Rhetoric heats up in debate over proselytizing in the military

Return To Article

Commenting has temporarily been suspended in preparation for our new website launch, which is planned for the week of August 12th. When the new site goes live, we will also launch our new commenting platform. Thank you for your patience while we make these changes.

  • There You Go Again Saint George, UT
    May 5, 2013 5:26 p.m.

    Waited to weigh in on this topic until the dust somewhat settled...

    Battling Blogers...

    To gin up the conservatives

    "...blogger Todd Starnes wrote...".

    To gin up the liberals

    "...a Huffington Post blog..."

    Then we hear from

    "...Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council...".

    Tony was the one who said it would be very difficult for him to vote for a Mormon candidate...

    Now we learn that...

    "...a Heritage Foundation audience...", has joined the debate...

    Not to be outdone, we hear from...

    "... a candidate for the chaplaincy, who wrote under a pseudonym in American Thinker for fear of hurting his chances to become a military chaplain...".

    Slippery Slope?

    What would todd starnes, tony perkins, the heritage foundation, and our pseudonymic Chaplain Candidate say if it was a Westboro Baptist Church trained/influenced Chaplain who was pushing his evangelical agenda onto our troops?

  • Contrarius Lebanon, TN
    May 5, 2013 8:11 a.m.

    @FT --

    "serious doubts that anybody is forcing religion on anybody..."

    The military has strict regulations against fraternization between the ranks. It isn't because anybody is especially afraid of outright rape -- physical force. No, it's because higher ranking soldiers may have an undue influence on lower ranks -- be able to coerce WITHOUT physical force.

    That's the same problem we see with proselytizing/evangelization.

    When higher ranking officers proselytize to lower ranks, they are in a position of power over them. They don't have to use physical force to have an undue influence.

    In 2010, an Air Force Academy survey of over 2000 cadets found that **41** percent of cadets identifying as non-Christian (that means other religions as well as well as agnostics and atheists), and **19** percent of ALL cadets, were subjected to unwanted proselytizing at least once or twice in the previous year.

    " more than half of there shipmates are athiest"

    The Federal Reference Bureau issued a report finding that 21% of service members identified as Atheists or having no religion, 35% identified as Protestants, 22% as Catholic/Orthodox, and 11% as "other" Christian. Under .5% identified as Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu.

  • FT1/SS Virginia Beach, VA
    May 4, 2013 3:27 p.m.

    I have serious doubts that anybody is forcing religion on anybody in the military. It's obvious reading comments here that most of the poster's don't have a clue what goes on in the military. What's obvious, is we have liberal's and progressives forcing there own agenda of seperating Christians from the military. During my career in the Navy of about 8 commands, never was religion forced on anybody. Just casual talk among shipmates towards religion, during a boring watch or duty day. I've heard from Christian's on active duty that more than half of there shipmates are athiest, and lack moral values. That would be the direction the country is heading. One young Christian was uncomfortable to serve. There are times when I don't think I could serve in today's Navy, and perhaps the country is not worth serving for. Sometimes I feel that way. But, when I gaze at my ward members I feel more positive about serving.

  • JohnJacobJingleHeimerSchmidt Beverly Hills, CA
    May 4, 2013 7:33 a.m.

    No one has ever come across a "Radicalized Christian" in the military? Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols carried the OK City bombing.

    This blogger cites no specific examples of anyone, ZERO examples of someone facing discharge for "Being Christian".

    Military personnel are free to proselytize, just don't do it as a chaplain on military tax payer time. Would anyone want a Hindu, LDS, Muslim, Bhuddist, Lutheran, agenda pushed on them in the military. Would you want your son or daughter to be harassed by a person in power due to religion?

    Would any of my fellow LDS want their son or daughter to have a taxpayer funded military chaplain who is ________ Christian denomination to tell them they are sinners, cult members, false doctrine believers, Joseph Smith was a fraud? This policy is intended to stop that kind of behavior and other harassment.

  • JohnJacobJingleHeimerSchmidt Beverly Hills, CA
    May 3, 2013 11:23 a.m.

    If any of you bothered to come out of your media bubble you would find that Michael Weinstein actually stopped an atheist from displaying anti-Christian bumper sticker. Freedom of religion also means from from religion. The UCMJ spells it out clearly. This story is based on a blog that was parroted by a TV show host with zero cases. This also keep chaplains of others faiths not Christian from doing the same harassment.

  • amazondoc USA, TN
    May 3, 2013 9:28 a.m.

