Military Members Who Share Their Christian Faith Could Face Court Martial-Disputed!
Summary of eRumor:
This is a forwarded email that contains what appears to be an article that alleges religious proselytization is no longer permitted by active duty members of the military and such acts could be punishable by court martial.
The article is real and was released by Breitbart on May 1, 2013.
The Breitbart article said, “This regulation would severely limit expressions of faith in the military, even on a one-to-one basis between close friends. It could also effectively abolish the position of chaplain in the military, as it would not allow chaplains (or any service members, for that matter), to say anything about their faith that others say led them to think they were being encouraged to make faith part of their life. It’s difficult to imagine how a member of the clergy could give spiritual counseling without saying anything that might be perceived in that fashion.”
TruthOrFiction.com contacted the Department of Defense (DoD) and Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a DoD Spokesman, sent us this statement:
“The U.S. Department of Defense has never and will never single out a particular religious group for persecution or prosecution. 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).
If a service member harasses another member on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, or disability, then the commander takes action based on the gravity of the occurrence. Likewise, when religious harassment complaints are reported, commanders take action based on the gravity of the occurrence on a case by case basis.
The Department of Defense places a high value on the rights of members of the Military Services to observe the tenets of their respective religions and respects (and supports by its policy) the rights of others to their own religious beliefs, including the right to hold no beliefs. The Department does not endorse any one religion or religious organization, and provides free access of religion for all members of the military services.
We work to ensure that all service members are free to exercise their Constitutional right to practice their religion — in a manner that is respectful of other individuals’ rights to follow their own belief systems; and in ways that are conducive to good order and discipline; and that do not detract from accomplishing the military mission.”
The question in any case would be exactly where does the line exist between Evangelism and proselytizing? Those who preach the Gospel often mention the Ten Commandments, if one has disobeyed a Commandment than all Commandments have been broken and that the wages of sin is death. That is followed by the message of salvation, that Jesus bore the punishment for the disobedience of God’s Law and God forgives all who believe in Jesus.
The Pentagon has released a statement confirming that soldiers could be prosecuted for promoting their faith: “Religious proselytization is not permitted within the Department of Defense…Court martials and non-judicial punishments are decided on a case-by-case basis…”.
The statement, released to Fox News, follows a Breitbart News report on Obama administration Pentagon appointees meeting with anti-Christian extremist Mikey Weinstein to develop court-martial procedures to punish Christians in the military who express or share their faith.
(From our earlier report: Weinstein is the head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, and says Christians–including chaplains–sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ in the military are guilty of “treason,” and of committing an act of “spiritual rape” as serious a crime as “sexual assault.” He also asserted that Christians sharing their faith in the military are “enemies of the Constitution.”)
Being convicted in a court martial means that a soldier has committed a crime under federal military law. Punishment for a court martial can include imprisonment and being dishonorably discharged from the military.
So President Barack Obama’s civilian appointees who lead the Pentagon are confirming that the military will make it a crime–possibly resulting in imprisonment–for those in uniform to share their faith. This would include chaplains—military officers who are ordained clergymen of their faith (mostly Christian pastors or priests, or Jewish rabbis)–whose duty since the founding of the U.S. military under George Washington is to teach their faith and minister to the spiritual needs of troops who come to them for counsel, instruction, or comfort.
This regulation would severely limit expressions of faith in the military, even on a one-to-one basis between close friends. It could also effectively abolish the position of chaplain in the military, as it would not allow chaplains (or any service members, for that matter), to say anything about their faith that others say led them to think they were being encouraged to make faith part of their life. It’s difficult to imagine how a member of the clergy could give spiritual counseling without saying anything that might be perceived in that fashion.
In response to the Pentagon’s plans, retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, who is now executive vice president of the Family Research Council (FRC), said on Fox & Friends Wednesday morning:
It’s a matter of what do they mean by “proselytizing.” …I think they’ve got their defintions a little confused. If you’re talking about coercion that’s one thing, but if you’re talking about the free exercise of our faith as individual soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines, especially for the chaplains, they I think the worst thing we can do is stop the ability for a soldier to be able to exercise his faith.”
FRC has launched a petition here which has already collected over 30,000 signatures, calling on Secretary Hagel is stop working with Weinstein and his anti-Christian organization to develop military policy regarding religious faith.