Joint Ethics Regulation (JER), DOD 5500.7-R 5 C.F.R. section 2635.702
(b) Appearance of governmental sanction.
…an employee shall not use or permit the use of his Government position or title or any authority associated with his public office in a manner that could reasonably be construed to imply that his agency or the Government sanctions or endorses his personal activities or those of another…
On 20 July 2007, the Inspector General (IG) of the Pentagon published the report of its investigation of allegations of misconduct by military officers who participated in a “Christian Embassy” promotional video. On or about 4 August the IG released a public version on its website. Shortly thereafter, Michael Weinstein’s Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) celebrated its role as the instigator of that investigation nearly 9 months prior. In typical hyperbolic fashion, Weinstein responded by saying
[The report reveals a] long and deep collusion with a fundamentalist, religious missionary organization, the ‘Christian Embassy’. That these senior Pentagon officials control the world’s largest nuclear, chemical and biological arsenal should eviscerate the American public’s trust and confidence in their military and civilian leadership…[The] MRFF intends to file expeditiously a comprehensive Federal lawsuit that will rapaciously pursue legal remedies to the multitude of horrific Constitutional violations this DoD/IG report reveals.
Other organizations were not so convinced. The Family Research Council Read more
Topic: Church and State
God & Government is an updated version of Chuck Colson’s 1987 Kingdoms in Conflict. Subtitled “an insider’s view on the boundaries between faith and politics,” it is an interesting and generally centrist evaluation of the complex relationship between religion and the state.
The book is a worthwhile read for a military Christian for several reasons. First, Colson adequately addresses both sides of the “church/state controversy,” an issue that is constantly cited in arguments against Christian activity in the military. He acknowledges that there are some Christians who would like nothing more than to elect a President-Pastor, and some secularists who would like nothing more than to eliminate the public existence of religion. He maintains that Read more
An interesting article covers the South Korean response to the homecoming of the 19 remaining hostages held by the Taliban. Notably, there seems to be a backlash to apparent “overzealous proselytizing,” even though
Both Saemmul Presbyterian Church, to which the hostages belong, and the government insisted that the hostages had not been proselytizing, just providing aid. But many religious experts here consider such a distinction meaningless, since South Korean churches provide aid to gain converts.
Why does this matter to the military Christian? There is a growing movement in America that is reflected here by the quoted “many religious experts:” the supposition that Christians can’t separate their “overtly proselytizing ways” from their other actions–whether they be charitable or governmental. That is, Christians can’t help but proselytize, and they must be treated as if they will.
Some people seem to think that if the military forbids proselytizing in its ranks then it must restrict the actions of Christians, because Christians cannot help but proselytize. The cultural view of Christianity bears significant impact on the religious freedom of Christians in the military.
As previously reported on the Religion Clause, TruthOut is reporting that Weinstein’s MRFF is again complaining about an outside Christian organization having access to the Pentagon. This time it was David Kistler’s HOPE ministries.
The article makes it unclear whether it is the theology that is the issue (since much of the article is a mockery of Kistler’s views) or the fact it was a religious organization.
While the writer makes it appear that it is “intuitively obvious” that the Pentagon again violated the ‘Constitutional separation of church and state,’ that is not the case. Chaplains routinely host outside visitors of varied religious persuasions for the spiritual benefit of their servicemen, which is their legal duty.
While Weinstein may disagree, the Constitution and the courts have supported the religious influence of the chaplaincy and its programs in the military.
The Best Intentions…
According to the International Herald Tribune, the US military apologized for offending Afghani Muslims when it gave them soccer balls that had the Saudi flag on it. The Saudi flag has the words Allah and Muhammad on it; those names in any form are considered sacred to Muslims. The thought of kicking those sacred names was apparently offensive.
Soccer (or football, outside the US), is wildly popular in most other parts of the world, and has even been a source of national pride in an otherwise sometimes fractious Iraq.
A local paper covers the perspectives of Chaplain Douglas Etter, a Presbyterian Chaplain in the Army National Guard, and Commander Jon Cutler, a Navy Jewish Chaplain, in Military Chaplains Serve Diverse Roles. (Scroll down if the screen formatting appears blank.) With thanks to Religion Clause for the point out.
Joe Carter of the National Review wrote an article on CNN’s “God’s Warriors” in which he noted that while many people are concerned about CNN juxtaposing assassins and Falwell, what CNN is really doing is proposing “equivalency of ideology.” That is, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity are “equal.” He notes, for example, that while “theocracy” is a theology most aligned with Islam, it is more often attributed to Protestant Christians. In fact,
more than half of American evangelicals are either Baptists or nondenominational — groups that don’t even want a centralized church government much less a central government controlled by the church.
The Culture and Media Institute also wrote an article on the CNN series. It contains some positive and negative things about the shows, including Amanpour’s comparison of Christian calls for “modest dress” as equivalent with the Taliban calls for burkas.
Michael Weinstein opines about the state of Christianity in the military in a relatively tame editorial in the LA Times.