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U.S. President Donald Trump arrives to delivers remarks at the 2017 National Scout Jamboree in Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve, W.V., on July 24, 2017. Photo by Carlos Barria/Reuters

Religious leaders respond to Trump’s transgender military ban

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WASHINGTON (RNS) — Religious leaders were quick to react to President Trump’s tweeted announcement that transgender people will not be allowed to serve in the U.S. military.

“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow … Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military,” he wrote Wednesday (July 26) in three tweets. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming … victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail. Thank you.”

Cheers and condemnation poured forth from religious leaders:

Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council

“I applaud President Trump for keeping his promise to return to military priorities — and not continue the social experimentation of the Obama era that has crippled our nation’s military. The military can now focus its efforts on preparing to fight and win wars rather than being used to advance the Obama social agenda.”

“AFA applauds President Trump for his courageous decision to end the usage of our military for social engineering and political correctness. American families deserve a military that is focused solely on readiness and national defense.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

“It’s a sad day when the President of the United States declares that transgender Americans are unwelcome in the United States military. This policy is deeply objectionable — it devalues individual Americans and is blatantly discriminatory. We’ll fight against this unpatriotic ban of transgender troops. We cannot let bigotry stop Americans from serving their country.”

President Trump holds a rally with supporters in an arena in Youngstown, Ohio, on July 25, 2017. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Roy Speckhardt, executive director, American Humanist Association

“President Trump is dragging America backward with his attacks on transgender patriots in the military.”

Jason Torpy, president, Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers

“There is little justification to oppose open Transgender service as well as full health care support for servicemen and veterans for full sexual reassignment. This order serves to harm military readiness and deeply insults already-serving transgender patriots in the military.”

Rabbi Jack Moline, president of Interfaith Alliance

“President Trump’s outrageous and bigoted ban on transgender people in the military is a gift to the Religious Right and an affront to the Constitution. Thousands of transgender Americans serve admirably in our nation’s armed services. The President’s announcement is a cruel and gratuitous attack on these service members who want nothing more than an equal opportunity to serve their country.”

Tom Spoehr, Emilie Kao and Ryan Anderson, analysts at the Heritage Foundation

“At a time when growing foreign threats are stretching our military’s resources, our priority should be on maintaining military readiness and directing taxpayer funds towards mission-critical purposes. Respecting the dignity of all people does not mean subjecting taxpayers to the tremendous medical costs of sex reassignment and allowing the enlistment of individuals whose resilience to the rigors of combat is uncertain.”

Stosh Cotler, CEO of Bend the Arc Jewish Action

“President Trump’s disgusting move to ban transgender people from military service is made especially appalling by its timing, with today being the 69th anniversary of the desegregation of the U.S. military. We must call out this decision for what it is — discrimination against transgender people and a cheap attempt to gain electoral victories in 2018.”

The Rev. James Martin, Jesuit priest and author

“Transgender people are beloved children of God, seeking their way to union with God, and to self-understanding, just like all of us are.”

Rachel Held Evans, Christian author

“Every week of this administration has been awful, but this week nearly takes the cake. Transgender friends: You are loved & valued & whole.”

Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church Dallas

“I applaud President Trump for exercising his judgment as Commander-in-Chief to make America safer and more secure by allowing our armed forces to concentrate on ‘decisive and overwhelming victory’ rather than serving as a petri dish for social experimentation.”

James Dobson, president, Family Talk

“It is heartening to have a commander-in-chief who puts the expert opinions of his generals and military officials ahead of the destructive forces of political correctness and identity politics. I support the president’s decision and commend this administration for having the courage to protect our military from what would only amount to an enormous and costly distraction.”

Adelle M. Banks

About Adelle M. Banks

Adelle M. Banks is production editor and a national correspondent at RNS. She joined the staff in 1995 after working for more than 10 years at daily newspapers in the upstate New York communities of Binghamton and Syracuse, The Providence Journal and the Orlando Sentinel.

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