Is Freedom of Speech for Everyone?
The question of whether freedom of speech is for everyone and for that matter freedom of religion needs to be answered during this period of our country. The need for the question based on the Constitution in Amendment 1 should never need to be asked but recent events require it. Our freedom of speech and our freedom of religion go hand in hand and are critical aspects of our 1st Amendment rights. The beliefs or non-beliefs of individuals are their right and nobody not even the government has the right to suppress these rights which are the backbone of the principles on which this country was found.
I mentioned recent events beg the question whether freedom of speech is for everyone. The event or events which recently surfaced in the news involve moves by military leaders to suppress the expression by our troops regarding their religious beliefs. We as a country have several ways we can express our religious beliefs one of which is discussing with our friends or colleagues. In the military this involves individuals within our specific unit or sometimes office environment. Another aspect in the military is the position of Chaplin in having religious services. The right to freely express one’s religious beliefs should not be suppressed which appears to be the current efforts by the Pentagon. Getting more specific some reports have indicated individuals in the military may be subject to court martial and the Pentagon is now developing procedures associated with prosecuting these individuals.
The extent of this new effort is not clearly defined at this point and may not be until procedures are developed as to what may constitute acceptable behavior and what may not. Procedures are being developed by the Pentagon to address this new effort and how to react including prosecuting individuals through court martial proceedings. It is unclear what this current initiative by the Pentagon and the procedures being written will involve and the impact on the position of Chaplin. All efforts to suppress freedom of speech and freedom of religion in the military should be fought using all the options available.
I have been and always will be a strong supporter of our military and those individuals who made the decision to serve our country. Their rights should be no less than those who are not in the military. They deserve the right to freely express their religious beliefs. This apparent move to suppress religious freedom in the military is a move in the wrong direction. We as Americans have the right to express our religious beliefs and those in the military are no different. An attack on freedom of speech and freedom of religion seems always to be in the news and it may get worse unless we as citizens demand that these rights not be violated. The difference between these attacks and the proposed actions being identified in the military is the threat of prosecution. As mentioned earlier according to reports the Pentagon is in the process of creating procedures to punish Christians in the military that express or share their faith. Being a Christian is not a religion it is a combination of principles and the fact that Christians are being singled out gives the appearance of religious discrimination which should not be tolerated and has no place in America.
It is not known at this point what has prompted this new effort and we may never know but us as citizens and our elected officials in Congress need to stop this effort in its tracks. Some reports indicate anti-Christian groups are behind this new effort. Whether this is the case or not makes no difference. The actions now being taken by the leaders of our military at the Pentagon should raise concerns on the path our military and the rules/procedures may take in the future. There have been changes in the military environment some for the better and some for the worse. We need to contact our elected officials to let them know our feelings and the impact it will have on our Constitutional rights under the 1st Amendment.
Another aspect of this current effort which needs to be examined is the impact on the morale of our troops and the removal or restriction to accessing their religious needs at any given time. Our military serves around the globe in sometimes less than safe places and many things happen which are unforeseen which brings the need for religious activity. The question which needs to be answered in these times of need for religious activity is whether this will be one which will be prohibited if this effort goes forward. It is hoped that this will not be the case. Many of our military often serve in foreign lands away from family and friends and sometimes their religious activity is the only thing that gives them confort.