Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., told the “Todd Starnes Radio Show” Thursday that chaplains in the U.S. military have been on the receiving end of anti-religion bigotry and wrote a letter demanding that Secretary of Defense Mark Esper take action.
“You would think that these chaplains were out abusing people or hurting people,” Collins said, referring to what he sees as mistreatment from anti-religion groups.
Collins pointed to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation as the main reason the chaplains find themselves being targeted. The group claims that when these chaplains promote their faith, they are violating the separation of church and state.
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The group’s CEO Mikey Weinstein recently sent a demand letter that four videos be taken down from official military Facebook pages. One video addressed the coronavirus pandemic and said, “God encourages us not to be dismayed by what we see around us, things we cannot control. We can, however, with the best intel in this moment, place our trust in him, walk forward in his strength, and treat others with kindness.”
Another incident included a chaplain who hosted a Sunday service from his military quarter’s balcony.
Collins, a chaplain in the Air Force Reserve, wrote in a letter that it is clear that “Army commands are not on the same page about how to address religious liberty issues” with “knee-jerk” reactions to “loud complaints from vocal anti-religion activists,” something that must end.
“These complaints show that [MRFF] and its leaders…wish to ruin the careers of the hardworking men and women who serve as military chaplains,” Collins continued. “Unfortunately, the Department and the Army have been far too quick to restrict the religious freedom of chaplains and the servicemembers they serve as a result of this group attacks.”
Fox News reported that Collins’ appeal to Esper was joined by other representatives, including Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., and Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.
“Far too often, commanders react hastily to vocal anti-religion activists who attempt to obstruct our troops’ first amendment rights,” Lamborn said in a release. “These decisions are often overturned, but only after the intervention of Congress. These infringements on the constitutional rights of our service members must end.”