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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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May 23, 2018

Lieutenant Junior Grade Aloysius H. Schmitt, a catholic priest better known as “Father Schmitt”, selflessly helps sailors escape during an attack. Learn more about this hero at FirstLiberty.org/Briefing.


Lieutenant Junior Grade Aloysius H. Schmitt was a catholic priest better known as “Father Schmitt.”  Originally from St. Lucas, Iowa, Father Schmitt was aboard the USS Oklahoma on December 7, 1941, as the battleship was torpedoed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Father Schmitt had just led mass that infamous Sunday morning when the ship carrying 1,300 souls was attacked. And, Father Schmitt posthumously received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for heroism. According to the citation, Father Schmitt realized only a few men could escape through a small hatch.  He insisted that others go ahead of him.  He remained behind, pronouncing a blessing on the men while they crawled out to safety.

Seventy-five years later, Father Schmitt’s remains have been positively identified and appropriately honored.

Many men and women are heroes, but Father Schmitt’s selfless act for his sailors is born more from care for their souls than of valor.  As I consider his heroism, I’m reminded that there is an effort underway to rid Chaplains like Father Schmitt from our military.  That can never be.  Our military has welcomed the chaplaincy corp from its inception because one’s right to religious liberty is not surrendered at basic training.     

First Liberty defends chaplains, like Father Schmitt, who would voluntarily trade a rifle for a Bible in service to their comrades in arms.

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

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