23 Members of Congress submit complaint to Panetta re: MRFF Influence

July 10, 2012
The Honorable Leon E. Panetta
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon Room 3E880
Washington, D.C. 20301-1000

Dear Mr. Secretary:
We write today to express our concern over recent actions to remove military insignias from Bibles. As you are aware, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) is claiming responsibility for the revocation of permission for B&H Publishing group to use official emblems on its military-themed Bibles. While we are aware that each branch has replied individually to the MRFF, they did so on the same day with similar responses, and we are  alarmed by the appearance of the Department of Defense bowing to a third party.

Religious freedom is one the founding principles of our nation. Enshrined in the First Amendment is the right for Americans to worship our creator without the obstruction of the government. The brave men and women who have committed their lives to protect and defend the Constitution should surely be granted this fundamental opportunity. We are frustrated by outside groups aiming to limit these protections, but we are troubled by the fact that the Department of Defense has not clearly renounced these attempts and stated its intentions to preserve religious freedom in the military.

Clarity on this issue is needed, and we look forward to your response on how the decision to revoke this trademark permission was made and what the Department of Defense is doing to ensure that the religious freedom of the members of our military is preserved and protected. We appreciate your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,
Alan Nunnelee (MS)
Todd Akin (MO)
Sandy Adams (FL)
Roscoe Bartlett (MD)
Paul Broun (GA)
Ann Marie Buerkle (NY)
Renee Ellmers (NC)
Randy Forbes (VA)
Gregg Harper (MS)
Andy Harris (MD)
Vicky Hartzler (MO)
Randy Hultgren (IL)
Tim Huelskamp (KS)
Bill Johnson (OH)
Walter Jones (NC)
Mike Kelly (PA)
John Kline (MN)
James Lankford (OK)
Doug Lamborn (CO)
Jeff Miller (FL)
Steven Palazzo (MS)
Dennis Ross (FL)
Lynn Westmoreland (GA)

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    3 Comments

    1. Robert Martinez

      Like all good liars, these “representatives” include a kernel of truth in their spiel. Yes, the Constitution allows worship as THE INDIVIDUAL sees fit. The Constitution prohibits GOVERNMENTAL ENDORSEMENT of any religion. Putting a governmental stamp on a bible – and a military one, at that – is to drag our government by slow degrees into respecting an establishment of religion, which the Constitution expressly forbids. These legislators should all, at the very least, be impeached for this treasonous reasoning, not to mention ruining the reputation of our armed forces in the eyes of the rest of the world. Trying to ram something down someone else’s throat usually results in the second party vomiting, and if we continue to try and ram fundamentalist christianity down the gullets of others, especially in the Middle East, we can’t be surprised if they wind up puking on us.

    2. Johnny C Godowski

      “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or the free exercise thereof” – I read that somewhere

      Some take this to mean that taxes do not go automatically to a State Sanctioned religion.

      Seems fair enough.

      ‘Respecting the establishment’ has many meanings – ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ has evolved
      to freedom in that regard. Policy to the contrary was in place due to ‘establishment of religion’ in military policy – so now contrary policy having its basis in religion is no longer enforced, and now policy has changed.

      Seems fair enough.

      People sign up to defend America – they do not sign up to live by someone else’s religion. Mikey has it – however well intentioned – when he says there is no religion in the armed forces – paraphrasing his quote …

      but I think it would be better said that there is every religion in the armed forces – AND we are all united to defend America – religious freedom and all.

      E pluribus Unum – means the unity comes spontaneously from everyone of diverse backgrounds and interests – as a natural organic consensus to defend freedom while protecting and celebrating the varied perspectives and heritage of all.

      Some murdering ‘religions’ advocate murder of all people who do not help them murder their intended targets – I don’t think any targeted population here would appreciate America enforcing that kind of policy in our law, or our military rules and procedures.

      We have our Constitution to protect us all from that sort of thing.

      That is what freedom is.

      Terror and tyranny are not freedom but the antithesis.

      We fought World War II to stop that kind of thing, and we are fighting terrorism even now. Terrorism is not religion. It is murder.

