For Immediate Release:
April 16, 2009
Media Contact: Rabinowitz/Dorf Communications
Harper’s Magazine Cover Story: Evangelical Proselytization Still Rampant in U.S. Military
Under Obama Administration, Offending
Officers Continue to Serve, Promoted
ALBUQUERQUE – The May issue of Harper’s Magazine (www.harpers.org) reveals the continued practice of Christian evangelical proselytization in the American military and a lack of recourse within the Obama administration, according to a leading civil rights watchdog group prominently featured in the magazine’s cover story.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF: www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org) and its founder and president Mikey Weinstein were profiled by Jeff Sharlet in his piece for Harper’s Magazine, “Jesus Killed Mohammed: The Crusade for a Christian Military.” Mr. Weinstein is the nation's leading advocate for the protection of individual soldiers’ constitutional rights to religious freedom and a frequent critic of the U.S. military hierarchy’s blind eye to efforts to evolve the nation’s military into a modern day band of Christian crusaders.
“Every man and woman who joins our military swears an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and it is unforgiveable that many continue to dictate how, when and to whom a soldier can pray while in uniform,” said Mikey Weinstein, founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). “The Harper’s Magazine report by Jeff Sharlet exposes shocking new instances of bigotry and evangelical proselytization within our nation’s military that emboldens our enemies, endangers our soldiers on the battlefield and threatens the core of our country. Equally disturbing is Mr. Sharlet’s revelation that despite President Obama’s well-publicized efforts to show the Muslim world that this is not a war against Islam, numerous offending officers and military professionals responsible for these actions continue to serve in high-ranking and influential positions, and many of them stand to be promoted.”
In Mr. Sharlet’s piece, Mr. Weinstein shares his experiences with anti-Semitism as a “doolie” at the U.S. Air Force Academy; his advocacy and legal counsel on behalf of thousands of active duty soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen afflicted from religious persecution in the line of duty; and his continued call for reforms within the Pentagon to restore the U.S. military’s adherence to its constitutional responsibilities.
Additionally, Mr. Sharlet interviewed a number of current and retired military officers and professionals on their thoughts and experiences regarding the protection and evasions of religious liberties in the military. His report details a number of known and unknown instances of evangelical proselytization within the military, both domestically and in the war theater.
The following are examples of evangelical proselytization practices detailed in the Harper’s Magazine cover story:
- An Easter Sunday raid on Iraqi insurgents in 2004. Special Forces Officers, inspired by a showing of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ, wrote the words “Jesus Killed Mohammed” in Arabic on their Bradley Fighting Vehicle and shouted the saying in both English and Arabic to entice Muslim soldiers into the open before embarking on an attack to put down the insurgency.
- A meeting of an underground all-male, cadet-led prayer group at the U.S. Air Force Academy where members discuss, among other things, the deceptions necessary for missionary work in China. The author attended the group’s meeting under the promise that he would not publish the group’s name out of fear that: “Those who do believe in separation of church and state might interfere with its goal of turning the world’s most elite war college into its most holy one, a seminary with courses in carpet bombing.”
- Interviews with Lieutenant Colonel Bob Young in which he defends and shows no remorse for stating that it would be better for a black to be a slave in America and know Christ, than to be free and not know Christ.
- A speech given by Army Lieutenant Colonel Greg Metzgar before the Officers Christian Fellowship – a group with 15,000 active members at 80 percent of military bases – in which he stressed: “Christian soldiers must always consider themselves behind enemy lines, even within the ranks, because every unsaved member of the military is a potential agent of ‘spiritual terrorism.’”
- Excerpts from a book published in 2005 by Lieutenant Colonel William McCoy, Under Orders: A Spiritual Handbook for Military Personnel, which describes an “anti-Christian bias” in this country he seeks to counter by making the case for the “necessity of Christianity for a properly functioning military.” McCoy’s book was endorsed by General David Petraeus, who said: “Under Orders should be in every rucksack for those moments when soldiers need spiritual energy.” General Petraeus, while claiming his statement was not meant for the public, has never recanted his statement.
The May issue of Harper’s Magazine is currently being distributed to subscribers and will be on newsstands April 28, 2009. The issue is also currently available for online subscribers at www.harpers.org.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, www.militaryreligious
freedom.org, is dedicated to ensuring that all members of the United States Armed Forces fully receive the constitutional guarantees of religious freedom to which they and all Americans are entitled by virtue of the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses of the First Amendment and the “no religious test” of Article VI.
Founded in 1850, Harper's Magazine, www.harpers.org, is the oldest general-interest monthly in America. In September, the Pew Foundation reported that Harper’s readers pay particularly close attention to national news and stand out for their political knowledge. The magazine explores the issues that drive the national conversation through such celebrated features as Readings, Annotation, Findings, and the iconic Harper’s Index. Harper's has been awarded eighteen National Magazine Awards. The magazine is owned and published by the Harper’s Magazine Foundation.
You can support MRFF by
donating funds, time, or both.
Please click below to choose how
you'd like to Support the Foundation