Marine Corps Bans Popular Faith-Based Dog Tags That Have Been in Use for Decades

A battle is brewing now that two branches of America’s armed forces are responding to an anti-religion group’s complaint by trying to stop a company from selling replica dog tags that bear a scripture verse as well as a military insignia.

The Marine Corps has denied a trademark license to Shields of Strength, the company that makes the replicas, according to Fox News.

In December, the Army told Shields of Strength it had to end its roughly 20 years of selling items with the Army insignia and a Bible verse, The Washington Times reported.

Both branches of the service acted after the Military Religious Freedom Foundation wrote the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force over the summer demanding that the services separate themselves from Shields of Strength.

“These Christian proselytizing dog tags are blatantly religious and wholly sectarian in representing solely the Christian faith,” Mikey Weinstein, the foundation’s founder, wrote.

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According to Weinstein, the partnership between Shields of Strength and the military violates the separation of church and state.

“These dog tags are not the ones given out by the military,” he said in a news release.

“These are souvenir ones they can buy from Shields of Strength, a for-profit company.”

Shields of Strength founder Kenny Vaughan said he was surprised when the decisions by the Army and Marines came down.

Should the Army and Marines change their rulings?

“It’s frustrating that those who are fighting for our freedom can’t have a Shield simply because the military is afraid of an outside activist group,” Vaughan said in a statement.

“I hope the Marine Corps reverses course and restores the ability of our brave military members to own a Shield of Strength.”

First Liberty Institute, a nonprofit legal firm dedicated to protecting religious liberty, sent the Marine Corps a letter Tuesday calling its efforts unconstitutional and a violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

In the letter, Mike Berry, chief of staff to the director of military affairs at the firm, noted the tragic case of one soldier who wore a Shields of Strength dog tag.

“Tragically, on April 3, 2003, while serving in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Army Captain Russell Rippetoe was killed in action while wearing a SoS Joshua 1:9 dog tag. CPT Rippetoe was the first combat casualty from Operation Iraqi Freedom buried at Arlington National Cemetery,” Berry wrote.

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“The following month, during the 2003 Memorial Day Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, President George W. Bush spoke of CPT Rippetoe’s faith, and mentioned the Shield of Strength CPT Rippetoe wore as a source of great encouragement,” he added.

“This tag is faith. This is believing that you’re going to live — and that even if you die, you’ll be holding hands with God for eternity. That’s what it means to me … and every veteran I know feels the same way,” Kenneth Davis, a U.S. Air Force and Marine veteran, said on the First Liberty website.

Vaughan indicated he understands that feeling, which is why the replica dog tags were created more than 20 years ago.

“I always loved the military,” he said. “My father was in the military. But it was only after meeting and getting to know the soldiers that I fully realized how much they sacrifice. I just pray that Shields of Strength would encourage them, keep them in their purpose, and keep them in the fight.”

Berry, a Marine Corps veteran, said America’s troops deserve to have the inspiration they get from carrying a Shields of Strength tag.

“Events of the past several weeks make clear that our military personnel are constantly exposed to danger. And yet the MRFF seeks to deny them the freedom to wear Shields of Strength,” Berry said. “Denying our troops a source of inspiration, hope, and encouragement simply because it contains a religious message is an outrage.”

“The Marine Corps should tell the MRFF to support our troops, not punish them,” he said.

