Booted General Boykin Calls for Apology — for the Troops
The US Army post at Fort Riley recently cancelled a scheduled prayer breakfast because Michael “Mikey” Weinstein complained about the speaker: Retired LtGen William “Jerry” Boykin.
LtGen Boykin is now calling for an apology from the US Army — not for him, but for the troops [emphasis added]:
What is really important about this is that the leadership of Fort Riley caved to pressure by these extremists and denied every person who planned to attend this event their own First Amendment rights.
I am told that there were many people who planned to attend and that 80 percent of the soldiers at the Fort self-identify as Christian. Attendance was totally voluntary, and no one was compelled to be there…
The Commanding General of the 1st Infantry Division, Maj. Gen. Wayne Grigsby, should apologize to the soldiers of Fort Riley and assure them that the leadership of Fort Riley will stand up to the anti-religious freedom agitators and defend their rights of assembly and the right to believe and live out their faith.
LtGen Boykin’s call for an apology is an outstanding reminder that the US military is composed of far more than the faint-hearted, weeping-on-the-phone critics Mikey Weinstein so loudly represents — most of whom probably didn’t want to go to the prayer breakfast, anyway. By contrast, what of the rights and liberties of those who did want to attend?
As noted previously, when the US Army rescinds the invitation and then denigrates the character of someone like LtGen Boykin, it sends a very strong message to those Soldiers who may share his faith and values — a message that those faith and values are neither publicly acceptable nor protected. And, to be clear, US troops are entitled to share those faith and values, and their ability to express and live those faith and values is protected by law — even within the US military.
LtGen Boykin has successfully reminded the US military that when they acquiesce to Mikey Weinstein, they aid, even if unintentionally, his personal and self-described “war” with Christians.
Taking Mikey Weinstein’s side in his personal religious feud undermines the Army’s values of diversity, tolerance, and military religious freedom.
That is why it is important for Soldiers at Fort Riley (and everywhere) to hear their leaders proactively speak up to promote the virtue of religious liberty — and not just the bile of the perpetually-offended.
This is a lesson the Air Force has been the primary student of for the past few years. Eventually, the Air Force realized (with the help of Congress) the harm it was doing to its Airmen by legitimizing Weinstein’s bigoted crusade.
Hopefully, we don’t have to see the same learning curve from the Army.