    @KJB --

    "I have never come across "radicalized" evangelical Christian"

    Here's just four small examples. I don't have time to look up more this morning -- but there are many more of these examples out there if you'll just open your eyes.

    1. The Officer's Christian Fellowship wants to bring Christianity to the entire armed forces and has a stated mission of "reclaiming territory for Christ in the military."

    2. As commandant at the Air Force Academy, Major General Johnny Weida made its National Day of Prayer services exclusively Christian. One *mandatory* assembly featured three evangelicals who proclaimed that the only cure for terrorism was to "kill Islam".

    3. Lieutenant General Robert Van Antwerp, the Army chief of engineers, declared that the baptisms of 700 soldiers under his command to be evidence of "the Lord's plan" to "raise up a godly army."

    4. During at least one military action in the mideast, soldiers painted "Jesus Killed Mohammed" on their vehicles in Arabic before they went into action.

    The fact that you have never *noticed* such things in your military career may possibly reflect more on your own religious background than on anything else.

  • KJB Louisville, KY
    May 3, 2013 8:36 a.m.

    Re: Bill McGee

    In 20 years, I have met and worked with Soldiers and Officers at almost all levels of the U.S. Military and I have never come across "radicalized" evangelical Christian. I don't believe they exist as you describe. Further, I can't imagine how any American could compare our own servicemen to the Taliban.

    Rather, I believe are a few influential atheist voices outside of the military who have created a phantom menace within - delivered thru national media - in order to further their own political aims. I can see from the many comments on this article that they are making some headway in this ancient battle of ideas. They, if anyone, are the ones who need to be stopped!

  • Bill McGee Alpine, UT
    May 3, 2013 7:49 a.m.

    I understand those who see this as an infringement on our rights, and that this is just another example of overt secularism overtaking the government. But the truth is different. This started in the Air Force for a reason. The environment in Colorado Springs, home of the Air Force Academy, had become highly toxic due to the level of influence and power controlled by members of an extreme fringe of evangelical Christians. The last thing we need are radicalized young recruits with the sense that their law is the Bible, and not the Constitution, and that their mission is to accelerate the start of the apocalyptic end times to usher in Christ's return, and not to preserve the liberty and freedom of Americans. The potential to create a Taliban-like radicalized movement among extremist Christian soldiers and officers was all too real. This radical wing of Christianity had wound its way through all levels of the US military, and it had to stop.

  • JohnJacobJingleHeimerSchmidt Beverly Hills, CA
    May 3, 2013 12:01 a.m.

    I have just read several sources on this matter. It appears that the story lacks facts because it os a puffed up much ado about nothing. The UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) clearly states what is and is not allowed. This has been the case BEFORE President Obama. These policies PROTECT Christians as well as other faiths from harassment. Translation for my fellow LDS, THIS POLICY ALSO PROTECTS LDS FROM BEING HARASSED by other CHristian denominations that would harass them.

    Watch Fox news all you like but my goodness, check other news sources. There are actually some that are non partisan and full of facts non demagoguery. Watch Fox News and be stuck in the conservative echo chamber that had people believing Mitt was going to win in a landslide.

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    May 2, 2013 8:06 p.m.

    @ Hutterite: You have such strong feelings. Have you ever served in the armed services?

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    May 2, 2013 6:52 p.m.

    Stop wishing for bad luck and stop knocking on wood.

  • killpack Sandy, UT
    May 2, 2013 6:25 p.m.

    I served in the military, but I am so ashamed of what our military has become of late. I used to recommend to just about anyone I liked that he or she join the military. Now I strongly discourage it. I wouldn't want my friends and family to become victims of the totally and completely inefficient, politically correct, mediocre-favoring, debacle that has become our military in so short of a time. Blame the civilian leadership. That's all I can say.

  • djc Stansbury Park, Ut
    May 2, 2013 4:55 p.m.

    The issue seemed to come up at the Air Force Academy where some inappropriate Proselytizing was going on. It was coming from commissioned officers and being directed at the cadets. I'm sure there have been other cases, but this was the most egregious. I don't believe anyone in DoD or the administration is trying to stop soldiers from discussing their personal beliefs in a casual situation. They are trying to prevent commanders from ordering their troops to attend a certain service. As has been stated here multiple times, the majority of all chaplains are good people and follow the rules to the letter. I don't think the problem has ever been chaplains. But when you have a community that includes here type of belief in the world, care must be taken to respect each person's belief structure. That is some times hard for evangelical Christians to do. They sincerely believe that they attend the one true church and that all others are not true. It is hard to respect others when you believe you are better then them. BTW I never in 20 years had a chaplain try to convert me.

