A religious liberty law firm is urging the Marine Corps to allow replica dog tags and other inspirational jewelry.
On behalf of First Liberty Institute's client, Shields of Strength, the largest legal organization in the nation dedicated exclusively to protecting religious liberty for all Americans sent a letter to the U.S. Marine Corps Trademark and Licensing Office demanding they rescind or reverse their ban on Shields of Strength being able to manufacture and sell replica dog tags that have a Marine Corps logo or a unit logo in conjunction with an inspirational or motivational Bible verse.
Mike Berry of First Liberty Institute says the reason the Marine Corps instituted that ban was because of a complaint from atheist attorney Mike Weinstein and an outside anti-religious organization, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). But Berry asserts there is no legal or constitutional basis for the ban.
"They appear to have done it simply to appease the complaint of this outside activist group, and now it's caused our client, Kenny Vaughan and Shields of Strength, to not be able to provide this source of inspiration and encouragement ... at a time when we've got Marines and others who are facing very dangerous and perilous situations and circumstances in the Middle East and elsewhere," says Berry. "Many of them have placed orders for these Shields of Strength replica dog tags, [and] Kenny Vaughan is in a position where he's now no longer able to give these Marines what they're asking for."
Berry hopes the Marine Corps Trademark Licensing Office will respond.
"Hopefully, they'll reverse the ban and come to their senses and realize that not only [is] what they're doing unconstitutional and unlawful, but they're actually hurting the Marine Corps," Berry comments. "They're hurting individual marines and their loved ones who want these dog tags as a source of hope and encouragement."
If the Marine Corps Trademark Licensing Office does not respond, or if it gives an unfavorable response, Berry says First Liberty Institute is "keeping all of our options on the table."
"We hope it doesn't come to that, [and] I'm hoping that common sense will prevail here," he concludes.