War of words erupts over religious dog tags in US the military

War of words erupts over religious dog tags in US the military December 6, 2019
Images via Facebook and Shields of Strength

MIKEY Weinstein, founder and President of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), inset, has lashed out at Fox News for claiming his organisation ignored the news outlet’s request for a comment about a ban on religious dog tags imposed earlier this year after a complaint by the MRFF.

In a December 4 report, Fox News published a piece pointing out that Weinstein had demanded that military branches stop allowing a faith-based enterprise – Shields of Strength – to distribute the tags among military personnel. These tags, he said:

Poisons the constitutionally-mandated separation of Church and State …

Fox reporter Caleb Parke wrote that the tags were then banned, and ended the report by saying:

The MRFF did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

This, claims Weinstein is a flat-out lie, and on the MRFF website he published the statement he wrote in response to the request, saying it was sent well in time for the deadline but was “purposely withheld.”

The statement says:

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) completely stands by its formal July 8, 2019 demands to the Dept. of Defense (DoD) that that the ‘Shields of Strength’ (SoS) Christian proselytizing organization immediately cease and desist from illicitly using its DoD merchandise license to intentionally spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Such craven, utilization of American military logos and related symbology by this sectarian Christian group (SoS) not only viciously violates well established DoD regulatory law but also poisons the Constitutionally-mandated separation of Church and State as directed by the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights and its legion of supporting Federal case law.

Image via Facebook

The Fox report said that the First Liberty Institute, on behalf of Shield of Faith’s proprietor Kenny Vaughan, above, sent a letter to the Army on Tuesday, calling for the reinstatement of the trademark license for Vaughan’s outfit.

Mike Berry, Chief of Staff and Director of Military Affairs for First Liberty, wrote:

Your directive that SoS remove all Biblical references from its Army-licensed products is unconstitutional and violates RFRA.

In his statement Weinstein, ignored by Fox, wrote:

First Liberty’s gutless, deceitful attempt on behalf of SoS to further torture, obfuscate and pollute the well settled regulatory, statutory and Federal case law supporting MRFF’s demand, and DoD’s compliance with same, by using the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) as a cudgel and would-be weapon is the epitome of cowardice and purposeful deception.

Army Trademark Licensing Program Director, Paul Jensen, wrote to Vaughan in August, according to a letter obtained by Fox News. In it he told Vaughan:

You are not authorized to put biblical verses on your Army products. For example, Joshua 1:9. Please remove ALL biblical references from all of your Army products.

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  • dhd_Google

    Dog Tags used to be used as an identifier. They had your date of birth, branch, ID number, and religion if you wanted it there! What the hell else should need to be included….if an enemy were to recover them in battle?

  • Vanity Unfair

    Is there any regulation denying a soldier the opportunity of wearing a second tag with a personal motif?
    Mind you, with religion being an excuse for many wars it might lead to unfortunate consequences for a soldier taken prisoner and found to have the “wrong” religious allegiance.

  • Raging Bee

    If a Christian bigot like Trump ever got us into a war with, say, the Muslim bigots who rule Iran, I wonder if there might be some under-the-table deal about captured soldiers of the “wrong” religion(s). If a US soldier’s tags said “atheist” or had no religious marker at all, would the enemy’s bigots figure we’d let them get away with punishing him/her more harshly than his/her Abrahamic comrades?

  • abb3w

    Pedantically, I’d say they should also identify one’s nation, to indicate what Party you are associated with in a conflict.

    Contrariwise, while it looks like combatants are required by international law to identify themselves as such, it does not appear that international law requires that they identify which Party they are combatants for.

    Nevertheless, it might be useful in a conflict with three or more mutually hostile Parties.

    Nohow, my quibble seems thoroughly a side issue.

  • MJ Hoop

    This is not about the bible verse. It’s about the fact that the tags have an official military service logo(Army, Navy, etc) , which is illegal. They can have all the extra tags they want, but NOT with the govt. logo. So many people take the word of the wingers propagandists. Some folks are backing up when they hear the truth–and issuing apologies to Mikey for their vile nasty rants against him and his organization. Basically, he does not want our miitary becoming a regigious organization and making our soldiers targets for people who think anyone not of THEIR particular beliefs is worse–and deserving of a more horrible death– than any old grunt from the USArmy etc.He’s on the side of the troops, but folks who don’t read about it on his website are being led into the weeds by the faux xtain wingers. (MO Jesus would cry at the filth promulgated on HIs behalf by ppl who think they speak for HIm).

  • Old Harry

    It is to the point that I cannot say if it was deliberate fraud or astonishing incompetence that led to the FoxNews statement.

    Their lies are limited only by their ineptitude.

  • Mark Bradshaw

    Your bigotry is showing again.

  • abb3w

    The MRFF did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

    I wonder if the MRFF could make a defamation case over this misreport?

    I doubt they’d get more than nominal damages; probably not worth the trouble.

  • Sophotroph

    You lose.

  • Mark Bradshaw

    LOL. How do you figure that?

  • Raging Bee

    Your laziness and willful stupidity never STOPPED showing.

  • Mark Bradshaw

    LOL. More baseless accusations from a bigot like you.