      People who do not interpret their religions in a way as to deny life or freedom – or the Constitutional Rights of American Citizens – should be free to conduct their religions in peace, free from the coercive tactics of other religionists, tyrants and terrorists.

      As such, the Constitution protects all who would freely exercise their religion in a positive way to upbuild and sustain the spirit and to aspire to the highest ideals.

      Insofar as Americans of any religion interpret their respective religions in a positive manner that respects the Constitutional Rights of every American Citizen – and insofar as American Citizens in good standing choose to serve in our military – and so long as part of the military duty is the Chaplaincy – for those of all faith – including atheists who have faith in the good of human nature without resort to deity – and agnostics who simply do not ‘know’ – there is a place for all such literature and effects to be provided.

      Our servicemembers are answering the call of duty to protect our very freedom of religion – even the freedom to be free from it. Such choices shall not be made by any law of Congress – respecting the establishment of as law – or in this case

      respecting the apparent disestablishment of such freedom for our servicemembers.

      After due deliberation and clarifying policy, such freedom should be returned.

      If a Muslim signs up to defend America and identifies as a Muslim – it is right to put the Service Logo on the qur’an provided for such use according to the function of the Chaplaincy. That is the freedom we are defending. Similarly for Jews, Agnostics, Atheists, Buddhists, Shinto, Falon Gong – even [gasp!] Christians.

      Even if they are Republican! Independent! Democrat!

      Having an American flag on my T-shirt does not imply that the Government endorses my personal opinions. How many noble citizens choose to run for political office and wave the flag as they do so? People are free to vote – and free to run for office, flag waving and all – there is no need to forbid them this free and lawful use of the flag.

      Similarly with our military, people are free to join our voluntary forces, and free to choose and even change their religion. It is part of the freedom we defend.

      Only political demonstrations are against policy in uniform, since the military in America is subservient to the President and Congress.

      If it is not sufficiently clear in this sensitive time, I am confident that policy will clarify.

      Abuses or appearance of commanding sanction of one religion over another is against the intent of the Constitution, but so also is forced removal of free practice.

      Every person who defends America in Military Service deserves, perhaps more than the rest of us, the support that freedom of religion guarantees.

      Policies of abuse will continue to fade – such abuses are in fact remnants of the very ‘establishment of religion’ that the Constitution rightly protects us from.

      Over-reaction can be abusive too – and the pendulum swings the other way to excess.

      The Constitution has had the proper balance from the beginning.

      As long as a member of any religion can sign up to serve, it is right to put the Service Logo on religious materials provided or purchased for servicemember use.

      Just the same — it is right to put the Service Logo on the building used by the Chaplaincy to conduct meetings and gatherings for all faiths – as described above – to include those who are atheists agnostics searching or not even interested…. yes there are video game religions… trekkies would certainly be welcome – why not!

      No one would want to be harassed by trekkies or anyone else, of course.

      Proscribe harassment as policy – that is being done.

      Seems fair enough.

      Put the Service Logos on everyone’s religious material – these are the religions of our servicemembers sworn to protect our freedoms – let’s not deny them theirs.

      Those who would enforce laws banning the free exercise of religion in the defense sector, where soldiers cannot vote – should consider the freedom aspect – and reconsider. Free exercise does not include harassment or favoritism.

      The emerging policies are becoming increasingly clear, preventing abuse and harassment, while delineating and protecting our religious freedom as Americans.

      It is right to stop the abuse and harassment and appearance of official sanction of one religion over another – or any official pressures on the free exercise thereof.

      The Service Logos – I believe – will not be forbidden on religious materials etc for any religion or persuasion of faith [and reason] – and the balance will be properly kept.

      Americans do not lose religious freedom when they defend America.

    3. vel

      unsuprisingly, “Legitimate Rape” Akin is a signatory on this. Again, it goes to show that he will stop at nothing to try to force his religion on everyone. Oh and Mike Kelly is onboard with this nonsense too. Surprise, suprise, Mr, “Women getting health care is equal to Pearl Harbor”. Not a shock at all to see that Mr. Kelly somehow got out of military service in 1966.
      A couple of asses in “good” company.

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