Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Mike Lee (R-UT) have included specific protections for America's military chaplaincy in the Senate verison of the National Defense Authroization Act (NDAA), a critical move that could spark some serious debate over the White House threat to veto the bill if such protections are included.
Specifically, the protections will:
1. Strengthen existing law so that the rights of conscience of military service members are protected and their expressions of religious faith in an appropriate manner are not discriminated against or subject to retaliation. Rep. John Fleming’s (R-LA) corresponding amendment in the House has elicited a veto threat from the White House.
2. Instruct the Defense Department Inspector General to investigate reports of religious discrimination against troops who share their religious beliefs and also investigate any undue influence outside groups exert over Pentagon policy on religious matters. An anonymous survey would be mandated determining whether the Pentagon is preventing chaplains from doing their jobs or forcing them to perform actions that violate their consciences.
Traditional Values Coalition staff expects a vote on the NDAA sometime in December 2013. We will continue to keep tabs on the fate of our 238-year old military chaplaincy as events continue to develop.