IN THE MILITARY
A painting that includes a Bible verse was removed from a dining hall at an Air Force base after the Military Religious Freedom Foundation filed a complaint, calling the art “repugnant.” Now, the artist is accusing the Air Force of having a “clear anti-Christian agenda.”
The painting, titled “Blessed are the Peacemakers,” was released after 9/11 to honor the sacrifice of America's law enforcement and hung in the dining hall of Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho. The piece features a modern-day police officer in front of a medieval knight. At the bottom is the word “Integrity” and the reference Matthew 5:9.
According to an article by Fox News’ Todd Starnes, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, led by Mikey Weinstein, claims it received a complaint from an individual at the base who said the picture made “me feel terribly uncomfortable, disheartened and disappointed.”
Weinstein called the Pentagon to complain, and within an hour, the picture was removed.
Upon hearing of the issue, Grant DiCianni, president of Tapestry Productions and son of the artist, Ron, said they “are deeply saddened.”
"We have yet to be contacted by anyone at the Pentagon or Mountain Home Air Force Base in regard to this issue, despite our repeated requests,” said DiCianni in a formal statement.“The Pentagon has referred any response to the Air Force Press Desk who in turn is referring communication to the Air Force base in question. This act of religious censorship appears to reflect the assurances that senior Pentagon officials provided to anti-Christian activist Mickey Weinstein, during a recent meeting at the Pentagon, that they would begin enforcing regulation against religious expression in the military, at all levels."
Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin (Ret.), vice president of the Family Research Council, told Fox News that the issue raises serious concerns about the Pentagon’s relationship with Weinstein.
“We are deeply disturbed that the Pentagon continues to comply with the demands of anti-Christian activists while neglecting to even respond to the concerns expressed by service members, and Members of Congress who simply want to protect the right to share one’s faith,” Boykin said in a statement.
In late April, Pentagon officials reportedly met privately with Weinstein to discuss a new regulation that would call for “the court martial of any service member caught proselytizing.”
This came on the heels of other shocking instances of religious hostility, including an army training presentation in which “Evangelical Christianity” and “Catholicism” were listed as examples of religious extremism, alongside Al Qaeda and Hamas. After that, news broke of an U.S. Army officer who sent an email to dozens of subordinates listing the American Family Association and Family Research Council as “domestic hate groups,” warning officers to “monitor soldiers who might be supporters of the groups.”
Concerned about these developments, Liberty Institute went straight to the source, contacting the Department of Defense to receive clarity on its policy regarding proselytizing and evangelizing.
However, based on the responses we received, it seems the DOD isn’t really clear on its own policy.
These stories should be troubling to all Americans. Our First Amendment rights—the ones our brave service men and women gave their lives for—are under unprecedented attack.
Liberty Institute won’t back down when it comes to protecting and restoring religious liberty in America, and we will continue to oppose and expose the escalating efforts of the federal government to regulate religious freedom.
To help in this effort, Liberty Institute launched the Armed Forces Religious Liberty Hotline, 1-800-259-9109, and Petition Drive to support persecuted members of the United States military. In addition, our experienced team of constitutional attorneys vows to provide legal defense for those in the military facing religious discrimination and hostility.
Please, share this information with your friends and family, and if you know of anyone in the military experiencing this type of religious persecution, have them contact us.
Your financial support is also crucial in this effort. In addition to fighting First Amendment battles against aggressive groups like Freedom From Religion and the ACLU, we are now faced with increasing hostility from every area of our federal government. Our attorneys work tirelessly to be everywhere we can to thwart these continuous attacks, but the calls are increasing and we need your gift today to help ensure we have to manpower to respond to the growing requests.
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About Liberty Institute
Liberty Institute is a nonprofit legal group dedicated to defending and restoring religious liberty across America — in our schools, for our churches and throughout the public arena. Liberty’s vision is to reestablish religious liberty in accordance with the principles of our nation’s Founders. For information, visit www.LibertyInstitute.org.