Military Religion Question Answered: Brooks

Previously, a question was posed about the propriety of a photo that showed Maj. Gen. Vincent Brooks and a flag with a Christian cross.  The photo and initial post can be seen here.  The accusation said that a regulation had been violated because it was

a photo of an Army officer giving a briefing while standing in front of a Christian flag.

So, did the General, as the accusers assert, violate military regulations?

The shortest, most accurate answer:  No.

As in previous incidents, the MRFF did not say which regulation was violated.  What do the regulations actually say?  Let’s take a look.

Did General Brooks violate military regulations because he spoke near a Christian flag?

It is difficult to “prove” a negative.  There are no specific military regulations that apply, though a variety of policies might somehow be related to the situation.  For example, the United States Code dictates on which side of a speaker the American flag will be displayed, if it is displayed at all.

However, the MRFF accusation does not assert any such specifics; they claim that he violated regulations merely because he was photographed in the presence of the flag.

No military regulation prohibits any member of the military from speaking near, being photographed near, standing in proximity to, or being in the presence of any religious symbol while in uniform.

As with its unsupported assertions about Colonel Mundy’s appearance on a TV show, the MRFF makes no attempt to cite the regulation that was violated–it is an ipse-dixitism, to borrow a phrase.

In fact, one of the few regulations that has some relation to this scenario contradicts one of the MRFF’s own assertions.  The MRFF said

The flag is an Army Christian chaplain’s flag.

The MRFF is well aware of Army Regulation 840-10, having used it in the past to cite irregularities with the use of Chaplain’s flags.  But the MRFF is wrong.  This isn’t a Chaplain’s flag.  It is a chapel flag, as described in the unedited regulation excerpt below:

Chapel flags (as distinguished from chaplains flags) are authorized for display in Army military chapels only. The flag is 4-foot 4-inch hoist by 5-foot 6-inch fly, with fringe 2 1/2 inches wide. Chapel flags are dark blue with the appropriate chaplain’s branch insignia in white centered thereon. The fringe is white. Device will be Christian, Jewish, Muslim or Buddhist.

The MRFF accuses the General of violating military regulations–and, by extension, participating in the Christian takeover of the military and “rape” of the Constitution–but can’t even cite a specific regulation or get its own facts straight.

In fact, while the MRFF complains about an officer being photographed next to a Christian cross, it has never complained about officers being photographed in Buddhist meditations, Islamic prayers, or Jewish Torah dedications.  Using the MRFF’s logic, these instances would be worse because their context explicitly associates the US military with religion.  By contrast, the context of General Brooks’ situation had nothing to do with religion.  When context is removed, all of the photographs still associate the US military with various religions.

The truth is, though, that none of those photographs violated military regulations, nor did the photograph of a soldier with a wiccan symbol, because there is no regulation that prohibits any military member from being in such a situation.  One is free to take issue with the circumstances, certainly, but merely disagreeing with the situation does not mean any of the military members “violated military regulations.”

In this case, it would almost seem that the truth is secondary to the motive.

Despite how one might feel about General, his ideology, or the photo, there are no regulations that govern it, and it is irresponsible–and deceitful–to assert that he violated regulations that do not exist.

Again, as with its inflammatory accusation against Colonel Mundy, the MRFF makes an injudicious and unsupported accusation of illegal activity against a military officer.  Again, as with the other accusations, the “shocking” nature of the “violation” is enough to goad those who already have negative inclinations toward religious association with the military.  For example, one response to the article that included this accusation said:

Thank you…for pulling the curtain back on these Theo-Fascists.

The fact that it is untrue doesn’t seem to faze anyone.  For some, their minds are already made up and this “violation” fits neatly into their preconceived notions of an impending Christian theocratic movement blooming in the military.  They hope that by making these allegations vociferously public–despite their blatant fallacy–they will stigmatize the Christian faith in the eyes of the American public.  If nothing else, they will rally the “faithful” to their cause.

