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Oliver North
Oliver North
2 May 2013
Being Presidential

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Freedom From Religion


WASHINGTON — "We don't need you, so shut up!" That's the message the Obama administration has sent loud and clear to America's Roman Catholics. And it's a message now being sent to U.S. military chaplains — to the detriment of our armed forces.

During World War II, the War Department and the Department of the Navy urged — the operative word is "urged," not "ordered," mind you — U.S. military chaplains to encourage soldiers, sailors, airmen, guardsmen and Marines that God was on our side in the global battle against fascists, Nazis and the godless heathens running rampant across Asia and the Pacific. The hymns "Onward, Christian Soldiers" and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" were sung with fervor at chapel services regardless of denomination.

The U.S. military I entered in 1961 still had tens of thousands of men and women familiar with such experience. My regimental chaplain in Vietnam, Cmdr. Jake Laboon, a Jesuit priest, was a decorated U.S. Navy combat veteran of World War II. He routinely administered last rites to grievously wounded — and often dying — Marines and sailors without regard to a denominational preference on their dog tags. It's a good thing he was there when I was wounded, because, as others related to me later, he was the one who told the surgeons to "take this one next" while I was unconscious on a triage litter at a field hospital. If he hadn't been there, I might not be here.

All this helps to explain my bias. As a general matter, I like chaplains who do their duty to God and man. I especially admire men like Jake Laboon. And I don't like the way the Obama administration is treating them. This week's order to muzzle what chaplains can say is yet another O-Team salvo aimed at "de-Christianizing" — and ultimately destroying — the U.S. military.

The opening shot was fired when President Barack Obama declared in his January 2010 State of the Union address that he would "repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are." (Emphasis added.) The "law" to which the president referred was "don't ask, don't tell," which wasn't a law at all; it was an administrative policy implemented by the Clinton administration. The actual governing law — Section 654 of Title 10 of the U.S. Code — states, "There is no constitutional right to serve in the armed forces." The president ran roughshod over the law of the land in a political payoff to a preferred constituency.

The Defense of Marriage Act was next. Though the bill was argued, debated, passed by both houses of Congress, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton, Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder unilaterally declared the law unconstitutional in February 2011.

Holder was courteous enough to send Congress a letter explaining our legislature's irrelevance in the matter.

He stated, "The President and I have concluded that ... Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional." Since then, Obama has said, "Where Congress is not willing to act, we're going to go ahead and do it ourselves." Efficiency is one of the great advantages of dictatorships.

Dispensing with DOMA paved the way for the Pentagon to greenlight same-sex "marriages" presided over by military chaplains — on or off base — in states that recognize such "unions." Now the O-Team has mandated that the Roman Catholic Church violate its own teachings on birth control and abortion.

The Obama administration's edict requiring employers — including the Catholic Church — to offer "health" coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs and contraception ignited a firestorm. Roman Catholic bishops protested loudly and in unison that the action was a violation of the First Amendment. In churches across the country, letters from the bishops were read to congregations, explaining the directive as unjust and unconstitutional because it forces Catholic institutions to violate their faith or pay staggering fines.

The O-Team shrugged off the dissent until Archbishop Timothy Broglio — who leads the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA — issued a pastoral letter denouncing the Obamacare directive because "the Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation's first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty." The letter, sent to Catholic military chaplains, instructed them to read it to their congregations on the weekend of Jan. 28-29. In his missive, Broglio declared that the new rule "is a blow to a freedom that you have fought to defend and for which you have seen your buddies fall in battle."

Apparently, the archbishop's assertion that "we cannot — we will not — comply with this unjust law" was too much for the Army chief of chaplains. He ordered that the letter not be read in military chapels or field services because Broglio had not "coordinated" with his office. Army Secretary John McHugh subsequently admitted that such censorship was "a mistake."

"Mistake"? It wasn't a mistake if McHugh and the rest of the administration's objective is eliminating Christianity from the United States armed forces and wrecking the finest military the world ever has seen. We'll know for sure what the goal really is when the commander in chief orders chaplains to violate their religious beliefs and perform same-sex "marriages" or just get out. And then our men and women serving in uniform will finally have freedom from religion.

Oliver North is the host of "War Stories" on Fox News Channel, the founder and honorary chairman of Freedom Alliance, and the author of "American Heroes in Special Operations." To find out more about Oliver North and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



3 Comments | Post Comment
If the Catholic Church can have a dispensation from laws which apply to all Americans, then Mormons have the religious right to polygamy.

Comment: #1
Posted by: demecra zydeem
Fri Feb 10, 2012 8:40 AM
Nobody in the administration has proposed any requirement that priests perform same sex marriages. That does not stop "chicken little" columnists from running around crying that the sky is falling on the christian faith. You can always make slippery slope, "end-of-civilization-as-we-know-it" arguments about any change. Real courage, of course, is to admit it when your silliest predictions do not occur.
And, in case you have lost track Mr. North, this is now your 21st column since "don't ask, don't tell" ended and there still appears to be no crisis of retention or recruitment in the military, as predicted in your last "sky is falling" squawk on this subject. Mr. North, will you ever have the courage and personal integrity to admit that your column predicting disaster in this matter was just political theater? Aren't you happy to report that the men and women serving in our military are more dedicated and professional than you, apparently, could imagine? Or is it simply that your corporate masters at Fox "News" demand that you avoid this truth as the price of playing in their sand box?
Comment: #2
Posted by: Mark
Sun Feb 12, 2012 1:25 PM
I completely agree with you, Mark, and well put.
Mr. North, When a Catholic organization hires employees from the general public, offers services to the general public, and accepts government money for those services, it should not be allowed to impose its theological conditions on its employees' health care choices by refusing to cover contraception. That is not religious freedom; that is religious imperialism and comes dangerously close to the "establishment of religion" that is prohibited by the Constitution
Mr. North, you can continue to do today what you did in the past, tell the truth as the GOP players want it told but consider looking at Colin Powell a great military man with a more than distinguished record of service to his country. I respect and admire him because always he has acted with integrity. He has the courage of his convictions to tell the truth and the integrity to admit mistakes and acknowledge that the military and the times have changed with the change in people's attitudes toward one another. When I hear Colin Powell yea or nay something, I listen because i know that's coming from the man and it is well-thought out by him. When I read your columns, they are so one-sided and pander to the most extreme fears of your faithful, fearful, FOX followers. So, do you and Rush and the rest of your cronies have coffee and talk about old times? You know, back when you good 'ol boys could get away with bashings and lynchings and keeping our military and our country 'pure'.
Comment: #3
Posted by: demecra zydeem
Tue Feb 14, 2012 1:51 PM
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