Pentagon May be Trampling on First Amendment Rights

There are some contradictory stories about religion and the military running wild over the internet. A directive has come down from the Pentagon “confirming that soldiers could be prosecuted for promoting their faith: ‘Religious proselytization is not permitted within the Department of Defense.’”

I don’t know how much of the anti-proselytizing claim is an official Pentagon directive or just a misunderstanding, but I would be surprised that the announcement was a test balloon to get public reaction. Given the state of the military today, anything is possible and believable.

Will these mean taking down the stained glass window at the Pentagon honoring four military chaplains who gave their lives to save other civilian and military personnel during the sinking of the troop ship USAT Dorchester on February 3, 1943, during World War II?four_chaplains_cropped

Often times liberals push the envelope hoping no one will notice until it’s too late.

In the past they could have gotten away with issuing such a directive before there were alternative media sources keeping an eye on everything liberals do.

As a result of the dustup, the Pentagon has had to “clarify” its official position. The following is from Stars and Stripes:

“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),” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen said in a written statement.

Who gets to define when evangelizing becomes “proselytizing”? And what’s the difference between evangelizing and proselytizing? They mean the same thing!

  • “Proselytize: Convert or attempt to convert (someone) from one religion, belief, or opinion to another.”
  • “Evangelize: To convert to Christianity” or to preach the [Christian] gospel.”

Are we to believe that soldiers who are trained to kill can’t defend themselves against someone trying to “force” them to believe? It seems to me that such rigorous intellectual sparring could come in handy if a soldier is ever taken as a prisoner of war. He or she is going to be subjected to a great deal of “proselytizing.”

Could Christians be set up by atheists by engaging in discussions about religion and later being accused of “proselytizing”? Can atheists be accused of proselytizing?

If war is about killing people, and death is a constant companion, you would think that the military would want young men and women who may meet God sooner than later to be prepared for that meeting

I’ve been in the Christian faith argument business for a long time. Sometimes discussions with non-believers can get heated. What starts off as a friendly give-and-take about the existence of God, the reality of sin, and the need to be reconciled to God can degenerate into a shouting match. I suspect that this is the case for any number of topics.

If a soldier can’t take it, he’s probably not going to do well on the battlefield.

The “Air Force Culture, Air Force Standards,” published on Aug. 7, 2012, states the following in Section 2.11 (page 19):

Government Neutrality Regarding Religion. Leaders at all levels must balance constitutional protections for an individual’s free exercise of religion or other personal beliefs and the constitutional prohibition against governmental establishment of religion.”

 If this means that officers should not compel an enlisted soldier to convert, then I am all for it. But it’s the definition of terms and who gets to enforce the directive that worries me.

Section 2.12.1 states that “All Airmen are able to choose to practice their particular religion, or subscribe to no religious belief at all. You should confidently practice your own beliefs while respecting others whose viewpoints differ from your own.”

“Able to choose to practice” must include what a person believes about what he or she has chosen to practice. One person’s evangelizing is another person’s proselytizing.

Why should a Christian join the military to take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution if he or she could be denied a major provision of the Constitution? The following is the Oath of Enlistment for the United States Armed Forces:

“I, _____________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

 Defending the Constitution and that includes the First Amendment. Also notice that the oath is taken before God.