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Russell Mania: Obama Goes to the Mat on NDAA


President Obama has made plenty of history (not much of it good). And if he follows through with his threat on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), he’ll make more. For 53 straight years, the military’s spending bill is one of the few things that Congress has succeeded in passing on time. Unfortunately, this White House is complicating that this year, thanks to its stubborn opposition to the First Amendment. In a staggering move, administration officials announced last week that it’s willing to send the bill that funds our military down in flames because it dares to protect religious liberty.

And as Heritage Foundation expert Justin Johnson points out, this is hardly an insignificant piece of legislation. “The bill covers a range of issues, from troop pay to the size of the Army to the legal authority for assisting other countries who are fighting the Islamic State… While this may just be political posturing, it fits a clear pattern of President Barack Obama’s willingness to use national security, and the defense bills in particular, as hostages to help him advance an unrelated domestic agenda.”

So what could possibly be so controversial that the president would risk the supply line to the military? Try religious liberty. Back in 2014, the White House issued an executive order elbowing religious contractors out of government work unless they surrendered their views. Under his rule, any company that wanted to contract with the federal government had to adopt special LGBT rights first — including policies on genderless bathrooms and showers. Essentially, organizations had a choice: they could swallow their beliefs to get a government job or make themselves ineligible by operating according to their faith.

Retired Army Colonel, Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.) refused to stand for that. After all, faith-based groups have just as much right to partner with the federal government as anyone. They shouldn’t be disqualified just because they don’t share the president’s extreme sexual ideology. So, Rep. Russell addressed the problem the way the president refused to: legislatively. He drafted — and passed — an amendment that levels the playing field for religious contractors. And liberals were none too happy about it. “To curtail the blatant discrimination against these groups, I offered a simple amendment to protect them under existing law in the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1990 Americans with Disability Act. You’d have thought I had killed someone’s mother,” he said on the House floor.

“Instead of upholding the free exercise clause of the First Amendment, we have now seen this body continue its assault on faith in America. It is not enough to level accusations of injustice. They will not be satisfied until their assaults of intolerance on people of faith in this country has produced an elimination of God in public life in America. We are accused of hatred, called out as shameful, and enjoined to use the whole Constitution to support an opposing view that embodies behavior, mores and outcomes that not only violate our conscience, but have been prohibited under the laws of nature and nature’s God. Like our forebears, I cannot be silent.”

Unfortunately, it shows the president’s hostility — not just toward religious liberty, but to the military as a whole. And Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), for one, is tired of it. “It is deeply disturbing that President Obama would threaten a veto over what had, until now, been settled law on religious liberty,” he told the Washington Examiner. “These protections have been the law of the land for decades and ensure that religiously affiliated organizations are not forced to surrender their religious identity when they enter into agreements with the federal government.” Congress is just a conference report away from sending our troops the help they need. Contact your leaders and tell them to support the religious liberty our brave men and women are giving their lives to defend!


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