OCALA, Fla., September 30, 2013 — Like the rest of America, our military is in transition.
What was once an institution that excluded gays and lesbians as a rule, along with barring women from serving in combat roles, is now more open to recruits than ever before.
Nonetheless, barriers to certain types of diversity remain. This has nothing to do with ancestry, and everything to do with religion.
For decades on end, fundamentalist Christians have sought to create a theocracy of sorts. While the activities of the Religious Right made this clear to even casual political observers, what went unnoticed was not partisan rancor.
Instead, it was the activities of military personnel. In a nutshell, many of them chose to push their respective theological beliefs onto other servicemen and women.
This is why the Military Religious Freedom Foundation was created a few years ago. Since its inception, the civil rights group has had remarkable success in secularizing our armed forces.
Rising trends against religious indoctrination have led certain entities to make extreme claims. One of these is the socially rightist Family Research Council. Michael Chapman of CNSNews recently wrote that the Council’s “September 2013 report….details numerous cases of religious persecution in the U.S. military that have occurred over the last few years.
“Some of the cases involve banning Bibles; ordering soldiers to keep their Bibles out of sight; punishment for expressing opposition to a gay ‘marriage’ at the Cadet Chapel at West Point; and prosecuting a sergeant who refused to punish an instructor who expressed moral opposition to same-sex ‘marriage.’”
What does Mikey Weinstein, a registered Republican former Air Force prosecutor who served in the Ronald Reagan Administration, think about this?
“The report is absolutely false, ridiculous, nothing but garbage” he says to The Washington Times Communities. “They might as well have been reporting about the sightings of….extraterrestrial UFOs….and the Loch Ness monster.
“The Family Research Council, I wish it could be disbanded….they should be disbanded. I wish it was….What you’re seeing is — when people of color started to assert their civil rights, white people started feeling that they were losing their white privilege….then women started to assert their rights and were called ‘feminist movement’, now you started seeing male privilege eroded.
“Now you’re seeing fundamentalist Christian privilege [eroded]….remember now,34,751 of our clients….96 percent of our clients are Christian, and over 13 percent of all Muslims in the military are clients of ours. We have 817 members of the military who are lesbian, gay, and bisexual who are clients of ours. So, that report is utter and complete rubbish. I would really like to say what it was, but you can’t print the word.”
One of the biggest gripes which fundamentalist Christians have with the modern military is Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’s repeal. While valid, the federal legislation prevented gays, bisexuals, and lesbians from serving openly. Has DADT’s disbandment negatively impacted the lives of American military personnel who happen to be Christians?
“Absolutely not in any way, shape, or form,” Weinstein declares. He later mentions that “we saw fundamentalist Christians, or certainly conservatives, trying to use Biblical citations to argue for separation of the races….it has been a gigantic nothing-burger.
“Now, we’ve always had lesbian, gay, and bisexual people in the military….[Look at] all the other countries that are allies of America that have allowed this for years before we did; it’s an absolute non-event. But again, but again, for the….fundamentalist Christian Right, dripping and salivating at the thought of [not being able to have] a group of people that they can persecute frequently, are screaming to high heaven that it’s ultimately them — their rights are being infringed.
“Again, this is like the playground bully, after he pulled his lies on the teachers’ monitors, and the safety patrol, and the playground during recess, after he’s beaten a little boy or little girl into the dust of the playground, holding his fists up to the teacher and saying ‘But look at what, you know, Ellie or Jamie’s hands did to my knuckles! They’re all bruised now!’”
Far-left? Far-right? Get real: Read more from “The Conscience of a Realist” by Joseph F. Cotto
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