"This is an extremely important case that provides the court the opportunity to reaffirm that RFRA applies within the Armed Forces," Clement says. "Religious freedom is such an important issue for our military, and we hope the court will clarify this issue and confirm that RFRA protects our troops."
"Our Marines give up many freedoms when serving, but religious freedom is never one of them," says Berry, who is Director of Military Affairs for Liberty Counsel. "We hope the Court of Appeals will recognize that our service members' right to express their faith freely should be protected."
Monifa Sterling is far from the only person of faith under fire in a U.S. military culture that has become increasingly hostile to Christianity. An Air Force General has been the target of a campaign by an atheist group to be subject to discipline for publicly professing his faith in Jesus Christ.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation has called for the court-martial of Major General Craig Olso
n for remarks he made at a National Day of Prayer event in
early May. During his speech, Olson gave credit to God for his successes and advancements in the ranks of the Air Force.
"Flying complex aircraft, doing complex nuclear missions--I have no ability to do that. God enabled me to do that," Olson commented. "I was sent to Iraq to negotiate foreign military sales through an Arabic interpreter I have no ability to do that. I was not trained to do that. God did all of that."
Maj. General Olson closed his remarks by asking for prayer for the leadership of the Defense Department that they would "humbly depend on Christ." He also requested prayer for troops preparing for redeployment that they would be able to "bear through it by depending on Christ."
In its demand letter, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation insisted that Olson be "aggressively and visibly brought to justice for his unforgivable crimes and
transgressions." The atheist Foundation says it is "shocked and disgusted" by Olson's "fundamentalist Christian proselytizing...in full military uniform."
How ironic and tragic it is that those who are on the front lines defending our freedoms as Americans are facing punishment for acknowledging the very God who provided us our freedoms in the first place. Under that standard, nearly every one of our Founding Fathers who waged the war for our independence would have been subject to court martials as well. As Franklin Graham put it--"This group would have tried to court martial George Washington when he prayed at Valley Forge."
The Air Force has now decided that Olson will not face disciplinary action. "His remarks were his own personal opinions and do not represent the views of the United States Air Force," said a spokesman for Air Force brass.
Please be praying for our men and women in uniform--that their service to our nation will not require that they forfeit their own religious liberties in their defense of our own personal freedoms.