Dhimmitude in the US Military?
At one time race was one of the chief defining factors in marking invidious class distinctions in America. Racial theories, backed by the pseudo-science of racial genetics, were the chief rationales behind the overt and covert persecution of minorities. While the battles for minority rights still continue in some respects, it is only fair to acknowledge the tremendous victories for civil rights. Amazing progress has been made.
But that acknowledgement must be accompanied by the recognition that the impulse on the part of powerful elites to oppress certain classes of people has shifted to the overt oppression and persecution of other groups of people -- based not on the color of their skin, but on their religious beliefs. The constitutional rights of the largest segment of the American populace (Christians and other believers in God) have been routinely eroded and violated for at least fifty years.
During that time, there has been a marked transition from persecution of ethnic and racial minorities to persecution of religious believers. The persecution has been abetted by the currently preferred class whose belief system is based on the radical, fundamentalist political ideology known as "progressivism," a basically secularist and most often atheistic philosophical branch of thinking grown from the tree of the French Revolution.
Nowhere is the oppression of religiously devout Christians and Jews more apparent than within the US military. Our warriors are being attacked by militant atheist progressives who have, ironically, much in common with devotedly combative Islamists. While it might seem that atheists and Islamists have little in common, both groups share a grim determination to suppress the religious freedoms of Christians and Jews.
One needs only to examine the ruthless suppression of Christian and Jewish minorities in countries such as Egypt, Syria and Iraq (among others) and the accompanying silence of the Left concerning such persecution to see the empathetic relationship between Islamists and the Left. The near total silence is a red flag indicator that the Left shares with Islamists the goal of suppressing Christians and Jews.
Allying the hostility of radical progressives with that of those sympathetic to fundamentalist Islamism is resulting in what might well be termed the dhimmitude of Christians and Jews in America's military. The attempts to silence Christians by forbidding "proselytizing," the rules and regulations surrounding open display of bibles, the curtailing of military chaplains' free speech, and the concerted effort to rid the military branches of references to God are all efforts to subvert and oppress Christianity and Judaism.
One person who is at the forefront of the efforts to exterminate Christian influence and faith traditions within the US military is Mikey Weinstein, whose virulent attacks would be cause for consternation and retaliation among the Left, were they directed toward secular Jews or gays.
Weinstein, as president of the Orwellian-named Military Religious Freedom Foundation, believes members of the US Armed Forces should be threatened with court martial should they be guilty of "proselytizing." Todd Starnes of Fox News notes that Weinstein and others from his organization met privately with Pentagon officials on April 23 of this year. At the meeting, Weinstein said U.S. troops who proselytize are guilty of sedition and treason and should be punished, no matter how many Christians want to share their faith. He wants to stave off what he called a "tidal wave of fundamentalists."
"Someone needs to be punished for this," Weinstein told Fox News. "Until the Air Force or Army or Navy or Marine Corps punishes a member of the military for unconstitutional religious proselytizing and oppression, we will never have the ability to stop this horrible, horrendous, dehumanizing behavior. [...] If a member of the military is proselytizing in a manner that violates the law, well then of course they can be prosecuted. We would love to see hundreds of prosecutions to stop this outrage of fundamentalist religious persecution."
Weinstein actually compared the act of proselytizing to rape:
"It is a version of being spiritually raped and you are being spiritually raped by fundamentalist Christian religious predators."
He concluded that witnessing on behalf of Christianity is the equivalent of a crime against the almighty State.
What Weinstein call spiritual rape, Christians call evangelization, which is a primary feature of what it means to be Christian. Christians are committed to sharing what they see as the good news of The Way. Is evangelization now to be considered hate speech and worthy of punishment?
If Weinstein and others who are likeminded -- and their name is Legion -- succeed in silencing Christians in the military, it is clear that all Christians will be under increasing attack from the government and groups committed to destroying religious freedoms, effectively reducing the devout to a state of dhimmitude typical of oppressed Christians in countries with Muslim majorities led by fundamentalist Islamists.
Generally in such countries, the dhimmitude of Christians and other religiously devout non-Muslims includes, among other things, denial of the right to openly practice their religion, to share their faith with others, to attempt to convert or persuade others to become Christian, to hand out religious literature and to construct houses of worship. It also means many professions and opportunities for advancement will be closed to Christians, with only the lowest positions in society open to them.
How many Christian officers in America's armed forces are already denied advancement because of their faith? How many are deemed unfit for certain posts because they swear ultimate allegiance to God rather than to the State, regardless of whether or not their service is exemplary? How many Christians are told to shut up and to hide their Bibles and forbidden to wear crosses while Muslims in our armed forces are permitted and encouraged to follow every aspect of their faith?
It's all very dangerous stuff, with perhaps worse persecution to come. It is not too farfetched to foretell a day in which US soldiers are required to swear an oath of allegiance that excludes the free expression of religion, an oath that requires supreme allegiance to the State only, not to God Almighty.
Further, we can be sure that if "proselytizing" is to be forbidden in the military, it eventually will be forbidden in the broader society. The suppression of Christians within the military is a test case for the militant Left and radical Islamists, as the military is a microcosm of society as a whole. It is relatively simple to achieve a sort of dhimmitude within the military because of its hierarchical nature and its sworn allegiance to a now almost totally secularized government led by a civilian Commander in Chief who appears to be ideologically allied with those committed to stamping out Christianity within the military.
What is presently occurring in the military will assuredly provide a template for the persecution of Christian civilians. We can be sure militants against Christians will increasingly set their sights on churches and public institutions, all of which will see intensifying pressure to bow to the demands of the secularized State.
While members of the Armed Forces have agreed to defend and serve their fellow countrymen, they have not agreed to sacrifice their beliefs and consciences. Each is as entitled to religious liberty as the next American. It is incumbent on those in our military to fight for their own liberties as hard as they fight for the liberties of the rest of us. Christians within the military must resist the oppression of the State and stand up for their constitutionally guaranteed rights as free men and women of faith.
They have pledged their lives and their sacred honor on behalf of their countrymen. That is enough.
That is more than enough. They must not, nor should they be required to, give up their religious freedoms as well.
Fay Voshell holds a M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, which awarded her the Charles Hodge Prize for excellence in systematic theology. She has contributed to online publications such as American Thinker, National Review and Delaware Politics. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org