Selected Article Excerpts:
U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan on Thursday ordered the removal of a steeple and crucifix erected over a remote American base in the Muslim country after a soldier deployed there noted that the symbols violated Army regulations, and could reinforce suspicions that the United States is fighting a holy war.
“It is the sort of thing that provides a boundless bonanza of terrorist propaganda for the mujahedeen, the insurrectionists, the Taliban and al-Qaida that we are supposedly fighting to protect our national security,” said Mikey Weinstein, founder and president of the non-profit Military Religious Freedom Foundation. “The message of the cross on the chapel is basically putting out the message in Pashto, Dari and Arabic to please blow me up because I’m a latter day Christian crusader.”
“Chaplains know the regulations very well,” said Justin Griffith, an Army sergeant at Fort Bragg, N.C., and military director for American Atheists in his personal time. “Whoever authorized (the steeple and crosses) knew exactly what they were doing. It’s intentionally disrespectful to the non-Christians in the U.S. military … Put it in Afghanistan, the danger is very real, to personnel, even to Christians.”
In similar situations that have come to light, military commanders have ordered the removal of the religious symbols. In April 2012, when a Marine Corps squadron revived the “Crusaders” name with the shield and cross logo for fighter jets, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation challenged the move, citing constitutional and security concerns. The next month, the Marine Corps said that the squadron had converted back to the moniker “Werewolves,” replacing the logos from the jets, uniforms, buildings and elsewhere.