Posts Tagged ‘Christian rights’


This year has been a wild ride for Christians in uniform!

Troops were recently told that the American Family Association, a Christian ministry organization, should be classified as a hate group because it advocated traditional family values.

The brouhaha erupted on Camp Shelby when the American Family Association was listed along side domestic hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis, and the Black Panthers.  Soldiers in the audience disagreed with the designation, photographed part of the training presentation, and reported what was being taught in the class.

The Army did the right thing by clarifying what happened at Camp Shelby and sharing that the AFA is not classified as a hate group.  The class material was not taken from official Army sources.  Nor was it approved by senior leaders, equal opportunity counselors, or the post legal office.  The Soldier in question conducted an internet search and came up with his or her own material for the class.

Unfortunately, several events like this have come to light.  Many in the military are concerned about recent events where traditional Judeo-Christian values seem to be under attack.  This incident represents the third time this year where a Soldier tried to classify Christians among domestic hate groups.  Earlier this year, an Army briefing came to light that classified evangelical Christians and Roman Catholics as people who practice religious extremism, behave like hate groups, and could be sanctioned for their beliefs.  Another event told Soldiers to watch troops who supported groups like the American Family Association or the Family Research Council because they do not support Army values.

I do not believe that there is some vast conspiracy out there trying to punish people of faith.  But I do believe that some individuals in the Army have cut corners, provided poor training material, and are not doing their jobs to the fullest.  The result is unfortunately generating unnecessary headlines and situations where groups may sue the Army for slander, libel, or defamation.  Perhaps there is another way forward.

Here are a couple of ways to fix the perceived targeting of those with traditional values.

1.) Ensure that the equal opportunity and religious accommodation training slides are reviewed by a supervisor, a chaplain, a JAG attorney or a combination of the three before each class.  This class is an annual requirement for Soldiers.  Having a second set of eyes review the product should eliminate the bulk of problems where individuals are adding new and or wrong material to the official slide set.

2.) Stop using the Southern Poverty Law Center website to identify or define hate groups.  This is a left-leaning organization that has its own agenda and trust me, it is not the agenda of the Army.  The Army should not rely on any liberal or conservative organization website to conduct annual training requirements.  Let’s use our own material and definitions for the class instead of delegating the responsibility to a third party.  This idea of using outside sources has created multiple problems and continues to give the Army a black eye.

3.) Update the equal opportunity annual training slides.  Presentations are generating bad press.  Worse than that, they are giving out wrong information.  Some Soldiers are not conducting the class to standard, going off script, changing the material, and or using third party websites for the class.  Clarify what needs to be taught, how to teach the class, and require that a new and improved version must replace all older versions.

The Army is a voluntary force with a diverse population.  As a plural organization where people choose to participate, we must respect the rights of everyone in a civil manner.  No one wants to be treated like second class citizens or equated to hate mongers.  There will be differences of opinion and disagreements.  But we can all agree to the basic tenets of the Golden Rule, especially when people challenge the values we hold.

Read Full Post »

Each Fourth of July we celebrate the birth of America.  We celebrate freedom, independence, and the precious rights that guarantee the blessings of liberty.  But it is important to remember how religious freedom was the original goal of living in our land.  And by that, I mean prior to signing the Declaration of Independence.

Christianity operated in a very different environment from what we know today.  Prior to the Pilgrims leaving England, there was no separation of church and state.  There was one official church for people to attend and the King was the head of the church.  During the 1600s, British law required citizens to attend worship services.  Those who did not attend would be fined one shilling for each Sunday and holy day missed.  People who conducted unofficial church services could be fined, jailed, or executed.

As persecution and arrests grew, the Pilgrims left England for Amsterdam.  By 1617 the congregation was stable enough for another, more permanent move.  They wanted an enduring place where opportunity and religious freedom could be secured for their families.  They turned their eyes to the new America, braved a sixty-five day voyage across the Atlantic, and started Plymouth Colony.

Days after sighting land, The Mayflower Compact was established as a way to honor God, guarantee just and equal laws in the colony, and create a free form of government.  The Pilgrims decided to establish a system where every member of the colony could enjoy guaranteed rights and freedoms under majority rule.  Freedoms that they were unable to enjoy until that very moment when the ink was dry.

Their voyage and vision created the first written constitution on our continent.  It became the seed of American freedom and democracy.

We often forget the past difficulties that Christians have faced trying to worship God.  We also forget the difficulties in our present age.  We have been so blessed with liberty in our nation, that we forget the inequalities that exist elsewhere.  While we are not fined, jailed, or executed for practicing our faith in America many others suffer across the globe.  We have brothers and sisters in Christ who live with the same fears, torment, and punishments of seventeenth century Pilgrims.

Recognize the incredible gift we have as Americans and utilize your religious freedom.  Glorify our risen Savior in song.  Strengthen your faith in a worship service.  Read your Bible in public.  But also take time to pray for the persecuted Church beyond our borders.  Their current plight was ours not so long ago.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: