A lapse in appropriations should not restrict the First Amendment rights of American citizens. However, furloughed chaplains are not being permitted to minister on base even voluntarily, thus denying our military personnel access to religious practices.
Chaplains exist to facilitate the free exercise rights of our service members, a role which is critical for service members who do not have access to civilian priests or pastors. Unfortunately, many military bases have indefinitely suspended religious services. Contract chaplains must be permitted to continue their duties to ensure that members of the military may continue to exercise their First Amendment rights.
Representative Doug Collins, member of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, recently sponsored a resolution in the House of Representatives to protect the First Amendment freedoms of our military service members.
The House passed H.Con.Res. 58, by an overwhelming vote of 400-1, emphasizing the total support for continued availability of religious services to service members and their families during the government shutdown. Representative Joe Wilson , a Congressional Prayer Caucus member who chairs the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel, led the debate. The Senate has yet to vote on this essential measure.
Watch Representative Collins, a chaplain in the U.S. Air Force Reserves, debate in favor of the bill. Members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus will continue to defend the free exercise rights of our men and women in uniform.
Two members of Congress have expressed their concern through the following Press Releases:
- Representative Tim Huelskamp stated, “Time and time again this Administration demonstrates it is waging a war against the very religious freedoms upon which America was founded. This is exactly why we worked to pass legislation (House Concurrent Resolution 58) this past weekend – to protect the religious liberties of all those who bravely serve in our Armed Forces.” Read full Press Release
- Representative Doug Collins stated, “Denying the free expression of religion on military bases is unprecedented during a government shutdown and another shameless political ploy by President Obama’s administration to make average Americans suffer the most from Senate Democrats’ refusal to negotiate. Congress is duty bound to act as quickly as possible to protect the rights of the American people, and I am proud that we did so today.” Read full Press Release