Commander Threatens Soldier for Religious Facebook Post
As noted at FoxNews, a Colorado Springs-based US servicemember posted her opinion on Facebook — and has been threatened by her commander as a result:
The soldier, who is an evangelical Christian, said she returned home from church on Sunday and was watching a documentary about a minister who endorsed homosexuality…
Her Facebook message read:
“A lot ticked off, now to all my gay friends you know I care about you so don’t think otherwise. I’m watching this documentary and this gay guy went to a church and the Pastor was telling him that he needs to embrace his way and know that it is not a sin. Ok umm wow, dude it is. I’m sick of people making Gods word what it’s not. Yes God loves you as a person but He hates the sin. Tired of hearing about Pastors being ok with homosexuality.”
She was reportedly told to
either remove the post or face a reduction in rank and pay.
There is contradictory information about whether she is an Airman or a Soldier, which may be just as well, as she wasn’t seeking to make a public statement and actually asked Fox to pull the article, which it did for a short time. She appears to have substantial support, however, as retired Chaplain (Col) Ron Crews, representing the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, said
“Just because a person wears a uniform does not mean they give up their religious liberties and their ability to speak about matters of faith,” Crews told Fox News.
Crews said the Chaplain Alliance has been in contact with [her] and said they play on being fully supportive.
There have been a couple of instances in which the US military targeted servicemembers for their online statements — though those were (almost) exclusively political statements, which are expressly regulated by DoD policies.
There is no equivalent regulation on the expression of religious beliefs (though one Air Force regulation does say Airmen should “confidently practice [their] own beliefs”) — but there is an explicit statement in the US Constitution prohibiting the government from interfering with the exercise of those beliefs.
In addition, it is worth noting that current US law generally protects the Soldier’s statements, as it says
The Armed Forces shall accommodate the beliefs of a member of the armed forces reflecting the conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs of the member and, in so far as practicable, may not use such beliefs as the basis of any adverse personnel action, discrimination, or denial of promotion, schooling, training, or assignment.
The military can take action if otherwise protected “actions and speech” violate the UCMJ or
threaten good order and discipline.
This is not to be confused with the proposed law that would “strengthen” this current law. This is the very thing that US Rep John Fleming’s amendment to the 2014 NDAA was intended to protect — something he said the 2013 version was supposed to protect, but was not being applied properly:
The Pentagon, especially the Air Force, has clearly demonstrated an overly narrow interpretation of how Christian chaplains and military members are allowed to express their beliefs, even off duty.
This US troop was clearly off duty, benignly expressing a personal religious statement — and her commander threatened her rank, pay, and career.
That sounds an awful lot like a “religious freedom” issue to some people — but apparently not Michael “Mikey” Weinstein. He and his “religious freedom” “charity” have not risen to defend against allegations that Christians have had their religious liberties threatened. In fact, members of his MRFF have called for restrictions on Christians religious liberties — at least, restrictions on those Michael Weinstein deems to be the wrong kind of Christians.
The entire premise is a setup for a slippery slope. For example, if simply and benignly stating a tenet of mainstream Christianity “threatens good order and discipline” in the US military, does the military have a vested “national defense interest” in prohibiting troops from even attending churches that preach those views?
Michael Weinstein, who appears to believe only Christians with beliefs approved by him should be allowed to serve, would likely say yes.