According to a statement released by the Pentagon, soldiers can be prosecuted for promoting their religious faith, the Family Research Council said Wednesday.
“Religious proselytization is not permitted within the Department of Defense,” the statement said. “Court martials and non-judicial punishments are decided on a case-by-case basis,” the statement added.
The statement appears to have been released after the administration met with Mikey Weinstein, head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an organization Todd Starnes said “compared Christian evangelism to ‘rape’ and advocated that military personnel who proselytize should be court martialed.”
Ken Klukowski, director of the Center for Religious Liberty, said in an earlier report that according to Weinstein, “Christians–including chaplains–sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ in the military are guilty of ‘treason.'”
“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,” Weinstein wrote in an angry op-ed at the Huffington Post that falls just short of calling for death camps.
“Let us call these ignoble actions what they are: the senseless and cowardly squallings of human monsters,” he added, speaking of those who teach orthodox Christian beliefs from the Bible
Klukowski explained that military members convicted in a court-martial have been found to be guilty of a federal military crime and can be imprisoned and/or dishonorably discharged from the military.
“So President Barack Obama’s civilian appointees who lead the Pentagon are confirming that the military will make it a crime–possibly resulting in imprisonment–for those in uniform to share their faith,” he wrote.
The rules also extend to chaplains — military officers who are ordained clergymen of their faith.
“It’s difficult to imagine how a member of the clergy could give spiritual counseling without saying anything that might be perceived in that fashion,” Klukowski added.
Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin (Ret.), executive vice president of the Family Research Council, addressed the issue Wednesday on “Fox and 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,” he said.
The FRC responded with a petition that has over 55,000 responses as of this writing.
“Reports indicate that senior Pentagon officials have recently consulted with radical secularists to formulate a policy that would put military chaplains and other leaders who “promote their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates or to extend preferential treatment for any religion” in danger of court-martial. Our brave troops deserve better. Subverting the religious freedom of our troops both hurts the morale of our troops and puts our nation at risk by labeling courageous military personnel as enemies,” the petition says.
The petition can be seen here.
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