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First Liberty Briefing

First Liberty Briefing is an exclusive podcast hosted by First Liberty Institute’s Deputy General Counsel Jeremy Dys. In about 90-seconds, once a week, Jeremy recalls the stories that have shaped America’s religious liberty, from the founding era to current legal battles and more. It’s an insider’s look at the stories, cases, people, and laws that have made America the world’s leader in protecting religious liberty.
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Aug 20, 2018

Jeff Montanari, a decorated Air Force captain and chaplain is facing religious discrimination from the United States Air Force after his conversion of faith. Learn more at FirstLiberty.org/Briefing.


At the heart of religious liberty is the right to follow the faith of our choice. That means that no one, not even the United States Air Force, may force someone to follow any particular faith.

But, when Jeff Montanari converted to Orthodox Judaism, the Air Force treated him poorly.  They rejected his application to be a Jewish chaplain—something the Air Force has a great need for at the present time.  His superior officers were hostile towards him, excluding him from activities in order to drive him from the Air Force.  He even received a litany of questions that questioned the sincerity of his conversion to Judaism. 

First Liberty sent a demand letter to the Air Force explaining that their job is to win wars, not question the legitimacy of someone’s conversion.  We believe the actions of a few Air Force officials to be unlawful discrimination.

As the U.S. Supreme Court put it in Hobbie v. Unemployment Appeals Commission of Florida, “[t]he First Amendment protects the free exercise rights of employees who . . . convert from one faith to another after they are hired.”

In other words, religious liberty protects against discrimination even when you change your religion.

Chaplain Montanari just wants to continue serving his country in accordance with his religious beliefs.  We’re confident the Air Force can easily solve this problem and stand ready to assist in that process.

To learn how First Liberty is protecting religious liberty for all Americans, visit FirstLiberty.org.

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