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

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', .jw-above-container.stuck:not( .never-stick ) .jw-sticky-container' : '' ) ).last(); let wnhc = wnhc_j.length ? wnhc_j.offset().top + wnhc_j.outerHeight() : 0; FFADS.debug( 'WNHC bottom is ' + wnhc ); let slide_units = document.querySelectorAll( '.sponsor > div.fixed-size.sliding > div' ); for( let i = 0; i < slide_units.length; i++ ) { FFADS.debug( 'checking margin for' ); FFADS.debug( slide_units[i] ); if( ! slide_units[i].firstElementChild ) break; this_unit_j = jQuery( slide_units[i] ); let max_margin = slide_units[i].parentElement.offsetHeight - slide_units[i].firstElementChild.offsetHeight; FFADS.debug( 'max margin is ' + max_margin ); let distance = wnhc - this_unit_j.parent().offset().top; if( distance > max_margin ) { slide_units[i].style.position = 'static'; slide_units[i].style.paddingTop = max_margin + 'px'; } else if( distance < 0 ) { slide_units[i].style.position = 'static'; slide_units[i].style.paddingTop = '0px'; } else if( slide_units[i].style.position != 'fixed' ) { slide_units[i].style.left = jQuery( slide_units[i].firstChild ).offset().left + 'px'; slide_units[i].style.position = 'fixed'; slide_units[i].style.paddingTop = '0px'; slide_units[i].style.top = jQuery( '#wpadminbar' ).outerHeight() + jQuery( '#wj-network-header-container' ).outerHeight() + ( window.innerWidth < 944 ? jQuery( '.jw-above-container.stuck:not( .never-stick ) .jw-sticky-container' ).outerHeight() : 0 ) + 'px'; } } for( let i = 0; i < FFADS.content_order.length; i++ ) { let ad_unit_id = FFADS.content_order[i]; let ad_unit = ad_unit_id.split( '_' )[0]; if( ! FFADS.units[ad_unit].repeating ) { if( checkAlmostVisible( document.getElementById( ad_unit_id ), FFADS.lazy_load_threshold ) ) { FFADS.debug( ad_unit_id + ' is almost visible' ); FFADS.content_order.splice( i, 1 ); // splice first in case render_ad fails FFADS.render_ad( ad_unit, ad_unit_id ); } else break; } else for( var j = 0; j < FF_REP_COUNT; j++ ) { let div_id = 'REP_' + j; if( ! FFADS.units[ad_unit].instances[div_id].displayed ) { if( checkAlmostVisible( document.getElementById( div_id ), FFADS.lazy_load_threshold ) ) { FFADS.debug( div_id + ' is almost visible' ); if( j == FF_REP_COUNT - 1 ) FFADS.content_order.splice( i, 1 ); // splice first in case render_ad fails FFADS.render_ad( ad_unit, div_id ); } else break; } } } if( typeof ffsid != 'undefined' && ! FFADS.spot_im_displayed && checkAlmostVisible( document.getElementById( 'respond' ), FFADS.lazy_load_threshold ) ) { var ffrespond = document.getElementById( 'respond' ); var simscript1 = document.createElement( 'script' ); var simscript2 = document.createElement( 'script' ); simscript1.async = simscript2.async = 'async'; simscript1.type = simscript2.type = 'text/javascript'; simscript1.src = 'https://recirculation.spot.im/spot/' + ffsid; simscript2.src = 'https://launcher.spot.im/spot/' + ffsid; simscript2.dataset.spotimModule = 'spotim-launcher'; simscript2.dataset.postUrl = simscript2.dataset.facebookUrl = ffsurl; simscript2.dataset.postId = ffspid; ffrespond.appendChild( simscript1 ); ffrespond.appendChild( simscript2 ); FFADS.spot_im_displayed = true; } if( window.innerWidth > 943 ) for( let i = 0; i < FFADS.sidebar_order.length; i++ ) { let ad_unit_code = FFADS.sidebar_order[i]; if( checkAlmostVisible( document.getElementById( ad_unit_code ), FFADS.lazy_load_threshold ) ) { FFADS.debug( ad_unit_code + ' is almost visible' ); FFADS.sidebar_order.splice( i, 1 ); FFADS.render_ad( ad_unit_code ); } else break; } } var pbjs = pbjs || {}; pbjs.que = pbjs.que || [ function() { FFADS.debug( 'pbjs.que starting' ); } ]; pbjs.bidderSettings = { standard: { bidCpmAdjustment: function( bidCpm, bid ) { let screen_size = window.innerWidth < 944 ? 