Senators challenging White House on religious expression in military

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  • elarue NEW YORK, NY
    June 21, 2013 11:10 a.m.

    The problem with the whole attacks on "freedom of religion" is that it is being perpetrated by people who are claiming to be the victims of attacks on their freedom of religion. We have a problem with Islamophobia in the military, as if our military crusades are a war on Islam. We're using our tax dollars to hold military seminars on whether or not Jesus died for Klingons. Have you ever seen Full Metal Jacket, where they sing happy birthday to Jesus and then listen to a drill sergeant preach about how God loves the Marines because they pack heaven with fresh souls? Is that what you want going on in our military? Keep religious freedom free, and don't pressure our servicemen into any specific set of beliefs. And before you go accusing someone of attacks on religion, make sure who's _really_ perpetrating those attacks.

  • FT1/SS Virginia Beach, VA
    June 21, 2013 8:39 a.m.

    There are alot of comments posted, that tell me the poster's have no clue what goes on in the military regarding religion. Here's an education that I will share from my career.
    1. I've witness nobody forcing religon on anybody. Sharing religous thoughts as an invited conversation, yes. But, be prepared to be ridicule by others in a large command, not likley to be ridicled in a small command where everyone knows and rely on one another.
    2. Just less than half in the military are athiest (especially the younger generation coming in), and most have the morality of a dirty mop bucket. Very few have consistent religous values. Alot of in betweener's.
    3. The chaplain services on bases are a joke. But usefull on large Navy ships. Those who uses them on base are somewhat religous on Sundays, and others maybe looking for a good site for a wedding service because the chapel looks pretty.
    4. I no longer know of anybody who serves because there patriotic. There in for the paycheck, and technical skills.

    These were the thoughts I gave a religous nephew recently. "not worth it"!. Unless he's after the paycheck and skills.

  • slpa1 West Jordan, UT
    June 20, 2013 9:33 p.m.

    "The committee rejected a proposal to add atheists, humanists and 'ethical culturalists' to the chaplains corps..."

    Someone proposed adding atheists to the chaplain corps?


  • TeaPublican Houston, TX
    June 20, 2013 8:44 p.m.

    Well good people of Utah. In checking all the "fact check" sites, it appears the Pentagon merely restated its long-held policy that military members can “share their faith (evangelize)” but “not force unwanted, intrusive attempts to convert others … to one’s beliefs (proselytization).” But I tell you what, if we can get newspapers, AM talk radio and FoxNews to continue to say that Obama is trying to stop Christians from sharing their faith...well...I know darn well we will get people to believe it if we repeat it often enough!

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    June 20, 2013 5:54 p.m.

    @very concerned
    I have read the 1st amendment and I read quite differently than you, and so did the founding fathers who:

    published the Koran, published the bible, published Jefferson's new testament abridgements, paid for missionaries to the Indians, built government buildings with religious inscriptions and artwork.

    They had religion in schools

    And mentioned the importance and a religious and moral people.

    Just to mention few ways the founding father practiced ans exercised the 1st amendment. the founding did.

    What is clear is that they did not want government favoring a religion or religious organization (this alone would stop any national establishment of a particular religion),

    And they did not want government inferring in any religion, and some religions proselytizing is part of their religion.

    Military leaders encouraging attendance to a religious organization does NOT favor any any religion or religious organization.

    The founding fathers would clearly find this quite okay.

  • New to Utah PAYSON, UT
    June 20, 2013 4:53 p.m.

    Pragmatistforlife, actually I have been around the block and down the lane in politics. My daughter recently lived in DC and my brother is in DC now. She interfaced with the dept of energy and was flabergasted at the incompetent political appointments Obama has made. I have helped on a US Senate campaign and Govenors campaign in a liberal state. I know for a fact that Obama is a hardcore leftist. He has tried to take out his opponent before they even face each other. He has failed to bring hope and change. He is a liberal to the core, gay marriage, abolish don't ask don't tell, criminalize being a Christian in the military. He is against energy independence and has spent astonishing amounts of money for clean energy companies that have cost taxpayers billions. He will probably make a big push on global warming, its what he was taught and what he believes.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    June 20, 2013 1:55 p.m.

    New to Utah.."Barack Obama is a hardcore leftist president". So are you new to the United States also? You apparently have no idea what hardcore left is. Recycled Heritage foundation ideas and left over Bush era policies are not hardcore left.

  • OHBU Columbus, OH
    June 20, 2013 1:04 p.m.

