TRUTHOUT/BUZZFLASH – How the Religious Right Spreads Phony Stories of Religious Persecution of Christians in the Military

Selected Article Excerpts:

  • We’ve seen these disinformation and smear campaigns orchestrated by the Religious Right play out before: Religious Right organizations make an outrageous claim; in this case, a secret meeting aimed at attacking the religious freedom of Christian conservatives in the military, took place at the Pentagon April 23, 2013. This phony claim spreads like a virus through conservative networks. The story takes off at outlets like Breitbart.com, Fox News, WorldNetDaily and other right wing websites, blogs, e-mail newsletters and on twitter.
  • The target of this particular campaign is Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein, the founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). Since its founding the MRFF has been dedicated to battling Christian fundamentalism in the military. For waging this battle, the Religious Right’s has labeled Weinstein — a registered Republican and former military prosecutor who served in the Ronald Reagan Administration — an “anti-Christian extremist,” “a religious bigot” and the “Field General of the Godless Armies of Satan.”
  • In a breitbart.com piece dated April 28, titled “Pentagon Taps Anti-Christian Extremist for Religious Tolerance Policy,” Ken Klukowski, senior fellow for religious liberty at the Family Research Council and a faculty member at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University School of Law, threw out another rumor: Weinstein “will be a consultant to the Pentagon to develop new policies on religious tolerance, including a policy for court-martialing military chaplains who share the Christian Gospel during spiritual counseling of American troops.”Chris Rodda, the Senior Research Director for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, and the author of Liars For Jesus: The Religious Right’s Alternate Version of American History recently noted that Klukowski’s story on Breitbart was pure fantasy, aimed at ginning up the Religious Right’s base.She also pointed out that between May 1 and May 13 breitbart.com ran at least eight Weinstein-bashing stories, in which he was called an “anti-Christian extremist,” and a “religious bigot.”Despite this misinformation, perhaps the biggest get for the Religious Right came in early June, when Rep. John Fleming (R-LA) “introduced an [religious liberty] amendment to the FY14 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).” According to Rodda, “The real purpose of Fleming’s amendment, however, is not religious liberty — unless you consider government permission to freely discriminate against and harass LGB service members to be religious liberty. As Huffington Post Deputy Politics Editor Mollie Reilly very succinctly explained, what the Fleming amendment would actually do is take away the ability of military commanders to stop anti-gay harassment and discrimination within their ranks.”
  • The Christian Right has been smearing and slamming Mikey Weinstein for quite some time and there is no reason to think their attacks will end anytime soon. Accompanying an article titled “Military Assault: Freedom to Share Christ Within Ranks at Risk,” in the July 2013 edition of Decision magazine — a publication of the Billy Graham Evangelical Association — is a sidebar titled “Mikey Weinstein: One of the Most Dangerous Men in America.”Despite its lack of veracity, the secret meeting story led to a new Religious Right coalition, legislation in Congress, more fundamentalist fundraising pitches, and, most importantly, another opportunity for the Religious Right to claim martyrdom.

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