If you’re a T-shirt designer, there’s no problem making shirts that say “My son is in the Army” or “My daughter is in the Air Force.” What you can’t do is use the actual logos of those military branches — because it might imply government endorsement of your company. At the very least, you have to ask permission from the branches before you can use their logos in your designs.
The Department of Defense’s own rules attest to this (see page 6 in this document):
DoD marks may not be licensed for use in a manner that creates a perception of DoD endorsement of any non-federal entity or its products and services. DoD marks may not be licensed for any purpose intended to promote ideological movements, sociopolitical change, religious beliefs (including non-belief), specific interpretations of morality, or legislative/statutory change.
Seems pretty straight-forward. Almost no one can license those logos. And they sure as hell can’t be used in connection with an ideological or religious group.
And yet an online Christian jewelry store called Shields of Strength isn’t just using military emblems and logos on a series of dog tags — they’ve explicitly received permission to do so from at least one branch. That’s according to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation‘s founder Mikey Weinstein.
For example, the store is selling this “U.S. Marine Antique Finish Dog Tag Necklace” with the branch’s logo on one side and a Bible verse on the other.
MRFF says the Marines gave them permission to do that.
In both situations, though, the jewelry violates the military’s own rules, and MRFF is demanding the government put a stop to it. In a series of letters to all the branches, MRFF is calling for a cease and desist notice against the Christian company — and for the people in the government responsible for this to be publicly reprimanded.
Below is an excerpt from the letter to the Air Force (the Army and Navy letters say the same thing):
Pursuant to the foregoing, the MRFF demands that the USAF (1) immediately notify this “Shields of Strength” organization to cease and desist from using the official USAF emblem on its Christian religious proselytizing sales products or, alternatively, revoke and cancel the current approval for ”Shields of Strength” to continue using the official USAF emblem on any and/or all of its religious items for sale; and, (2) if the USAF has already granted approval to this “Shields of Strength” organization to use the USAF emblem, immediately investigate and aggressively and visibly punish those USAF personnel either directly or indirectly responsible for granting the approval for “Shields of Strength” to use the USAF emblem on its products for sale in the first place.
The letter to the Marines doesn’t bother with the “cease and desist” part; it just calls for revocation.
If the company continues selling these products without consequences, the assumption must be that the military is fundamentally Christian. Surely, that’s not the image the government wants to project. At least you would hope that’s the case.
(via Daily Kos)