Military officials appear to be in sandbag mode telling the media that the recent revelations about policies that would lead to the prosecution of military members for sharing their faith was all taken out of context. But the evidence would suggest otherwise, which is why more than 165,000 people have signed the Family Research Council (FRC) petition to Secretary Hagel asking him to protect the religious freedom of our troops, and why over 50 Members of Congress have written letters to Hagel prompted by recent events.
Here is a summary of events thus far: On April 26, news broke that anti-Christian activist Mikey Weinstein met with senior Air Force officials to discuss “religious issues” in the military. The Washington Post article led others in the media to ask for an explanation of what assurances, if any, were offered in the meeting. The Pentagon responded with several confusing statements over the course of a week. The first statement said, “Religious proselytization is not permitted within the Department of Defense.” The Air Force issued a statement saying, “Air Force members are free to express their personal religious beliefs as long as it does not make others uncomfortable.” The Pentagon then issued another statement saying that Mr. Weinstein was “granted” a meeting to “express his concerns of religious issues in the military.” The next day, the Pentagon released a third statement, saying, “Service members can share their faith (evangelize), but must not force unwanted, intrusive attempts to convert others of any faith or no faith to one’s beliefs (proselytization).” On May 8, another Pentagon statement said “there is no effort within the department to make religious proselytizing a specific offense within the (Uniform Code of Military Justice).
The Pentagon meeting and the series of confusing statements has widened the ongoing conversation among service members, the media and Christians across the country about the extent and source of religious hostility in the military.