Religion in the Military Endures Scrutiny after Fort Hood

The attack at Fort Hood has inspired almost visceral reactions around the world, potentially leading some to say things that are illogical at their core.

The New York Times has said the attack “complicated” the service of Muslims in the military.  Bryan Fischer, who lists his title as the Director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association, posted a blog on the AFA website entitled “No More Muslims in the US Military,” suggesting that Muslims be banned until they can “prove” they are not “jihadis” and threats to national security.

Fischer’s assertions are absurd, and they contravene the protections of the US Constitution and the heart of Christianity.  In addition, the AFA is a Christian organization (which ostensibly focuses on family issues unrelated to religion in the military), and Fischer appears to miss the fact that the very course of action he suggests be taken against believers in Islam could also be taken against believers in Christianity. 

For example, one of the “warning signs” emerging from Hasan’s tale was the fact that he said he was a “Muslim first and an American second.”  That paradigm is not far removed from those Christians who say their priorities are God and country, in that order.  Christians in the military have already been called traitors for those beliefs.  Legitimizing discrimination against Muslims would only add fuel to the fire of those who have long desired to take the same actions against Christians.

Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan’s actions have increased the scrutiny on all religion in the military, not just Islam.

Fischer also takes issue with politically correct notions that claim that all religions and cultures are equally valid and true.  That is certainly a valid concern, but the heart of American liberties is the freedom to believe as one chooses.  That doesn’t mean everyone has to agree, nor does it mean that one has to support an ideology with which he disagrees.  It does mean, however, that those differing ideologies are free to coexist.

In fairness to the AFA, there is another blog on their site in which the author is “repulsed” by the suggestion that Muslims be banned from military service.  It would appear that the authors are not describing the official position of the AFA.

In the continuing investigation into the massacre, information has begun to emerge that Hasan may have had contact with a radical imam who once lived in the US but is now in Yemen.  That same imam has praised Hasan’s actions, and said that

American Muslims who condemned the attacks on the Texas military base last week are hypocrites who have committed treason against their religion.

Fortunately, despite the insult, every major American Islamic organization–including those that endorse Chaplains for the US military–has condemned the attacks, and they have even collaborated on a website accepting donations to benefit the victims of the attack.

American Muslims have fought–and died–in the ongoing wars, just as their non-Muslim comrades have.  American Christians, including those in the miltiary, are free to criticize Islam for theological reasons.  But to suggest that people be treated differently because of their religious beliefs is a dangerous precedent inconsistent with American liberties.