Chaplain leads an Easter service in Afghanistan (Image credit: U.S. Navy Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class David M. Votroubek)
Apparently a Christian chaplain isn’t allowed to write an article about the famous proverb, “There are no atheists in foxholes,” as it is to be considered a “bigoted, religious supremacist phrase,” according to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF).
Individuals in the MRFF were apparently so incensed that they were not satisfied with the removal of Lt. Col. Kenneth Reyes’s column from the “Chaplain’s Corner” page on the U.S. Air Force’s website for Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska.
Col. Brian Duffy, the base commander, told Fox News that they removed the column “out of respect for those who considered its title offensive.”
The Title of Reyes’s piece was, “No Atheists in Foxholes: Chaplains Gave all in World War II.”
“The 673d Air Base Wing does not advocate any particular religion or belief set over another and upon learning of the complaints from some readers, the article was promptly removed,” Duffy said.
“We regret any undue attention this article may have brought to any particular group or individuals,” he added.
This is not nearly enough for the MRFF.
“Faith based hate, is hate all the same,” they said, adding, “Lt. Col. Reyes must be appropriately reprimanded.”
The group has accused Reyes of violating military regulations and that by his “use of the bigoted, religious supremacist phrase, ‘no atheists in foxholes,’ he defiles the dignity of service members.”
Ken Klukowski, a senior fellow for religious liberty at the Family Research Council and a faculty member at Liberty University School of Law, noted, “My legal research on this issue uncovered no regulation prohibiting Reyes’ speech, which looks like expression protected by the free speech and religious freedom provisions of the First Amendment.”
He also pointed out that military leaders did not respond to attempts to identify such Air Force rules by Fox News.
What kind of punishment MRFF wants is not quite clear, and Ron Crews, executive director of Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, said that Reyes was well within his duties to write his article.
“Chaplains have religious liberty as well to speak to issues,” Crews said. “Mr. Weinstein appears to want to silence any speech of faith in the military. It is a sad day for the Air Force and for our country when officers obey every command from Weinstein to silence even chaplains from talking about their faith.”
Gen. Jerry Boykin (Ret.) told Fox News that the Air Force’s action represents “discrimination against Christians” and that the “climate of intimidation within the Air Force has worsened to such an extend that even chaplains now fear carrying out the most basic duties of their job.”
“In this case, a chaplain has been censored for expressing his beliefs about the role of faith in the lives of service members,” Boykin said.
“There has to be a recognition that this is discrimination against Christians,” Boykin continued. “Chaplains are placed there for a purpose. Why do we have chaplains if they aren’t allowed to fulfill that purpose? When anti-Christian activists like Mikey Weinstein are dictating the rules for what chaplains are allowed to do, then why we must ask the question why we have chaplains?”
Reyes’s column just went through the history of the “no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole” proverb, it can hardly be considered “faith based hate.”
Perhaps Weinstein and his MRFF would like to go after President Dwight Eisenhower’s use of such a “bigoted, religious supremacist phrase” as well?
After all, Eisenhower said in a 1954 speech, “I am delighted that our veterans are sponsoring a movement to increase our awareness of God in our daily lives. In battle, they learned a great truth, that there are no atheists in the foxholes.”
Some have become concerned by the attacks on expressions of Christian faith in the military, leading to a proposed new section in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014. That section, titled, “Expansion and Implementation of Protection of Rights of Conscience of Members of the Armed Forces and Chaplains of Such Members” has already received a veto threat from the Obama administration.
Such an amendment would protect Christian expressions of faith, something which Weinstein vehemently opposes.
Indeed, Weinstein has said that for a Christian to share the gospel of Jesus Christ in the military is to commit an act of “spiritual rape.”
Weinstein has been a vocal opponent of allowing chaplains to share the gospel, ignoring the fact that Christians are commanded to evangelize.
While proselytizing in the military was banned earlier this year, the Pentagon stated that service members are allowed to “share their faith (evangelize).” One must assume this didn’t make Weinstein all too happy.
Keep in mind, this is coming from someone who has met with people at the Pentagon to discuss the issue, as if he could present any kind of rational, balanced position on the subject.
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