Lee, Fleming Laud Passage of Religious Liberties Protections for Service Members

June 17, 2013

WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Mike Lee praised the passage of strong religious liberty protections for members of the armed services in the Senate Armed Services Committee-passed version of the National Defense Authorization Act.   The amendment clarifies that expressions of belief that do not have an adverse impact on military readiness, good order, and discipline are to be accommodated by the Armed Services.  It was adopted on a bipartisan vote as part of the National Defense Authorization Act “mark up” late last week and was cosponsored by Senators Ted Cruz and David Vitter.  Representative John Fleming of Louisiana offered a similar amendment in the House Armed Services Committee that was adopted earlier in June.
“For many of our men and women in uniform, their faith and religious beliefs are what sustain them through the enormous pressures and stresses of the battlefield,” said Lee. “If an environment is created where those service members feel that expressing their religion could be found in violation of military policy and grounds for reprimand, it will have an unsettlingly negative effect on our military. Our servicemen and women put their lives on the line everyday in order to protect our constitutionally guaranteed rights, including the expression of our beliefs.  Congress must ensure that we are protecting them as well. “
"The First Amendment rights of our military members must be protected, and I am delighted that Republicans and Democrats on the Armed Services Committees of both the House and Senate have voted to ensure those protections," said Fleming. "These bipartisan votes strongly reaffirm the vision of our Founding Fathers that free speech, including that which expresses one's religious beliefs, must not be compromised. Even when there is conflict in ideas, more speech is always preferable to limitation of speech."