Anyway, thinking of the tone that Bush set in Wasthington and this story about an Evangelical group with unprecedented access to the Pentagon. Earlier this year we had Republicans trotting servicemen in uniform to political functions (clear violations of military regs) and now we have this.
"A military watchdog group is asking the Defense Department to investigate whether seven Army and Air Force officers violated regulations by appearing in uniform in a promotional video for an evangelical Christian organization.
In the video, much of which was filmed inside the Pentagon, four generals and three colonels praise the Christian Embassy, a group that evangelizes among military leaders, politicians and diplomats in Washington. Some of the officers describe their efforts to spread their faith within the military.
All of that is disturbing--not because evangelicals are bad, but because we have to be careful about religion and the sanction of our government. As Melissa Rogers noted:
"If a person in a foreign country heard a member of Congress talking about his or her official duties and status and evangelizing, that would seem to suggest that our government is promoting Christianity. That's problematic for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which is it could throw a bunch of gasoline of some of the global problems we currently face."
Then there are parts that are simply confusing.
Army Brig. Gen. Bob Casen refers in the video to the Christian Embassy's special efforts to reach admirals and generals through Flag Fellowship groups. Whenever he sees another fellowship member, he says, "I immediately feel like I am being held accountable, because we are the aroma of Jesus Christ."What the hell does that mean? "Aroma?"
Oh, and let's not forget this gem from the past.
In 2003, Army Lt. Gen. William G. "Jerry" Boykin drew criticism for appearing in uniform before church groups and saying, in remarks captured on video, that President Bush was "appointed by God," that the United States is "a Christian nation" and that Muslims worship "an idol." The inspector general's office determined that Boykin had not violated any rules, and he remained in a top intelligence post.Why the Navy Chaplain was court-martialled while Boykin kept his job confuses me.
This year, Navy chaplain Gordon J. Klingenschmitt was court-martialed for appearing in uniform at a political protest in front of the White House, though he maintained that all he did was lead a prayer."
Anyway, I think this story reminds us that we have to be vigilant on issues of religious freedom. Again, this is not to attack evangelicals, but to remind them that religious freedom has worked well FOR them, not against them. This kind of entanglement might be helpful for certain subsets of evangelicalism right now, but the precedent could be harmful for them down the road. To say nothing of how this communicates to the Muslim world.