More than 4 million Army-licensed dog tags feature Bible scriptures on them at the request of those in service. However, after a complaint from a prominent atheist group, Army recruits will no longer be able to obtain dog tags that contain any reference to Christianity.
According to Fox News, the U.S. Army is the most recent military branch to announce that military members will no longer be allowed to engrave Biblical references on Army-licensed dog tags. The decision comes on the heels of “negative press” involving threats of a federal lawsuit issued by Mikey Weinstein, the founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF).
For millennia, the Scripture has been used by both Jews and Christians to combat the enemy, whether physical or spiritual. In fact, the Old Testament is filled with references to righteous victories over oppressive and genocidal nations hell-bent on wiping out the innocent.
In accordance with America’s intrinsic Christian-Judeo founding, the U.S. military has long incorporated faith into the very fibers of its core. However, in a dangerous perversion of the Jeffersonian narrative of “Separation of Church and State,” some activists have taken it upon themselves to cut out any semblance of religious expression from our nation’s backbone.
For the last 20 years, service members have invoked the freedom to wear biblical scriptures on Army-licensed dog tags if they so choose. Unsurprisingly, these small tokens of their faith often serve as beacons of hope in the darkest of times. Unfortunately, after an atheist activist group’s threats, these brave men and women will no longer have this option.
All it took for the policy change was an email from Mikey Weinstein to the Department of Defense, in which he demanded that all military branches cease allowing service members to pair the military emblem with Scripture. He concluded that such use “poisons the constitutionally-mandated separation of Church and State.”
Once the decision was made, every branch either pulled or threatened to pull their trademark licenses from Shields of Strength, a company that legally obtains such rights. Most recently, the Army emailed founder Kenny Vaughan, admitting that the move to discontinue their partnership was made due to the MRFF’s threats.
“You are not authorized to put biblical verses on your Army products,” Army Trademark Licensing Program director, Paul Jensen, wrote to Vaughan, according to a letter obtained by Fox News. “For example, Joshua 1:9. Please remove ALL biblical references from all of your Army products.”
Representing Vaughan, First Liberty Institute wrote the Army, calling on them to honor their trademark license with Shields of Faith. The organization refuted the MRFF’s claims, arguing that infringing upon religious freedoms is unconstitutional.
“Your directive that SoS remove all Biblical references from its Army-licensed products is unconstitutional and violates RFRA,” Mike Berry, chief of staff and director of military affairs for First Liberty wrote in the letter to Jensen. “Just when I didn’t think Mikey Weinstein could stoop any lower, he pulled a stunt like that. He’d rather take it away from them just to raise his own publicity than support our service members … that’s pretty cowardly and that’s cruel.”
Vaughan’s company has produced more than 4 million custom-made dog tags for the military, all of which contain biblical references. He insists that blocking service members from obtaining them is a violation of their rights.
“It’s insane. It’s incredibly selfish. All we do is provide a reminder of God’s word. No one has to do this. Virtually every unit has contacted us and said, ‘Would you make us a tag with our unit on it?’ We’ve seen the fruit of the mission. Literally thousands of soldiers, airmen, marines, telling us with tears in their eyes how much it’s meant to them, and many times the Gold Star families to be in possession of the dog tag they wore,” he added. “I don’t understand it.”
Unless Vaughan and his team manage to pull together a lawsuit, it’s unlikely that the military branches will reverse their decision to ban the scriptural dog tags. Incredibly, the MRFF has seen much success in merely threatening legal action. In fact, it’s only when threatened groups and individuals push back that Weinstein backs down.
According to Weinstein and his organization, if someone is offended by the use of religious expression, then such expression must be denied. Disturbingly, “live and let live” is no longer the motto. Instead, if one person doesn’t like it, then apparently no one can have it.