NBC: US Military Used Christian Doctrine to Recruit New Members

Kari Huus at NBC News re-iterates Michael Weinstein’s manufactured publicity event over the release of an Air Force regulation, something heretofore unknown to warrant national attention.  The article has a few apparent moments of inspiration, as when Huus says

there has been a long string of battles between those in the military who want to root out religious content and others, mainly fundamentalist Christians, who argue that to do so impinges on religious freedom.

That’s inaccurate, however.  The “string of battles” have actually been between those outside the military, who want to “root out” religion, and those who oppose them.  For example, Michael Weinstein has led a self-declared “war” to “root out” religious content from the US military, by force of government edict.  His opponents have said that targeting such content merely because it is religious violates the US Constitution.  Huus provides no citation to defend her statement they are “mainly fundamentalist Christians.”  On that basis, she could just as easily have said those who want to “root out” religion are “mainly militant atheists.”  Neither statement is defensibly accurate.

Unfortunately, Huus’ statement on the religious beliefs of one side of the “battles” seems to develop into a trend of repeating Weinstein’s talking points without critique or qualification.  She essentially quotes Weinstein’s work verbatim:

The conflicts have arisen over military leadership promoting Christian religious meetings through official channels, military courses incorporating Biblical material in coursework, officers trying to convert non-Christians and allegedly favoring “born again” Christians and using Christian doctrine and imagery in logos and official military materials and Christian prayer in official events.

The military has been sued for using Christian doctrine to recruit new members, and pressured to change logos and review course materials that incorporate Christian doctrine, and more recently, those that are anti-Islam.

To just some of Huus’ points:  Those “conflicts” were generated by external third parties — that is, Michael Weinstein — not the actual issues themselves.  Some of her “allegations” — that “born again” Christians were favored or that the military used “Christian doctrine” to recruit — simply don’t match any public information.  (The latter should have been easy, since a lawsuit is easy enough to cite.)  These appear to be inflammatory fiction — likely courtesy of one of her unverified sources.

The NBC post continues to frame the issue in terms favorable to Weinstein, saying of the 2011 Nuclear Ethics training scandal:

The PowerPoint for the class drew heavily upon Bible passages and Christian imagery to teach morals and ethics of launching nuclear weapons.

Actually, it didn’t, but it was popularly caricatured that way, and it was frequently misrepresented.  As noted previously, 3.5 of the 38 slides referenced Christianity (which hardly equates to “drew heavily upon”), and it was not an attempt to teach morals or ethics, as a student of the course said:

it was a short lecture targeted mostly at conscientious objectors. The bottom line of the class, aethiest [sic] or no, was, “Don’t take this job if you cannot turn the key.”

Huus did have a fairly interesting summation of Weinstein’s mission, though:

Weinstein…has been involved in dozens of battles to extricate religious materials from military settings…

Even favorable press recognizes that Weinstein doesn’t fight for religious freedom, he’s fighting to “extricate” religion from the US military.