    Rustymommy: "What would an atheist chaplain say to a soldier? "May you die in the assurance that life is completely over for you and you have nothing to look forward to."? or perhaps, "As you head into battle, find comfort in the belief that there is nobody out there in the universe who cares what happens to you." "

    A chaplain's primary role is to provide emotional and spiritual support. Neither of these require the belief in God. Military members do not fight just because they believe God wants them to. I would argue the majority fight because they believe in defending freedom and basic human rights. Contrary to your assertion, just because an atheist doesn't believe in God, it doesn't mean they have no one that cares for them. It also doesn't mean they can't act with a hope in a better future. Many don't think of God, but their kids. Much of our cultural moral and ethical standards in the West are still aligned with Socratic notions. That is, a man who willingly accepted death on principle, though he was being killed for his atheistic beliefs.

  • Lane Myer Salt Lake City, UT
    June 20, 2013 12:58 p.m.

    Apologies SC: you're on my side and against what Sen Lee is proposing. I retread your post and I jumped the gun. Forgive me for my error.

  • Lane Myer Salt Lake City, UT
    June 20, 2013 12:55 p.m.

    The SChemist: what you related is exactly why this is needed. It does not stop anyone from being religious, but stops those in command from abusing those under them by making them adhere to the commanders ideas. No proselytizing. No forcing your religion on others.
    Read up on this. Listen to those in the military (there are two posts right here that explain what is going on and why this is needed.). It might surprise you to learn that you actually agree with pres obamaon this one thing.

  • very concerned Sandy, UT
    June 20, 2013 12:52 p.m.

    There IS a middle ground on which people of faith can act on religious beliefs but not force them on others, especially when they are in a position of power and authority over those of different beliefs. We can vote our consciences, espouse our doctrines, and publically express our beliefs, but when it comes to coercion or force, that is not true religion.

  • very concerned Sandy, UT
    June 20, 2013 12:51 p.m.

    Why would one fight this amendment as long as someone’s beliefs are not forced on others. Where is the middle ground these days? Where is common sense?

    To quote, *(The amendment) clarifies that expressions of belief that do not have an adverse impact on military readiness, good order, and discipline are to be accommodated by the Armed Services,* Coercing someone under you WOULD have an *adverse impact*, but allowing men and women to pray together or to allow chaplains to practice their beliefs wouldn’t. I would tend to think the opposite.

    Serving in combat seems hard enough that taking away things like prayer would have an *adverse impact.* The amendment needs to be there to protect valid religious rights among those who fight to protect those rights. I think Mr. Obama seems to have a policy of encroaching on religious rights whenever he can get away with it.

    Please read the first amendment, * Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;*. It is clear the Founding Fathers wanted to protect us from state-sponsored religion while protecting religion from state-sponsored control/persecution.

  • very concerned Sandy, UT
    June 20, 2013 12:49 p.m.

    @Lost in DC
    *it was RELIGION that caused Hitler, Stalin, and Mao to kill close to 100,000,000 between them*
    I respectfully - but firmly - disagree. From what I have studied and heard, Hitler, Stalin, and Mao were psychopaths who may have wrongfully used perverse religious tactics to achieve their goals. They were megalomaniacs who misused some religious issues to get what they wanted. They do not represent true religion.

    Moving on, as a returned missionary myself, I do have sympathy for those in the military whose rights have been infringed upon by superiors. There should be no place in the military for someone to coerce another in a religious issue by virtue of their rank. I see that plain and clear. Military superiors should not be able to force religion (or any particular denomination) on their subordinates. That would destroy man’s agency and I don’t think our Savior would approve.

    However, I think the wording of the bill is still appropriate and necessary. The direction the administration is going necessitates the clarification in the amendment’s wording. It seems reasonable and makes sense.

  • Blue Salt Lake City, UT
    June 20, 2013 12:46 p.m.

    As I'm reading some of these reality-free comments about "religious persecution" and "hardcore leftist President," all I can say is that when your information comes from FOX, talk radio and the right wing echo chamber... "Garbage in, garbage out."

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    June 20, 2013 12:35 p.m.

    This isn't preventing people in the military from being religious, it prevents them from acting like they're missionaries and things like commanders requiring those under them to go to particular religious events. Stuff like that.

  • The Skeptical Chymist SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    June 20, 2013 11:27 a.m.

    There has been a pushback in recent years, particularly by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), to protect the religious freedom of soldiers from fundamentalist, proselyting officers who abuse their power. The MRFF receives complaints from soldiers, the vast majority of whom are Christian, who feel they have no where else to turn. They work in a hostile work environment where they aren't "Christian enough" for their commanders, who order their subordinates to participate in religious rituals that they fundamentally disagree with.