  • JWB Kaysville, UT
    May 2, 2013 4:47 p.m.

    What our government wants through the processes of the Congress, President and of course the Courts of law from the District, Appeals, to the Supreme Court is the gospel of anti-Christ in the land. We just need to have Korihor come back and see if he finds the same results as before.

    Truth is truth and only the facts change. Integrity as defined by our founding fathers in the Constitution of the United States of America through that process of honor, even with some disagreements, concluded with a document that has withstood 200 years. That is about long enough for those figuring out how to get rid of religion that brought law and order in the military and our country. However, we haven't had peace and tranquility for 200 years. Some want blood and horror everyday of their life until the rest of us are as happy as they are.

    The chaplaincy has it's problems in the military but that is important for men and women putting their life on the line at the behest of the Commander-in-Chief.

    It is hard to see that power of the CIC used the way it was in Benghazi, 9/11.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    May 2, 2013 4:19 p.m.

    Religion is way to insidious in the military. And that's dangerous because religion excuses and enables behaviour that would otherwise be unacceptable. Time to build a wall, physically if necessary, between church and state.

  • KJB Louisville, KY
    May 2, 2013 3:41 p.m.

    Re: Elaine Douglass:

    In my 20 years of active duty, I have never encountered this "oppressive Christian fundamentalism" that you are referring to. I have observed officer careers succeed or fail on each individual's accomplishments and merits, never on their religion. So far, the military has always been accommodating to my religious beliefs

  • amazondoc USA, TN
    May 2, 2013 3:10 p.m.

    @Ultrabob --

    "“Service members can share their faith (evangelize), but must not force unwanted, intrusive attempts to convert others of any faith or no faith to one's beliefs (proselytization).

    The line between evangelize and proselytize is very hard for me to see, and evangelizing is exactly what should not be done in the military."

    Personally, I have no trouble with evangelism between soldiers of the same rank. Where I get very uneasy is with higher ranking soldiers who evangelize and/or proselytize to those below them in rank.

    We don't allow fraternization between ranks, precisely because of concerns about undue influence and coercion from higher rank to lower. Why would we treat evangelism any differently? The concerns are the same.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 2, 2013 2:10 p.m.

    Chris Degn.

    I have trouble with the DoD statement:
    “Service members can share their faith (evangelize), but must not force unwanted, intrusive attempts to convert others of any faith or no faith to one's beliefs (proselytization).

    The line between evangelize and proselytize is very hard for me to see, and evangelizing is exactly what should not be done in the military.

  • Elaine Douglass Grand, UT
    May 2, 2013 1:50 p.m.

    Some of the comments are focusing on the chaplains, but from what I read it isn't the chaplains who are doing the proselytizing. It's the officers.

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    May 2, 2013 1:13 p.m.

    Thanks for this great and informative article. When I was in the army it was not unusual for us to talk about our different religious views along with political views, sports opinions, food, ecology, science and a lot of other things. If the topic was religion, I never found that my evangelical friends were pushy or in-my-face. It wasn't uncommon for people to ask me about my Mormon beliefs. We had a lot of good, friendly discussions. One of my friends even joined the LDS church. Under the new rules, would this kind of religious discussion be against the rules? I'm very concerned that healthy, friendly conversation will now be monitored by a government watchdog.

  • Strider303 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 2, 2013 12:54 p.m.

    My experience with both Protestant and Catholic chaplains in the USAF has revealed them to be kind, decent honorable men and women who spend a lot of time counseling newly inducted service men and women how to deal with, for many, their first exposure to a regimented, class structured society. I can see that evangelizing service members is one thing but preaching sermons from the Bible and or other church doctrine, to members of their own congregations should not be restricted. I think I read where congress shall make no law regarding freedom of speech and religion. The proud and profane do not like it when they are held up to ridicule and called to repent - it musses up their long hair and pricks their dormant consciences.

  • phillyfanatic LONG BEACH, CA
    May 2, 2013 12:47 p.m.

    We are now here at the point of no return for our 1st Amend. rights. Now, I am a chaplain, not in the military but if I were: the point would be for me to aid a warrior in his spiritual needs and as a Christian, I would share the freedom and love and salvation of Jesus. Now it appears that DOD, Hagel????, Obama now want to stop all sharing . What then is the purpose of a chaplain? Well, it seems as if these liberal progressive fanatics want to stop all discussion of our Judeo-Christian ethos that has been a foundation of our heritage, history and values. This is simply tyranny. People of faith should overwhelm Congressional reps, the WH, DOD with petitions and letters of complaint. Then groups should go to court, SCOTUS if necessary, to challenge this un-American DOD tyranny.

