The War on Military Religious Freedom

John Compere

There is a wicked, wanton war going on. It disrespects, disparages, and denies the American constitutional right to religious freedom for the military men and women serving our country.

The U.S. Constitution prohibits our secular government (which includes the military) from promoting or endorsing a religion. The U.S. Supreme Court has continuously confirmed this constitutional prohibition as the law of our land. U.S. Armed Forces regulations also prohibit the secular military from promoting or endorsing a religion.

The military mission is to defend our nation against its enemies, not to promote or endorse a religion. Members of the military swear a service oath to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution, not to a religion or deity. The military, as a department of government, must remain neutral regarding religion by law, regulation, tradition, and necessity—neither pro-religion nor anti-religion, but religion-neutral.

The Constitution’s First Amendment provides our historic trinity of religious liberties: (1) freedom from religion, (2) freedom of any religion or no religion, and (3) freedom for religious speech. It prohibits our government from lawfully “respecting an establishment of religion and requires government neutrality regarding religion.

Like our diverse nation, the military comprises adherents of different religious and nonreligious beliefs. No belief uniformity exists. There are 10,000 distinct world religions recognized, with less than one-third of all religious believers practicing a form of Christianity. Moreover, there are 33,820 diverse forms of Christianity worldwide, with 2,000 different ones in America alone, according to no lesser a source than the World Christian Encyclopedia. The U.S. Department of Defense recognizes military diversity with its official list of belief groups, currently including 221 different such groups. Its 2010 military survey showed more than one-third of military members do not claim a version of Christianity. Also, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs official list for military grave emblems currently includes seventy different religious and non-religious belief groups.

Like all Americans, military members desire and deserve the right to determine, practice, and enjoy their own religious or nonreligious beliefs. They do not want the religious beliefs of others, especially superiors, imposed on them in the military workplace while performing their military duties. Military chapels are provided for religious worship, and military chaplains are available for religious instruction. Military members refusing to respect the Constitution, established law, regulations, and their service oaths have the right to seek civilian careers.

Self-righteous Christians demand their right to religious freedom but do not respect this same right for others. They presumptuously proselytize their uninvited and unwanted religious beliefs on others, especially subordinates, in the military environment, interfering with military mission and duty. These disruptive distractions adversely affect military morale, efficiency, and preparedness. Proper prevention occurs when military leaders insist on compliance with the Constitution, law, regulations, and sworn service oaths.

Over 65,000 military men and women (95 percent of them Christians) have complained, requesting respect and protection for their rights to religious freedom. They are fortunate that the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit organization (over 80 percent of whose members are Christian) is dedicated to ensuring that military members enjoy the Constitutional right to religious freedom. The Foundation’s motto is “Fighting for our service members’ rights, so they can fight for ours.”

As a result of its advocacy for our military, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation has been officially nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize seven times. Also, as a result of its advocacy, hate mail is regularly received from pseudo-Christians acrimoniously attacking representation of their fellow Americans (and fellow Christians). These radicalized religionists contemptuously contend only those who share their particular religious beliefs are entitled to religious freedom. Such bigotry is exceeded only by its hypocrisy.

“It has been suggested that [the military chaplaincy] has a tendency to introduce religious disputes into the Army, which above all things should be avoided, and in many instances would compel men to a mode of Worship which they do not profess.”

First Commander-in-Chief George Washington

“We in the United States, above all, must remember that lesson, for we were founded as a nation of openness to people of all beliefs. And so we must remain. Our very unity has been strengthened by our pluralism. We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are, and must remain, separate.”

—Fortieth Commander-in-Chief Ronald Reagan

John Compere

John Compere is a retired Texas lawyer, retired U.S. judge, retired Army brigadier general, and Vietnam-era disabled veteran who resides and ranches with his wife, Dolores, in rural Texas.


There is a wicked, wanton war going on. It disrespects, disparages, and denies the American constitutional right to religious freedom for the military men and women serving our country. The U.S. Constitution prohibits our secular government (which includes the military) from promoting or endorsing a religion. The U.S. Supreme Court has continuously confirmed this constitutional …

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