Washington, D.C. (KETK) —
On Tuesday, Texas representative Louie Gohmert, joined the Family Research Council (FRC), a coalition of groups concerned about religious liberty, and Members of Congress, and participated in a Capitol Hill news conference urging support for Rep. John Fleming's (R-LA) military religious freedom amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act.
The amendment protects the right of service members to not only hold religious beliefs but to act on them and speak about them. The House Armed Services Committee adopted the amendment lain June to address growing religious hostility within the military. Rep. Fleming's amendment has found bipartisan support in the House, but the Obama administration issued a statement expressing strong opposition to the amendment. A similar amendment by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) passed the Senate Armed Services Committee with broad bipartisan support.
"This is not about religious tolerance," said Gohmert. "It's about a very small group having religious intolerance, the type of intolerenace that forced the Pilgrims to come here. Pilgrims came here to have religious freedom and we've turned 180 degrees and it seems the only group it's politically correct to be intolerant of is Christians."
In April, religious liberty concerns were heightened after anti-Christian activist Mikey Weinstein met with senior Air Force officials at the Pentagon and pressed for the court-martial of Christian service members who share their faith. More than 170,000 Americans signed petitions calling on Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to protect the religious liberties of military personnel through policies that guarantee those liberties. Concerns among the American public increased following a Rear Admiral's speech at a National Day of Prayer event in which he recounted a story of his decision to violate military rules preventing him from giving a Bible to a soldier who had attempted suicide.
"George Washington issued an order that the men were not to take God's name in vain," stated Gohmert. "The reason being, how can we ask the same God who is blessing us to bless the same mouths of those who are taking the Lord's name in vain. How do you think the father of our country would feel if someone came in and said you can even refer to God?"
Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry Boykin, executive vice president of FRC, outlined the purpose of the news conference:
"We will stand with service members who wish to exercise their First amendment rights of religious liberty. We will encourage legislation to protect the religious liberty of military members, and we will do all we can to inform the American public about the attacks on religious liberty in the military. We must do all we can to ensure that our servicemembers have the right to practice the very freedoms that they risk their lives to defend."
Gohmert joined Tony Perkins, president of the FRC, Rep. John Fleming (R-LA), Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), Ron Crews, Ch. (Col.) USAR (Ret.), executive director, Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty and Boykin in the Captiol Hill address at The House Triangle.
Coalition members supporting the effort included; Tim Wildmon, president, American Family Association, Frank Gaffney, president, Center for Security Policy, Tom Fitton, president, Judicial Watch, Mat Staver, founder and chairman, Liberty Counsel, Gary L. Bauer, president, American Values and Tommy Sears, executive director, Center for Military Readiness.
"If this administration is going to continue to tolerate this kind of intolerance, you will lose members of the military who will not serve if their first amendment rights won't be protected in regards to religion,” said Gohmert. "To take away religious flexibilities that have always been there, for particularly Christians, will not only devastate the military but devastate the country."