Tell the Pentagon It's No Crime to Share Your Faith
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Sponsor: Jesus Loves You
Ambiguous military rules leave those who share their faith vulnerable to disciplinary action.
Several recent events have caused a great deal of alarm among those who are concerned with religious liberty. The heart of this issue is one of conscience and freedom of religion: soldiers who "proselytize" their faith face reprimand or court-martial under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
In a statement, the Pentagon tried to assure the faithful that military personnel would not be court-martialed if they "evangelized." Unfortunately, "proselytizing" and "evangelizing" are virtually synonymous terms, leaving service members vulnerable to a subjective interpretation of the Uniform Code.
This is truly a First Amendment crisis. The First Amendment states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech ". No matter what God one worships, as Americans we all have the sacred right to share our faiths.
Join us in asking Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to remove any prohibitions against proselytizing from the Uniform Code of Military Justice and respect the First Amendment rights of service men and women.
Currently, United States military service men and women are faced with a painful dilemma of conscience. Those wishing to exercise their religious liberties, which are protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, risk exposing themselves to possible disciplinary action.
While Pentagon statements claim that those who "evangelize" do not risk court-martial, under the Uniform Code of Military Justice "proselytization" is considered an offense. This confusing language could have a chilling effect on those of all faiths, leaving them fearful to express who they are and what they believe.
According to Russell Moore, president-elect of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, " no one should engage in coercion when it comes to sharing their faith with others. But there must also be room for freedom for our chaplains and military members to be distinctively Southern Baptist and for others to be distinctively Catholic or Jewish or Muslim as the case may be."
Please ensure that the United States Department of Defense will fully respect the religious diversity of all service members and their First Amendment rights to share their faith with fellow service members by eliminating threat of disciplinary action for proselytizing from the Uniform Code.