Concerns about a culture of discrimination and hostility toward faith in the US Military have led Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to demand an explanation from Defense Secretary Mark Esper. He sent the secretary a letter asking him to stop the “targeting of religious individuals.”
“The department must do better,” the letter said. “It must take affirmative steps to stop those in its ranks from targeting religious individuals and violating the United States Constitution.”
Cruz also mentioned in his letter Christian Air Force veteran Jay Lorenzen. Lorenzen was slated to speak at an annual training event for Marine Corps JAG reservists in July, but his appearance was canceled after the Military Religious Freedom Foundation complained that Lorenzen’s beliefs would influence his presentation. In a previous letter, Cruz wrote that he worried that the foundation was “waging a campaign against the chaplaincy, and frankly, against religious freedom in the military generally.”
In his follow-up letter, he said the Department of Defense is “unabashedly discriminating” against believers. Attacks on faith increased rapidly under the Obama administration. The military was asked to remove any reference to all faith as to not “offend” those that did not practice it.
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) August 7, 2020
“The First Amendment unambiguously protects the free exercise of religion;” he wrote “More to the point, it protects ‘religious observers against unequal treatment… on the basis of religious status’. The government is prohibited from discriminating against individuals based on their religious faith or religious practice. Nevertheless, the department is unabashedly discriminating against religious individuals.”.
Cruz has given Esper until Aug. 10 to respond to his letter, specifically asking him to address three questions:
- What actions, if any, the department has taken in response to the June 9, 2020, letter urging the department to implement the religious liberty training program that Congress has mandated?
- What actions, if any, has the department has taken to discipline the individual who unlawfully prohibited Lorenzen from leading the Gettysburg discussion because of his faith?
- What other actions, if any, is the department taking to address its culture of hostility toward religion?
–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice