The USAF and Religious Liberty, Standing for Life in the Philippines, Joni Eareckson Tada, Museum of the Bible, and More

Signs and Wonders

Air Force Bombs Religious Liberty. A strange religious liberty case is developing in the U.S. Air Force. The Air Force sometimes issues a “certificate of spouse appreciation” to acknowledge the sacrifices of the spouses of military personnel. Col. Leland Bohannon was asked to sign such a certificate for an airman in a same-sex marriage. After talking with a chaplain and a lawyer, Col. Bohannon, a committed Christian, quietly asked for a religious accommodation so he didn’t have to sign. The Air Force failed to act on his request. The airman filed a complaint against Bohannon, accusing him of “unlawful discrimination on the basis of his sexual orientation.”  Ultimately, Bohannon “was suspended, given a poor performance appraisal, and virtually guaranteed that he would never be promoted again,” according to an account of the incident by the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins. First Liberty Institute’s Michael Berry is representing Bohannon. He told Fox News’s Todd Starnes, “His career is likely over, and he will likely have to retire as a colonel instead of a general. This sends a clear message—if you do not have the politically correct viewpoint, you are not welcome in the military. The military is no longer a place of diversity and inclusion if you are a person who holds to a traditional belief on marriage.”

Standing for Life and Liberty. More than 7,000 people have died at the hands of police during Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s “War on Drugs,” which began in June 2016. Human rights advocates, including two U.S. congressmen, asked President Trump to address the issue during his recent visit with Duterte. Apparently Trump did not, and Duterte is now threatening to ban those two members of Congress from visiting the country. According to a joint statement from Congressmen Randy Hultgren (R) and James P. McGovern (D), co-chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, “We have encouraged Mr. Duterte to reconsider his policies in keeping with his country’s obligations under international law. His most recent response was to threaten to ban each of us from traveling to his country. Today we are stating clearly that ‘sovereignty’ does not give governments free rein to kill their own people at will. We will continue to stand up for human rights and the rule of law in the Philippines and everywhere else in the world, in keeping with American and international values. We urge Mr. Duterte to join us in that endeavor. Should the situation in the Philippines improve, it will be our pleasure to recognize that the next time we hold a hearing on that country.”

National Treasure. Joni Eareckson Tada is truly one of the most remarkable persons I have ever met. The Colson Center recognized her greatness with its Wilberforce Award in 2012. And we’re having Joni back next May as a keynote speaker for our 2018 Wilberforce Weekend. She is a brilliant thinker, a gifted writer and artist, a passionate and effective advocate for the disabled, and a kind person. This week, WORLD Magazine named Joni its “Daniel of the Year” and published an excellent, intimate portrait of Joni (written by my friend Jamie Dean). I strongly recommend the article, as well as John Stonestreet’s heartfelt tribute to Joni published earlier this year, to commemorate her 50 years of public ministry.

Milestones. Museum of the Bible (MOTB) opens today. To read or listen to my 2016 interview with MOTB President Cary Summers, click here…. The Battle of Ia Drang began on this day in 1965, perhaps the first major battle of the Vietnam War. It was the subject of a best-selling book, “We Were Soldiers Once… And Young,” written by Col. Hal Moore, who led American troops in the battle, and Joe Galloway, a journalist who was “boots on the ground.” The book was the basis of the movie “We Were Soldiers.”  To read my interview with Randall Wallace, the movie’s screenwriter and director, click here.

Image courtesy of Stan Rohrer and iStock

Warren Cole Smith is an investigative journalist and author as well as the Colson Center vice- president for mission advancement.

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