  • Salt Murray, UT
    May 2, 2013 12:44 p.m.

    I am LDS and am active duty military. The men and women I have served with for nearly 20 years have been the most honest in heart people I know. My evangelical friends are among the most faithful protectors of our Constitution, and the "nonbelievers" I know also have strong American values. I'm not afraid of policies that attempt to limit religious conversations-I am confident they will continue to take place because friends talk about things that are important to them. The fear I have is recruiting - if Christians stop joining the military in large numbers I believe there will be troubles.

  • morpunkt Glendora, CA
    May 2, 2013 12:21 p.m.

    After having witnessed first hand the stridently anti-Mormon chaplains in the military, while in Germany, during the 70s, I too, have a hard time feeling sorry for those people who were partially supported by my tax money.

  • Tekakaromatagi Dammam, Saudi Arabia
    May 2, 2013 12:14 p.m.

    @Tim Behrend:
    "A bit of a lopsided article here, not just in quoting detractors of Michael Weinstein, but in failing to quote Weinstein himself."

    Click on the link to his blog provided in the article and you'll see he is calling Christians monsters. Those are his words. He's a bigoy and the US military should not be validating him by talking to him.

    "A significant reason that this has come to the point where it is at is simply because those charged to be the keepers of the religious values failed to do so." I haven't seen very many people who tell others to be tolerant of diversity, actually being tolerant of diversity themselves. I believe that we can benefit from being exposed to different cultures, but I am trying to think of a new term for it because the term 'diversity' has been perverted so much by political dogmatists.

  • Chris Degn Salt Lake City, UT
    May 2, 2013 12:12 p.m.

    DoD official statement (cont from prev post)...

    The Department of Defense places a high value on the rights of members of the Military Services to observe the tenets of their respective religions and respects (and supports by its policy) the rights of others to their own religious beliefs, including the right to hold no beliefs. The Department does not endorse any one religion or religious organization, and provides
    free access of religion for all members of the military services.

    We work to ensure that all service members are free to exercise their Constitutional right to practice their religion -- in a manner that is respectful of other individuals' rights to follow their own belief systems; and in ways that are conducive to good order and discipline; and that do not detract from accomplishing the military mission."

  • Eliyahu Pleasant Grove, UT
    May 2, 2013 12:11 p.m.

    The real problem isn't that chaplains are muzzled. The problem is that they often have a captive audience who don't have a different church or chaplain to see for guidance. Would the people here who are so upset feel the same about Muslim chaplains (and we do have them in our military)eagerly seeking out converts and pressuring soldiers to convert? How about if a Catholic chaplain decides to push the Baptist, Methodist and Mormon soldiers in his units to convert? A young Private or PFC may not feel comfortable saying no to a Major or Lt. Colonel who wants him to share his beliefs. Traditionally, military chaplains have not actively sought converts. Rather, they minister to the needs of every soldier. It's not a level playing field like we have in civilian life.

  • Chris Degn Salt Lake City, UT
    May 2, 2013 12:10 p.m.

    This statement released today is the DoD official response...

    "The U.S. Department of Defense has never and will never single out a particular religious group for persecution or prosecution. The Department makes reasonable accommodations for all religions and celebrates the religious diversity of our service members. Service members can share their faith (evangelize), but must not force unwanted, intrusive attempts to convert others of any faith or no faith to one's beliefs (proselytization).

    If a service member harasses another member on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, or disability, then the commander takes action based on the gravity of the occurrence. Likewise, when religious harassment complaints are reported, commanders take action based on the gravity of the occurrence on a case by case basis." - see next post for rest of DoD comments.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 2, 2013 12:10 p.m.

    @lost in DC
    That absolutely is what it means. That's why we ban school-led prayer but individual prayers are still allowed as long as they aren't disrupting class of course (how else would students get their last minute studying in before an exam without that silent prayer?).

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    May 2, 2013 12:06 p.m.

    If you get proselytized in the military, just ignore the proselytizer.....unless he happens to be your CO.

  • lost in DC West Jordan, UT
    May 2, 2013 11:56 a.m.

    no, that is NOT what it means. what a ridiculous stretch. and nowhere is that term ensconced in the constitution or our law. It is just a hateful catchphrase coined by bigots.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 2, 2013 11:34 a.m.

