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What Are The Right-Wing Interwebs Freaking Out About Today?

May 1, 2013

Oh noes! Sarah Palin (remember her?) has read a thing on the internet and made a tweet. Now President Obama will be forced to put an end to this mockery of our Constitution!

What is it that has Palin so concerned? Why, nothing less than the full-scale persecution — even imprisonment (!) — of Christians in the U.S. Military! That is, at least, if you believe everything you read on Breitbart.com. See for yourself (emphasis mine):

The Pentagon has released a statement confirming that soldiers could be prosecuted for promoting their faith: “Religious proselytization is not permitted within the Department of Defense…Court martials and non-judicial punishments are decided on a case-by-case basis…”.

The statement, released to Fox News, follows a Breitbart News report on Obama administration Pentagon appointees meeting with anti-Christian extremist Mikey Weinstein to develop court-martial procedures to punish Christians in the military who express or share their faith. […]

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. […]

This regulation would severely limit expressions of faith in the military, even on a one-to-one basis between close friends. It could also effectively abolish the position of chaplain in the military…

Wow… Let’s unpack this a bit. Apparently, a group called The Military Religious Freedom Foundation has leaned on the Air Force to actually enforce a regulation stating that “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 group has been on the radar for some time, having previously filed lawsuits on behalf of military members subjected to discrimination and coercive proselytization.

Having finally secured a meeting with Air Force officials, the group, representing thousands of American citizens with their own first amendment rights, was at least being heard. That is when the Family Research Council pounced, taking to Fox News Radio, Breitbart.com, and any other right wing outlet they could find to demand the Military stop conferring with “anti-Christian extremists”. They’ve started a petition, even. Now, I am not certain how demanding that the Military respect the First Amendment’s prohibition against the state promotion of a religion equates with “anti-Christian extremism” (unless the Founders were also extremists), but there you have it. Cue hysteria:

Is the U.S. Military Preparing to Court Martial Christians (Fox News Radio)

Religious Groups Fear Christian Purge From Military (Free Republic)

PENTAGON TAPS ANTI-CHRISTIAN EXTREMIST FOR RELIGIOUS TOLERANCE POLICY (Breitbart.com)

(You get the idea.)

So the Military has responded to Fox News, confirming that it is indeed against regulations to proselytize in the military, especially by commanding officers. This is not about soldiers “sharing” religious beliefs between friends. This is not about outlawing military chaplains to whom soldiers of faith turn for counseling. This is about putting an end to the rampant right-wing Christian proselytizing growing in the Military over the last decade.

For Mr. Weinstein – a former Air Force judge advocate and assistant counsel in the Reagan White House – more is involved than isolated cases of discrimination. He charges that several incidents in recent years – and more than 5,000 complaints his group has received from active-duty and retired military personnel – point to a growing willingness inside the military to support a particular brand of Christianity and to permit improper evangelizing in the ranks. More than 95 percent of those complaints come from other Christians, he says. (Christian Science Monitor)

We’re talking about things like the rifle scopes engraved with Bible verses, the Marine handing out coins with Bible verses to Muslims in Iraq, documented cases of US military personnel proselytizing to Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan, repeated complaints of too much religiosity at military academies, and many cases of soldiers being threatened and harassed by leadership.

Notice also that the statement from the Pentagon to Fox News does not say that courts martial will be immediately forth-coming or that this policy will be pursued with some sort of invigorated zeal. Instead, it confirms an existing regulation, in line with the US Constitution, and states that each case is dealt with on an individual basis. Hardly the smoking gun you might expect when right-wingers are screaming that Christians are to be purged from the Military, but they are right-wingers.   So if the interwebs are on fire this week, it is only because the right-wing religious machine’s modern-day crusade has been found out, fought against, and to at least a small degree, the Military has chosen to go with the Constitution.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. tony permalink
    May 1, 2013 1:10 pm

    It appears the end of your article was truncated. I’m interested to read how you were wrapping up this post.

    • May 1, 2013 2:26 pm

      Fixed it! But I apologize that this piece was accidentally posted in an incomplete state.

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