Air Force Investigating Airman’s Rant Against Homosexuals, Other Religions
The Air Force Times reports an unidentified Airman is under investigation after posting multiple YouTube videos of himself railing against homosexuals and other religions — while in uniform:
[The] airman…denounc[ed] gay people as “sodomites,” “pedophiles,” “roaches” and “vermin scum,” among other slurs.
[He] posted videos on YouTube under the name “Baptist Dave 1611” before taking down his account over the weekend, also voiced support for Grayson Fritts…and his views supporting the execution of gay people…
The videos are no longer available, so the accusations are absent any verifiable context. Assuming the Air Force Times portrayal is correct, the Airman will almost certainly soon be — and certainly should soon be — a civilian. At least as is reported, his conduct seems unrecoverable.
Not everything the Air Force Times quoted was impermissible on its face. For example, the article said the Airman criticized “drag queen story hour”, Mormon missionaries, and the Pope. Whether or not one agrees with the appropriateness or wisdom of that conduct, even (principled) militant atheists would defend his right to criticize religions that contradict his own and behavior that contradicts his morality. The very core of religious liberty is the ability to have, hold, and exercise religious belief that may be in conflict with other beliefs. This is the same liberty that enables a US troop to sit in a military chapel on Sunday and here a sermon consistent with the tenets of his faith, even if it is offensive to those not of his faith.
After all, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity are three ultimately exclusive and contradictory faiths, yet Muslim, Jewish, and Christian troops work together successfully and respectfully every day.
As has been noted here before, there is nothing wrong with a military chaplain or a member of the military expressing their theological beliefs about the truth claims of other religions.
That right does not categorically extend to expressing criticisms of people — that is, the adherents of those faiths — and that’s where the Airman went too far. As the article noted the Air Force quoting, the military rightfully requires respect for other people — even if you don’t respect their beliefs or behavior.
Acknowledging again that all context is missing, there’s little positive to say about his conduct.
The term “sodomite” is straight out of the King James Bible (his handle included “1611,” the year of the KJV), and while equating homosexuality with pedophilia is incorrect, it could be based on an incomplete understanding of the fact pedophiles are disproportionately homosexual. However, given the totality of what the Air Force Times indicates he said, there’s not much room for grace, even there.
To say that anyone, regardless of their beliefs or personal behavior, is a “roach” or “vermin scum,” is beyond the pale. Not only does denigrating people not comport with respectful treatment required by military policy of other people or Airmen, it is also inconsistent with the core of the Christian faith. Christians believe man is created in the image of God, and that people have intrinsic value and inherent worth because of that. While sin can and must be called out, sinners — even unrepentant sinners — should be loved in their call to repentance.
Nothing in this conversation requires condoning or supporting any immoral behavior or anti-Christian belief. It is one thing to discuss the theological view of the Christian tenet on homosexuality. It is another to personally denigrate homosexuals. To respect the person does not require agreement with or assent to the beliefs or behavior.
To wit, Michael “Mikey” Weinstein has, at times, been a repugnant human being. He has said idiotic and moronic things, he has threatened physical violence against those he doesn’t like, and he has repeatedly demonstrated that he is a religious bigot. But he is still a human being — and he is still made in the image of God. He can be opposed, his ideas can be rebutted, and his errors can be highlighted — but it would be wrong to attack his inherent worth as a person.
Mikey Weinstein is so loved by God that He sent his Son to die on the cross for him. The same is true for those whom the Airman wrongly called “vermin scum.” We’re all sinners and worthy of hell…but God.
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. — Paul.