    You should read some of the letters that the MRFF receives from soldiers who have been abused by the command structure. They show that there is at least a subculture in the military that is all about control by the fundamentalist Christians. It is the same mindset that condones the rape of servicewomen - only this time it is directed toward anyone who is different - atheists, Jews, Christians who aren't Christian enough. Heaven help you if you are Muslim in this environment. Thank goodness that the MRFF exists - it has blunted some of the worst excesses.

    This ridiculous amendment is absolutely unnecessary, and portrays the bullies as those in need of protection.

  • New to Utah PAYSON, UT
    June 20, 2013 10:56 a.m.

    Barack Obama is a hardcore leftist president who has used his office to further their agenda.Obama is commander and chief but he doesn't particularly care about those serving. He has not really helped the VA or wounded soldiers. He has pushed to ban don't ask don't tell. He is forcing women into combat. Go to any base and visit with the soldiers which I have done and many don't think the commander and chief is covering their back. He has ultra left people making suggestions to hurt those who have strong Christian beliefs. He is pushing to have it almost criminalized to say you are a Christian.

  • UtefromAZ Phoenix, AZ
    June 20, 2013 10:49 a.m.

    So people can get in trouble for peacefully expressing their religion. But sexual asault cases are flying under the radar with no detection? Please tell me what's wrong with this picture.

  • Rustymommy Clovis, NM
    June 20, 2013 10:12 a.m.

    One has to wonder why there would be a proposal to provide chaplains for atheists. What would an atheist chaplain say to a soldier? "May you die in the assurance that life is completely over for you and you have nothing to look forward to."? or perhaps, "As you head into battle, find comfort in the belief that there is nobody out there in the universe who cares what happens to you." If you don't believe in any kind of religion, what is the point of a chaplain? I am happy to have chaplains for all types of faiths including hindu, muslim, budhist,christian, jewish, etc. But if your religious belief is that religion doesn't exist, then why should a chaplain exist? Sounds like a huge waste of taxpayer money to even have to discuss this matter.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 20, 2013 10:08 a.m.

    Conservatives, republicans, religions and business in general are pushing the idea that corporations are people. And thus these organizations are straining against the chains (rules and regulations) that bind them and would remove the effect and protection of the individual person that has been a part of the American creed.

    If the people who would help the individual soldier survive his ordeal have morphed into salesmen for their product, they have no place in the military.

  • There You Go Again Saint George, UT
    June 20, 2013 10:04 a.m.


    Thanks for the daily update of Republican Talking Points/FOX Improbable Infomercials.

    BTW...I've lost trust in all of the above.

  • Mighty Mouse Salt Lake City, Utah
    June 20, 2013 9:16 a.m.

    Another example of incompetent leadership and disrespect for the Constitutional rights of citizens from the White House. A substantial percentage of the Armed Forces is religiously devout. So what is the logical impact of this message to the morale of those troops who do practice their religion? Great way to honor the service and sacrifice of these good men and women who have chosen to serve their country in this way. I have always tried to respect the Office of President regardless of who occupies that position but I am sad to admit that this President has lost my trust. Covering up the sale of guns to Mexican drug lords, supporting the radicalization of the Middle East, cowardly leaving a U.S. Ambassador to die to conceal a terrorist attack from the people, using the IRS to punish his political enemies, using secret email accounts to conceal high level communications, spying on and intimidating the free press, invading the private phone calls of all Americans, forcing religious charities to provide contraceptives in violation of their beliefs, shamelessly using a national tragedy to advance his anti-gun agenda and the list goes on.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    June 20, 2013 9:05 a.m.

    you are SOOOOO right!.

    it was RELIGION that caused Hitler, Stalin, and Mao to kill close to 100,000,000 between them. Yep, you nailed it!

  • CHS 85 Sandy, UT
    June 20, 2013 9:02 a.m.

    How many of you posters above have actually served in the military? Like FatherOfFour, I served in the Army and spent a year in Baghdad. Overzealous and preachy First Sergeants and Commanders destroy unit cohesion just as fast as weak, ineffective leaders. The last thing I wanted to hear from my First Sergeant is how I needed to go to church. People in his little circle who attended religious services with him got special treatment as well.

    Standing in formation in an official military status is not the place to be preached to by an overzealous First Sergeant.

    June 20, 2013 8:41 a.m.


    I disagree completely. I served 8 years in the Army and was operationally deployed three times. I spent more than a year in Baghdad. I served as a combat engineer (explosives and demolitions) and later as Explosive Ordinance Disposal. I worked in Fallujah and Ramadi as well. I am an athiest. I knew several soldiers that deployed with no interest in religion, but who came home very religious. I also know several soldiers who deployed as very religious (even Mormon) and came home athiest.

