A member of the U.S. Army Band said he was forced out of the Army for having anti-Obama bumper stickers on his personal car, serving Chick-fil-A sandwiches at a party, and reading books written by conservative authors such as Sean Hannity, a federal lawsuit alleges.
Master Sgt. Nathan Sommers, a 25-year veteran of the military and a decorated soloist in the U.S. Army Band Chorus, claims he was forcibly retired from the Army due to his religious and conservative political beliefs. I first told you about Sommers last year in a series of exclusive Fox News reports.
John Wells, an attorney representing Sommers, called him a "true hero" who lost his career while trying to stand up for his religious beliefs. He alleges that Sommers drew the ire of his superiors because of his belief in traditional marriage.
"Those who protect our rights must be allowed to exercise them," Wells said. "Master Sgt. Sommers did nothing to interfere with good order and discipline. He was the perfect soldier."
Sommers, who was based at Fort Myer in Washington, D.C., is the recipient of an Army commendation medal and was a soloist at the funeral of former First Lady Betty Ford.
The U.S. Army Band Chorus, known as "Pershing's Own," betrayed the core principles of the United States Army, Wells argued.
"Congress has enacted laws to protect the free expression of religious beliefs in the armed forces," Wells said. "The Army Band broke those laws, and they will be held accountable."
"I am certain that General 'Black Jack' Pershing, a true leader, is spinning in his grave at the actions taken by the organization that bears his name," he added.
The lawsuit calls for Sommers to be returned to active-duty service with full pay and benefits.
I reached out to the military hoping they might shed some light on Sommers' allegations. But a spokesman said the Army does not comment on pending litigation.
Sommers first ran into trouble with his superiors when he put several anti-Obama bumper stickers on his car. The stickers read, "NOBAMA," and "The Road to Bankruptcy is Paved with Ass-Fault." That particular sticker included the image of a donkey. Sommers was ordered to remove the stickers, the lawsuit alleges.
"The Army took no action against those soldiers with pro-Obama bumper stickers," Wells said.
Sommers also was criticized for reading books by Sean Hannity, David Limbaugh and Mark Levin while in uniform. In one incident, he was backstage before a performance reading Limbaugh's The Great Destroyer when a superior officer told him that he was causing "unit disruption" and was offending other soldiers.
"I wasn't reading aloud," Sommers told me. "I was just reading privately to myself. I was told they were frowning on that and they warned me that I should not be reading literature like that backstage because it was offensive."
It's a good thing Sommers wasn't caught reading my latest book, God Less America. He probably would've been tossed into a prison cell at Fort Leavenworth.
But the incident that really seemed to set off the chain of events that led to his forced retirement happened in 2012 and involved plump, juicy chicken breasts.
Sommers decided to serve Chick-fil-A sandwiches at his promotion party—in honor of the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."
"In honor of DADT repeal, and Obama/Holder's refusal to enforce DOMA act, I'm serving Chick-fil-A at my MSG promo reception for Army today," he tweeted.
That tweet came under fire from his superior officers, according to an official military document.
"As a Soldier you must be cognizant of the fact that your statements can be perceived by the general public and other service members to be of a nature bordering on disrespect to the President of the United States," the document stated.
Sommers told me he paid for the party with personal money, not government funds—and for the record—he served the sandwiches because his family likes to eat more chicken.
"I had no idea a Chick-fil-A sandwich would get me in trouble," he said.
Wells said those incidents led to "trumped-up charges," and Sommers was eventually given a sub-standard evaluation, which he immediately appealed.
On July 31 the Army's Quality Management Panel ordered him discharged from the military.
Since Sommers had enough years on his record to retire, he was allowed to do so. The lawsuit was filed the next day.
"Just because someone joins the military, they do not give up their rights as a citizen," Wells said. "Unfortunately, in this world of political correctness, some Commanders believe they can force their will on subordinates."
As I document extensively in God Less America, there is a clear and present danger for Christians serving in the armed forces. This administration seems hell-bent on marginalizing Christianity and punishing Christians who refuse to stifle their beliefs.
Todd Starnes is host of Fox News & Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. Sign up for his American Dispatch newsletter, be sure to join his Facebook page, and follow him on Twitter. His latest book is God Less America.
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