Attorneys Perplexed By DOD Statements in Light of 2008 Policy Declaring Proselytizing Is Protected Speech Under Federal Law
DALLAS, May 7, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- This week Liberty Institute uncovered at least an inconsistency or at most a falsehood from the U.S. Department of Defense over what appears to be a dangerous shift in its policy governing proselytizing in the military.
"We at Liberty Institute take these issues very seriously, so we called the Department of Defense and asked for the written policy saying proselytization is banned but evangelism is ok," said Hiram Sasser, Liberty Institute Litigation Director. "What we received in return perplexed us. The policy we received is dated July 22, 2008. We were told by the Department of Defense that there is no new policy on the issue." To view the 2008 policy, the DOD statement and the email sending Liberty Institute to the policy, visit online:
According to the 2008 policy Liberty Institute obtained, "Title VII requires employers to accommodate an employee's sincerely held religious belief in engaging in religious expression (e.g., proselytizing) in the workplace."
However, in recent statements, the DOD said, "Service members can share their faith (evangelize), but must not force unwanted, intrusive attempts to convert others of any faith or no faith to one's beliefs (proselytization)." Further, Lt. Col. Laurel Tingley said in a DOD statement, "When on duty or in an official capacity, Air Force members are free to express their personal religious beliefs as long as it does not make others uncomfortable. Proselytizing (inducing someone to convert to one's faith) goes over that line."
Sasser concluded, "If the DOD is now banning proselytizing, a word that virtually has the same meaning as evangelizing, this is a dramatic policy shift from the 2008 policy, which not only permitted proselytizing, but stated that federal law requires DOD to allow proselytizing."
Earlier this week Liberty Institute launched the Armed Forces Religious Liberty 800 hotline at1-800-259-9109 and petition drive to support persecuted members of the United States Military, threatened with court martial for sharing their faith following reports of a new Pentagon policy restricting proselytizing. In addition, the constitutional attorneys, some of whom served in the military, vowed to provide free legal defense for service members who contact Liberty Institute to protect their rights under federal law and DOD policies. To view the online petition, visit:
In 2010, Liberty Institute successfully stopped President Obama's Department of Veterans Affairs from banning "God" at funerals in veterans' cemeteries. And in late 2012, following 13 years of litigation, the attorneys, on behalf of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, restored the Mojave Desert Veterans Memorial Cross that honors the sacrifice of World War I Veterans. Currently, Liberty Institute continues its fight to prevent the ACLU from tearing down the historic Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial Cross that overlooks San Diego, CA.
About Liberty Institute Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to restoring and defending religious liberty across America – in our schools, for our churches, and throughout the public arena. Liberty Institute's vision is to reestablish liberty in accordance with the principles of our nation's founders. Visit www.LibertyInstitute.org for more information.