Conservatives cite ‘neutrality’ memo as proof of military’s hostility to Christianity

By Eric W. Dolan
Tuesday, July 9, 2013 18:53 EDT
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Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council at press conference (Screenshot)
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A conservative group claims the United States Air Force violated religious freedom by advising officials not to discriminate against subordinates based on their religion.

The Family Research Council on Tuesday released a report on religious freedom in the United States Armed Forces, which concluded the Obama administration was cracking down on Christianity.

The report stated that high-level officers within the Air Force were cooperating with “anti-Christian activists” like attorney Michael Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. As evidence, the report compiled a list of incidence which purportedly showed religious freedoms being violated.

One of those incidents was a 2011 memo released by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz entitled, “Maintaining Government Neutrality Regarding Religion.” The memo warned military officials against using their elevated position to force their beliefs upon subordinates or discriminating against service members based on their religious beliefs.

Most of the incidents listed involved Weinstein. Conservative bloggers falsely claimed in May that Weinstein was behind a plan to court-martial Christians in the military. The attorney has frequently battled with conservative Christians like the American Family Association.

“The examples presented above should give us great concern that we have entered a period in which members of the armed services are being subjected to speech codes and restrictions on the free exercise of religion,” the FRC report concluded.

Conservatives have responded to claims of hostility towards Christianity in the military with legislation. A Republican-backed provision in the annual defense budget requires the military to accommodate “actions and speech” reflecting the “conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs” of service members and chaplains. The measure would expand current “conscience protections” in the National Defense Authorization Act, which currently require the military to accommodate religious “beliefs.” OutServe-SLDN, a group that advocates on behalf of LGBT service members, described the provision as a “license to bully.”

Watch video, uploaded to YouTube by FRC, below:

Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan has served as an editor for Raw Story since August 2010, and is based out of Sacramento, California. He grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and received a Bachelor of Science from Bradley University. Eric is also the publisher and editor of PsyPost. You can follow him on Twitter @ewdolan.
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