One final problem is that the MRFF and similarly-minded organizations often use these incidents to proclaim that Christianity is endangering our troops, inflaming our adversaries, and turning the world against us.  But when the accusation is false, they create the harm they say they are attempting to prevent. For example, in this situation, there was no controversy until they (falsely) created it.

Without rebuttal against fictional charges such as these, they may just succeed.

The analysis following the last incident remains true:

Regrettably, this is a common technique:  display what superficially appears to be offensive and call it illegal, unconstitutional, or a violation of regulations–but provide no facts to support that claim.  Instead, they lead the readers to draw their “own,” though incorrect, conclusion.  The nature of the offense is shocking enough to some that it won’t matter that the accusation is later proven incorrect, inflammatory, and irresponsible.  The damage to the image of the Christian faith in the US military is done.

And that is the point.


  • It’s easy to come to JD’s desired conclusion when the context of the photo is completely omitted, a common tactic employed by JD. The photo of Brooks was used as an example of the military insisting that its new mantra of “spiritual fitness” is not religious. In this case, they were insisting that a new “Spiritual Fitness Center” at Fort Hood was a non-religious facility, although the facility is designed to hold worship services and Brooks was giving a briefing about it while standing in front of a Christian flag.

    This is the text that accompanied the photo — text that was omitted by JD to make it easier to get people to agree with him:

    “While the military insists that this new ‘Spiritual Fitness Center’ is not religious, but spiritual, the renovations of the existing chapel resulted in a building that is indistinguishable from a chapel, and, going beyond its general physical appearance, is set up to hold worship services, and had, as one of its kick-off events, a Christian rock concert. And, this brings us to the ‘Caught on Camera’ photo we had chosen for MRFF’s August newsletter. Giving a briefing last year on this new ‘not religious’ facility was none other than Maj. Gen. Vince Brooks, one of the officers found guilty of ethics violations for his appearance in the Campus Crusade Christian Embassy video. In the photo accompanying an article about the facility, Brooks, the third of the Christian Embassy officers to be promoted rather than punished, is shown giving his briefing on this non-religious facility while standing in front of a Christian flag.”

    As you can see when MRFF’s use of this photo is put in context, it is the facility at Fort Hood that MRFF is saying violates regulations, and the photo of Brooks was one of the things used to illustrate that this allegedly “non-religious” facility certainly doesn’t appear to be non-religious.

    The full article can be read at:

  • It is worth noting in the MRFF defense above that the MRFF’s “Research Director” still fails to say which regulation is being violated.

    It’s easy to come to [this] conclusion when the context of the photo is completely omitted

    An ironic statement, given that the MRFF misrepresents the context of the photo. As noted in the article above: “the context of General Brooks’ situation had nothing to do with religion,” but the MRFF continues to assert that it does.

    Brooks was giving a briefing about it while standing in front of a Christian flag.

    Speaking of context, you never said why “standing in front of a Christian flag” was prejudicial conduct.

    it is the facility at Fort Hood that MRFF is saying violates regulations

    So is the MRFF demanding the immediate court martial of the building?

    the photo of Brooks was one of the things used to illustrate that this allegedly “non-religious” facility…doesn’t appear to be non-religious.

    Rodda previously said that MRFF’s “Captured on Camera [is] a photo of a violation being committed,” but now she appears to admit that this photo does not, in fact, show a violation being committed.

    Rodda cites several examples of Christian association with the Spiritual Fitness Center, but conveniently omits the context of everything else Fort Hood’s Resiliency Campus offers in its attempt to support its soldiers. The Campus offers a cafe, combat simulators, briefing rooms, psychological counseling, family counseling, financial planning, smoking cessation classes, biofeedback, and nutritional counseling, to name just a few. In addition,

    The Spiritual Fitness Center provides all faiths a place to gather for small group or individual meditation, Battlefield Ethics classes and access to a chaplain 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. (emphasis added)

    Still, the MRFF focuses on a concert and the fact that General Brooks gave a briefing next to a flag as proof that the facility is really part of a sinister “religious” building masquerading as a “non-religious facility.” It’s as if Rodda and Weinstein have a hypersensitivity to any modicum of association between the military and religion, almost like a modern day Princess and the Pea.

