national-day-of-prayer-presidioNews broke that the Pentagon confirmed that it will prosecute Christian soldiers, sailors and Marines who share their faith with fellow members in arms.  A statement from the U.S. Department of Defense released to Fox News 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 and it would be inappropriate to speculate on the outcome in specific cases.”

Todd Starnes of Fox News reports that Pentagon officials have met with the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (read freedom from religion, not freedom of religion):

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is calling on the Air Force to enforce a regulation that they believe calls for the court martial of any service member caught proselytizing.

President Mikey Weinstein and others from his organization met privately with Pentagon officials on April 23. He said U.S. troops who proselytize are guilty of sedition and treason and should be punished – by the hundreds if necessary – to stave off what he called a “tidal wave of fundamentalists.”

“Someone needs to be punished for this,” Weinstein told Fox News. “Until the Air Force or Army or Navy or Marine Corps punishes a member of the military for unconstitutional religious proselytizing and oppression, we will never have the ability to stop this horrible, horrendous, dehumanizing behavior.”

The topic of discussion, Starnes reports, was the policy published on August 7, 2012 entitled, “Air Force Culture, Air Force Standards”:

“Leaders at all levels must balance constitutional protections for an individual’s free exercise of religion or other personal beliefs and the constitutional prohibition against governmental establishment of religion,” the regulation states.

Military leaders were admonished not to use their position to “promote their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates or to extend preferential treatment for any religion.”

Weinstein said it’s time for the Air Force to enforce the regulation – with zeal.

“If a member of the military is proselytizing in a manner that violates the law, well then of course they can be prosecuted,” he said. “We would love to see hundreds of prosecutions to stop this outrage of fundamentalist religious persecution.”

He compared the act of proselytizing to rape.

“It is a version of being spiritually raped and you are being spiritually raped by fundamentalist Christian religious predators,” he told Fox News.

The fact that the Pentagon is giving this anti-religious zealot a hearing is of concern.  We can see Weinstein’s hatred of Christianity in a recent Huffington Post piece he wrote:

I founded the civil rights fighting organization the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) to do one thing: fight those monsters who would tear down the Constitutionally-mandated wall separating church and state in the technologically most lethal entity ever created by humankind, the U.S. military.

Today, we face incredibly well-funded gangs of fundamentalist Christian monsters who terrorize their fellow Americans by forcing their weaponized and twisted version of Christianity upon their helpless subordinates in our nation’s armed forces.

At issue here is a redefinition of what “proselytizing” means.  Lt. General Jerry Boykin (U.S. Army – Ret.) of the Family Research Council said on Fox & Friends:

It’s a matter of what do they mean by “proselytizing.” I think they’ve got their definitions a little confused. If you’re talking about coercion that’s one thing, but if you’re talking about the free exercise of our faith as individual soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, especially for the chaplains, they I think the worst thing we can do is stop the ability for a soldier to be able to exercise his faith.

These are the very soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who fight for our freedoms.  They should not be asked to check their faith at the door when they enlist.  Freedom of religion means the free exercise of it.  It goes beyond the act of worship.  Christians are called to share the good news, and the Pentagon has basically said the Great Commission is banned in the military.  Like Lt. Gen. Boykin said – we can’t coerce which is an entirely different thing, but to say they can not share their faith entirely is unconstitutional.  This regulation would restrict personal evangelism in one-to-one settings among friends – in homes and even when military members are off duty.  I don’t know how a chaplain is supposed to function in an environment like this.

Lt. Gen. Boykin warned this will drastically impact enlistment, and I believe he is right.

The Family Research Council has started a petition which has exceeded over 60,000 signatures imploring Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to scrub the plan to court martial Christians.  I encourage you to sign it.

Photo credit: Presidio of Monterey: DLIFLC & USAG via Flickr (CC-By-NC 2.0)

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