A former Air Force Academy professor’s leadership seminar for a group of military lawyer reservists was canceled July 17 following an atheist organization’s complaint about the lecturer’s Christian affiliations.
Air Force veteran Jay Lorenzen had been scheduled to lead a seminar for Marine Corps JAG reservists with the topics “Leadership Principles Drawn from the Physical Battlefield that Have Application to Other Arenas,” and “Leaders Learn the Language of Leadership.”
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) complained to U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) officials on behalf of a Judge Advocate General (JAG) reservist who objected to Christian references in the seminar presenter’s biographical summary online.
Ron Crews, executive director with Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, said the Marine Corps’ decision to cancel a leadership seminar for military lawyers simply because the speaker is an evangelical Christian is especially alarming because Marine JAG officers are “the ones commanders rely on when questions about religious liberty come up.”
“Are these JAGs being taught by this example that whenever there’s a complaint, you don’t investigate, you just give in? Crews asked. “That’s a real concern to me.”
Rep. Doug Collins, R-Georgia, told Fox News he was “appalled” by the USMC’s “willingness to quickly cave” to MRFF President Mikey Weinstein’s “atheist demands to eradicate Christianity from our military.”
Collins, who’s also a military chaplain, said he would address his concerns with Department of Defense officials on Thursday.
“There was no indication that he was going to say anything about his Christian faith,” Crews added. “The complaint that Mikey raised was simply because this man was an evangelical Christian, he should not speak to JAG officers. That is discrimination in its worst form that this professor was being eliminated from a teaching opportunity simply because he’s an evangelical Christian. The Marine Corps should be ashamed of itself for making this decision.”
Jeremy Dys, special counsel for litigation and communications with First Liberty Institute, the law firm representing a JAG reservist who opposed the seminar’s cancellation, said the USMC’s decision is ironic on constitutional grounds.
“It is outrageous that the Marine Corps caved so quickly to an anti-religion group’s absurd claim that allowing someone who simply has a religious affiliation to help train our troops somehow violates the Constitution,” Dys said. “In fact, the opposite is true—the Constitution forbids a religious test and ensures that religious people cannot be excluded simply because they are religious. It’s infuriating that the Marine Corps caved to the cancel culture.”
“Being an evangelical Christian should not disqualify you from being able to teach at a military setting,” he said. “I heard from a Marine reserve JAG that many in that course were extremely disappointed in not hearing from Jay because they know that he is a known expert in leadership and in particular leadership as it was displayed at the Battle of Gettysburg.”