  • Lane Myer Salt Lake City, UT
    June 20, 2013 8:40 a.m.

    Ps- hat are beinMormon soldiers are sometime the ones who are being abused by their born again commanders, but it sounds like you are for this. Really? Or are you unaware of why and what Obama signed?

  • Mr.Glass Salt Lake City, UT
    June 20, 2013 8:36 a.m.

    Conservative Christians complain they are being persecuted when government tells them that a military organization can't force their religious beliefs on its members.

    The administration is not saying you can't be religious. Those who say otherwise are either intellectually dishonest or misinformed. The only issue stems from military personnel trying to force their religious beliefs on others. Belief what you want. Just stop trying to make other people believe what you believe when it's time to serve in the military or any other government related job.

  • Lane Myer Salt Lake City, UT
    June 20, 2013 8:36 a.m.

    Some of you posters have not been reading about what has been happening in the military. It it the commanders that are ordering their soldiers to services. They must attend or do guard, latrine or kp duties. This is helping each soldier choose their own path and not be intimidated by their superior. That is the reason for the no proselyting rule. Their is no rule on personal expression of faith.
    I am sure you would all agree if you had a son or daughter serving under one of these generals that believe that his way is the only way.

  • Downtime Saint George, UT
    June 20, 2013 8:22 a.m.

    You can be gay. You can be bi. You can be atheist. You can be trans-gender. You can dress like any gender you want. And you will be protected by this administration and its cronies. But you can never be religious! It is the unpardonable sin.

  • J-TX Allen, TX
    June 20, 2013 8:01 a.m.

    There are no atheists in foxholes.

    Obama, in his infinite wisdom and demonstrated good judgement would like to try to change this millennia-old maxim. He is on the wrong side of every moral argument.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    June 20, 2013 7:28 a.m.

    According to Mr. Lee it's ok, correct and necessary, that military commanders retain sole power to recognize and prosecute rape in the military but proselytizing, oh no.

  • DRay Roy, UT
    June 20, 2013 6:21 a.m.

    Virtually every soul will have a bias regarding this issue; why risk ones life to protect unprotectable, by law, freedoms? Religious liberty must be provided or the or the cause of freedom would cease to exist. We must defend the Constitution without losing sight of improving the economy, etc. Unity, liberty & justice, opportunity for all must be considered. I want elected reps to defend my right to religious freedom,

  • JBQ Saint Louis, MO
    June 20, 2013 6:08 a.m.

    Mr. Obama is a national socialist who does not particularly care for religion. He sees it as patriarchal and discriminatory against women and gays. Mr. Truman rightfully used the military to break discrimination against African-Americans. What Mr. Obama is doing with the military is a lot more controversial and which has Orwellian implications.

  • spring street SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    June 19, 2013 11:44 p.m.

    Wait that can't be right, are you trying to tell us this was not an evil consperecy startedd by Obama to strip lost of everything?

  • merich39 Salt Lake City, UT
    June 19, 2013 10:16 p.m.

    If I understand correctly, no one is arguing that service members are restricted from worshipping in any way. The restrictions are on proselytizing. Is proselytizing to be considered an non-restrictable constitutional right?

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    June 19, 2013 10:12 p.m.

    The very existence of religion in the military is a strong indicator of why religion persists today. It's about power. It's about getting good people to do bad things. Religion is the easiest way for one person or group to control another, and to justify heinous activities we are otherwise programmed to know are wrong. Religion should be absolutely forbidden in the military except for on an exclusively personal level.

  • Oatmeal Woods Cross, UT
    June 19, 2013 9:38 p.m.

    Proselytization was against the Uniform Code thirty years ago when I was a full-time LDS missionary with an Air Force base in my area. This appears to be another scuffle in the "Culture War." Senator Lee is playing games for publicity.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    June 19, 2013 7:39 p.m.

    I thought Jobs were BO's top priority. I guess not. Suppression of first, second, and fourth amendment rights appear to be his top priority.

    Too bad our congressional representative have to "weasel" to ensure our constitutional rights are proterct4ed from the abuses of the BO misadministration.

    Keep up the good fight, Mr. Lee, working hard for the people of Utah.

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    June 19, 2013 6:58 p.m.

    I thought Jobs were your number one priority Mr. Lee, Not weaseling special laws to protect religious folks into a Funding Bill. Most of the discrimination that the religious right is worried about is being carried out on NON-christians.

    Now please do something for the People of Utah, instead of message bills about the war on Christmas.