EXCLUSIVE: Veteran speaks out after being forced out of flag-folding ceremony for mentioning God
September 28, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — The uniformed airmen who dragged Senior Master Sergeant (SMSgt.) Oscar Rodriguez Jr. out of a flag-folding ceremony for mentioning God belong in prison, the embattled veteran told LifeSiteNews in an exclusive video interview.
“To have the Air Force believe that they can go ahead and silence my voice means that they … believe they can silence everybody’s voice,” Rodriguez told LifeSiteNews. He noted it was ironic that the airmen who assaulted him took the same oath that Rodriguez was upholding when he delivered the speech that propelled him to the forefront of the debate about religious freedom in the military.
“I served this nation and many, many brave men and women have served our nation because of the Constitution of the United States,” Rodriguez said. That individuals who also took an oath to defend the Constitution so blatantly ignored it “is a betrayal of the Constitution, the oath, and a betrayal to the American people.”
The retiree being honored had specifically invited Rodriguez to speak at the flag-folding ceremony and requested that Rodriguez deliver the speech connecting religion and patriotism.
It was supposed to be a ceremony celebrating the man’s “26 1/2 years of service to our nation — honorable service,” Rodriguez said. “To have it destroyed over freedom of speech is unconscionable.”
Rodriguez said the incident “galvanized” his faith and he’s “truly honored” to have been persecuted in such a way.
“I’m blessed to know that I am defending everybody, every American in the United States, and more importantly, humanity in general because these are natural rights. And natural rights are God’s rights,” he said.
Rodriguez and his lawyers at First Liberty Institute are asking for a formal apology and that the airmen who forcibly removed Rodriguez be “held accountable.”
“If the punishment is a simple letter of reprimand, or a letter of counseling, then that’s what we think about our Constitutional rights,” Rodriguez said. “We should have such a profound and absolute, crystal-clear message that if anybody ever tries to do that in uniform, that they have such a high degree of punishment that is equivalent to the sacrifices that have been made for those rights … I would like to see them in prison, to be quite honest with you, ’cause that’s where they belong.”