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Video, Report Details Evangelism at Highest Levels of US Military

I steal the title of Jason Leopolds writeup at TruthOut about the DoD report on high-ranking Army and Air Force personnel violated long-standin g military regulations when they participated in a promotional video for an evangelical Christian organization while in uniform and on active duty.Here is the report and below is a snippet of Leopolds commentary, which if you click the link containing Leopolds name, will take you to his entire article and a video:

The report recommended Air Force Maj. Gen. Jack Catton, Army Brig. Gen. Bob Caslen, Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, Maj. Gen. Peter Sutton, and a colonel and lieutenant colonel whose names were redacted in the inspector general’s report, “improperl y endorsed and participated with a non-Federal entity while in uniform” and the men should be disciplined for misconduct. Caslen was formerly the deputy director for political-mi litary affairs for the war on terrorism, directorate for strategic plans and policy, joint staff. He now oversees the cadets at the Military Academy at West Point. Caslen told DOD investigator s he agreed to appear in the video upon learning other senior Pentagon officials had been interviewed for the promotional video.

The inspector general’s report recommended the “Secretary of the Air Force and the Chief of Staff of the Army take appropriate corrective action with respect to the military officers concerned.

The officers did not return phone calls or emails to respond to the report’s findings.

The 47-page report was also highly critical of Pentagon Chaplain Col. Ralph G. Benson, whom the inspector general’s report accused of knowingly misleading the DOD when he requested permission from DOD officials to film a video inside the Pentagon claiming he was interested in gathering information about the Pentagon’s “own ministry.” In fact, the report says, Benson was determined to use the video to “attract new supporters to the Christian Embassy, an evangelical organization that evangelizes members of the military and politicians in Washington, DC via daily Bible studies and outreach events. The group holds prayer breakfasts on Wednesdays in the Pentagons executive dining room, according to the organization ’s web site. Bill Bright, the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, founded the Christian Embassy 30 years ago.

Tags: Theocracy in the military, Ralph Benson,


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7 Responses to “Video, Report Details Evangelism at Highest Levels of US Military”

  1. I haven’t read the report or Jason’s write up on it so this is just preliminary stuff. First of all, the first amendment right to speech and press protect the people from the government, it does not protect the government. For this reason, government agents, acting as government agents, do not enjoy free speech rights. These military personnel, speaking strictly as Americans, civilians, have full free speech rights and the right of religious expression, as well. However, it does not appear that these individuals were engaging in speech and religious expression as Americans but, rather, as government officials and, therefore, the first amendment does not necessarily apply. My suspicion is that, after reading the report and write-up, I will probably agree that this was misbehavior and that there should be some sort of sanctions as a result. So then, I anticipate that we will agree on this one. :^)

  2. I’ve only just begun reading the report but already it sounds quite sound. Specifically  , several participants in the video were exonerated from wrongdoing because, although they “provided personal endorsements of Christian Embassy, they did so without verbal or visual references to position, title or DoD. Their interviews were conducted in unidentified hallways rather than Pentagon offices, and neither speaker was surrounded by significant visual references to DoD.” I take that to mean that, as long as there was nothing to give the impression that anything that they said in the interview was in any way officially sanctioned by the government, their first amendment rights were protected. Kudos. Even government officials, speaking as citizens and not as government officials, are protected by the Constitution as to their speech and religious expression and their endorsement of religious organization s.

  3. The anti-war advocates who are in the military can not speak about their beliefs while wearing their uniforms or while on duty. The report has this quote:
    The report recommended Air Force Maj. Gen. Jack Catton, Army Brig. Gen. Bob Caslen, Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, Maj. Gen. Peter Sutton, and a colonel and lieutenant colonel whose names were redacted in the inspector general’s report, “improperly endorsed and participated with a non-Federal entity while in uniform” and the men should be disciplined for misconduct.

    I think the same rules should apply for people that wish to speak about religion whilst serving in the military. If the video was made with government money it’s wrong as well imho.

  4. This pervasive evangelical proselytory presense in the military should FRIGHTEN THE LIVING SHIT OUT OF AMERICANS. And given the power the MIC has accrued since the Second World War, it should FRIGHTEN THE LIVING SHIT OUT OF US EVEN MORE. First Amendment issues aside, it is incumbant on a free, representati ve, democratic, secular state to keep the military SECULAR and beholden ONLY to its constitution al role and nothing else. If the military becomes a bastion of religious fundamentali sm the danger of serious misbehavior by military personell, on par with the Dr Strangelove scenario, should FRIGHTEN THE LIVING SHIT OUT OF AMERICANS. This is a well known problem, and it has been for some time now. Complaints of forced proselyzatio n and sectarian abuse have been floating around for years now. This is far from a new problem, historically  , but it does seem to be getting a little out of control these days. We’d better watch these crazies or we’re going to be in for one hellacious surprise on of these days.

    JMJ

  5. It goes without saying that our military should be secular.

  6. Indeed the military should not advance any religion even if it the most popular one.

    I agree Dusty, that these men should not be allowed to give these opinions in uniform just like opinions on politics because the implication is that this is what the US Military supports. But yes, they certainly have the right to endorse whatever they want when not wearing a uniform…

  7. […] Paul Merda: Indeed the military should not advance any religion even if it the most popular one. I agree Dusty, that… […]

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