As I posted back in July, an online Christian jewelry store stopped selling dog tags featuring emblems of the Marine Corps and Navy after the military branches demanded they end the unauthorized usage.
The company, Shields of Strength, didn’t seem to care that using the official logos of the military suggested an endorsement of religion that the military wasn’t making. In fact, the Department of Defense’s own rules prohibit the designs on any items that promote certain ideologies or religious beliefs.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation‘s founder Mikey Weinstein sent letters to all of the military branches urging them to put a stop to what the Christian company was doing, and it worked. The U.S. Marine Corps Trademark Licensing Office was able to get the store to take down the Marine Corps and Navy dog tags, though the Army and Air Force dog tags were still available for purchase.
Now it seems the Army has followed suit, sending the same message to the company to cease and desist with the logo usage.
“You are not authorized to put biblical verses on your Army products,” Army Trademark Licensing Program director, Paul Jensen, wrote to Vaughan in August, according to a letter obtained by Fox News. “For example, Joshua 1:9. Please remove ALL biblical references from all of your Army products.“
That’s the proper thing to do. That’s what the Army would surely do if we were talking about a non-Christian belief. It’s not an anti-Christian move. It’s just about maintaining the Army’s religious neutrality.
But, as expected, First Liberty, a right-wing legal group that doesn’t care about the law, is telling the Army this move is unnecessary. In a letter to the Jensen, one of their attorneys says telling an outside company not to put the Army logo on a Bible product is “unconstitutional.”
[Shields of Strength] does not relinquish its First Amendment rights by virtue of its status as a license-holder. Indeed, any requirement that SoS subject itself to such censorship as a condition to receiving a license would itself be an unconstitutional condition.
It’s all made up law, though. The company can’t just put someone else’s logo on their religious products and start selling them. They can’t do it with the military either. Neither can atheist groups. The company is more than welcome, however, to sell shirts saying “I love the Army” or “Proud mother of a soldier.” It’s the use of the logo that’s the issue.
The Christian Broadcasting Network’s headline for their story about this is “Army Bans Faith-Based Company from Making Inspirational Dog Tags After Atheist Complaint.” That’s a lie. The problem isn’t that the company is selling “inspirational” dog tags.
The FOX News headline for their story about this is “Army says faith-based group can no longer put Bible verses on dog tags after complaint.” That’s also a lie. They can sell dog tags with Bible verses. They just can’t use the logo.
This isn’t complicated unless you’re a conservative Christian whose job is lying to the public.
The military, which already gives preferential treatment to Christians when it comes to chaplains, knows what it’s doing here. First Liberty, which goes out of its way to scare people into thinking government promotion of Christianity is some kind of legal default, does not.
They’re not going to win this. But you can bet they’ll fundraise off the fact that they wrote a scary letter.
(Portions of this article were published earlier)