A pastor and author is petitioning the U.S. Department of Defense to essentially ignore the complaints of an anti-religious group and allow "The Space Force Hymn" to be sung at chapel services.
In a letter to the DoD, Rev. David A. Newberry – author of "The History of the United States Space Force and the Space Force Hymn" – brings up several points rebutting the complaints from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), which is urging the DoD to scrap the hymn called "Creator of the Universe."
Same old argument
In typical fashion, FFRF appealed to the alleged "separation of church and state" to try and make its case. But numerous Christian legal firms – including Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) – have consistently called out FFRF for misusing the concept, which was intended to keep the government out of the Church's business – not the other way around.
"The importance of keeping the U.S. military secular in order to protect the religious liberty of all servicemembers cannot be overemphasized," FFRF stated in its press release. "The separation between religion and government is an American original.
"The crucial work of the U.S. military – defending the U.S. Constitution and the freedoms it guarantees – is directly undermined if the government is allowed to tell its citizens and servicemembers what they ought to believe on matters of religion."
FFRF co-presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor addressed their contention to Judge Advocate General Jeffrey A. Rockwell to remove God from space.
"Just as designating one particular 'holy book' as a government branch's official 'holy book' is improper, it would be improper and unconstitutional for the Space Force to select a sectarian religious hymn as an official song," Barker and Gaylor wrote. "Doing so would amount to an official government endorsement of that song's religious message."
Refuting FFRF's erroneous basis
Rev. Newberry begins his counter-argument by noting FFRF's complaints:
"The Foundation, I believe, erroneously states 1.) That the text of the Space Force Hymn has nothing to do with the military or space; 2.) That the text was thoroughly religious; 3.) That the Space Force Hymn would be appropriate for a Christian church – way out of line for a U.S. military song; and 4.) That it would be unconstitutional for the Space Force to select a sectarian religious hymn as an official song."
The reverend then addresses all four of FFRF's arguments.
"In rebuttal to point #1.) The text of the Space Force Hymn references military personnel and space directly and intentionally," Newberry contends.
"In rebuttal to points 2–4.) The Space Force Hymn is religious in so far as it mentions 'Creator,' 'God,' and 'Eternal Father.' The hymn goes no further than that, thus making it fitting for all world religions, namely Islam, Judaism and Christianity. There is nothing sectarian about the Space Force Hymn whatsoever … Furthermore, The Space Force Hymn is a prayer – a sacred piece – as are most other military hymns."
In the letter, Newberry also points out how FFRF only cites verses two and three, while purposely omitting verses one and four, noting how the atheist group manipulated what evidence the DoD sees, while hiding everything else. (See all verses below.) He also alleges that FFRF misinterprets the U.S. Constitution for the DoD.
"As far as the Constitution goes, I see no point in insulting your intelligence by attempting to teach you – as I believe FFRF has done – for you are an expert on the Constitution as it applies to military personnel," Newberry continues.
"Nor do I see a reason to debate arguments which the liberal left has already repeatedly lost. I will leave that up to the Constitutional attorneys. However, as you well know, the Constitution does not guarantee freedom from religion; but it does indeed guarantee freedom of religion."
The letter ends with a plea to keep the hymn as a pillar of hope, encouragement and support for space explorers as they witness God's creation in outer space that most men have never seen.
"My intent is simply to point out that it is my belief that FFRF has maligned the text of the Space Force Hymn and concealed evidence in order to ban freedom of religion in the Space Force," Newberry concludes. "Please allow the Space Force Hymn (Creator of the Universe), which is a sacred piece, to be sung in all Space Force chapel services. The Space Force Song – which is another secular patriotic work – can be sung outside of chapel services."
Lyrics to 'Creator of the Universe'
(Verse 1) Creator of the universe, watch o'er the men who fly Through the great spaces of the sky, and realms beyond the earth.
(Verse 2) O God who rules the heart and mind, and takes away all fear; O God who saves with tender might and calms the wind, draw near.
(Verse 3) Thy presence, felt with boundless love, wherever they may go; Thy Spirit, gentle as a dove, be Thou the God they know.
(Verse 4) Eternal Father, strong to save, in prayer before Thy light; In solitude of sov'reign grace, grant courage for the flight. Amen.
(Words and music by Rev. James F. Linzey)
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