From: Active Duty U.S. Army Captain’s E-Mail Address Withheld
Subject: From A Concerned U.S. Army Captain
Date: September 9, 2018 at 5:22:09 AM MDT
To: Mikey Weinstein <[email protected]>
Thank you for your tireless support for religious freedom. It is comforting to know there is a place to turn for help when the religious overtones in the military become overbearing. In these time of hype-nationalism cloaked in religious expression, there needs a to be an advocate for the true meaning of the First Amendment.
Over the past several months, there has been a sharp increase in conservative Christian religious activities at my post. This trend is alarming and scary for those who are not a part of the religious right. As a mainline Protestant, I find these activities detrimental to the actual mission of the church. Some examples of this bias include:
- During a recent change of command ceremony for a new one star general, he said, “let the church say amen” before he started his speech. It felt more like a revival than a military ceremony at that point.
- A prayer breakfast the post hosted touted that it was a ecumenical event yet only white male conservative evangelical chaplains were a part of the service. The entire service reeked of religious nationalism.
- One Soldier, who recently changed his faith group, was seeking support for his new faith and told to “rethink his Christian faith,”
- Student Soldiers have been excluded from a Protestant service. When Soldiers attempted to attend this service, one they previously attended, they were turned away and told they were not allowed to attend this service. Among this group was a Latino student who was told she would be more “comfortable” at the Hispanic service by a senior chaplain on post.
- Chapels on this post are expressly Christian. During the week they do not remove Christian items presenting themselves more as Christian churches than chapels. One of these chapels host Friday prayers for Muslim Soldiers making these Soldiers walk through halls laden with Christian sayings and pictures.
- The post chaplain’s office only has materials for evangelical Christians and Catholics. There is no representation of other faith groups and do displayed or available material for Soldiers who practice some other faith.
- One Chaplain complained that is was unfair that he could not lead his weekend retreat since a gay couple was attending. He wanted to cancel the event but was convinced to allow another chaplain to lead the training instead. He voiced frustration at having to accommodate people for “his” training.
- At a Fourth of July service one chaplain preached on the “historical fact” that America is a Christian nation. Preaching for 45 minutes, he told student Soldiers that they must help keep America’s Christian roots.
All of these examples are disturbing. There has been a blurring of the line between leadership and a certain sect of Christianity. It feels like only those who follow this form of religion are welcome at my post and the only ones the chaplains are willing to serve.
Thank you again MRFF for being a voice of reason and civil rights activism. As a person of Christian faith, I believe in the importance of religion but also believe all religions and non-faith traditions should be allowed to freely practice.
A concerned U.S. Active Duty Army Captain (name, MOS, assigned duty unit and U.S. Army installation all withheld)