You Can’t be a Good Christian and a Good Soldier

The “interim CEO” of the Stand Up America Project had much to say about the ability of a religious adherent to be a loyal citizen or member of the military:

There is no doubt that a devout [Christian] must proclaim the exclusivity of [Christ] or he is an apostate. Therefore, he must always be a [Christian] first, and that means he is not only unable, but also forbidden from acting in any other fashion. If he is in our military, he may take orders, and obey, but at some level, when the order runs afoul of [Christianity], he must revert to [Christianity] first.

Except, he didn’t exactly say that.  Scott Winchell railed against Muslims in the long piece, ultimately saying 

The only sane thing to do to protect us from the Hasan’s [sic] of the world and Islamic deceit is to ban any person with Muslim affiliation of any sort from both citizenship and military service. (emphasis original)

His ridiculous and arbitrary filter could equally be applied to any other ideology, as demonstrated in the altered ‘quote’ above, which replaces his references to Islam with new ones to Christianity.

Devotion, even extreme devotion, to a cause or religion is not sufficient to dismiss those who share that ideology. Likewise, those who value the eternal over the temporal–even if that means they place “God” above “country”–are not inherently disloyal.

(It might be worth reminding people that the Constitution was “ordained” to “secure the blessings of liberty,” not to create them.  Thus, it is not the absolute source nor final authority of truth that some seem to think that it is–but that is a topic for another time.)

While a person’s actions and stated intentions remain valid discriminators, the American experiment is predicated on the premise that citizens are allowed to believe freely.  Whether that belief is Christianity, Islam, Judaism, atheism, or some other ideology, those believing men and women are not only free to be American citizens and soldiers, but they should also be encouraged to do so.

Winchell may have had the best intentions, but in calling for action against a faith group, he seemed to fail to realize that his call could be applied against other faiths as well, and that it was an affront to the Constitution.

America is greater because of its acceptance of diversity, secure in the knowledge that truth is not harmed by debate.  Citizens and soldiers are free to believe as they choose, even if those beliefs are in disagreement, and even if some of those beliefs are wrong.