04 May 2013
The Pentagon is tripping over its own tongue in trying to deny that it is making plans to begin court martialing Christian service members who share their faith.
The story, which was reported by the Washington Post, Fox News and other outlets, broke recently when it was revealed that Pentagon officials had met with virulent anti-Christian activist Mikey Weinstein, founder of the misleadingly named Military Religious Freedom Foundation, to discuss cracking down on Air Force personnel who evangelize other service members.
The change in policy was seemingly confirmed in two separate instances by Pentagon officials, and by Air Force officials, but now Pentagon press spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen has further muddied the waters with a press release that both apparently confirms the policy exists, but denies that it will be anything to worry about.
The original Pentagon statement said, “Religious proselytization is not permitted within the Department of Defense. … Court martials and non-judicial punishments are decided on a case-by-case basis. …”
Then the Air Force tried to clarify.
“When on duty or in an official capacity, Air Force members are free to express their personal religious beliefs as long as it does not make others uncomfortable,” Lt. Col. Laurel Tingley told Fox News.
Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty executive director Ron Crews commented, “What does ‘As long as it does not make others uncomfortable’ mean?”
Crews pointed out that last year, an Air Force officer was ordered to remove the Bible from his desk, allegedly because it might give the appearance of condoning one religion over another. “Air Force officers must be allowed to live out their faith in a way that is consistent with their faith,” Crews said. “If the Bible is important, then an Air Force officer should be able to have one on his desk.”
According to the latest statement from Christensen, military members are allowed to “evangelize,” but not “proselytize.”
For most Christians and most dictionaries those are synonyms, and therein lies the problem. The Pentagon seems to be splitting legalistic hairs by defining evangelism as sharing your faith and proselytism as sharing your faith when the person your sharing with isn’t interested.
The non-answer is setting the table for trouble. For example, if a Christian soldier were to invite a Jewish friend to church, is that evangelism or proselytism?
The distinction is crucial because the Pentagon policy, according to what Christensen wrote, is that anyone proselytizing can be punished, including court-martialed.
That could mean that a soldier’s fate is left entirely up to whether his fellow soldiers respect or dislike him. And suppose a couple of soldiers are willingly discussing the Bible between themselves and an atheist with a bee in his bonnet about Christians walks in and spontaneously decides he’s being excluded from the group? Is it courts martial all around, then?
The Washington Post story explicitly mentions court martialing chaplains. But chaplains are not part of the chain of command and have no underlings to “proselytize.” If this policy is applied to chaplains, it’s hard to see how a chaplain could perform his duties to comfort the troops.
Based on what’s known about this semi-secret policy, which as usual is being assiduously avoided by most of the mainstream media, it appears that the Obama Administration has yet again been caught red handed planning an unconstitutional breach of the law, and the Administration will now spin the story until it goes away, rather than come clean.
If there are any honest leaders left in the Pentagon, they need to put the kibosh on this policy and take away the forum that’s been given to Weinstein to vent his crackpot anti-Christian notions.
As far as uber-atheist Weinstein is concerned, Christianity is “treason” and Christians are “monsters.” If the Pentagon hadn’t given him a platform and some credibility, he might even now be walking around talking to a coconut named Wilson.
Failure to nip this witch-hunting policy in the bud will only lead to tremendous, perhaps irreparable, damage to our military forces.