US Military using SPLC to Designate Christian “Hate” Groups?
For the second time in just a few months, a military Equal Opportunity briefing has denigrated Christian beliefs as incompatible with the military. This time, the EO brief declared a Christian group to be a “hate” group — which means military members are forbidden from participating in it. Which group was it?
Several dozen U.S. Army active duty and reserve troops were told last week that the American Family Association, a well-respected Christian ministry, should be classified as a domestic hate group because the group advocates for traditional family values.
The briefing was held at Camp Shelby in Mississippi and listed the AFA alongside domestic hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis, the Black Panthers and the Nation of Islam.
An anonymous Soldier passed a photo of the briefing to FoxNews.
To his great credit, a chaplain reportedly spoke up in defense of the Christian group:
The soldier said a chaplain interrupted the briefing and challenged the instructor’s assertion that AFA is a hate group…
The soldier, who is an evangelical Christian, said the chaplain defended the Christian ministry.
“He kept asking the instructor, ‘Are you sure about that, son? Are you sure about that?’” he said, recalling the back and forth.
Even so, the briefer reportedly told the Soldiers they could be punished for associating with the groups. The Soldier who publicized the briefing was a supporter of the AFA.
George Wright, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon, tells me the slide was not produced by the Army and it does not reflect their policy or doctrine.
“It was produced by a soldier conducting a briefing which included info acquired from an Internet search,” Wright said. “Info was not pulled from official Army sources, nor was it approved by senior Army leaders, senior equal opportunity counselors or judge-advocate personnel.”
Wright said the briefing has been updated and any references to American Family Association have been removed.
Writing at FoxNews, columnist Todd Starnes indicated the Army was trying to identify the Soldier who contacted him, saying the Army had started trying to track down the attendees of the briefing. That is probably a bit alarmist, because the Army also said they would contact the attendees to notify them the “information regarding the AFA was incorrect.”
However, Starnes further reports that US military members undergoing training to be Equal Opportunity instructors (ie, the ones making these controversial briefings) are being told that the private Southern Poverty Law Center — the source of information that some Christian groups are “hate” groups — is a “valuable resource.”
I received another email from another person in the Army who asked not to be identified…This individual actually works with the equal opportunity division of the Army – the organization that’s conducting all of these seminars…
According to this individual, whose job it is to prepare the briefings, it is not isolated. In fact, all these equal opportunity trainers have to go to a three-month training session at Patrick Air Force Base – and this source is telling me that when it gets to the component about extremism, these individuals are told that the Southern Poverty Law Center is a valuable resource for them to use when they go out and conduct these training sessions on the various military bases.
The Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI) is indeed located at Patrick AFB.
The President of AFA, Tim Wildmon, wondered why the US military was addressing American-based groups at all. While the question may be understandable, the answer is as well: The military teaches its troops that they cannot associate with certain groups, either for their own safety or for the needs of the military.
That doesn’t mean, however, that the US military must rely on the private SPLC for its information. One astute commenter suggested that the military add the SPLC — and the MRFF — to its list of blacklisted organizations.