Senator Ted Cruz Calls out Department of Defense for 'Unabashedly Discriminating' against Believers

Amanda Casanova

Sen. Ted Cruz has sent another letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, reiterating concerns about “religious discrimination” and a “culture of hostility towards religion” in the Department of Defense.

According to CBN News, Cruz sent out an initial letter to the department in June. His follow-up letter again asks Esper to stop the “targeting (of) religious individuals.”

"The Department must do better. It must take affirmative steps to stop those in its ranks from targeting religious individuals and violating the United States Constitution," Cruz said in the letter, according to Fox News.

Cruz also mentioned in his letter Christian Air Force veteran Jay Lorenzen. Lorenzen was slated to speak at an annual training event for Marine Corps JAG reservists in July, but his appearance was canceled after the Military Religious Freedom Foundation complained that Lorenzen’s beliefs would influence his presentations.

In his first letter, Cruz wrote that he worried that the MRFF was “waging a campaign against the chaplaincy, and frankly, against religious freedom in the military generally."

In his follow-up letter, he said the Department of Defense is “unabashedly discriminating” against believers.

"The First Amendment unambiguously protects the 'free exercise' of religion. More to the point, it protects 'religious observers against unequal treatment... on the basis of religious status.' The government is prohibited from discriminating against individuals based on their religious faith or religious practice. Nevertheless, the Department is unabashedly discriminating against religious individuals," Cruz wrote in his letter.

Cruz has given Esper until Monday, Aug. 10 to respond to his letter, specifically asking him to address three questions:

  1. What actions, if any, the Department has taken in response to the June 9, 2020 letter urging the Department to implement the religious liberty training program that Congress has mandated?
  2. What actions, if any, the Department has taken to discipline the individual who unlawfully prohibited Lt. Col. (Ret.) Lorenzen from leading the Gettysburg discussion because of his faith?
  3. What other actions, if any, is the Department taking to address its culture of hostility towards religion?

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Alex Wong/Staff

Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and She blogs at The Migraine Runner.