What led to censorship of chaplain who quoted Eisenhower?Alliance Defending Freedom requests public records related to censorship of ‘No Atheists in Foxholes’ essay
Friday, August 02, 2013
Attorney sound bite: Kellie Fiedorek
Chaplain Lt. Col. Kenneth Reyes of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson published an essay titled “No Atheists in Foxholes: Chaplains Gave All in World War II” on the base’s website in a section called “Chaplain’s Corner.” Col. Brian Duffy, the base commander, ordered the removal of the essay earlier this month reportedly to avoid offending atheists after the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which objected to the essay’s title and religious content, filed a complaint.
“It’s patently ridiculous to censor a chaplain for using religious speech, particularly when it is language once used by Eisenhower,” said Litigation Counsel Kellie Fiedorek. “It’s equally ridiculous for the military to engage in censorship of speech protected by the very Constitution that its service members fight to defend.”
President Eisenhower used the phrase during a 1954 speech. “As a former soldier, I am delighted that our veterans are sponsoring a movement to increase our awareness of God in our daily lives. In battle, they learned a great truth--that there are no atheists in the foxholes,” he said.
The records request asks for any correspondence sent to or written by Duffy with regard to Reyes’ essay as well as any records of any authority that Duffy relied upon to remove Reyes’ essay from the base’s website.
“We have reviewed Chaplain Lt. Col. Reyes’s essay and do not believe it violated any military regulation,” the FOIA request explains. “We therefore believe that the First Amendment fully protects this Chaplain’s essay, and further believe that Col. Duffy may have violated Chaplain Lt. Col. Reyes’s First Amendment rights to both freedom of speech and also freedom of religion.”
“We find it appalling and unacceptable that Col. Duffy, representing our Nation’s military, would seek to deny one of his soldiers the very freedoms it asks him to be prepared to defend,” the request continues. “And we think it unreasonable to expect Chaplains to fulfill their important role in our Nation’s military if they are not allowed to extol the virtues and importance of faith.”
- Pronunciation guide: Reyes (RAY’-ess)