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 Chaplain Article Censored

National News Prayer-Soldier writes "

OPINION: On 24 Jul 2013, Fox News Radio reported that an Air Force Chaplain was told to remove a religious column from the base web site because it allegedly offended atheists. The article was titled, “No Atheists in Foxholes: Chaplains Gave all in World War II.” The article made a historical reference to a famous quote credited to Father William Cummings at Battan during WWII.

According to an 9 Aug 2011 American Catholic article, Father Cummings was one of five priests who participated in the Bataan Death March where 75,000 troops were driven by the Japanese Imperial Army 60 miles to internment camps. The article related that 5000-10000 Filipinos, along with 600-650 Americans, suffered death during the infamous trek.

In the allegedly offensive article written by Lt. Col. Kenneth Reyes, the story of Father Cummings was told as recounted by Roy Bodine, a POW survivor of the event. The article, now posted by the American Family Association, stated, “As the story goes, Father Cummings was a civilian missionary Catholic priest in the Philippines. The phrase [“There is no such thing as an atheist in a fox hole”] was coined during the Japanese attack at Corregidor. During the siege, Cummings had noticed non-Catholics were attending his services. Some he knew were not Catholic, some were not religious and some were even known atheists.” The article continued, “Life-and-death experiences prompt a reality check. Even the strongest of beliefs can change, and, I may add, can go both ways – people can be drawn to or away from 'faith.'”

According to (24 Jul 2013), the phrase was “made famous when President Dwight D. Eisenhower said during a 1954 speech: 'I am delighted that our veterans are sponsoring a movement to increase our awareness of God in our daily lives. In battle, they learned a great truth that there are no atheists in the foxholes.'"

President Eisenhower made the observation while free speech and freedom of religion were still protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America. Since that time, antagonists have perverted the meaning of our founding document to imply that any reference to faith by a person in a government position, such as a Chaplain responsible for religious and spiritual counseling, is a violation of the First Amendment clause which states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion....” In other words, an article about history and faith written by an Air Force Chaplain is considered to have the same force and effect as a law enacted by Congress which establishes a specific denomination as the religion of the land with codified consequences and punishments should any citizen of the Unites States of America fail to follow that law.

According to a 25 Jul 2013 article posted by the Daily Mail, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) complained to the base commander, Col. Brian Duffy, who ordered the article be stricken from the base web site. The MRFF complaint alleged that Lt. Col. Reyes violated AFI 1-1, section 2.11 which requires “Leaders at all levels must...avoid the actual or apparent use of their position to promote their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates...”

In a 24 Jul 2013 article posted by Christian News, the MRFF letter to Col Duffy was quoted as stating, “Beyond his most obvious failure in upholding regulations through redundant use of the bigoted, religious supremacist phrase, ‘no atheists in foxholes,’ he defiles the dignity of service members by telling them that regardless of their personally held philosophical beliefs they must have faith.”

Relating an opposing view, the Christian News article quoted retired Lieutenant General Jerry Boykin of the Family Research Council as stating, “A chaplain has been censored for expressing his beliefs about the role of faith in the lives of service members.” Lt. Gen. Boykin continued to ask, “Why do we have chaplains if they aren’t allowed to fulfill that purpose?”

What is overlooked in such controversies of political correctness is the portion of the First Amendment designed to protect the free speech and religious freedom of every citizen which states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;...” If the MRFF logic is followed, the posting of a historical article by a chaplain is so prejudicial to the good order and discipline of the United States military that it is not protected speech under the First Amendment. Fortunately, the MRFF is not the deciding authority, although they are entitled to their opinion. Unfortunately, the deciding authorities caved to political intimidation and failed to live up to their responsibilities to uphold the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution.

Throughout the history of the United States of America, the blood of soldiers has been shed to protect our religious freedom and free speech. This is the first cited and most fundamental right for all Americans. In making his decision to remove the article from the base web site, Col. Duffy failed to uphold the rights of service members to read of their history, including the portion of their history which inspires faith under the duress of battle and horrendous trials of human spirit. In his article, Lt. Col. Reyes did not endorse, much less legally codify and establish, any denomination of religion. It did not attempt to intimidate service members into agreeing with the article. The MRFF cannot claim that the article constitutes an abuse of power over a captive audience in that no one can be forced to read a web site. Any observer can simply choose to navigate away from the web page upon which it is posted.

The oath every service member takes upon their commissioning or enlistment includes the statement, “...I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,...” Military leaders who artificially suppress religious freedom and freedom of speech, unless there is a compelling justification to maintain the good order and discipline of the military, fail that oath. By allowing political intimidators, such as the MRFF, to dictate what service members can or cannot read is a violation of that oath.

The debate continues to rage as to the intent of the Founding Fathers when the Constitution of the land was drafted. If the intent was to silence chaplains in matters of faith, then one must ask why chaplains were procured to support the Revolutionary Army? According to General Orders published by Gen Washington on 9 Jul 1776, he wrote, “The Honorable Continental Congress having been pleased to allow a Chaplain to each Regiment, ...The Colonels or commanding officers of each regiment are directed to procure Chaplains accordingly; persons of good Characters and exemplary lives—To see that all inferior officers and soldiers pay them a suitable respect and attend carefully upon religious exercises: The blessing and protection of Heaven are at all times necessary but especially so in times of public distress and danger—The General hopes and trusts, that every officer, and man, will endeavour so to live, and act, as becomes a Christian Soldier defending the dearest Rights and Liberties of his country.”

According to paragraph 1-3, Army Field Manual 1-05, “The Army Chaplaincy is established to advise and assist commanders in the discharge of their responsibilities to provide for the free exercise of religion in the context of military service as guaranteed by the Constitution, to assist commanders in managing Religious Affairs and to serve as the principal advisors to commanders for all issues regarding the impact of religion on military operations.”

History reveals the founding fathers carried out considerable debate over the relationship of government and religion, but it is clear from the wording of the First Amendment, the intent was to preserve freedom of religion, not enforce freedom from religion. The Constitution allows the free debate of religion, but twisted logic is required to interpret the Constitution such that it results in the silencing of any mention of faith. If we allow the interpretation that government may not make any reference to matters of faith, then, by default, there is no freedom of faith in the public square.

Cited Articles and Posts:

Fox News Radio (24 Jul 2013)

The American Catholic (8 Aug 2011)

American Family Association (Not Dated)

Breitbart News (24 Jul 2013)

First Amendment Transcript (4 Mar 1789)

Daily Mail (25 Jul 2013)

Christian News (29 Jul 2013)

US Army Center of Military History (Not Dated)

Founders Archives (9 Jul 1776)

US Army FM 1-05 (5 Oct 2012) (Not Dated)


Posted on Thursday, August 01 @ 01:37:55 MDT by admin

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