Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) urged Deborah Lee James, President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of the Air Force, to look into specific cases in which the military allegedly suppressed service members’ religious rights before she is confirmed by the U.S. Senate. “We’re going to give you about 42 specific examples as a followup,” Vitter told her.
“A lot of us are very concerned about what in our opinion is political correctness run amok on steroids quashing legitimate exercise and expression of religion in the military, things like… telling somebody they can’t have a Bible on their desk – that’s a documented case. Telling a Christian chaplain he can’t end a prayer in Jesus’ name – that’s a documented case,” Vitter told James at her nomination hearing Thursday.
“Do you think these sort of issues are a problem and if so, what would you do about it?” the Louisiana Republican asked.
“I have actually read the policy of the Department of Defense and I know what that policy says,” James replied. “It says that the open ability to worship, there shall be freedom of all religions so long as within good order and discipline. And I know that the chaplains, the whole point that they put forth, is that there shall be dignity and respect for everyone, of course.”
Noting that she was not familiar with the particular cases Vitter referred to, James added, “Of course, it’s a question of if you have a policy, the policy seems good to me, but then you have some people who don’t follow the policy, so these individual cases we’ll have to look into.”
Vitter persisted. “Do you think those actions should be barred in the military?”
“So having a Bible on your desk, that doesn’t seem like it should be barred to me, no,” James said.
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