The following contains editorial content which is the opinion of the writer.
SAN DIEGO, CA- This is chilling. An op-ed published in The San Diego Voice & Viewpoint tells us that the San Diego Board of Supervisors will be considering at its April 5, 2022, meeting a change in the bylaws of the Human Relations Commission (HRC), which on March 22 voted to amend their bylaws by adding a code of conduct and a process to remove commissioners by a 2/3 vote. Sounds innocent, right?
Not so much. Under the proposal, the Commission would be allowed to censure and/or remove any commissioner for any comments the super majority deemed to be “derogatory.” Again, doesn’t sound like too big a deal, at least until you get the back story.
The op—ed, written by Joel Anderson, a member of the San Diego County Supervisors in District 2, explains the sordid details behind the proposed bylaw change.
He explains that the changes were proposed in retaliation for legally protected (aka First Amendment) speech which was shared by a local pastor, Dennis Hodges, who is black, and who was appointed by Anderson to serve on the HRC.
Last November, the HRC was considering an action which would have supported the transgender community, which statistically nationwide makes up less than 1% of the population, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Yet for some unknown reason, they get a lot of sway.
Understandably, when the HRC was undertaking action on the proposal, Pastor Hodges exercised his right to free speech (and Freedom of Religion) and abstained from voting due to his religious beliefs concerning transgenderism.
That of course set of the “tolerance” mob, with several of the Pastor’s fellow commissioners urging him to explain his reasoning for abstaining from the vote. Pastor Hodges, Anderson explained, referenced the Bible, in particular Deuteronomy 22:5: “A woman shall not wear a man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whatever does these things is an abomination to the LORD your God.” (NAV)
The commission’s own bylaws explains that the purpose of the Commission is “to promote positive human relations, respect, and the integrity of every individual,” regardless of any protected class they may fall under, including religion. Under the proposed bylaw change, a super majority would be able to “remove anyone who holds beliefs that are different than their own.”
Time was debate was allowed and discourse between those with opposing points of view was welcome. That no longer appears to be the case. Those on the political left, who used to be champions of debate, protest, and encouraging disparate opinions no longer tolerate those with whom they disagree. And, as Anderson notes, the inclusion of such a policy by the San Diego HRC runs counter to its mission.
Apparently in San Diego, should this proposed change, disagreement—which now could apparently be defined as being “derogatory”—could result in an official being censured and/or removed from their respective commission.
Imagine if you will a debate in Congress where someone expresses an opinion that differs from the majority at that particular time. If something such as this were considered on a national level, would most people support it?
Unfortunately for those on the political left, they are hell bent on destroying opposing points of view. The current debate over transgenderism has shone a bright light on the intolerance of the political left.
As Anderson wrote, such a policy will not end well:
“When we don’t hold space for others to have and express beliefs that differ from our own, the eventual result is contempt. Contempt can be defined as the feeling that a person is beneath consideration, worthless, or deserving scorn. This attitude towards others is in direct contrast to the values that the Commission was designed to uphold.”
The difference between modern-day leftists and the right is that conservatives do not try to silence those with whom they disagree. They like to engage in debate and listen to opposing points of view. While they may not agree with them, they respect the right for those who don’t feel like they do to express those feelings.
The left however is a far-different animal. How many times have we seen conservatives such as Charlie Kirk, Ben Shapiro, and others protested at college campuses because their opinions don’t jibe with the far left? It happens literally nearly every time a conservative shows up on a college campus. Contrast that when a leftist shows up. The political right will usually just ignore them. The funny part is, liberals like to consider themselves the “tolerant” ones.
Anderson notes that in his internship program, one of the books that is required reading for his staff is How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
In that book, Carnegie addresses the topic of how to convince others over to your way of thinking. He espoused two principles, which he says apply to what is currently going on with the HRC in San Diego. It is also a good primer for the rest of us.
Those two principles are: 1). Show respect for the other person’s opinions, and 2). Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
Sadly, that is no longer the case, primarily emanating from the political left. Anderson notes that the HRC’s commissioners in San Diego have not approached Carnegie’s approach, but rather seek to change the rules and silence those with whom they disagree; in other words, engaging in “groupthink.”
