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Collins, Lamborn Urge DOD to Protect Religious Liberty in the Midst of COVID-19

May 14, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON — Reps. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) today led 18 of their colleagues in sending a letter to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper urging him to protect the religious liberty of our servicemen and women as commands across the globe give in to baseless demands from anti-faith outside groups.

“In recent weeks, an outside organization with a reputation for preying on military chaplains has exploited the current pandemic in an effort to ruin the careers of the hardworking men and women who serve as military chaplains,” Collins said. “As a chaplain in the Air Force Reserve, I find these attacks especially atrocious as they threaten the very freedoms our servicemembers fight to protect. I appreciate Congressman Lamborn for partnering with me to stand up for the religious freedom of our servicemembers, and I hope Secretary Esper will take action to ensure each Service is protecting its members’ religious liberties.”

“Far too often, commanders react hastily to vocal anti-religion activists who attempt to obstruct our troops' first amendment rights,” said Lamborn. “These decisions are often overturned, but only after the intervention of Congress. These infringements on the constitutional rights of our servicemembers must end. I am thankful for Congressman Collins' leadership on this critical issue, and I hope that our military will enforce the religious liberties of our chaplains and servicemen and women.”

Because of the coronavirus outbreak, military chaplains were forced to adjust their methods in order to fulfill their obligations to their fellow servicemen and women. Unfortunately, outside groups bent on removing faith from the military attacked their lawful actions. These instances include:

“These complaints show that this organization and its leaders refuse to see the difference between evangelizing and proselytization and wish to ruin the careers of the hardworking men and women who serve as military chaplains,” they wrote. “Unfortunately, the Department (of Defense) 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.”

The 2013 and 2014 National Defense Authorization Acts included provisions aimed at protecting the rights and consciences of our servicemen and women, including military chaplains. Specifically, these provisions protect the expression of religious beliefs in the military unless those beliefs could have an adverse impact on readiness, cohesion, good order, and discipline. Army regulations further protect the religious expression of servicemembers. 

Read the full letter here.