Pentagon refutes reports of anti-Christian policies
From Religion News Services 03 May 2013 -
Pentagon refutes reports of anti-Christian policies. Christian conservatives have grown increasingly alarmed in recent weeks over reports and rumors that the Pentagon is considering new policies aimed at discriminating against Christians and disciplining or even court-martialing those who share their faith.
But the Department of Defense on Thursday (May 2) sought to debunk that speculation, saying that while aggressive proselytizing is barred, evangelization is still permitted and the rights of all believers – and non-believers – will be protected.
“The U.S. Department of Defense has never and will never single out a particular religious group for persecution or prosecution,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen said in a statement. “The Department makes reasonable accommodations for all religions and celebrates the religious diversity of our service members.”
“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),” Christensen added.
He also said that “when religious harassment complaints are reported, commanders take action based on the gravity of the occurrence on a case by case basis.” He did not specify what the range of penalties could be.
The latest statement was aimed at refuting widely circulated reports in conservative media outlets that Christian soldiers could be court-martialed for sharing their faith.
Whether the push back will be successful in dispelling suspicions, even within the ranks, is uncertain. Even as Christensen released his statement Thursday, Rear Adm. William D. Lee of the U.S. Coast Guard warned of threats to faith within the military while speaking at National Day of Prayer observances on Capitol Hill.
“I am not talking about proselytizing; I am vehemently against that,” the admiral said in remarks that drew a standing ovation. “I’m talking about gently whispering the gospel.”
The current controversy seems to have originated with Fox News contributor Todd Starnes, who on Tuesday wrote about a Pentagon meeting on harassment and tolerance issues; among the attendees was the head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, Mikey Weinstein.
Whole Story: Religion News Service