Update: The DoD says the SBC website was blocked because malware was detected, but that connection from military servers would be restored “today.” The Southern Baptist Convention weighed in, with a caution not to rush to judgment. Also at the Air Force Times, Christian Post, and Baptist Press.
FoxNews reports that the Southern Baptist Convention website was blocked on military servers — and the military confirmed it:
The Dept. of Defense confirmed to Fox News late Wednesday that the SBC website had been blocked — but not intentionally.
“The Department of Defense is not intentionally blocking access to this site, said Lt. Col. Damien Pickart. “We are working diligently to investigate what might be causing access issues for some of our service members and to correct the situation as quickly as possible.”
Part of the reason the situation requires “correction” is that certain servicemembers need access to the site as part of their function: namely, the many SBC chaplains in the military:
“It’s a concern for the Dept. of Defense to block the website of one of the major evangelical denominations in the country,” Crews told Fox News. “The Southern Baptist Convention has the largest number of chaplains in the military representing Southern Baptist soldiers and churches. Those chaplains need access to their denomination’s website.”
As noted the last time the issue of military internet access came up, it’s not as simple as “the government is censoring/blocking/etc” or being hostile toward the internet site in question. Much of the process is automated, and everyone knows how well software works.
That said, the process can be influenced by those with intent. As noted previously, a Michael Weinstein MRFF acolyte and active duty Air Force atheist reported ChristianFighterPilot.com as “hate speech” to try to get it blocked on his base’s computers (because “he’s not my favorite guy”).
A variety of faith leaders decried the web block, including the American Family Association, Chaplain Alliance, the SBC’s own Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and the Family Research Council.
Perhaps most interesting is that reports of “hostility” (real or imagined) toward Christians in the US military have captivated the news for the past few weeks. The public campaign has deflated Michael Weinstein’s sails, as he relies on the news to report his accusations that the US military is coercively promoting Christianity.
For its part, the DoD responded strongly, saying not only was it unintentional, it viewed it as a serious misstep:
Pickart told Fox News the Dept. of Defense “strongly supports the rights of service members, to include their ability to access religious websites like that of the SBC.”
Access to religious websites is viewed as a “right of servicemembers.” May want to make a note of that one.