Groupthink is a psychological term that basically “asserts that small groups tend to accept a conclusion that represents what the perceived group consensus is—regardless of whether the group members believe it to be true.”
The case in San Diego is but a small microcosm of the problems we currently face in our country. A more significant issue is what is going on in Florida.
There, a bill clearly designed to protect children between the ages of 5-9 from being exposed to highly sexualized and let’s face it, controversial ideologies is being framed by people who clearly have not read the bill as a “don’t say gay” bill, which is absurd. The level to which the alphabet mob, leftist politicians, woke CEOs and Hollywood wingnuts have lied about what this bill does is mind boggling.
Even Democrats support the bill. But the woke leftist mob is apparently willing to die on the hill of exposing our most vulnerable kids to an insane ideology.
We will follow up on the San Diego vote as information becomes available. If a pastor can be kicked off a commission for expressing his biblical beliefs, we are in even more trouble than any of us thought.
For more on the attack on our First Amendment and religious freedoms, we invite you to read a prior article in which we examined religious exemptions (or lack thereof) in the military.
The editorial comments in this article are brought to you by a United States veteran and current staff writer for Law Enforcement Today.
ARLINGTON, VA – The Biden administration gave guidance to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to begin working on making the COVID vaccine mandatory for all members of the US armed services. Austin did just that.
Since then, rumors have circulated that many service members would rather face separation from their branch than get the inoculations. Many of the claims remain unsubstantiated, but what we do now know is that thousands of our nation’s finest are seeking exemptions for the mandate.
In fact, Epoch News reports that more than 16,000 members of our military have sought a religious exemption, the Air Force alone receiving just over 11,000. To date, no branch has approved a single one. But, this is actually nothing new.
According to court filings as part of Navy Seal 1 v. Biden, not only have no COVID exemptions been approved for religious reasons, the Department of Defense branches have only approved a small number of vaccine exemptions in recent years leading up to the pandemic.
These filings were part of a court ruling requiring the Pentagon to show how they handle religious exemptions. That case is a class-action lawsuit filed by numerous service members.
“Joe Biden imposed an illegal order to force every active and reserve service member to get the injections and compounded his illegal actions by depriving these military heroes of their constitutional and legal rights to religious exemptions.
Biden’s Department of Justice knew two weeks ago when the court ordered the release of this critical information that this day of accountability was coming and yet not one person’s religious accommodation request has been granted.
This is telling and will not bode well for their defense.”
That was a statement emailed to the Epoch Times by Matthew Staver of the Liberty Counsel, who is representing the plaintiffs.
“It is clear that all roads in the military lead to denial of all religious requests,” he also wrote.
One of the plaintiff’s stated that he was removed from his leadership position after he appealed the exemption denial he received.
In other words, the military has created a pathway to request exemptions, which they appear to have no intention of approving. That process also has an allowance to appeal.
None of those will be approved either.
And to make matters worse, the branches seem to say that they are allowing service members a chance to file a form… because they have to. But, they will deny that request.
Then, if members use the approved appeals process, they will be punished for that effort.
It is reminiscent of our parents telling us “the answer is no, now stop asking. Why? Because I said so.”
The Army and Marines have denied all requests dating back to 2019 and 2016, respectively. The Coast Guard approved two of 23 received over the past decade.
The Navy has decided 419 requests so far. None were approved.
The Marines have said no to more than 250 of the 2,266 exemptions received. They have also denied one appeal. Of the staggering number received by the Air Force, 6.2% have been denied, while the others are still pending. They have also received 170 appeals, none of which have been ruled on.
But, before we look at the armed forces for for an attack on religious freedom, they have also allowed only a few medical exemptions. The Department of the Navy has granted only 20, six in the Navy and 14 in the Marines.
The Pentagon however, is proud of the efforts that have been given to accommodate our troops.
“The secretary is pleased by the level of effort that the military departments have taken to enact this mandatory vaccine regimen,” John Kirby, the Pentagon’s press secretary, told reporters earlier this month.
