Air Force Sgt. Won’t Drop Faith Discrimination Claim

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SAN ANTONIO - An Air Force sergeant isn't backing down from his claim of religious discrimination at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, even though the Air Force says the allegation is false.

CBN News recently spoke with both Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk and his pastor, who says there are many others facing religious hostility at the military base.

The case centers on Monk's stand regarding same-sex marriage. Monk said his commander removed him from her unit because he would not agree with her views on the subject.

"I expressly stated that I had a religious conviction that wouldn't allow me to answer the question the way it was posed to me," Monk explained.

The Air Force disagrees, saying its investigation shows Monk was moved to another unit as part of a previously scheduled rotation.

"Religion was never discussed between the two. In the end, this case is about command authority, good order and discipline, and civil rights--not religious freedom," Air Force officials explained in a press release.

"I'm very disappointed. Not shocked, but very disappointed," Sgt. Monk said of the Air Force's response.

Just days after the investigation's finding, Monk told CBN News he's not giving up and is working on the next step.

His attorneys say the re-assignment document proves the Air Force claim is untrue because it shows that Monk was not scheduled to rotate until the end of September. In reality, Lackland re-assigned him six weeks earlier.

Meanwhile, Sgt. Monk may not be alone. His pastor, Steve Branson of San Antonio's Village Parkway Church, said other church members who work at the base face similar situations.

"This is the start of several now that I've heard, people being punished because of a thought or a belief that they possessed and not because they disobeyed an order or acted disrespectfully," Branson told CBN News.

Branson estimated he's ministered to thousands of military families in his 20 years at the church, but he's never encountered problems like he's seeing now.

"It's almost getting to the point now that it is illegal to be a believer in the military. It's not there yet but it's sure moving that way fast," he warned.

Branson said several in his church believe they may have to give up their military careers in order to keep their convictions.

He's also hearing from military members across the country who said they're inspired by Sgt. Monk.

"There's a lot of other believers in the Air Force who are looking for someone to be strong," Branson told CBN News. "The emails are coming in fast and furious and they're thrilled to see Monk taking a stand. Someone finally has stood up and it's emboldening them."

Branson said he'll continue to support Sgt. Monk and be a voice for those who believe speaking out will end their military careers.

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Heather Sells

Heather Sells

CBN News Reporter

Heather Sells enjoys reporting on a variety of issues for CBN News. Some of her recent stories have focused on religious liberties, technology, AIDS, overseas missions, domestic trafficking, and politics.  Follow Heather on Twitter @SellsHeather and "like" her at Facebook.com/HeatherSellsCBNNews.