Ken Klukowski is Director, Center for Religious Liberty at Family Research Council. This article appeared on Breitbart.com, October 24, 2013.
For months, the Obama-Hagel Pentagon has promised that reports of military trainers teaching troops that traditional Christian groups are extremists akin to terrorists were isolated incidents by rogue instructors. Now an official Army document contains evidence to the contrary.
Fox News's Todd Starnes reported Wednesday on a Ft. Hood briefing where reportedly soldiers were told that evangelical Christians and Tea Party supporters are a threat to the United States and are "tearing the nation apart." Soldiers were reportedly told that they could be charged with committing a military crime if they supported or donated to such organizations.
Ft. Hood denies these allegations, but a separate source claiming to have been present during the briefing asserts the original account is true.
Ironically, in the place where an Islamic radical - Maj. Nidal Hassan - committed an act of terrorism that murdered fourteen Americans, including the unborn child of one of the female victims - a presentation on terrorism singled out Bible-believing Christians and supporters of the Constitution as serious threats to this nation. Islamic terrorism was barely mentioned.
This is just the latest outrage in a long train of disgraces. Just days ago, soldiers at Camp Shelby in Mississippi were instructed that the Christian conservative American Family Association is a domestic hate group. A month earlier, a security presentation portrayed the Founding Fathers as extremists. Before that, Breitbart News reported on a Christian chaplain who was officially censored by military commanders for talking about the importance of religious faith. And several months before that, Lt. Col. Jack Rich at Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, instructed soldiers that traditional Christian beliefs are incompatible with "Army values."
All this started in April, when Breitbart News broke the story of top Pentagon brass meeting with an anti-Christian activist calling for court-martialing observant Christians who share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others in the military. This activist calls them "fundamentalist monsters" who are "enemies of the Constitution" and should be punished for "sedition and treason."
All along, the nation was told these were a series of isolated incidents, not authorized by military leadership. Now military documents suggest otherwise. Judicial Watch used a FOIA request (Freedom of Information Act) to obtain a document from the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI), which is part of the Department of Defense (DOD). In this 133-page training document, entitled "Extremism," on pages 32-33, under "Lesson Emphasis," it claims to:
provide[s] information that describes sources of extremism information, definitions, recruitment of DoD personnel, common themes in extremist ideologies, common characteristics of extremist organizations, DoD policies, and command functions regarding extremist activities.
On the same page, it cites the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as an approved source for information - and its affiliate Teaching Tolerance. It was SPLC that labeled the American Family Association a "domestic hate group," along with the Family Research Council (FRC, where I do religious liberty work as a senior fellow), the Traditional Values Coalition, and various Tea Party organizations and conservative border-security/immigration groups. In short, SPLC labels as hate groups organizations that promote a traditional Christian view of marriage and other social issues, believe in border enforcement, or promote constitutional limited government.
Ironically, SPLC is the only group in this news report linked to terrorism, as convicted domestic terrorist Floyd Lee Corkins told the FBI in a videotaped and signed confession that he chose his targets for an attempted mass-shooting at FRC from SPLC's hate group list, including a map of how to get to FRC's office. He then had the names and locations of other traditional groups he was going to target after murdering whoever he could in FRC's building.
This DEOMI document goes on several pages later to say that service members cannot participate in such organizations, raise funds for them, encourage others to support them, or attend public rallies organized by them. It then adds, "Furthering the objectives of extremist organizations is viewed as detrimental to the good order, discipline, or mission accomplishment of the unit and is, therefore, subject to appropriate disciplinary action." It tasks service members with "assist[ing] unit commanders in being vigilant about the existence of such activities."
Is this DEOMI training material the fountainhead of this growing anti-Christian discrimination? And if so, who wrote it, and who authorized it? Or is this training document just the result of something else, coming from higher up the food chain in the Pentagon?
Michael Berry is a lawyer at Liberty Institute, which is investigating this matter. He tells Breitbart News:
The Army's responses that these are isolated incidents raise more questions than answers. The incidents comprising this disturbing trend all seem to have one thing in common in that they use similar terminology. And that language appears to come from a document produced by DEOMI. It may not be a smoking gun, but it might be a bunch of shell casings.
Berry tells us that he has been contacted by someone who works at DEOMI and is gravely concerned about this developing situation.
Congress is empowered by Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution with establishing the training and discipline of the military. Congress needs to get to the bottom of this - quickly.