“He’s not unmindful of the fact that in each of the military departments there are some members who are declining, refusing to take the vaccine, some that are applying for the exemptions, some exemptions that are being granted.”
So, why the refusal to approve any of the requests?
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“Lawyers representing service members applying for religious and medical exemptions have told The Epoch Times that military leadership has brought enormous pressure to bear on troops to get vaccinated. They said that officials largely appeared to be stalling on ruling on requests to try to discourage troops from filing them.”
One argument making the rounds is that the military has its own constitution known as the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and therefore, the 1st Amendment right to the freedom of religion does not apply in this situation.
Because the mandate has been considered a “lawful order,” refusal would be in violation of Articles 90, 92, 98, 108, 133 (for officers), and 134.
Many former and current soldiers would argue that you cannot pick and choose what is protected under your religious liberties and what is not.
I served in the Army from 1996 to 2004. During that time, we were allowed by regulation to wear religious jewelry, as long as it was within regulations. For example, I could wear a chain with a cross on it. But, it must be tucked into my shirt while in uniform.
Only during religious services were service members able to wear religious attire on the outside of their uniform. We were not permitted to wear religious headgear as part of our duty uniform, with the exception of chaplains.
Males were not allowed to grow facial hair aside from a mustache, which was required to be groomed. Beards were allowed only for medical reasons and were to be trimmed to a specific length and could not be shaped.
Here is a photo from the 2002 version of the Army Regulation 670-1 that shows the only acceptable facial hair.
Here is the screenshot from the 2021 iteration of that same regulation.
Also included now in the section of religious accommodations:
Understand, this is not to point out that these accommodations should not be made. In fact, it actually is pointed out to underscore the hypocrisy of the branches for making religious accommodations in one instance, but not others.
And yes, I am completely aware that a beard and a vaccination are not the same thing. But accommodating a service member’s deeply held belief based on personal religious convictions should be the same across the board. There should never an “a la carte” approach.
Obviously, there must be checks and balances in place to keep people from abusing the system. The reason for accommodation must be verifiable. A Christian cannot simply seek an religious exemption because they want to wear a beard just because Jesus had a beard.
But, it could be argued that there are numerous passages in the Bible that would allow a Christian a legitimate argument against the vaccine on religious belief grounds. The approving authority doesn’t have to hold the same belief in order to grant that accommodation.
Army Regulation 600-20 (dated 24 July 2020) paragraph 5-6 states:
“The Army places a high value on the rights of its Soldiers to observe tenets of their respective religions or to observe no religion at all; while protecting the civil liberties of its personnel to the greatest extent possible, consistent
with its military requirements.”
Religious accommodations fall under one of five categories, at least for the Army: worship practices, dietary practices, medical care, wear and appearance of uniforms, and personal appearance/grooming.
Immunizations fall under the category of medical care.
“Some religious practices conflict with normal Army medical procedures. These practices include beliefs in self-care, and prohibitions against immunizations, blood transfusions, or surgery.
Accommodations concerning medical care always require coordination between unit commander and appropriate healthcare provider…TSG is the decision authority for immunization exemptions and appeals concerning disapproved religious accommodations for other medical practices. (pages 57-58)”
The TSG alluded to in the above paragraph is the Surgeon General.
You read that correctly. The Army’s Surgeon General, Lt. General R. Scott Dingle is the approving (or more realistically, the denying) authority for any and all exemption requests.
But there are numerous steps that a requestor must go through before his office sees it.
According to the Army Times:
“First, unit chaplains must interview requesters and ‘provide a memorandum that summarizes this interview and addresses the religious basis and sincerity of the Soldier’s request.’ In addition to the religious sincerity interview, ‘a licensed healthcare provider’ must counsel religious objectors as well.
Finally, the soldier’s ‘immediate commander’ must sit down with them and explain ‘that noncompliance with immunization requirements may adversely impact deployability, assignment, or international travel, and that the exemption may be revoked under imminent risk conditions.”
In other words, you may apply for an exemption, but the Army will do everything to convince you that your deeply-held religious beliefs are not worth our time and trouble and they will make your career a living hell.
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