Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America

JWV Condemns the Constitutional Heresy of the House Armed Services Committee

Spring 2006

The Jewish War Veterans of the USA (JWV) condemns the recent vote by the House Armed Services Committee approving an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 [H.R. 5122] that reads: "Each chaplain shall have the prerogative to pray according to the dictates of the chaplain's own conscience, except as must be limited by military necessity, with any such limitation being imposed in the least restrictive manner feasible." This is at total variance with the wishes of our Founding Fathers. Such an amendment ignores possible insensitivity to the religious views of those of another faith and ignores the concerns of those who are seeking to bring tolerance and understanding to an atmosphere in which the religious views of evangelical Christians have been allowed to take precedence over those of other religious groups in recently documented cases at the U.S. Air Force Academy and other military settings. Revised guidelines for Chaplains released by the Air Force this February have been modified to respond to a backlash from evangelical Christians against previously issued guidelines that showed greater sensitivity to the concerns of other religious communities. A proposed modification to the amendment that passed this week, presented by Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY), that would have added a clause calling for chaplains to "demonstrate sensitivity, respect and tolerance for all faiths present on each occasion at which prayers are offered" failed in the committee. The JWV urges reconsideration for this amendment when the bill comes up for full consideration by the full House of Representatives. Military of all religious backgrounds have fought and died for this country in past conflicts and continue to do so today on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. The religious views of all deserve the respect and consideration of their Chaplains, no matter what their denomination. The amendment which allows selectivity by Chaplains denies the intent of the founders of our nation for the naturalization of an open philosophy and the reason for the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which sought to bring people together rather than divide them.


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