Faith-Based, Family-Owned Company Sues the Pentagon for Banning Replica Dog Tags with Bible Verses

Small, family-owned, faith-based company called ‘Shields of Strength,’ is suing the Pentagon after they were prohibited from producing replica dog tags containing Bible inscriptions.

Representing the humble company, First Liberty Institute filed a lawsuit against the Pentagon last week, requesting a federal court to review and reverse the resolution to disallow Shield of Strength from printing uplifting Bible verses on their replica dog tags.

“It’s a cruel insult to our service members to deny them a source of inspiration, hope, and encouragement simply because it contains a religious message,” stated Mike Berry, the general counsel for First Liberty.

“DOD officials caved to the empty threats of those who make their living by being offended. There’s no legal reason for the military to discriminate against Shields of Strength,” Berry added.

To encourage military personnel, Shields of Strength was started in 1997 by Kenny Vaughan and his wife Tammie. The 86th Signal Battalion, a military unit that was about to deploy to Afghanistan in 2001 was one of the first orders. They donated 500 dog tags, which they called “Shields”, to the unit.

First Liberty reports that the company donated more than 50,000 pieces per month to Iraqi troops during the war. One time, they even met a request for 30,000 pieces. The company has donated hundreds of thousands of dog tags to veterans and active-duty personnel, first responders, and the families of fallen soldiers.

For the past twenty years, Shields Of Strength has made replica dog tags with Bible verses. They have also been used by commanders to identify military units. Berry claims that Lloyd Austin, the current Defense Secretary, had once requested them for his unit.

Berry stated that Shields of Strength was granted licenses to continue making dog tags with words or logos from the Army, Marine Corps and Air Force.

Ironically, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation filed a complaint to the Department of Defense in 2019. It stated that the company shouldn’t be allowed to use its licenses for any religious purposes. The U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps decided not to renew their licensing agreements with the organization.

“It’s harsh and unkind that an outside group like the MRFF would pursue a radical agenda and seek to deny our service members—particularly those who may have to fight in the fiercest battles—the right to wear inspirational jewelry,” First Liberty Institute said.

“Nowhere are attacks on faith more repugnant than those aimed at the men and women who voluntarily placed their lives on the line to defend the freedom of others. That’s why First Liberty is fighting to make sure outside, anti-faith groups don’t get away with stripping away the rights of our men and women in uniform—especially their God-given freedom to find inspiration in their faith,” it added.

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