'SMSX' : 'LGSX'; let factor = 1.0; if( typeof FFADS.units[bid.adUnitCode].scales[screen_size][bid.bidderCode] != 'undefined' ){ factor -= FFADS.units[bid.adUnitCode].scales[screen_size][bid.bidderCode]; FFADS.debug( 'factor for ' + bid.bidderCode + ' in ' + bid.adUnitCode + ' set to ' + factor + '; bid changed from ' + bidCpm + ' to ' + ( bidCpm *= factor ) ); } return bidCpm; } } }; pbjs.que.push(function() { pbjs.enableAnalytics( { provider: 'roxot', options: { publisherIds: ["556182c7-ac68-4d56-8c66-4b4336e28e5e"] } } ); pbjs.setConfig( { priceGranularity: "high", userSync: { iframeEnabled: true, filterSettings: { iframe: { bidders: ['openx', 'pubmatic'], filter: 'include' } } } } ); FFADS.debug( 'adding units to PB' ); FFADS.debug( FFADS.pb_units ); pbjs.addAdUnits( FFADS.pb_units ); let adUnitCodes = []; for( let ad_unit in FFADS.units ) if( ! FFADS.units[ad_unit].lazy_load ) adUnitCodes.push( ad_unit ); FFADS.debug( 'requesting PB bids for initial units' ); pbjs.requestBids({ bidsBackHandler: FFADS.pbjs_bids_back, adUnitCodes: adUnitCodes }); }); function sendInitialAdserverRequest() { if( FFADS.initialAdserverRequestSent ) return; FFADS.initialAdserverRequestSent = true; FFADS.debug( 'queuing DFP request for initial units' ); googletag.cmd.push(function() { pbjs.que.push(function() { FFADS.debug( 'sending DFP request for initial units' ); let adUnitCodes = []; let dfpAdUnits = []; for( let ad_unit in FFADS.units ) if( ! FFADS.units[ad_unit].lazy_load ) { if( FFADS.units[ad_unit].ad_type == 'hybrid' ) { let pb_bid = pbjs.getHighestCpmBids( ad_unit ); pb_bid = pb_bid.length ? pb_bid[0].cpm : 0; FFADS.debug( 'Prebid bid ' + pb_bid + ' for ' + ad_unit ); if( pb_bid < FFADS.units[ad_unit].custom_ads[0].cpm ) { FFADS.debug( 'Custom code won for ' + ad_unit ); let el = false; if( el = document.getElementById( ad_unit ) ) { el.innerHTML = FFADS.units[ad_unit].custom_ads[0].code; eval( FFADS.units[ad_unit].custom_ads[0].rendering_script ); } else FFADS.debug( 'failed to render custom code in ' + ad_unit + ' since the unit is not on this page' ); continue; } } adUnitCodes.push( ad_unit ); dfpAdUnits.push( FFADS.units[ad_unit].instances[ad_unit].gt_slot ); } pbjs.setTargetingForGPTAsync( adUnitCodes ); apstag.setDisplayBids(); googletag.pubads().refresh( dfpAdUnits ); }); }); } FFADS.debug( 'scheduling DFP request for initial units' ); setTimeout( function() { sendInitialAdserverRequest(); }, FFADS.prebid_timeout ); (function () { var gads = document.createElement('script'); gads.async = true; gads.type = 'text/javascript'; var useSSL = 'https:' == document.location.protocol; gads.src = (useSSL ? 