    "as long as it doesn't impede on the rights of others"

    That's exactly what freedom from religion means.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 2, 2013 11:30 a.m.

    From the Air Force Chief of Staff letter...
    "Leaders at all levels must balance Constitutional protections for an individual’s free exercise of religion or other personal beliefs and its prohibition against governmental establishment of religion. For example, they must avoid the actual or apparent use of their position to promote their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates or to extend preferential treatment for any religion. Commanders or supervisors who engage in such behavior may cause members to doubt their impartiality and objectivity. The potential result is a degradation of the unit’s morale, good order, and discipline."

    So... those of you arguing against this... you want commanders to be able to be biased when it comes to religion promotion?

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    May 2, 2013 11:22 a.m.

    Fascinating how the fervent religious folks often see issues like this in some grand eternal sense (the cosmic battle of good vs. evil!) while others simply see this as a matter of constitutional law and common sense.

    The “purge of religion within the ranks” line is hilarious and indicative of the sort of hyperbole used by the Religious Right. The assertion that a military should not be allowed to proselytize to the troops is just common sense. And anyone in the situation would know the difference between a casual or comforting comment and the “hard sell” of a proselytizer.

    And the fact that Chaplains are officers engaging a mostly enlisted audience complicates this even further. Can a Sergeant tell a proselytizing Chaplain to “buzz off” without risking a charge of insubordination?

    As far as the Constitution goes, we have already conceded a great deal on this issue to religion. No less than James Madison (the father of said document) thought that paid Chaplains in the military was a violation of the Constitution.

  • Chris Degn Salt Lake City, UT
    May 2, 2013 10:39 a.m.

    I opened my very first public prayer as a chaplain with, "Almighty God..." & closed with "...in Your holy name we pray, amen." An officer's wife came up to me & thanked me saying, "That is the first time a chaplain has ever included me (a Jew) in their prayer." While downrange a couple years later, her Catholic husband & I lit Hannukah candles in her honor everynight for her. I once encouraged one of my Soldiers, a Wiccan, in his bid to reclassify from Mechanic to Chaplain Assistant because of his passion to support religious freedom. I got licensed as a mental health counselor so that when I counsel, I come first from the perspective of a friend, a Soldier, a clinician - only if they request that I put on my pastor's hat do I become pastoral with them in my counseling. When I can't perform what's needed spiritually, clinically, socially for someone, I refer them to someone who can. Religious pluralism, ecumenism, collegiality, and freedom are alive and well in the US Armed Services - if you look for it and encourage it. It's all in your attitude.

  • Chris Degn Salt Lake City, UT
    May 2, 2013 10:38 a.m.

    I am an LDS Army Chaplain from SLC, UT who has served on active duty in the US Army for 12 years now. I have never experienced any serious opposition in my service. I fully recognize my responsibilities & limitations in my duty to "provide or perform" Title 10 worship opportunities & to "advise the Command & Staff on matters of religious support, morale, & ethics". The most important lesson I learned about proselytizing came in the Chaplain Officer Basic Course from my instructor, who said to me in an exit interview, "Remember this and you'll do well...you are not here to make more Mormons. You are here to make Baptists better Baptists, Catholics better Catholics, Jews better Jews, Muslims betters Muslims, and so on." It has served me well.

  • amazondoc USA, TN
    May 2, 2013 10:33 a.m.

    @raybies --

    "IMO, one cannot be free to believe if one cannot discuss those beliefs."

    And how are you going to feel about Mormon PFC Joe Smith being badgered by a Muslim chaplain? Or PFC Joe being forced to attend a Catholic Mass?

    Two thirds of all military chaplains are evangelical. Would it be fair for one of them to follow a Jewish soldier around camp?

    "openly and freely discuss our consciences"

    Members of the military are NOT free. That's the point. They can NOT freely disagree with, or ignore orders from, their superior officers. That includes both military chaplains and "regular" officers who have strong religious beliefs. The grunts are captive audiences.

    I'm all for soldiers discussing religion as much as they want -- amongst themselves. But when you put government-paid chaplains in positions of authority over soldiers -- and, by virtue of rank, they ARE in positions of authority -- then those chaplains have power over those soldiers. And that can very easily lead to religious coercion.

    And yes, coercion does happen all the time. There are many examples of religious coercion in the military. Unfortunately, we only get 200 words per post!

