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Public Statements

Expressing Sense of Congress Regarding Need for Continued Availability of Religious Services to Members of the Armed Services

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. FLEMING. Mr. Speaker, I thank my good friend Congressman Wilson. I also thank my good friend, Doug Collins, for bringing this measure up today.

Mr. Speaker, the First Amendment rights of our military do not sunset with the lack of appropriations or even a shutdown. The free exercise of religion is codified in the Constitution of the United States and celebrated by every American, including those of us who have worn, do, or will wear the uniform.

Military chaplains faithfully serve a unique role in the military, bridging the gap between faith and freedom and ensuring that people of all beliefs are able to celebrate mass or participate in a worship service according to the dictates of their faith.

Despite this protective right, the Department of Defense has decided to effectively close the doors of many churches and chapels this weekend by not allowing military chaplains to perform their religious duties on military installations because the Federal Government has not passed the relevant appropriations bill for FY 2014.

Mr. Speaker, I contend that the freedom of religion does not follow the Federal Government's fiscal policy. The freedom of religion is a 24/7 constitutional right that should garner unconditional support from this administration and our military leaders.

I stand strong with the brave men and women serving in our Nation's military and urge my colleagues to support this resolution.

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