“You are invited to pray, to pray for the family, to pray for the sick, and to pray for our leaders.”
“God encourages us not to be dismayed by what we see around us, things we cannot control. We can, however, with the best intel in this moment, place our trust in him, walk forward in his strength, and treat others with kindness.”
These remarks were posted on Facebook and were removed by military officers following a protest.
The first statement was made by Captain Amy Smith; Major Scott Ingram made the second one. They are military chaplains at Fort Drum, and their video remarks were posted on Facebook.
They were taken down when Mikey Weinstein, an anti-Christian activist who heads the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, complained that the videos (there were four in all) amounted to “illicit proselytizing.” He also said his complaint was done “to ensure church-state separation.”
Weinstein complained to officers of the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division and they yielded. Yet they had no need to—they were deceived by the false arguments made by Weinstein.
There is nothing “illicit” about the mere invocation of God by military chaplains. Had an atheist religion-hating member of the armed forces posted a video on Facebook celebrating Lucifer, Weinstein would have defended it as freedom of speech.
Military chaplains do not lose their twin First Amendment rights of freedom of religion and freedom of speech by posting religious commentary on a private media outlet. Moreover, the separation of church and state provision of the First Amendment only applies to what government cannot do.
Every president, acting as commander in chief, has invoked God, beginning with George Washington. To say that military chaplains have no right to identify themselves as officers when they engage in religious commentary is to say they have no public right to exercise their freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Only fascists think this way.
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