Congress Demands Army Answer for Calling Christians Extremists
The US Army has received a string of criticism in the days since it was revealed a Reserve Army EO officer included evangelical Christians and Catholics (as well as all of Sunni Islam) in “religious extremism.”
Similarly, another Army email released to FoxNews included copied text from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “anti-gay intelligence file” mocking the “Christian Right” and its “opposition to equal rights for gays and lesbians.” The author, an Army LtCol, said
just want to ensure everyone is somewhat educated on some of the groups out there that do not share our Army Values.
“Some of the groups” in the SPLC list included the Family Research Council (which has cited ChristianFighterPilot.com) and the American Family Association — two Christian groups villified by the SPLC for their opposition to the social normalization of homosexuality.
The inclusion of Christians and Christian beliefs in an Army email saying they don’t “share our Army values” actually contradicts Army values. The Department of Defense has maintained that despite its acceptance of homosexuality, servicemembers are free to maintain their moral or religious opposition to such sexual behavior.
Said retired General William “Jerry” Boykin:
What we’re essentially seeing is a continued attack on faith, on religion, on the ability of the American GI to worship according to his faith.
“What they’re doing is … changing the culture of the military…
“This is another example of how those young men and women who are serving this country are being told that their faith is a danger to America.”
As before, such emails or PowerPoint slides do not make Army policy, something the Army explicitly said:
Pentagon spokesman George Wright told the Fox News Channel that the Army is looking into the origin of that e-mail, adding: “Any belief that the Army is out to label religious groups in a negative manner is without warrant.”
As before, these incidents highlight the fact there are individuals in the US Army who believe, teach, or use their positions of authority (either out of ignorance or intentionality) to espouse views seemingly hostile to Christianity. These incidents also undermine the siren calls of those who claim the US military is a bastion of Christian missionaries trying to take over the world.
In other words, those who express concern about religious freedom in a post-DADT environment, or note the perception of an environment hostile toward Christians, are not doing so in a vacuum. These are documented incidents of Christians being cited as extremists and members of “hate groups” for their religious beliefs.
They do not form institutional military policy. But they are evidence of aspects of the culture that exists within the military. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, feels that may warrant more attention:
Land called for an investigation to determine if there is an anti-Christian movement afoot in the military.
There are certainly some who believe Christians should not be allowed in the military, and they would have the military adopt an “anti-Christian movement” or “religious test” for military service — one that would filter out the wrong kind of Christians.
Also, this isn’t the first time such an observation was made. As noted previously, some — including members of the US Congress — have criticized the military’s perceived tendency (after a string of events) to appease anti-Christian critics rather than defend the virtues of its troops. The manner in which the military responds to these current criticisms will provide yet another basis for comparison.