The FFRF Action Fund condemns the draft of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed by the U.S. House of Representatives containing harmful theocratic measures — as well as a targeted attack on state/church separation.
The GOP-majority House took a bipartisan bill and turned it into what Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) called “an ode to bigotry and ignorance.” The House-approved version of the NDAA includes restrictions on abortion access and transgender medical care for troops, and on the promotion of diversity, equity and inclusion.
Although the amendments are not expected to pass the Senate and would be vetoed by Biden, it’s still shameful that a majority of the House is willing to turn national security funding into part of their “culture war.” As Smith put it, “It’s really very disturbing how divisive all this has become, the degree to which the Republican majority wants to attack diversity. Bottom line. Attack trans people. Attack women. Attack people of color.”
A particularly cruel amendment authored by the so-called Freedom Caucus would halt reimbursements to those serving in the military for travel related to abortion care. This travel is, of course, necessitated by Christian nationalist efforts to restrict abortion access across much of the nation. The Pentagon supplies opportunities galore to meet with chaplains under the auspices of accommodation for those living away from home or in remote outposts in the United States or abroad. Yet under this amendment, pregnancy and parenthood could be forced upon service members stranded in anti-abortion locations. Similarly, it would deny care, such as hormone treats, for transgender troop members dependent on military insurance.
Other amendments, such as restrictions on teaching critical race theory and stripping the Pentagon’s funding for diversity, equity, and inclusion, are nothing more than red meat for the base of Christian nationalist legislators.
Crucially, the current NDAA draft also includes an unconstitutional, authoritarian attempt to forbid Department of Defense personnel from communicating with a specific civil rights organization, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). MRFF has drawn the ire of Christian nationalists by insisting that the U.S. armed forces remain secular, as is constitutionally required.
“This deplorable amendment disregards the U.S. Constitution twice,” comments FFRF Action Fund President Annie Laurie Gaylor, “violating the First Amendment rights of the MRFF and their members with the intention of encouraging the unconstitutional promotion of religion within the U.S. armed forces.”
Media coverage of the multiple egregious NDAA amendments has failed to highlight a truly outrageous and unprecedented assault on MRFF and respect for the rights of conscience of military service members.
The FFRF Action Fund is committed to opposing unconstitutional efforts to insert Christian nationalism into U.S. law, and will continue to fight these outrageous measures and to mobilize its supporters against it. Legislators should respect their oaths to uphold the secular U.S. Constitution and should stop playing dangerous theopolitical games with a crucial funding bill.
FFRF Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) organization that develops and advocates for legislation, regulations and government programs to preserve the constitutional principle of separation between state and church. It also advocates for the rights and views of nonbelievers, endorses candidates for political office, and publicizes the views of elected officials concerning religious liberty issues. FFRF Action Fund serves as the advocacy arm of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which has more than 40,000 members and works to keep religion out of government and educate the public about nontheism.