Posts Tagged ‘family values’


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.

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