Tennessee Star National Correspondent Neil McCabe Weighs in on the Navy’s Demand that Personnel Cease Attendance of Religious Services


Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed Tennessee Star National Correspondent Neil McCabe to the newsmakers line.

During the third hour, McCabe talked about the Navy’s recent call for military personnel to sign a waiver acknowledging that they will not attend indoor religious services. He later discussed whether this was an infringement on the First Amendment rights and how COVID-19 is being used as a tool by those that oppose the Catholic religion.

Leahy: We have on the newsmaker line our good friend, Breitbart colleague for many years, and our Tennessee Star National Correspondent and the Star Newspaper group, Neil McCabe. Good morning Neil.

McCabe: Michael, Crom, good to be with you today.

Leahy: We are adding to our pantheon of reporters here in The Tennessee Star and the Star News Group a fellow who has a master’s degree from Columbia School of Journalism and whose name is Patrick J. McClusky. He’ll be joining us next week and will be covering Ohio, Minnesota and Michigan. We have formed a fighting Irish regime or law firm. Leahy, McCabe, and McClusky. What do you think?

McCabe: Do you know what the Boston politicians say, Michael? Vote Gaelic, not garlic.

Leahy: (Laughs) You had a really interesting story for us and you are in the Army Reserve and a reporter in the Army Reserve. You serve one weekend a month?

McCabe: One weekend a month and they say two weeks in the summer. But sometimes it’s three, sometimes it’s four. It all depends on what schools they have going on. It’s a significant commitment because there is also training and online courses you have to do. It’s more than a part-time job but I don’t regret a minute of it.

Leahy: You keep yourself in great shape. You run all the time. You run a nine-minute mile typically? You run three or four miles a day.

McCabe: I have a four-mile course in the high nine low tens right now.

Leahy: I am preparing to run with you sometime. I have this personal trainer that comes by twice a week. I thought I might have had a hamstring little tweak but I’m ok. I’m getting ready so we can have a run sometime later this summer and I’ll try and keep up with you.

McCabe: That would be fantastic.

Leahy: You had a fantastic story for us yesterday. Military’s Top Catholic Prelate: Navy’s Indoor Religious Ban ‘Odious’. Tell us about that story.

McCabe: I actually met the Arch Bishop Timothy Broglio in Iraq in 2009. I was there for Holy Thursday at Camp Victory when he was washing the feet of the soldiers as part of that mass. So I’ve been sort of keeping my eye on him. He’s the head of all the Catholic chaplains and programs. There is the military Archdiocese for the Catholic church.

It’s very unusual for a guy at that level to call out other people at a senior level. And for him to come out and call what the Navy is doing “odious” was really outrageous because they came out with an order that basically said all Navy personnel are allowed to stay and have a party or events at their home with no limits to people. They can use mass transit. They can participate in public demonstrations or protests.

But there are certain things they cannot do and one of them is to attend indoor religious services. The Navy is actually making people sign paperwork that says that they acknowledge this order and will be held responsible under the uniform code of military justice for violating an order that they have acknowledged. The Navy has gone further to say that Navy civilians are discouraged from going to indoor religious services and family members and dependents.

They even said off base. The archbishop reached out to the chief of chaplains from the Navy and they wouldn’t work with him or talk to him. Then he goes to the Chief of Naval Operations and then he doesn’t even acknowledge it. It’s a very unusual situation because I’ve worked at headquarters units before.

I was in the Coast Guard before I joined the Army Reserve. I’ve worked on admiral staff and general staff in the Army Reserve. And at this level, everything seems to be very polite. And everybody that ignores you they ignore you with a very nice letter. (Leahy chuckles) It’s very unusual for the Chief of Naval Operations who was raised in a Catholic family but I don’t know if he’s Catholic now. You would think that an archbishop gave him a holler that he would need to acknowledge it.

I think it speaks to a lot of concerns at least among religious conservatives that this COVID-19 is being manipulated for other purposes by people who are really upset by the influence of organized religion in our society. And there is actually an Air Force Major who attended a Navy school and he’s asked for a release from the First Freedom Institute who is representing him because these guys have been threatened with action under the uniform code of military justice.

Leahy: So let me take that order from the Navy and let me compare it to the First Amendment of the Constitution which reads, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment or religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. That’s the beginning of it.

McCabe: Yes.

Leahy: Is this order prohibiting Navy personnel from attending religious indoor services, is that a violation of the First Amendment?

McCabe: Well it seems to me a base of violation. It’s a difficult thing because we are told these constitutional rights are not absolute. Well, who says that? That sounds a little crazy to me. You remember a case involving the Second Amendment where a state said that you couldn’t have a gun permit if you were blind. And a blind man challenged it and the court said nowhere in the Bill of Rights or the Second Amendment does it say you have to be able to see. We can argue about that. But whether a blind man should have a gun or not.

But the Constitution says shall not be infringed. And so I think that if we are going to be that extreme on something like that rightfully so, certainly I’ve been told that if we can have adult bookstores and porno channels and they can shovel whatever crap they want to shovel at my kids because of the First Amendment. But the First Amendment is so sacristan but if I want to go to mass that’s a problem? I think that’s what the issue is Mike.

Leahy: I want to bring Crom into the discussion.

McCabe: OK.

Carmichael: Every aspect of the First Amendment is under attack. And that’s not a coincidence. The Left lusts for power and all of the money that comes with that power. The First Amendment cannot stand next to the kind of tactics that the Left is employing.

But I am really kind of surprised and I’d like for Trump to weigh in on this question with the military because he’s the commander in chief. He could dictate that the military will not infringe on military personnel’s rights under the First Amendment in regards to religion and that would end the argument.

As you said, it’s prima facie that the military is infringing on your right to practice religion. And so I’d like to see Trump do that because the military has no right to do that nor does the government at any level does it have the right to tell people they can’t practice religion.

Leahy: Final thoughts Neil?

McCabe: Well that would work if the president still had control of the Pentagon. But the Pentagon is completely rogue. We are seeing it. The Pentagon has its own initiative and is causing all sorts of problems for the president. I don’t think they are looking forward to solving any problems for the president right now. I would expect active duties and generals to come out and start denouncing the president as we get closer to the election. It’s a very tenuous situation.

Leahy: A very tenuous situation.

Listen to the third hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.







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