A retired Army chaplain and a member of the Senate Armed
Services Committee are both very disappointed that President Obama
used the signing of the Defense Authorization Bill to attack a
provision that protects the right of conscience of chaplains and
When Barack Obama signed the 2013 Defense Authorization Act on
Thursday, he took the opportunity
to express his criticism of Section 533, which added
protections for conscience rights of military members and chaplains
who hold biblical views concerning sexuality. The president called
Section 533 "an unnecessary and ill-advised provision."
Crews says it is ironic that the president made those comments
in light of a pledge he made while running for president in May
2008 that he would never use signing statements "as a way of doing
an end-run around Congress."Col. Ron Crews (USA-Ret.) served as an
Army chaplain for 28 years and now serves as a spokesman for the Chaplain
Alliance for Religious Liberty. "These military personnel need
to be protected in today's military," he tells OneNewsNow, "and the
president just seems to not respect that and continues to push the
radical homosexual agenda on our military."
"The president really
maligned then-President Bush for the use of signing statements,
saying that that was going around the will of Congress," says the
retired chaplain. "And now President Obama is going even further;
he's going to push his agenda regardless of the will of Congress,
which ultimately is the will of the people."
Crews is calling on the president and senior Department of
Defense leaders to honor religious liberty protections for
chaplains passed by Congress.
Crews' efforts to hold the president accountable may have
support in Congress as well. Senator Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi)
is calling Obama to task for criticizing that amendment that
protects the rights of chaplains and members of military who hold
biblical views about sexuality.
Holding his feet to the fire
Wicker, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was
instrumental in getting Section 533 included in the bill. He says
the president is bound to uphold the law.
"He can attach a signing
statement saying Well, I really prefer that this wasn't in here
and I don't think it was necessary and it's a bad idea. He can
attach all the statements he wants to," says the senator, "but if
he has signed the law, then he is bound to uphold every portion of
it -- and we intend to hold him to that."
The Republican lawmaker is hopeful Obama will not encourage the
radical homosexual rights lobby to challenge Section 533 in the
"It wouldn't matter if the president was instigating that
lawsuit or not," Wicker tells OneNewsNow. "The Supreme Court, I
think, is going to protect the conscience of members of the clergy.
And if they don't, then we really are at a problem point in the
United States of America.
"All I can say is under the law, as signed by the president,
chaplains have the right to exercise their conscience and not
perform weddings they don't want to," he concludes. "And we're
going to watch him and make sure that he follows the law."
Wicker, who believes the amendment passes constitutional muster,
says he will exercise his congressional oversight to hold the
president accountable for upholding a statute he signed into