The Bible Baptist Church in Carthage, Missouri, invited National Guard personnel to be honored at its annual Vacation Bible School as part of "God's Rescue Squad" — but the troops never showed because the military forbids them from attending such an event.
"We were going to thank them for protecting our religious liberty," Pastor Kent Hogan told Fox News. "It was more of a promotion for the military — to show the kids what the military does."
The church, which had held similar events earlier in the week for the local fire department, paramedics and the county sheriff's department, was told that federal regulations prevent the National Guard from attending the church's event.
"We are right in the middle of the United States of America," the pastor told Fox. "We are part of the Bible Belt. You read about this stuff going on in big cities. But in Carthage?"
The National Guard did not respond to Fox News before its story ran, so the news outlet posted the regulation that blocked U.S. military personnel from attending the Vacation Bible School honorary event.
"Army participation must not selectively benefit (or appear to benefit) any person, group, or corporation (whether profit or nonprofit); religion, sect, religious or sectarian group, or quasi-religious or ideological movement," the regulation states, Fox News reported.
"We had a lot of disappointed kiddos because of the National Guard being unwilling to allow a Humvee and a few soldiers to spend an hour at a Baptist Church," a Guardsman told the station. "It makes we wonder what I'm actually fighting for."
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