Jewelry company readies itself to take on the DOD

Jewelry company readies itself to take on the DOD

Jewelry company readies itself to take on the DOD

The federal government is one step closer to having to defend its years-long ban on religious-themed replica dog tags for military personnel and their families.

Shields of Strength is a Texas-based company that produces faith-based jewelry. Among its products are dog tags with a Christian message. But in 2019, the Department of Defense ordered them halted after an atheist complained. In response, First Liberty Institute filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Shields, claiming production was wrongfully halted.

A federal court in Texas has now ruled that the First Amendment stands supreme – so the case can proceed. First Liberty attorney Danielle Runyan tells AFN the U.S. Constitution must be honored rather than a complaint from a lone atheist.

Runyan, Danielle (First Liberty Institute) Runyan

"Indeed, Shields of Strength's [right to] freedom of speech [and] freedom of religious expression … are being infringed upon because they cannot be discriminated against while others are allowed to be using the military insignia that Shields was using for other purposes, more secularized purposes," Runyan tells AFN.

The attorney says the federal government needs to become more educated on people's rights under the U.S. Constitution. "They can't just be excluding religious expression and religious speech from the marketplace," she states.

The company owner says the hardest part of the business over the last several years has been declining requests for replica dog tags. "We look forward to the day we no longer have to say no to a Soldier, Marine, Sailor, or Airman who is asking for a reminder of God's promise," says Kenny Vaughan.

So far, over four million Shields of Strength dog tags have been distributed – two million of which were donated by the company.