    The MRFF appears to have plenty of complaints, which they are entitled to have. But there is a difference between complaining about something and accusing people (or buildings) of illegal activity…especially when they fail to say what is actually wrong with the conduct they say “violates regulations.”

  • It seems to me that the success the Dominionist movement * has enjoyed due to Christianity’s favored status, especially in the Armed Forces, has begun to make them a bit over-confident.

    A non-religious spiritual center? A Spritual Fitness Center at Fort Hood, Texas said ony to be a center for strengthening soldiers’ sprirituality? A Spiritual Fitness Center designed for religious worship services to be held and it’s not religious?

    Please, I know the military has become expert at camouflage, but they’ll never be able to convince anyone with an IQ over that of a banana that this so-called Spiritual Fitness Center is anytyhing other than a Christisan conversion and training center.

    In the first place spirituality is defined as:

    1 : the view that spirit is a prime element of reality and non-reality.

    2 a: a belief that spirits of the dead communicate with the living usually through a medium. b capitalized : a movement comprising religious organizations emphasizing spiritualism.

    Secondly, to say “spiritually non-religious” is an oxymoron that only a moron would swallow.

    Is it OK to break commandments to advance one’s religious belief? Can a person be a Liar for Jesus?

    Apparently, because for JD to say that an Army General Officer appearing at a “Spiritual Fitness Center,” in which religious ceremonies are to be held, standing in front of a Christian Flag, is purely a non-religious event defies belief.

    Taken in aggregate with all the other egregious violations of militery and civil law undertaken by Dominionist opertives as illustrated by the sixteen thousand plus complaints received by the MRFF from military members who are victims of command centered coercive proselytizing , General Brooks appearance can be nothing other than a continuation of the Dominionist agenda. At best, inappropriate. At worst, illegal.


  • Let’s get into the ‘Spirit” of the debate.

    JD asks for specific regulations prohibiting such an appearance by Gen. Brooks.

    JD Knows full well that governmental endorsement of religion occurs whenever a public official — such as a military officer — takes any action that “‘convey[s] or attempt[s] to convey a message that religion or a particular religion is favored or preferred.” (quoting Wallace v. Jaffree, 472 38, 70 (1985).

    The Supreme Court has held that the Establishment Clause prohibits any official action that promotes religion generally or shows favoritism toward any particular faith. Government should not prefer one religion to another, or religion to “non-religion.” Allegheny, 492 U.S. at 604. Government or its representatives may not demonstrate a preference for one particular sect or creed (including a preference for Christianity over other religions).”); Larson v. Valente, 456 U.S. 228, 244 (1982)

    “The clearest command of the Establishment Clause is that one religious denomination cannot be officially preferred over another.”

    If a general officer appears at a “Spiritual Center” on a military base, in which religious services can be held, standing in front of a Christian Flag, and is video taped or still photograped for general distribution, is that not a de facto express or implied endosement of Christianity?

  • to say that an Army General Officer appearing at a “Spiritual Fitness Center”…standing in front of a Christian Flag, is purely a non-religious event defies belief

    He wasn’t standing in the Spiritual Fitness Center, because it didn’t exist yet. Until the building was renovated, the resources for the SFC were held in one of the base chapels. That may account for the chapel flag in the background, eh?

    Your comments indicate you haven’t read anything about what the SFC is; you appear to be judging it based on its name only. Try reading some of the articles that describe what the SFC is about. They even address your attempt to define spiritual fitness. For example,

    The campus will include resources and departments from [the] Medical Center. Lembke said he also hopes to bring in community leaders from other faiths, including Judaism, Buddhism and Islam to talk about spiritual fitness.

    Though coordinated by the Garrison Chaplain Office, officials emphasize that spiritual fitness is not directly tied to religion or faith. Going to the center is not going to church.

    The goal is not to convert anyone, but have conversations, learn and find out what spiritual fitness is from different faiths’ perspectives, Lembke said.

    There doesn’t have to be an exact definition of spiritual fitness, he went on to say; what’s more important is the discussion that happens around it. Visitors can reflect and learn and examine what they believe and how it affects their lives.

