by the Missouri Family Policy Council
May 14, 2013
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Members of Congress are sending correspondence to Pentagon officials expressing concern about the rising tide of anti-Christian hostility in the U.S. Armed Services. Congressman Doug Lamborn of Colorado is circulating a letter to his colleagues calling on Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to guarantee that the religious freedoms of military personnel are protected.
The Congressional action comes on the heels of a statement from the Pentagon saying that “religious proselytization is not permitted within the Department of Defense.” The statement went on to suggest that service members could be court-martialed for sharing their faith.
In a separate statement, Air Force Lt. Col. Laurel Tingley stated that Air Force personnel could only express their personal religious beliefs so long as they do not make others “uncomfortable.” Tingley also said Air Force personnel could not use their position “to extend preferential treatment to any religion.”
Religious liberty advocates quickly pointed out that the new policies not only threatened the religious freedom of men and women in uniform, but also undermined the very purpose of the chaplain corps in each branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.
In the face of a harsh backlash, the Pentagon backtracked somewhat. The Defense Department issued a revised statement saying that “service members can share their faith (evangelize), but must not force unwanted, intrusive attempts to convert others of any faith or no faith to one’s beliefs (proselytization).”
The latest controversy follows news in April that the U.S. Army Reserve was using training materials that identified Catholics and evangelical Christians as “religious extremists.” The training documents cited “Evangelical Christianity” at the top of a list of “hate groups” that included the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Quaeda, Hamas, and the Ku Klux Klan.
In another recent episode, a U.S. Army officer at Fort Cambell, Kentucky, sent an e-mail to subordinates listing the Family Research Council and the American Family Association as “domestic hate groups” because of their support for preservation of the traditional family.
“Just want to make sure everyone is somewhat educated on some of the groups out there that do not share our Army Values,” says Lt. Col Jack Rich in his e-mail. Rich went on to list groups he called part of the “Christian Right” alongside “Neo-Nazis, Racist Skinheads, and the Ku Klux Klan.”
In yet another recent incident, U.S. Defense Department computers blocked access to the website of the Southern Baptist Convention due to “hostile content.” The Pentagon web filter stated that access was denied because the site content included “religion.” Defense Department spokesmen claimed later that the site was blocked because it included “malware.”
The most curious and disturbing news about anti-Christian indoctrination comes courtesy of the liberal Washington Post. Reporter Sally Quinn revealed that the Pentagon has been consulting with Mikey Weinstein in the development of religious liberty policies in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Weinstein is the President of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). Yet the mission of Weinstein’s organization is exactly the opposite. Weinstein was honored in 2011 as the Person of the Year by the atheist organization Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
Weinstein has called evangelical Christians “gangs of fundamentalist Christian monsters” and “a national security threat.” He says Christians who share the Gospel with their fellow soldiers are “religious predators” committing an act of “spiritual rape,” and should be found guilty of treason.
Weinstein says that “fundamentalist Christians” are “intolerant agitators” and “die-hard enemies of the United States Constitution.” His advice to the Pentagon is to stop “the rapacious reign of theocratic terror…of these fundamentalist Christian monsters of human degradation.”
Larry Wilkerson, a Board member of MRFF, compared sharing the Gospel to rape in the same article and in the same sentence. “Sexual assault and proselytizing are absolutely destructive of the bonds that keep soldiers together.” Wilkerson previously served as chief of staff to former Defense Secretary Colin Powell.
Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council, says that the latest proposed military regulations have “Weinstein’s fingerprints all over it.” “Why would military leadership be meeting with one of the most rabid atheists in America to discuss religious freedom in the military? That’s like consulting China on how to improve human rights. It appears our military is on a forced march away from the very freedoms they are sworn to protect.”
Coast Guard Rear Admiral William Lee provided a poignant counterpoint to the bigotry against Christians at the recent National Day of Prayer service. Lee shared stories of many servicemen suffering from severe depression, and talked about one young soldier who had tried to commit suicide and failed. Lee said he felt it was his duty to give that soldier a Bible.
“The lawyers tell me if I do that, I’m crossing the line,” Admiral Lee said. “I’m so glad I crossed that line so many times. I’m not going to back down from my right under the Constitution to tell a young man that there is hope.” Lee received a standing ovation for his impromptu remarks.
Congressman Doug Collins of Georgia is among those pressing the Pentagon for restoration of the religious liberties of service members. “It appalls me to hear the military of the freest nation in the world has labeled people of faith as religious extremists and continues this hostile attitude. Our valiant servicemen and women are fighting every single day to protect our individual freedoms. How can we idly stand by and watch theirs be so easily taken away?”
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