'https:' : 'http:') + '//www.googletagservices.com/tag/js/gpt.js'; var node = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; node.parentNode.insertBefore(gads, node); })(); var googletag = googletag || {}; googletag.cmd = googletag.cmd || [ function() { FFADS.debug( 'googletag.cmd starting' ); } ]; googletag.cmd.push( function() { googletag.pubads().disableInitialLoad(); for( let ad_unit in FFADS.units ) if( ! FFADS.units[ad_unit].lazy_load && ( FFADS.units[ad_unit].ad_type == 'dfp_prebid' || FFADS.units[ad_unit].ad_type == 'hybrid' ) ) { FFADS.debug( 'defining slot for ' + ad_unit + ' #' + ad_unit ); FFADS.units[ad_unit].instances[ad_unit].gt_slot = googletag.defineSlot( FFADS.get_unit_path( ad_unit ), FFADS.units[ad_unit].sizes, ad_unit ).addService( googletag.pubads() ); } googletag.pubads().enableSingleRequest(); firefly_setTargeting(); googletag.pubads().setCentering(true); googletag.enableServices(); } ); function sendSingleAdserverRequest( ad_unit, div_id = false ) { div_id = div_id || ad_unit; if( FFADS.units[ad_unit].instances[div_id].adserverRequestSent ) return; FFADS.units[ad_unit].instances[div_id].adserverRequestSent = true; if( FFADS.units[ad_unit].ad_type == 'hybrid' ) { let pb_bid = pbjs.getHighestCpmBids( div_id ); pb_bid = pb_bid.length ? pb_bid[0].cpm : 0; FFADS.debug( 'Prebid bid ' + pb_bid + ' for #' + div_id ); if( pb_bid < FFADS.units[ad_unit].custom_ads[0].cpm ) { FFADS.debug( 'Custom code won for #' + div_id ); document.getElementById( div_id ).innerHTML = FFADS.units[ad_unit].custom_ads[0].code; eval( FFADS.units[ad_unit].custom_ads[0].rendering_script ); return; } } apstag.setDisplayBids(); pbjs.setTargetingForGPTAsync( [div_id] ); FFADS.debug( 'sending DFP request for ' + ad_unit + ' #' + div_id ); googletag.pubads().refresh( [FFADS.units[ad_unit].instances[div_id].gt_slot] ); } function firefly_pbjs_bids_back_single( ad_unit, div_id = false ) { div_id = div_id || ad_unit; FFADS.debug( 'PB bids back for ' + ad_unit + ' #' + div_id ); window['firefly_pbjs_ready' + ad_unit] = true; if( window['firefly_a9_ready' + ad_unit] ) return sendSingleAdserverRequest( ad_unit, div_id ); } function firefly_a9_bids_back_single( ad_unit, div_id = false ) { div_id = div_id || ad_unit; FFADS.debug( 'A9 bids back for ' + ad_unit + ' #' + div_id ); window['firefly_a9_ready' + ad_unit] = true; if( window['firefly_pbjs_ready' + ad_unit] ) return sendSingleAdserverRequest( ad_unit, div_id ); } !function(a9,a,p,s,t,A,g){if(a[a9])return;function q(c,r){a[a9]._Q.push([c,r])}a[a9]={init:function(){q("i",arguments)},fetchBids:function(){q("f",arguments)},setDisplayBids:function(){},targetingKeys:function(){return[]},_Q:[]};A=p.createElement(s);A.async=!0;A.src=t;g=p.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];g.parentNode.insertBefore(A,g)}("apstag",window,document,"script","//c.amazon-adsystem.com/aax2/apstag.js"); apstag.init({ pubID: 'da224ee9-07c8-4a80-87e4-528df4ac939e', adServer: 'googletag', bidTimeout: FFADS.prebid_timeout }); var a9_slot_arr = []; for( var ad_unit in FFADS.units ) { if( ! FFADS.units[ad_unit].lazy_load ) var a9_slot_arr = a9_slot_arr.concat( [ { slotID: ad_unit, slotName: FFADS.get_unit_path( ad_unit ), sizes: FFADS.units[ad_unit].sizes } ] ); }; FFADS.debug( 'requesting A9 bids for initial units' ); apstag.fetchBids( { slots: a9_slot_arr }, function( bids ) { FFADS.debug( 'A9 bids back for initial units' ); FFADS.a9_ready = true; if( FFADS.pbjs_ready ) return sendInitialAdserverRequest(); } );

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