Franklin Graham and Military Religious Freedom, Continued
Army spokesman Col. Tom Collins confirmed today, that at the Army’s request, the Pentagon Chaplain’s Office had contacted Graham to withdraw the invitation extended to him to be the main speaker at the Pentagon’s observance of the National Day of Prayer.
I regret that the Army felt it was necessary to rescind their invitation to the National Day of Prayer Task Force to participate in the Pentagon’s special prayer service. I want to express my strong support for the United States military and all our troops. I will continue to pray that God will give them guidance, wisdom and protection as they serve this great country.
(Some have claimed the NDoP itself is unConstitutional, consistent with the recent federal court decision (see link here). However, that ruling was only on the Congressional statute; it has no bearing on celebration of the day itself. As stated by the Judge herself:
The only issue decided in this case is that the federal government may not endorse prayer in a statute as it has in § 119. (emphasis original) )
A further military statement, quoted at ABCNews, has the potential to be somewhat troubling:
Speaking of Graham’s past comments, Collins said, “Army leadership became aware of the issue and immediately recognized it was problematic.” He added, “This Army honors all faiths and tries to inculcate our soldiers and work force with an appreciation of all faiths and his past comments just were not appropriate for this venue.”
That is a somewhat inaccurate statement. The US military “honors” no faiths; to do so would arguably be violative of the Constitution. In addition, it “tries to inculcate” its members with a respect for, not “appreciation of,” all faiths. As part of that respect, the military recognizes the freedom of its members to adhere to the tenets of their faith, even those that might be offensive to others.
The discombobulated understanding of this basic freedom was demonstrated by CAIR’s reaction:
“We applaud this decision as a victory for common sense and good judgment,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad. “Promoting one’s own religious beliefs is something to be defended and encouraged, but other faiths should not be attacked or misrepresented in the process.”
What Awad fails to explain is that other faiths may be “attacked,” in a manner of speaking, consistent with the basic tenets of a religion that American citizens and military members may hold. Those tenets would include, for example, the Christian belief that Jesus Christ is the only way to God (and thus all other religions are wrong or “bad”), as well as the Islamic belief that both Jews and Christians are “infidels” with a corrupted faith. That one religious belief disagrees with another, and makes that clearly known, is not contrary to “common sense and good judgment.” In fact, it is consistent with the US Constitution.
The fact that [Graham] has theological differences with Islam, differences wholly in keeping with the teachings of the New Testament, and that he has expressed them publicly, is now being used by anti-Christian zealots in a manner offensive to the freedom of religion guaranteed by the very Constitution military leaders are sworn to uphold.
This decision is further evidence that the leadership of our nation’s military has been impaired by the politically correct culture being advanced by this Administration. Under this Administration’s watch we are seeing the First Amendment, designed to protect the religious exercise of Americans, retooled into a sword to sever America’s ties with orthodox Christianity.
Thus, the expression of sincerely held religious beliefs has now become grounds for official repercussion.
While not every Christian would necessarily use the same words Graham did in his discussion of Islam, those statements were consistent with his Christian theology. There are Christians who agree with that theology, both in and out of the military. Their religious freedom is no less sacred than a Muslim’s or a Buddhist’s.
Based on these events, however, it would appear that any person who holds a negative view of Islam will no longer be permitted to speak in front of a military audience. Likewise, the prior complaint by atheists that Christopher Hitchens was not permitted to address a group at the Air Force Academy is now moot, since his views on religion were negative.
Of course, based on these events it would seem logical that someone who holds a negative view of Christianity would suffer the same fate. Say, someone who said American Christians were secretly planning a second Holocaust:
In Plan A, evangelical Christians with a smile on their face will ask you to please, please, please accept their biblical worldview of Jesus. The problem with that is, inevitably, Plan A morphs into Plan B. They stop asking so nicely, and then you have the Holocaust, the pogroms, the Inquisition…
This country is going through—right now—a transition from A to B.
For those that don’t recall, these words are from Michael Weinstein, and are just a small sampling of the ludicrous statements he has made about Christianity. (Edit: Former Navy Chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt compiled a long list of many (though not all) of Weinstein’s quotes about Christianity. Warning for unedited profanity.) For example, referencing Graham’s Christian beliefs, Weinstein said the event was being
polluted by someone as hideously Islamophobic as Franklin Graham.
Still, despite his negative and “Christian-ophobic” statements, Weinstein has been invited to speak to military audiences at least four times, and his remarks have been described as offensive to Christianity by Christian military members in attendance.
Yet he complained about a Christian who said negative things about Islam being invited to speak to a religious, “Christian-themed” event. It would seem someone applies a standard to others to which he does not hold himself. That, or his actions are consistent with his greater agenda.
Simple question: What part of Franklin Graham’s rescinded invitation supports religious freedom in the military?