  • xscribe Colorado Springs, CO
    May 2, 2013 10:08 a.m.

    rabies: No one is stopped from proslytizing out in the streets. Mormon missionaries aren't stopped from going door to door, where people can then choose if they want to hear their words or not. What this is about is being forced listening to a certain belief system.

    With that said, I agree that there should be a forum where people can discuss their beliefs, and disbeliefs, all in a civil manner. But the DN won't even allow civil discussion and is bent toward the right, and does not allow one to retort. Example: One poster was allowed to call President Obama a socialist, Muslim foreigner, which is lie to everyone except a few holdouts. However, they denied a post that said Romney was a polygamist and a couple references to his wealth, which is also a lie.

    I guess my point is: It goes both ways; the religious are silenced and so are those with differing opinions!

  • The Scientist Provo, UT
    May 2, 2013 10:08 a.m.

    For those of you concerned about your "religious freedom", Ever consider rules and laws that forbid soliciting? There are times and places for soliciting. At work, at school, and in military service are not places or times for soliciting. We don't allow any old salesman to come into a military unit and sell their stuff, so why should we give privileged access to religions to sell their stories to the captive audience of military service persons?

    The more radical religious folks push for their "religious freedom", the more common sense folks will push for "freedom FROM religion".

  • raybies Layton, UT
    May 2, 2013 9:36 a.m.

    It's a sad day when proselyting is viewed as hate speech. IMO, one cannot be free to believe if one cannot discuss those beliefs. It really isn't that hard to allow for open discussions of any who want to discuss their beliefs, all it takes is an understanding we can respect each other despite our differences.

    We will never have peace on earth if we can't come to a point where we can openly and freely discuss our consciences without resorting to banning groups or individuals.

  • xscribe Colorado Springs, CO
    May 2, 2013 9:35 a.m.

    And I'm tired of the phrase, This country was founded on Christian principles. "Manifest destiny" is not a Christian principle, but that's exactly how this country came to be!

  • xscribe Colorado Springs, CO
    May 2, 2013 9:34 a.m.

    JWB: This nation didn't start out using the term "In God We Trust." How about looking up when that came to fruition.

  • John S. Harvey Sandy, UT
    May 2, 2013 9:29 a.m.

    Good grief, why are there tax supported military chaplains at all!? Surely anyone who can read the Constitution realizes that the practice of the government paying for chaplains is unconstitutional on its face.

    Let people be free to worship or not worship as they will, let their congregations pay for and provide the opportunity to worship. Keep the tax payers out of the process.

    Anyone who works in government knows they are not allowed to preach to their co-workers, it is simply part of the first day orientation.

  • Tators Hyrum, UT
    May 2, 2013 9:28 a.m.

    JohnJacobJingle... falls victim to the fallacy that many other people often misunderstand. He states that the Constitution guarantees "freedom from religion". Absolutely false. It actually guarantees freedom from government sponsored religion. There's a big difference. That difference is one of the most commonly misunderstood tenets of the Constitution. That misunderstanding can actually impede the religious freedoms that our country's founders tried so carefully to protect when writing the Constitution.

    When understood and applied correctly, we are actually given more freedom of religion... to worship as we see fit, as long as it doesn't impede on the rights of others. Very few religions advocate teachings that do.

  • amazondoc USA, TN
    May 2, 2013 9:13 a.m.

    @UltraBob --

    "I accept the need for spiritual help to be available for individuals in the military but not the use of taxpayer money to support the promotion of religion.....Government should not be used to promote a religion or even religion in general."

    IMHO this is a very important point.

    Military chaplains are paid BY THE GOVERNMENT. They are not some independently-operating, noble volunteers. Therefore, any proselytizing they do is being done under the aegis of governmental authority and approval.

    And THAT means that their proselytizing can and should be strictly limited.

    If a regular soldier wants to try proselytizing his fellow soldiers, have at it -- and see how far he gets before the guy next to him tells him to buzz off.

    When military chaplains try the same thing, they do so from positions of authority -- and that is neither fair, nor in accordance with the right to freedom of religion for that "captive" soldier. Thanks to rank and the chain of command, the soldier literally CAN'T tell his chaplain to buzz off. And that, my dear DN friends, is government-sponsored religious oppression.

  • JWB Kaysville, UT
    May 2, 2013 8:55 a.m.

