Are Christians an Endangered Species in the U.S. Military?
A U.S. Army Equal Opportunity Instructor giving a presentation on "extremism" during an Army Reserve training brief in Philadelphia categorized Evangelical Christianity and Roman Catholicism as on par with Hamas, al-Qaeda, and the Nation of Islam.
The instructor also compared Christianity and Roman Catholicism with Sunni Muslims and the Ku Klux Klan.
In fact, among the bullet points contained in the brief's PowerPoint presentation, the first example of extremism listed was Evangelical Christianity. That was the top of the list. The Muslim Brotherhood, "Ultra-Orthodox" Jews, and "Christian Identity" followed it.
Christian Identity appears to cover Christians who don't fall under the category of Evangelical -- so it's your everyday, run-of-the-mill, Golden Rule kind of believers.
Then come al-Qaeda, Hamas, and the Ku Klux Klan, among others. Roman Catholics are listed 10th on the list.
Seven more examples of "extremism" -- including two more branches of Christianity -- follow Roman Catholicism.
When news of these bullet points on "extremism" leaked out, the Army was quick to distance itself from the presentation by pointing out that it "was not produced by the Army and certainly does not reflect [Army] policy or doctrine."
The Army said the slide presentation "was produced by an individual without anyone in the chain of command's knowledge or permission."
But the problem is that this type of presentation is indicative of where the Army and others have been heading as regards Christianity and other traditionally American faiths. And the pressures that have been brought to bear on chaplains since the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell have only exacerbated this.
In a climate of true religious liberty, the kind of presentation that listed Christianity as akin to terrorist groups would never have been made -- or, if made, would never have been presented.
But I fear that the anti-religious climate currently afoot among military brass is not really anti-religious so much as it is anti-Christian. Unless it is reversed, Christians in the military will be regularly inundated with what others see as the negative aspects of the faith.
Ron Crews is CH (Col.) USAR (ret.) and executive director of Chaplain Alliance.