Reports: US Military Christians Targeted for Beliefs

FoxNews had a somewhat inflammatory title to its article, “Air Force cracking down on Christians,” in which columnist Todd Starnes noted the story of SMSgt Philip Monk, currently being investigated after filing a complaint of religious discrimination.

Lost in some of the controversy, though, was this near the end of the article [emphasis added]:

[Monk’s] not the only Christian at Lackland Air Force Base facing persecution for opposing gay marriage, according to Monk’s pastor.

Steve Branson is the pastor of Village Parkway Baptist Church, about five miles from the Air Force base. He tells me that as many as a half dozen of his church members are currently facing persecution…for their religious beliefs.

“Sgt. Monk is just the tip of the iceberg,” the pastor tells me. “Anyone who doesn’t hold to the right view on homosexuality is having a very difficult time.”

Branson said one colonel is not even allowed to voice an opinion on the matter over fears it might cost him his job. Another airman has been brought up on charges eight times.

Similarly, the Family Research Council recently met with “Defense Department officials” and delivered two petitions — one signed by 170,000 calling for religious liberty protections in the US miltiary, and another signed by 50,000 advocating for SMSgt Monk.  Retired LtGen Jerry Boykin, Vice President of the FRC, said

Defense Department officials would review decisions made at bases that did not reflect Air Force policy.

which implied lower-level commanders were going further than HQ policy guidance intended.  In addition, Boykin said

“We also requested that the Department of Defense and the Air Force issue a definitive statement regarding the ability of service members to share their faith publicly. Previous statements on the subject have been confusing and contradictory.”

Boykin is likely referring to the multiple “explanations” issued by the DoD over the course of a week several months ago.  In addition, public “prosecutions” of Christians in the military, reportedly for nothing more than their beliefs, contribute to confusion on the state of religious freedom in the military.