Congressman John Fleming, M.D., and Senator Mike Lee (UT) released the following statement about their companion religious liberty amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The Fleming amendment, which passed the House Armed Services Committee on a bipartisan vote, was included in the House-passed NDAA, and the Lee amendment passed the Senate Armed Services Committee on a bipartisan vote.
"The First Amendment rights of our military members must be protected, and I am delighted that Republicans and Democrats on the Armed Services Committees of both the House and Senate have voted to ensure those protections," said Fleming. "These bipartisan votes strongly reaffirm the vision of our Founding Fathers that free speech, including that which expresses one's religious beliefs, must not be compromised. Even when there is conflict in ideas, more speech is always preferable to limitation of speech."
"For many of our men and women in uniform, their faith and religious beliefs are what sustain them through the enormous pressures and stresses of the battlefield," said Lee. "If an environment is created where those service members feel that expressing their religion could be found in violation of military policy and grounds for reprimand, it will have an unsettlingly negative effect on our military. Our servicemen and women put their lives on the line everyday in order to protect our constitutionally guaranteed rights, including the expression of our beliefs. Congress must ensure that we are protecting them as well. "