US Military Highlights Respect for Muslims
A report at FoxNews highlights a message from US Army Col. Kevin Glasz, brigade commander of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, regarding respect for Islam during Ramadan:
“This is a period of great personal restraint and commitment in addition to renewed focus on worship,” Brigade Commander Col. Kevin Glasz wrote. “I’d like to encourage you to learn just a little more about this religion, but more importantly, I’m asking you to be considerate and do not consume food or drink in front of our Muslim colleagues; it is a simple, yet respectful action.”
In contrast from policies governing US military personnel in Bahrain, which was highlighted here last month, the USUHS is in Maryland, and there are no laws in Maryland governing Ramadan.
Optimistically viewed, it is just a supportive statement from the military to help others respect the faiths of those around them. But as an anonymous Marine officer is quoted in pointing out, this kind of “supportive statement” is only used in reference to Islam:
“I respect the intention behind this email, but note that there is no similar call honoring other faiths,” one Marine told me. “There is no similar invitation for non-Jewish colleagues to refrain from eating leavened products during Passover, or non-Christian colleagues to refrain from eating meat during Lent.”
More tellingly, Fox’s Todd Starnes highlights the fact the US military encourages its people to use the traditional Arabic greeting “Ramadan Kareem” during Ramadan…but has occasionally prohibited using the word “Christmas” during the traditional Christmas season. Retired Chaplain (Col) Ron Crews of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty noted
“There is a good biblical word for this: hypocrisy.”
Importantly, both Crews and the anonymous Marines cited in the article didn’t object to the military’s treatment of Ramadan per se. The problem, they felt, was that no other religion was treated as gently as Islam (or as harshly as Christianity).
“I think that if there were emails about other faith traditions, this email wouldn’t have been so offensive,” my source at USU said. “Islam appears to have a protected status while Christians are increasingly vilified.”
As an interesting aside, Uniformed Services University is where Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan earned his medical degrees.
When a commander or the military leadership can send out messages encouraging their subordinates to learn about Islam while other members of the military cannot send out far more benign messages that include words of a religious faith, it creates the perception that religious faiths are not being treated equally within the military.
To those quoted, that doesn’t mean the military needs to squelch the discussions about Islam. It just means not squelching every minor reference to Christianity.
As Todd Starnes said very well,
Religious liberty. Now there’s an interesting concept – one enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.
That’s the same US Constitution US troops swear to uphold and protect.
(USUHC is essentially a military medical school.)