    This type of process happens periodically within the military ranks. However, in the past 5 years it has been very tenuous for all involved in the nation that uses "In God We Trust." The term God has been undermined by people that don't know the definition of "is". Politically correct doesn't mean it is God correct. This animosity that has happened in the past 5 years is coming from the minions of the President's side that propose that our country was not founded on correct principles of law and order. He stirs up hatred against our country when he goes around the world not only throwing out what our country has done for the right and good of the world. He throws money around as if it is going out of style for vacations that would make even a rich person into problems. He has money to spare for separate vacations and all the Secret Service agents to cover it with all the planning from the military and state department.

    As a chaplain's assistant for awhile, we need chaplains of the various faiths to help our men and women in their great tasks, living and dying for us.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 2, 2013 8:44 a.m.

    As one who believes that freedom of religion also means freedom from religion, I object to the proselytizing activities of religious groups imposed on a captive audience such as the military.

    I accept the need for spiritual help to be available for individuals in the military but not the use of taxpayer money to support the promotion of religion.

    There are other needs and wants that soldiers and sailors might need and want, but the salesmen of those private organizations are not given uniforms and military pay to promote their product.

    Government should not be used to promote a religion or even religion in general.

  • SlopJ30 St Louis, MO
    May 2, 2013 8:42 a.m.

    "Let's see... Curtail religious freedom, Ban guns, Fill the military with anti-religious policies, then sentiment, then members, Call religious teaching "hate speech."

    Yup, nothing to fear here..."

    Ooh, I'm terrified. I must have missed that law being talked about that would restrict you from meeting at the church of your choice and talking about whatever it is you talk about. Ditto for the law "banning guns."

    Extreme reactionaries on both sides love to oversimplify complex issues by making nonsense statements like Civil did above. So many of you seem keen adopt this rigid "I know what's right and what's wrong for everyone" stance, crowding out any room for nuance. Try considering the lives, opinions, feelings, situations, etc of other people before resorting to the "the sky is falling" rhetoric.

    The one thing Civil implied I agree with is that we're getting too quick to label everything "hate speech."

  • Mugabe ACWORTH, GA
    May 2, 2013 8:34 a.m.

    It isn't "Christianity" that is under attack, it is those advocates of Christianity that are on the attack. It is the same as when the Christians were killing the Saints in Rome, they reported that it was, "Christians being tortured and slaughtered. But in accordance with the revealed word if God, we know the turth now. Nephi said:

    "And the angel said unto me; behold the formation of a church which is most abominable above all other churches; which slayeth the saints of God; yea, and tortureth them and bringeth them down and yoketh them with a yoke of iron; and bringeth them down into captivity."(1 Nephi 13:5)

    If we don't heed the revealed word of God, we will engage ourselves in useless wars, which have nothing to do with us. This is a result of us not knowing who we really are.

    "Now therefore ye are no more foreigners and strangers, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God." (Ephesians 2:19)

  • djc Stansbury Park, Ut
    May 2, 2013 8:21 a.m.

    During my active duty time, many were the times we were ordered to go to the chapel for religious services or we were forced to do some hard labor if we refused. Is this right? Members of minority religions were grossly under represented in the chaplain's corps, religions like Christian Science, Scientology, LDS, Muslim and many others. Practitioners of these faiths often had to sit through the Protestant or Catholic service and then could go to their own services off post. As a member of a minority religion, I was pretty much not allowed to talk about my belief structure. This is a move in the right direction and it has taken far too long to happen. Most military chaplains are alright, some are wonderful and a few are hard liners who will stop at nothing when trying to convert service members. The latter are the ones that need to be stopped.

  • Elaine Douglass Grand, UT
    May 2, 2013 7:22 a.m.

    JohnJacobJingleHeimerSchmidt is correct. We need facts, not blogger spouting. The fact is that officer corps of the US military is pervaded by an oppressive Christian fundamentalism--"Dominionism." If you don't actively adhere to it you can kiss your military career goodby. THAT is what is behind this news story. LDS not welcome, BTW.

  • hobbes1012003 Kaysville, UT
    May 2, 2013 6:57 a.m.

    Unfortunately I can see a day in the future where Organized religion will be outlawed. the world is changing and the religions of the world are on the losing side it looks like. the next 50 years are gonna be a bit bumpy I think.

  • The Rock Federal Way, WA
    May 2, 2013 6:46 a.m.

    Political correctness is an interesting term. If something furthers the "Progressive Agenda" then it is politically correct. If something impedes that agenda then it is politically incorrect.

    Progressives have long looked for a way to change the military from being largely conservative to largely leftist. Banning religious expression is one way of doing this.

    The most effective means of driving all Christians out of the military is to go to war against Israel and allow all who oppose that move to leave the military. I can see this President doing that.

