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Collins Introduces NDAA Amendment to Protect Service Members’ Right to Attend Religious Gatherings

Jul 14, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON — Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) today introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021 that would prevent the Department of Defense from issuing any guidance, order, or regulation that restricts – on the basis of public health – any service member’s attendance at religious services or gatherings if similar guidance does not exist for other gatherings.

The introduction of this amendment comes two weeks after the U.S. Navy issued an order banning service members from attending indoor religious services under the threat of court-martial. The Navy has since reversed its order.

“While we can all agree that the health and safety of our troops is critical during the ongoing public health crisis, singling out religious gatherings while allowing other activities and unrestricted social gatherings to take place is unlawful,” Collins said. “This amendment will guarantee that our men and women in uniform are able to freely exercise the very freedoms they fight to protect each and every day.”

Earlier this month, Collins and Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper blasting the U.S. Navy’s recent order prohibiting service members and chaplains from attending off-base religious services indoors while simultaneously allowing social gatherings of any size, signaling a disparity in how religious services are treated in the Navy.

On May 14, 2020, Collins, Lamborn, and a number of their colleagues sent a letter to Secretary Esper urging him to protect the religious liberty of our servicemen and women as commands across the globe were giving in to baseless demands from anti-faith outside groups.

Collins is a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and the only military chaplain serving in Congress.