First Amendment group appeals military ban on religious dog tags

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Proponents of religious freedom are fighting back after the U.S. military’s decision to prohibit the sale of religiously themed dog tags, a move the military made after it received complaints from a secularist group seeking to erase Christianity from all things governmental.

First Liberty submitted a letter to the Army on Tuesday, asking it to lift a ban on the sale of dog tags that juxtapose U.S. military logos with Bible verses. The group said that the ban on dog tags sold by Shields of Strength, a “faith-based” business, violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause, which prohibits the government from favoring or disfavoring particular religions.

“What Shields of Strength is doing is perfectly permissible under the Constitution and the law,” Michael Berry, director of military affairs at First Liberty, told the Washington Free Beacon. “It is the Army that’s in the wrong here and they’re the ones that need to take corrective action.”

Shields of Strength has sold millions of the dog tags featuring trademarked U.S. military logos and Bible verses, many of them to service members. The company—which licensed the logos—estimates that at least 9 out of 10 operational units have received the dog tags since 2002, according to the appeal filed by First Liberty. The controversy started when the Military Religious Freedom Foundation asked the military to prohibit Shields of Strength from selling the religiously themed products with military logos. The group wrote that the dog tags imply an “undeniable and incontrovertible endorsement of the Christian religion” in violation of Defense Department regulations and the First Amendment

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