“We’re concerned that this is more than an isolated incident,” he said. “We’d like answers. Is there a policy in the military concerning people of faith?”
Crews said that soldiers have religious liberty – and they should not be punished for being members of respected religious groups.
“This is part of a trend that is concerning us,” he said. “Several in the military have this belief that evangelicals and people who hold to traditional values seem to be a problem and need to be monitored.”
Perkins, a Marine Corps veteran, said it’s clear that “Army Values” have indeed changed.
“And it’s the values of Evangelicals and Catholics,” Perkins said. “It’s not the values of the vast majority of those serving in our nation’s military. I think it’s the values of this administration trying to superimpose upon our military.”
Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry Boykin, now an executive vice president of the FRC, told Fox News that all Americans should be concerned about the contents of the email.
“If this is the action of a single Army lieutenant colonel, it needs to be investigated,” he said. “On the other hand, if what he reflects is a shifting policy or attitude of the Army or DOD, then I think it is a much bigger issue.”
Boykin served more than 36 years in the military before retiring in 2007. Since 2008 he said he’s seen withering attacks on religious liberty.
Among the incidents:
-A War Games scenario at Fort Leavenworth that identified Christian groups and Evangelical groups as being potential threats;
-A 2009 Dept. of Homeland Security memorandum that identified future threats to national security coming from Evangelicals and pro-life groups;
-A West Point study released by the U.S. Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center that linked pro-lifers to terrorism;
-Evangelical leader Franklin Graham was disinvited from the Pentagon’s National Day of Prayer service because of his comments about Islam;
-Christian prayers were banned at the funeral services for veterans at Houston’s National Cemetery;
-Bibles were banned at Walter Reed Army Medical Center – a decision that was later rescinded;
-Christian crosses and a steeple were removed from a chapel in Afghanistan because the military said the icons disrespected other religions;
-Catholic chaplains were told not to read a letter to parishioners from their archbishop related to Obamacare mandates. The Secretary of the Army feared the letter could be viewed as a call for civil disobedience.
But Boykin called the newly-uncovered email the most “egregious” attack.
“That kind of rhetoric is isolating the institution of the military from a large sector of the American population,” he said. “This is an attack not only on the Christian faith, but on fundamental, traditional American values.”
Crews said the military is getting their information on domestic hate groups from the Southern Poverty Law Center. And the email written by the lieutenant colonel referenced the organization.
“This is disturbing that the military would use this list composed by the Southern Poverty Law Center when these organizations that are highly esteemed and respected in the evangelical community,” he said.
The Chaplain Alliance filed a Freedom of Information Act request – asking if the SPLC list had been widely distributed in the military or if had been used in a formal manner.
The response they got from the Dept. of Defense left Crews troubled.
“They told us they had no record of the SPLC list being used,” he said – even though the email clearly proves otherwise.
“This is part of a trend that is concerning us,” he said. “We believe it is more widespread than the military is acknowledging. We keep getting calls from military personnel telling us of their issues.”
David Jeremiah, the pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church, was among the first to publicly support the FRC and AFA and denounce the attack.
“For it to be coming from a left wing political group is one thing, but for it to be coming from our own government is unconscionable to me,” he told Fox News.
Shadow Mountain is an evangelical mega-church near San Diego – attended by many military families. Jeremiah said he suspects there is a significant disconnect between the Pentagon and the rank and file troops.
“There are so many good and godly people in the military who would be appalled to think that their leaders would be saying things like this,” he said. “The attempt on the part of the social engineers of our day to secularize our culture is in full swing. Everything they can do to remove God, the Bible and morality from the marketplace is being done – not subtly but overtly.”