Thursday, August 1, 2013

Congressional Republicans Turn Mean-Spirited

NOT SATISFIED WITH DECLINING FUNDING FOR HUMANIST CHAPLAINS, HOUSE REPUBLICANS TAKE EXTRA STEP TO "BAN" NON-THEIST CHAPLAINS FROM EVER SERVING IN THE US MILITARY

Following their vote in June to deny military chaplain support for non-religious military servicemembers, House Republicans further flouted their bigotry by passing an amendment to the House military spending bill in late July - after having already passed the spending bill in late June - prohibiting the Department of Defense from “allowing non-believers to serve as chaplains.”

The amendment, sponsored by Rep. John Fleming (R-LA04) and voted on Tuesday, July 23, passed along mainly party lines, with only 26 Democrats and all but six Republican House members voting to support the amendment (#35) to H.R. 2937.  Fleming justified the amendment as necessary because he understood that "...the Pentagon was considering appointing an atheist chaplain to represent nonbelievers in the military", despite the obvious fact that restricting anyone from serving in any military role because they did not hold religious beliefs was a clear affront to Article 6 of the US Constitution.

In the metro Los Angeles area, Republican Congressman Buck McKeon (CA-25), who serves as chair of the House Armed Services Committee, voted in favor of the amendment.  All other House Representatives in the Los Angeles area - all Democrats - voted against the amendment.

Edwina Rogers, executive director of the Secular Coalition for America, reacted to the vote:
"Chaplains for nontheistic military service members are absolutely crucial for so many men and women who are serving our country. Religious chaplains are ill equipped to handle the problems of nontheistic service members and unfortunately, seeking psychiatric help can stigmatize a service member for the rest of their career.”

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