Top Military Chaplains Deny Faith Discrimination

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The military's top chaplains say members of the Armed Forces are free to share their religious faith with others, with some restrictions.

The head chaplains for the Navy, Army, and Air Force testified before the House Subcommittee on Military Personnel Wednesday.

They said the limits to service members sharing their faith included not talking about religion with those who don't want to and avoiding expressions that might demean others.

A recent Defense bill says the military "shall accommodate expressions of belief so long as it does not interfere with military readiness, unit cohesion, and discipline."

"There's absolutely nothing in policy or code that prohibits a chaplain from praying according to the dictates of their faith," Virginia Penrod, deputy assistant secretary of defense for military personnel policy, told the House panel.

Meanwhile, the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty provided written testimony Tuesday about the impact of recent Department of Defense policies on religious liberty in the military.

The group cited numerous examples of military encroachment on that freedom.

"Our nation has a history…of working hard to protect and accommodate military religious liberty, a tradition which has limited restrictions on service members' ability to live their faiths," the group explained.

"But our government has been retreating from that history of accommodation, enacting new policies without considering the harm to religious liberty and occasionally even taking affirmatively hostile actions toward faith," the Congressional testimony states.

"The vast majority of these blows to religious expression have come in the context of matters of sexual ethics, specifically homosexuality," the group said.

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