HUFFINGTON POST – Poster Boy for Anti-Gay Campaign vs. Military Religious Freedom Really Could Be Court-Martialed for This

Selected Article Excerpts:

  • On September 6, 2013, the Family Research Council (FRC) launched a petition to “Protect Sergeant Phillip Monk from Air Force Court Martial.” Incredibly, just over a month later, on October 12, the very same organization paraded Sergeant Monk out at its Values Voter Summit, a political event in which the participation of an active duty service member is strictly prohibited by military regulations, the violation of which could subject Sergeant Monk to punishment by … um … court-martial. If you’re not familiar with the story of Phillip Monk, he’s the Air Force Senior Master Sergeant who’s become the poster boy for the fundamentalist Christians who are still throwing a hissy fit over the repeal of ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ — a fit that has gotten even hissier since the overturning of DOMA.
  • As I’ve previously written, this ‘Christians are being persecuted by the military’ claim has been pushed heavily since last spring, with the biggest pushers in the media being Fox News’s Todd Starnes and, where the “journalist” writing article after article on the subject also just happens to be the director of the FRC’s Center for Religious Liberty.
  • To gain support for their campaign to allow military Christians to exercise their god-given right to bash the gays, a good propaganda campaign was of course necessary, and the so-called champions of religious freedom hit the jackpot with SMSgt. Monk. Not only did he have a story of alleged Christian persecution, but his commanding officer is reportedly an out lesbian!The FRC and Fox News jumped on the story of SMSgt. Monk, and aren’t letting go of it despite the fact that an Air Force investigation has found his claim of religious discrimination to be unsubstantiated.
  • There are many other holes and inconsistencies in Monk’s story, which I’ll get to in a future piece after the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), the organization that I work for, investigates further, which at this point will require a FOIA request. (We have this silly policy at MRFF about verifying all the facts before we write about things.)
  • But what I want to get to in this piece is SMSgt. Monk’s appearance at last weekend’s Values Voter Summit, something that requires no further investigation. There is no question that Monk violated military regulations by appearing at this event.
  • …on October 8 the Air Force’s put out a news release saying that its investigation into the incident was closed, and that no disciplinary action would be taken against Monk. The investigation found that while the statements made by Monk were false, “they did not rise to a level that violated Articles 107 and/or 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.” In other words, as of last week, SMSgt. Monk was in no danger of being court-martialed. So, what did the FRC do? Well, they had Monk commit another violation of military regulations that really could subject him to a court-martial! What was this other violation? Monk’s appearance on a panel at the Values Voter Summit, an event run by none other than the FRC.
  • A high-ranking NCO like SMSgt. Monk should obviously know about these DoD and Air Force regulations, as should a retired general like Jerry Boykin. They should know that Todd Starnes’s statement at the beginning of the panel saying that Monk was appearing as “a private citizen” was meaningless. And yet SMSgt. Monk, with his Liberty Institute lawyer by his side, appeared at this event in blatant disregard of these very clear regulations, with the two of them keeping up the same lies that Monk had only days before gotten off the hook for. The FRC and the Liberty Institute certainly don’t seem to be trying to “Protect Sergeant Phillip Monk from Air Force Court Martial,” as the FRC claimed when it launched its petition. They seem to be trying to get him in more trouble to keep him in the news as their poster boy for their claims that the military is persecuting Christians.SMSgt. Monk might be off the hook for his false statements about his commanding officer, but now, with his blatant violation of military regulations in appearing at the Values Voter Summit, he really could, and should, be court-martialed.

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