    Spiritual fitness is beyond one’s own personal faith, he said.

    You see a conspiracy around every corner. Have fun with that.

  • JD asks for specific regulations prohibiting such an appearance by Gen. Brooks.

    You repeat the question but still fail to provide an answer.

    If a general officer appears at a “Spiritual Center” on a military base, in which religious services can be held, standing in front of a Christian Flag, and is video taped or still photograped for general distribution, is that not a de facto express or implied endosement of Christianity?

    Your overly-broad indictment would prohibit military officers from attending chapel in uniform. That’s asinine. Surely you can do better than that.

  • Although my article was primarily about congressional earmark spending on chapels, and the Fort Hood construction was just an example of how names like “spiritual fitness center” and “family life center” are being used to disguise what are essentially just more chapels where Christianity is the preferred religion, JD seems hell bent on being provided with a specific regulation that the photo of Brooks shows was violated. So, here you go…

    Army regulations (AR 840-10) on the use of this particular flag, called a “chapel flag,” state that the only permitted display of this flag is inside a chapel.

    There are two possibilities for this flag being in the photo of Brooks.

    1. His briefing about a so-called non-religious facility, the audience at which would have included people of all religions and no religion, was, for some inexplicable reason, held at a chapel — the only place that the flag is allowed to be displayed.

    2. The briefing wasn’t held in a chapel, which would mean that the flag was displayed in violation of the regulation stating that the flag can only be displayed inside a chapel.

    Neither of these two possibilities is acceptable, and a general officer should certainly know that.

  • Your “possibility 1,” that he was speaking in a chapel, has already been cited as the likely explanation above. Assuming that to be true (since you don’t know), it doesn’t violate 840-10, so you have yet to say what regulation was violated.

    Which regulation was violated?

    The fact that you find it “unacceptable” is not sufficient to say a regulation was violated. It is also “unacceptable” that you published such inflammatory accusations without substantiating them, as evidenced by your inability yet to do so here.

  • JD, you really should just give up. You’re not going to be able to find any explanation for this photo that doesn’t include a violation of regulations. Even if the briefing was held in a chapel, you still have a problem.

    The regulations for Army chapels state that symbols of any particular religion can only be displayed when an actual worship service of that particular religion is in progress. They must be removed or covered up at all other times. So, if this briefing was, for some reason, held inside a chapel, no religious symbols should have been on display.

  • And…you still demonstrate an inability to cite a regulation that was violated.

    It’s not my place to say this photo doesn’t violate a regulation. You’re the one that said it did, and yet you have provided no proof. In fact, your justifications have meandered from one subject area to another, as if you never even stopped to think about on what your original accusation was based.

    Your explanations have gone from the officer, to the building, to general religious coercion, and now to religious symbols and services…none of which was mentioned in your original accusation. It’s become patently obvious that you just tossed this out as if it was inherently offensive to the casual observer, with no thought to whether or not your accusation was actually true. That’s pathetic.

    You’re misapplying the regulation to which you’re now referring. I’ll let you figure out how.

  • That’s right, JD, try to make it look like I’m the one being evasive and have “meandered.” I’d expect no less from you.

    I said that the primary issue that MRFF was concerned about in this case was the misrepresentation of the purpose of this building. But, one of the examples we found to support our allegation that the purpose of the building was being misrepresented was the photo of Brooks. You persisted in being provided with a regulation that the photo shows was violated. So, even though this wasn’t the primary reason for our use of the photo, I provided the regulation. Now you say I’m “misapplying the regulation,” but give no explanation of how you think I’m misapplying it.

    Please state your reasons for saying that I’m misapplying the regulation.

    • Rodda’s statement:

      a regulation had been violated because it was “a photo of an Army officer giving a briefing while standing in front of a Christian flag.”

      Response: No known regulation prohibits such a situation. Cite the regulation.

      Rodda’s reply:

      it is the facility at Fort Hood that MRFF is saying violates regulations

      So is the MRFF demanding the immediate court martial of the building?

