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Retired chaplain, senator: Obama bound to uphold the law

Chad Groening   (OneNewsNow.com) Friday, January 04, 2013

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 service members.

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, Col. Ron (Chaplain Alliance)

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."

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010413"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.

Wicker, Roger (R-Mississippi)"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 courts.

"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 law.

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