For The First Time, DOD Must Prove Its Case Before Censoring Service Members' Religious Expression
WASHINGTON, Jan. 22, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) changed its policy regarding religious accommodation in the Armed Forces. Liberty Institute releases the following statements in response to the DOD's revised policy governing accommodation of religion in the U.S. military:
"This is a great victory for people of faith serving in the Armed Forces. For the first time, the Department of Defense has stated it will accommodate the religious speech and practices of service members, unless DOD can prove why it cannot accommodate the religious speech or practice," said Hiram Sasser, Director of Litigation for Liberty Institute. "This means the burden is now on DOD instead of the individual service member. DOD must prove its case and the individual service member engaging in religious speech automatically gets the benefit of the doubt."
Follow this link to read a copy of the new DOD policy: http://www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/corres/pdf/130017p.pdf
Liberty Institute is on the forefront of legal battles involving religious liberty in the armed forces. This includes representing Air Force combat veteran Senior Master Sergeant Phillip Monk, and advocating for the burden to be on the DOD, not the individual service member, to prove why it will not allow religious speech or a religious accommodation.
"Senior Master Sergeant Monk and others who took an oath to fight for the Constitution stood up and now, DOD is amending its policy to be consistent with the Constitution and federal law," said Michael Berry, Senior Counsel and Director of Military Affairs for Liberty Institute. "The best part of this new policy is that DOD must prove that a restriction on religious speech or action is the least restrictive of all other options in order to justify its actions."
DOD reversed its policy and now will follow the same legal guidelines all other government agencies must follow regarding religious speech and religious accommodation in the workplace.
"DOD flipped its policy from one that defaulted to no religious accommodation to one that defaults to protect religious speech," said Sasser. "It is in the best interest of the nation and our national defense to allow our service members to come out of the closet about their faith and to enjoy the very legal protections they fight to preserve for us all."
Liberty Institute is a national nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches, in our military and throughout the public arena. Liberty's vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our Founding Fathers. For information, visit www.LibertyInstitute.org.
SOURCE Liberty Institute