This is a guest post by Jason Torpy. Jason is the President of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (MAAF).
FOX News Channel recently invited Master Sergeant Kathleen Johnson of American Atheists and Jordan Sekulow of the Christian advocacy group ACLJ to comment on the recent removal of a 6-foot cross on an Army chapel in Afghanistan. An Army chaplain posted this cross in direct violation of Army Regulation 165-1 (PDF), which governs Army chaplain operations.
The regulation states that Army chapels should be general-purpose and have no permanent symbols of any one religion. Only during worship services when sectarian symbols are in use for those who choose to be involved should religious symbols be displayed. When not in use, they are to be stored properly.
This all sounds reasonable unless you want to use government facilities to trumpet your personal religious beliefs — and if you have no problem inciting the local Muslim population to religious violence.
Johnson rightfully points out that maintaining government neutrality toward religion is no attack on Christianity. Sekulow, on the other hand, shows his true colors, dishonestly picking and choosing his statistics during his prepared remarks.
He states that atheists are concerned about the level of evangelicals in the military, referring directly to MAAF demographics showing that 66% of military chaplains are evangelical, despite evangelicals making up less than 19% of the general military population. Yet in the same interview, he also claims that 90% of the military is Christian, when the same MAAF demographics show that less than 70% of the military self-identifies as Christian.
More information on the Cross in question is here. This isn’t the first story we’ve heard like this one. We’ve seen this scene play out before, whether it’s the Camp Pendleton Cross, Mojave Desert Cross, Soledad Cross, Utah State Trooper crosses, and other attempts to appropriate Christian privileges using the service and sacrifice of US military personnel.