      Rodda’s reply:

      the Fort Hood construction was just an example [but] There are two possibilities for this flag

      Every time a flaw in your argument was pointed out, you changed the tack. At every turn, you have obfuscated the issue and ignored the question. Your primary issue wasn’t the “misrepresentation of the building.” You said yourself that the photo “captured” a violation of a military regulation because it was a photo of an officer with a flag.

      Now you’re talking about religious symbols, which even you admit has nothing to do with the original accusation. If any of this had any validity, why didn’t you bring it up when you publicly accused the military of illegal conduct?

      I will admit that “misapplying” was not the word that best conveyed what I meant, since I have no idea how you were applying the regulation because you neither cited one nor said how it related. My poorly communicated rejoinder intended to illuminate two things: one, this regulation has nothing to do with your original accusation (which you admitted), and two, you can’t actually apply this regulation without knowing the circumstances–which you don’t. You need to be able to characterize the environment. You can’t. You can only assume.

      Your entire argument, including the reference to the most recent regulation, is based on a long chain of assumptions. You admit you don’t know if those assumptions are true, yet you chose to accuse the Army, a General, a flag, or a building (you pick, you’ve used all) of violating a regulation.

      Assumptions are a natural part of life. That’s not a big deal. But when you hide them, it is. You assumed without saying so. Nowhere in the article you published did you list the many assumptions you made in order to conclude that a violation of a regulation occurred. (Of course, you still have yet to say what regulation you were actually talking about…) Now you’re just throwing mud at the wall to see what sticks.

      Again, you’re trying to pass on to me the obligation of excusing the actions you are calling illegal. I take no such responsibility because I am not defending the object of your accusations. Instead, I am pointing out that the premise of your accusations is unfounded. You have yet to defend that premise.

      You have publicly accused the military of violating a regulation. You bear the responsibility for justifying that accusation. To this point, you have failed to do so.

      This is consistent with your prior practices of publicly maligning the military, its members, and Christians by positing unsubstantiated, misrepresented, and inflammatory accusations.

  • In other words, JD can’t explain how I’m “misapplying the regulation.” That’s what I figured.

    Well, it’s been fun, but I must get back to my next article, which I’m sure JD will find something in to twist.

  • It is perfectly fitting and proper for one to extoll the virtues of his religion. Promoting one’s faith in the proper venue and circumstances is a part of America religious lore.

    It is when one seeks unfair advantage in that promotion and attempts to associate it with government, military or other secular organ, that it becomes something entirely different; such as in the case where senior military officers use their rank and position to ceorcively proselytize their faith to subordinates.

    Christian Dominionism seeks to establish supremacy in the militray and through that dominance develop a Christiann fighting force, abjectly obedient and trained to follow religious orders rather than secular militray ones.

    A picture is worth a thousand words and just a photograph of a high ranking officer in front of a Christian flag is sufficient to coerce a young Soldier, Sailor Marine or Airman to think twice about not accepting an invitation to church or prayer meeting by that officer.

    Those who advocate for Dominion Chirstianity become more and more transparent in their efforts to convert non-Christians, upgrade believing Christians to a higher state of obedience and cooperation, and demoralize and denigrate Agnostics and Atheists to a point where they cannot function in their assignment and are discharged.

    The excuses made for such activites wear thin and even those who did not before believe such awful things are happening in our armed forces are beginning to realize the extent of sedition and treason undertaken by Dominionists, their coercive tactics and forced religious proselytizing on our young military members.

  • just a photograph of a high ranking officer in front of a Christian flag is sufficient to coerce

    So, you’d agree, then, that the photos of officers with symbology of Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Wicca (linked in the article) equally “violated regulations,” or does your standard only apply to Christians?

  • Baker,

    I challenge you to pack your bags (and bring a care package) for Joint Base Balad, specifically Troy’s Place. The chaplains run a center designed for spiritual help, manned by volunteers of whatever faith (to include atheists) that come forward. It is not in place for evangelism, just a place of rest in an unsettled area of the world. Put your money (and your backside) where your mouth is and see it for yourself.