Monday, May 15, 2017

Religious freedom in the military is this week’s topic on FOT

Michael Berry
First Liberty Institute
Joining us this week on FOT will be Michael Berry, Senior Counsel & Director of Military Affairs for First Liberty Institute, where he focuses on cases involving religious liberty within the armed forces. He joined First Liberty Institute in 2013 after serving for seven years as an attorney with the U.S. Marine Corps. From 2009 until 2013, Berry served as an appellate litigator, arguing numerous cases before various federal appeals courts. In 2008, Berry was selected for a high-profile combat deployment to Afghanistan with a Marine Corps infantry battalion. From 2009 – 2012, Berry served as an Adjunct Professor of Law at the United States Naval Academy.

Michael will be discussing three cases in which he is involved:
Col Madrid
1. Colonel Michael Madrid, a decorated Air Force veteran who has honorably served in the military for 26 years. He is also a devout Christian. In 2014, a service member undergoing a court-martial accused Col. Madrid of making derogatory comments about homosexuality. Col. Madrid denied making such comments and submitted to a thorough Air Force investigation, where he explained that he holds traditional Christian beliefs about marriage and sexuality. The investigation ultimately cleared him of the charges. Two years later, Col. Madrid was placed under a new commander, Maj. Gen. John E. McCoy, who accessed the report and, without any new evidence or new investigation, arbitrarily decided Madrid was guilty and punished him.
2. United States Marine Corps Lance Corporal Monifa Sterling was convicted at a court
LCpl Sterling
martial after she refused to take down Bible verses she had posted in her workspace and for reposting the verses after her supervisor threw them in the trash. The military courts ruled against Sterling, giving her a bad conduct discharge and reducing her rank. First Liberty Institute stepped in and appealed Sterling’s case to the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF)— the highest military court which ruled against Sterling, denying her constitutional right to religious freedom. First Liberty appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court on December 23, 2016.
3. Oscar Rodriguez, Jr. is a decorated Air Force veteran who has delivered a patriotic flag-folding speech over 100 times at civic and military events. In March 2016, a retiring service member asked Rodriguez to deliver the flag-folding speech at his retirement
Oscar Rodriguez
ceremony, to be held at Travis Air Force Base near Sacramento. Rodriguez agreed, but when he began the speech, uniformed Airmen assaulted him, physically dragged him out of the ceremony, and kicked him off the military base because the speech included the word “God.”
You will hear these and other stories of interest to people of faith from our guest and Deacon Mike Manno and Gina Noll. We also expect a special announcement about FOT any day now.
FOT airs every Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. on Iowa Catholic Radio 1150 AM; 88.5 & 94.5 FM; and streaming on It can also be heard on our downloadable app that is available free from the app store. Podcasts of earlier programs can also be found here.
FOT is on the air courtesy of our loyal sponsors and underwriters: Attorney Rick McConville, Coppola, McConville, Coppola, Carroll, Hockenberg & Scalise PC 2100 Westown Parkway, West Des Moines, 515-453-1055; Confluence Brewing Company – off the Bike Trail just south of Grey’s Lake, 1235 Thomas Beck Road where there is live entertainment in the tap room every Thursday; and Robert Cota, Farm Bureau FinancialServices, 200 West 2nd Ave., Indianola, Iowa 50125, 515-961-4555 or 515-205-5642.

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