In Storm, Admiral's Faith Firmly Anchored
Most military strategies have exit strategies--but that seems to be sorely lacking in the Pentagon's latest fight over faith. For five days, the media has tried to untangle the Pentagon's statements over the new policy to court-martial troops for sharing the Gospel. On the one hand, the Defense Department says it will handle religious "proselytizing" on a "case by case" basis, and on the other, it seemed to retreat, suggesting that service members can share their faith--as long as it's not "unwanted" or "intrusive."
Neither side of the debate seems to know how to interpret this latest "clarification"--the fourth in four days. To many, yesterday's statement only confuses the real issue: which is how the military will distinguish between evangelizing and proselytizing (which have the same definition). Right now, the Pentagon is advocating a position of total ambiguity--with loopholes big enough to drive a tank through. By Mikey Weinstein's definition, even the act of talking about faith is "treason," whereas other servicemen might have a much higher tolerance for evangelism.
As our own Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin told WORLD magazine yesterday, "Coercing people to believe what we believe is not part of the Christian faith." Either way, the policy is incoherent, and the DOD's attempt to clarify it only muddled matters more. One thing we do know for certain: the Pentagon is flustered that it got caught. Some of the military's most senior officials were "contemplating policies that violate the rights of American service members," FRC's Ken Klukowski writes, "and they are literally attempting to rewrite the dictionary through a press release to offer a disingenuous explanation of why things are not as disturbing as they appear."
While the rest of the country tries to parse the Pentagon's words, one admiral is willing to put his career on the line to fight for the right of military members to share their faith. In an emotional moment at yesterday's National Day of Prayer service, Coast Guard Rear Adm. William D. Lee stood at the microphone and said that he had 10 minutes of carefully prepared remarks ready but decided to "speak from the heart" instead. He told the story of so many servicemen searching for reasons to live, and talked about one 24-year-old who had tried to commit suicide and failed. Despite the protocol, Lee said he felt strongly that he should give the soldier a Bible. "The lawyers tell me that if I do that, I'm crossing the line," he told the crowd. "I'm so glad I've crossed that line so many times." To a standing ovation, Admiral Lee promised not to back down from "my right under the Constitution to tell a young man that there is hope."
If you want to know what courage is, this is it. It's not a basketball player fielding flattering calls from the President and admiring tweets from Hollywood. It's standing in the fire and fighting for truth when 30 years of service hang in the balance. For now, Admiral Lee asks people to please "pray that we will be able to weather the storm that I am almost certain will come." And in many cases, is already here.
Lee will have plenty of company in the foxhole, as Congressmen Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) both vowed to stop the stranglehold on faith. For Collins, the policy is personal. An Air Force Reservist and Chaplain, he was appalled that the military "of the freest nation in the world has labeled people of faith as religious extremists and continues this hostile attitude even after offering a half-hearted, public apology... Our country's religious liberties are founding principles to its unique history, and after over two centuries of safeguarding and protecting these inalienable rights, I refuse to let it fall through on my watch."
Neither, it seems, will our friends at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) who announced Thursday that they were going on the offensive, filing a Freedom of Information Act request for any records that might shed light on the "assurances" our top brass gave Mikey Weinstein. Until then, it seems these Pentagon pushovers would apparently court-martial the likes of George Washington, who admonished his men, "While we are zealously performing the duties of good Citizens and soldiers we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of Religion. To the distinguished Character of Patriot, it should be our highest Glory to add the more distinguished Character of Christian."
T-Minus 48 Hours and Counting...
Sixty minutes isn't much, but it may be all it takes save the soul of Scouting! Join FRC, Gov. Rick Perry, Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.), John Stemberger, and others for a special nationwide simulcast, "Stand With Scouts Sunday," this weekend at 7:00 p.m. (EDT). Learn what you can do to preserve Scouting, as we explain the issues the BSA will face if they allow open homosexuality within scouting. We'll also point you to specific action plans and resources from FRC. Learn more by visiting StandWithScoutsSunday.org, and share the information with your friends!
Masking Tape: Abortion Groups Try to Hide from Video
When Florida lawmakers introduced their bill to protect tiny abortion survivors, most people probably wondered why it was necessary. What doctor, they wondered, would possibly leave a newborn baby to die? Turns out, quite a few. Lila Rose's Live Action caught several on tape in an undercover sting that's opening America's eyes about the prevalence of "post-birth abortions." A New York clinic gave this advice to Live Action's pregnant investigator on what to do if the baby is born at home by accident: "Flush it." Now, an Arizona abortion doctor and counselor have poured gasoline on the fire by promising Live Action's actor that they would "induce... death."
Asked if she should go to the hospital if she went into labor, the doctor said, "No, call us first." "If you showed up in an average emergency room with a... physician who's not a gynecologist, probably has never seen or done a termination, they will treat you as though you are somebody with a desired pregnancy. They would intervene and do all kinds of crazy things that you don't need to have done to you." "Crazy things" like save a baby's life? I suppose we shouldn't be shocked. After all, Americans elected a President with the exact same view. Now, after Kermit Gosnell's gruesome trial, the country is starting to understand what his ideology means. And while it's too late to change their vote, let's hope more Americans change their minds on this thing called "choice."
Into the Arms of Jesus
This evening, I'll be at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego for a memorial service for Carol Garlow, the wife of my friend and fellow Watchman on the Wall, Dr. Jim Garlow. Our family has been praying almost daily for Carol as she waged a courageous and inspiring battle against cancer for several years. During these times she selflessly encouraged Jim to continue in his courageous and inspiring battle for the heart and soul of our nation. Carol was an intercessor and a peacemaker. She was truly a helpmate and partner to her husband of 42 years. Please join me in praying for Jim and his family as they mourn the loss of a wife, friend, and mother. May their sorrow be swallowed in the joy of knowing that Carol is now healed and at home with Jesus.
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.