Mitch Holmes: Kansas State Lawmakers Tell Pentagon to Stand Up For "Judeo-Christian Tradition"
The Huffington Post reported on Thursday that Republican lawmakers in Kansas have asked the state’s legislature to call on the U.S. military to defend the “Judeo-Christian tradition” which is facing alleged discrimination from the Defense Department. This past Friday, the Republican-controlled Kansas Senate passed a similar resolution on the subject, which includes language asking the Kansas congressional delegation to “aggressively defend the rights of religious conscience and the free exercise of the Judeo-Christian tradition in the U.S. Military and support the professional chaplaincy.”
Also on Friday during the Senate debate, state Sen. Mitch Holmes (R-St. John) said to colleagues that he knew of 20 instances of what he described as military attacks on Christianity. These include a ban on Bible verses printed on rifle scopes by the vendor, and a proposed policy on proselytizing which was previously reported by the Topeka Capitol-Journal. The latter proposal was explained by the Defense Department to allow the troops to express their faith but deter them from attempting to convert someone else. However, Christian activists have raised concerns about this proposal and the Pentagon’s reported meeting with the head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation about the proposal.
Last month in Washington, U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) had questions for Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on similar issues, such as the alleged Bible ban at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in late 2011 and an instance when evangelical Christians and Catholics were listed as religious extremists at an Army Reserve training program. Hagel stated that since he only became secretary of defense in February, he did not know about either incident. However, both incidents were addressed by the Navy and Army. The Navy has stated that the restriction on Bibles at the medical center was from a poorly worded visitors policy and was quickly rescinded, while the Army reported that the identification of religious extremists was an "isolated incident".
Kansas State Rep. Barbara Bollier (R-Mission Hills) has circulated one draft of the resolution on Facebook and is leading the effort to block the resolution. She has stated that the measure is not necessary and that it is not inclusive of all religions. She has also suggested that the resolution is only coming up now because the state legislature is currently at a standstill over a new tax plan. Additionally, Bollier has pointed out that it not the Kansas Legislature’s job to run the U.S. military.