  • elsmere241 Elsmere, DE
    May 2, 2013 6:45 a.m.

    Proselytizing, as in sharing religious views with friends, is one thing. Getting in someone's face all the time on military time and space is another. Mr. Weinstein isn't trying to shut churches down, he's asking that they play by reasonable rules. How would you feel if you were trying to walk across college campus between classes and every day someone from some evangelical group was basically pouncing on you? That's what's been happening, particularly at the Air Force Academy.

  • Springvillepoet Springville, UT
    May 2, 2013 6:34 a.m.

    I was rather fortunate in my military experience to not face being given the "hard sell" on religion. Any discourse I had was civil, enlightened, and begun from a genuine curiosity.
    That being said, since my time in the army (22-25 years ago), friends I have still in the military tell me there is a growing aggression among those seeking to spread the gospel. I have been told on more than one occasion their efforts are going over the limits as set down in both regulations of the military and those which would be deemed polite and proper.

    The problem from my perspective is unfortunately rooted in the evangelical tradition. More and more evangelical fundamentalists are crying fowl, citing what they believe to be the intent of the founding fathers and God, whenever they do not get what they want. In the military, the regulations don't always make sense, but they are there for a reason. In this case they are there to protect anyone who chooses to not practice a religion from those who might discriminate against others based upon that decision.

  • TA1 Alexandria, VA
    May 2, 2013 5:30 a.m.

    A significant reason that this has come to the point where it is at is simply because those charged to be the keepers of the religious values failed to do so. The talked the talk but did not walk the walk and now instead of being willing to sacrifice their time and means to bring the dialogue back to center - they are panicking and blaming the anti-religious factions - no folks - your lack of living the principles you hold dear is the problem and unless you are willing to make significant sacrifices – and change your behavior you are the problem - not the anti-religious factions.

  • TimBehrend Auckland NZ, 00
    May 2, 2013 5:30 a.m.

    A bit of a lopsided article here, not just in quoting detractors of Michael Weinstein, but in failing to quote Weinstein himself. Also missed any reference to the widely publicised problems with "forced fundamentalism" at the Air Force Academy and not even a distant allusion to power and hierarchy in the military and how complicates issues of religion just as it does issues of sexual behaviour. Partisan coverage of an issue doesn't have to be meat headed.

  • Civil Salt Lake City, UT
    May 2, 2013 4:05 a.m.

    Let's see...

    Curtail religious freedom
    Ban guns
    Fill the military with anti-religious policies, then sentiment, then members
    Call religious teaching "hate speech."

    Yup, nothing to fear here...

  • JohnJacobJingleHeimerSchmidt Beverly Hills, CA
    May 2, 2013 2:02 a.m.

    The story is long on rhetoric but short on facts. I do not feel more informed about this topic at all. Our country was founded on the principle of freedom of religion and freedom from religion. There will always be a balancing act. In terms of chaplains, they are under the employment of federal taxpayers and their roles should be specifically defined.

    This story is short on facts but is full of innuendo that that drives distrust on both sides. Give me facts instead of blogger spouting please.

  • wer South Jordan, UT
    May 2, 2013 12:05 a.m.

    Thanks for the startling information! I used the petition link to show my concerns for this grievous effort to stymie religious expression in the military.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    May 1, 2013 11:36 p.m.

    Probably the reason this is an issue is evengelicals. They can be very annoying and given the way they act many in the military are getting tired of being around them.

  • Phillip M Hotchkiss Malta, Mt
    May 1, 2013 8:59 p.m.

    The Service men women fight for our freedom. Is there any way we as civilians can fight for their freedom? To show our thanks for what they do for us.

  • Eagles63 Provo, UT
    May 1, 2013 8:22 p.m.

    When a shark smells blood in the water, it goes for the kill. The anti-religion faction within this country is smelling a lot of blood. So they're going for the kill. The government is, of course, completely on their side. Higher education is almost hands down on their side. The press is largely on their side. I'm not totally convinced that even those who are on the other side (the vocal advocates for religion) are frequently positioned to line their pockets. While this is a nation founded on Judeo-Christian values, those values seem like a broken down car in the rear view of a speeding race car. They do not appear to be capable of withstanding the onslaught of the vocal and aggressive minority that is driven to destroying organized religion. And the attack is on multiple fronts. I don't personally see a way to stop it, but I do foresee a day when the battle lines will be fully established and each individual will have to decide what side they're on and what they stand for. I guess in that sense Joshua was right. Somethings never do change.