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USAF officer prays to protect religious rights

Thursday - 5/1/2014, 9:40pm  ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A senior Air Force officer is voicing concern about challenges to religious expression in the military.

Major General Joseph S. Ward, Jr., represented the armed forces at the National Day of Prayer observance on Capitol Hill.

The deputy director of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service said years of combat deployments have severely stressed American troops, with some committing suicide. Ward said Christians in uniform must be free to offer their colleagues the hope that faith provides.

He said, "God's story is amazing. It needs to be told and it needs to be shared."

Some advocacy groups have campaigned to restrict religious expression in the armed forces. Major General Ward said they mustn't succeed.

He prayed for the nation's "military leaders to stand tall so that our right to express our faith freely and openly is never ever taken from us."

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299-w-33-(Steve Coleman, AP religion editor, with U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Joseph S. Ward, Jr., deputy director of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service)--A senior Air Force officer is voicing concern about challenges to religious expression in the military. AP Religion Editor Steve Coleman reports. (1 May 2014)

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302-a-15-(U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Joseph S. Ward, Jr., deputy director of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, at National Day of Prayer observance on Capitol Hill)-"healthy and strong"-Air Force Maj. Gen. Joseph S. Ward, Jr., says many troops are stressed from multiple combat deployments. (1 May 2014)

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300-a-08-(U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Joseph S. Ward, Jr., deputy director of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, at National Day of Prayer observance on Capitol Hill)-"in our Lord"-Air Force Maj. Gen. Joseph S. Ward, Jr., says he's a follower of Jesus Christ. (1 May 2014)

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301-a-11-(U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Joseph S. Ward, Jr., deputy director of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, at National Day of Prayer observance on Capitol Hill)-"not be broken"-Air Force Maj. Gen. Joseph S. Ward, Jr., says Christians in the military shouldn't be muzzled. (1 May 2014)

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303-a-10-(U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Joseph S. Ward, Jr., deputy director of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, at National Day of Prayer observance on Capitol Hill)-"express their faith"-Air Force Maj. Gen. Joseph S. Ward, Jr., says Christians in the armed forces must be free to talk about their beliefs. (1 May 2014)

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304-a-11-(U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Joseph S. Ward, Jr., deputy director of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, at National Day of Prayer observance on Capitol Hill)-"taken from us"-Air Force Maj. Gen. Joseph S. Ward, Jr., says groups that campaign to restrict religious expression in the military mustn't be allowed to succeed. (1 May 2014)

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