Our Own Military Knocks Down Wall of Separation August 4, 2007

Our Own Military Knocks Down Wall of Separation

The article says it all:

The Defense Department’s inspector general has found that four generals and three other military officers improperly participated in a fundraising video for an evangelical Christian group, inappropriately offering support for the religious organization while appearing to operate within the scope of their official government duties, according to a 47-page investigative report.

Investigators concluded that the officers should not have participated in the filming in 2005 of a 10-minute video for Christian Embassy, a nonprofit religious group, which ultimately used the video as a fundraising tool. While Christian Embassy has hosted prayer meetings at the Pentagon for years, the inspector general concluded that the officers’ endorsement of its activities — while in uniform, showing their rank and in the halls of the Pentagon — violated ethical rules.

The men in question include Major Generals Peter U. Sutton and Jack J. Catton Jr. (Air Force), and Brigadier Generals Vincent K. Brooks and Robert L. Caslen Jr. (Army). Also in the bunch was retired Army Colonel Ralph G. Benson, a former Pentagon chaplain.

Other men in the military participated in the video. However, they didn’t wear their uniforms or give any indication of where they worked, so they were cleared of any charges.

Christian Embassy was founded by Bill Bright, the man who started Campus Crusade for Christ.

The video in question can be downloaded here (WMV) and here (QT).

(Thanks to InfidelJoe for the link)

[tags]atheist, atheism, Defense Department, evangelical, Christian, Christian Embassy, Pentagon, Peter U. Sutton, Jack J. Catton Jr., Air Force, Vincent K. Brooks, Robert L. Caslen Jr., Army, Ralph G. Benson, Bill Bright, Campus Crusade for Christ[/tags]

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  • infideljoe

    Having served in the military, I find it very distrubing to hear that 2 star
    general say that his faith comes before his country.

  • Darryl

    Any general of faith that is weighing allegiances between God and Country has a big problem: he has set the two opposed to each other. How did this come about? When you’re wearing the uniform, your sworn duty is not to any one or anything but the Constitution, which is to say to the President and the People. These folks should repent or resign. We don’t need rogue religionists in the higher ups–we’ve already seen how that works out when it comes to military decisions.

  • Vincent

    Okay, so what’s the penalty? Anything?

  • As long as we’re on the subject of the disturbing amount of power wielded by evangelicals in our military, I thought I’d repost this:

    Thought you’d be interested in this report of the first-ever meeting of Atheist service-members in Iraq under the umbrella of the MAAF-Iraq chapter of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers. This meeting was put together by the same young MAAF member who recently had his second letter published in the Stars and Stripes.

    One of our members, a young Atheist enlisted soldier, thought he would like to see if he could generate some interest in MAAF meetings at his Forward Operating Base (FOB) here in Iraq (not the base I’m at, by the way). He got things coordinated and started hanging flyers, and after weeks of having to re-hang his flyers almost daily because some vandal kept tearing them down, he finally succeeded in having a small MAAF meeting. I wasn’t there because the meeting wasn’t on my FOB, but I knew he was holding it and was expecting to hear from him after the meeting. Keep in mind that this young soldier did everything right – he went through the Chaplain’s office and jumped through all the hoops it takes to legally hold meetings that are religiously or philosophically based. Four soldiers attended this meeting – all of them very junior enlisted soldiers with the exception of one Major (an O-4), who claimed to be a “freethinker”.

    Well, to make a very long story a little shorter, the Major turned out to be a fundamentalist Christian who verbally berated the other attendees, accused them of plotting against Christians and disrespecting soldiers who have died protecting the Constitution, and threatened them with punishment under the UCMJ for their activities (said they were “going down”) and said he would do whatever it took to shut the meetings down. Keep in mind that by this point, he had two of the attendees (one soldier fled when the shouting started) standing at the position of attention so that he could yell at them, berate them, and humiliate them. This apparently went on for several minutes at which time the Major shut down the meeting by saying he wasn’t some “push-over Chaplain” and that he would not tolerate the meetings to continue.

    The young MAAF member who hosted the meeting is absolutely freaked out about what happened, but he said he’s going to continue with the meetings and isn’t going to be bullied by the prayer warriors. I’ve advised him to immediately notify the Chaplain sponsor of what happened to get guidance while I try to figure out what to do next. I should hear something back from him tonight sometime and there’s even a small possibility I might be able to score a mission to his FOB and attend one of his meetings in the next few weeks (if I do, I’ll meet with the Chaplain in person).

    As for immediate action, he’s going to get me the names of his Chaplain sponsor and the name of the officer who disrupted the meeting. My intent right now is to make a formal report to the most senior Chaplain I can find along with possibly an Equal Opportunity complaint against the officer if we can get him fully identified. I may not be eligible to make that complaint because I wasn’t there, but I can at least smooth the way for this young troop to make one if he elects to. At the very least, I can make the EO office formally aware of what happened there.

    More info will follow when I get it, but right now, feel free to disseminate this information since I’ve intentionally sanitized it for names and locations.

  • Tim Welsh

    I know Ralph G. Benson personally and know him to be an opportunist who worked against the very people he was in the Army to serve, the soldier. He was a right-winger who looked out for only himself from his first year in service. His efforts ensured that he would eventually became Chaplain for the Pentagon.

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