Ken Klukowski is Director, Center for Religious Liberty at Family Research Council. This article appeared on Breitbart.com, May 8, 2013.
The Obama-Hagel Pentagon is trying to minimize Breitbart News' blockbuster story last week of top brass meeting with anti-Christian extremist Mikey Weinstein, whom we reported calls Christians "monsters" imposing a "rapacious reign of theocratic terror" and says sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ in the military an act of "sedition and treason" that must be punished.
The Pentagon sent out an email suggesting the Apr. 23 meeting with Weinstein in the Pentagon was a one-time event, saying only, "Weinstein requested, and was granted, a meeting at the Pentagon [on] April 23, with the Air Force Judge Advocate General and others, to include the Deputy Chief of Chaplains, to express his concerns of religious issues in the military."
However, this was not a single meeting. Instead it was part of a relationship that began one month after Barack Obama was sworn in as president. And it goes much higher up the military food chain than was reported last week: Weinstein met with a four-star general who was the highest-ranking officer in the United States Air Force.
The New York Times reported on Mar. 1, 2009, in a story entitled, "Questions Raised Anew About Religion in Military," that Weinstein met with the Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. Norton Schwarz, on Feb. 24, 2009. The story noted this was the first time Weinstein and his Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) had "gotten an audience with a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff."
Weinstein had sued the Defense Department during the Bush administration as part of his anti-Christian crusade, so Pentagon top brass knew exactly who he was and what he was about when the new Obama administration met with him in 2009. This means he had been fully-vetted when the Obama-Hagel Defense Department decided to meet with him again on Apr. 23, 2013, to discuss how to stop evangelizing (that is, Christian proselytizing) within the military.
The Bush administration had fought Weinstein, saying that any instances of senior officers pressuring subordinates on religious matters were "not systematic problems, but isolated instances." And biblical Christians fully object to any coercion, since evangelism is about people embracing the Christian faith wholeheartedly and sincerely, which no person could ever force upon another. It's a matter of the heart, between every human being and their creator.
By contrast, while the Bush administration fought Weinstein, the Obama administration has embraced this anti-Christian activist.
The NYT story gives a laundry list of Weinstein and MRFF's grievances against the Defense Department during the Bush administration, including a, "ceremony that began and ended with a Christian prayer...the appearance of uniformed officers at religious events, [and] displays of crucifixes at military chapels...".
The story indicates that "Christian prayers" are prayers offered "in Jesus' name." It goes without saying that whenever anyone prays, they pray according to their own religious faith. (For example, you're not likely to find a Muslim imam offering a Jewish prayer.) It's just as common to hear a Christian mention Jesus in a prayer as it is to find a Muslim invoking the name of Mohammed.
It's also no surprise that troops might be wearing their uniforms when they attend church services. Again, the Constitution does not forbid such things, since those troops have the right to peacefully practice and express their personal faith just like any other American.
But the fact that Weinstein has become an unpaid advisor to the Obama-Hagel Pentagon is evidence of how hostile an environment parts of the Defense Department are becoming to Christian service members under this administration, and possibly devout adherents of other peaceful faiths as well.
Article I of the Constitution empowers Congress to set the rules of conduct and discipline within the military, and Congress must do so now to protect the rights of our troops to live and share their faith.