients are Protestants or Roman Catholics who believe they are being persecuted for not being ‘Christian enough,'” he explained.

But others, like Liberty Institute’s Berry, have a different view of religious freedom. They insist the U.S. Constitution mandates protecting every American’s First Amendment rights, including the right to speak out about and act on their religious beliefs.

“Of the many freedoms that our military gives up, religious freedom is not one of them,” Berry stated.

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