The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) has a legendary history of bravery and esprit de corps when it comes to defending America’s freedom. From the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli, the Corps hasn’t shrunk back from meeting any foe of the United States. So it may surprise some to learn that recently the Marines surrendered to a single activist who complained that an instructor at an upcoming seminar on strategy and tactics was a Christian.
The USMC scheduled an annual training for military lawyers earlier this month, at which the Battle of Gettysburg would be discussed. The instructor for one portion of that training was supposed to be Jay Lorenzen, an Air Force veteran who taught for 10 years at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Lorenzen’s biography, provided to the military lawyers in advance of the training, included references to Christianity, including his affiliation with Campus Crusade for Christ, now known as Cru, and a couple of religious-themed courses he teaches in his spare time. Several of those lawyers complained to Mikey Weinstein, who heads up a secular, anti-Christian group called the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, that Lorenzen was going to teach about religion.
That allegation was false. It didn’t matter.
Weinstein, himself an Air Force veteran, is adamantly opposed to any form of Christian expression within the military, and immediately contacted the USMC to voice his displeasure at Lorenzen’s scheduled appearance at the training, calling Lorenzen a “fundamentalist Christian extremist parachurch official.” Within 64 minutes, according to Weinstein, the USMC informed him that the event had been canceled. It was replaced with an instruction regarding systemic racism within the military.
First Liberty Institute, a public interest law firm specializing in religious liberty, represents and has represented military personnel, including chaplains, who have seen their religious freedom rights unfairly and unconstitutionally curtailed by the various military branches. The legal firm is calling a foul.
Jeremy Dys is the Special Counsel for Litigation and Communications for First Liberty. In an op-ed this week, he explained why the USMC is making a big mistake in this case.
“Let us be very clear: the Marine Corps bravely cancelled a speaker chosen to lead a discussion on the battlefield tactics and leadership lessons of Gettysburg based upon his expertise as a retired military officer and academy professor because that retired officer, in his speaker’s bio, confessed to be religious and associated with a religious organization,” Dys said.
“Such open discrimination against people of faith is unbecoming of our beloved Marine Corps. From Article VI of the U.S. Constitution to cases like Trinity Lutheran to numerous Department of Defense (DOD) policies, the law is clear: the government cannot require a religious test for office, nor insist that religious people be excluded from benefits—like teaching to a class of Marine Corps reservists—because they are religious.”
In a statement furnished to Fox News, the USMC confirmed only that the event had been cancelled when scheduled attendees “raised concerns” about Lorenzen.
When the Marines go into full retreat mode over the issue of religious freedom, it’s time for an explanation and some new direction from the Department of Defense. The treatment of this instructor should not be allowed to stand.
Photo from Yeongsik Im / Shutterstock.com
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