No, The US Air Force Isn’t Going To Court Martial People For Being Christian

Another day, another breathless Breitbart.com headline.

Breaking: Pentagon Confirms May Court Martial Soldiers Who Share Christian Faith

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.

Hmm. That sounds horrible. It also sounds rather…far fetched. Perhaps a little research is in order.

On what grounds would these Courts Martial take place? Well, the Air Force has some regulation about how and when members can discuss religion. You can see the whole thing here on page 19 of this pdf but below are the relevant sections.

 

usafregs

What exactly is so controversial or anti-religion about that? It doesn’t say people can’t practice their religion or talk about it with fellow members of the service. It just says leaders can’t use their official positions of authority to promote their religious beliefs to their troops. Military leaders have tremendous power over their subordinates, it’s not irrational to ensure that for the good of the service this authority isn’t abused for private ends.

It’s not as if these regulations came out of nowhere either. The Air Force actually had some issues with leaders mixing personal beliefs with professional duties.

In fact, the Air Force regulations on the professional line between personal beliefs and military duty go back to 2005, during the presidency of well known Christian oppressor, um, George W. Bush.

Can the military be infected with PC? Of course. Could there be rampant abuse by military prosecutors? Theoretically, sure. But unless I’ve missed a rash of Courts Martial in the last 8 years, I’m going to go ahead and give the Air Force the benefit of the doubt that they are doing what they can to balance competing interests and will find a way forward that doesn’t involve trampling the values they have sworn to defend.

As always, a concerned and informed citizenry is essential to keep government on the straight and narrow but hysterical fear mongering helps no one.

About Drew

I blog about politics and hockey because I sort of understand those things. I'd blog about women but I'll never understand them.

Posted on May 1, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. “It just says leaders can’t use their official positions of authority to promote their religious beliefs to their troops.”

    Sorry Drew, but you’re wrong. The word “apparent” in Sec. 2.11 can and will leave commanders and supervisors susceptible to unnecessary litigation. Even a commander who gathers his troops around for a moment of silence could be construed by atheists to promoting religious beliefs.

  2. Drew, I think that problem is that the language is too vague – “proselytization” is a broad term, and while the intent may be to deal with leaders abusing their position, it could also be used to stifle legitimate speech, including keeping chaplains from offering spiritual comfort or advice. Remember that there is already been some concern about whether chaplains will be allowed to criticize homosexuality now that DADT has been repealed.

  3. False, Drew. Proselytizing is a key, central component of Christian faith. Threatening anyone for expression of faith (as the fellow from the bigot organization was jubilant over) is a direct infringement of religious freedom. Read the source, the push is to court martial anyone expressing faith publicly in a leadership position. That is all the way down to a private – who will immediately have his platoon’s corporal up on charges. The fact is that banning proselytizing is a direct attack on all Christians. It seems you did not read the interview with Mr. Weinstein, a brownshirt of the highest order.

  4. You leave out the ‘soft’ catch all things like… disobeying an order… and conduct unbecoming… because they can ruin your carreer with an Eval, let alone Non Judicial Punishment… The amount of social control the military has over its members is HUGE…

  5. Well, now we know who hasn’t served in the military. I repeat Drew’s challenge to show me the courts martial.

    A court martial is a big deal and a royal pain in the ass. A private cannot have anyone up on charges. He can make a complaint, and it will be investigated, but the probable resolution will be a fairly one-way conversation telling the superior that as far as his unit is concerned he isn’t a Christian, Kansan, Hispanic, or Hoosier’s fan, he is the lieutenant (sergeant, chief, etc.) He had better not be gathering his troops for a moment of silence.

  6. First of all, thank you Drew and Jeff for using the correct plural of court martial.

    When this meme popped up in my newsfeed a couple of times today, I got curious. Nothing I could find on Snopes. Waded through 9 pages of repetitive headlines on Google before finally coming across this post. So it would appear that it originated with Breitbart.com? Did they make it up out of whole cloth, or is there some reliable source that gives it a fragment of truth? I don’t have a dog in this fight, but it has caught my attention for the moment.

  7. In the first paragraph after the quoted section, “subordinates” should be followed by a semicolon, not a comma. This is a distressingly common error. People who know the correct plural of court martial ought to know how to integrate sentence fragments. Thank you.

  8. And what did the Pentagon say about this? The title of the piece from Breitbart is the “Pentagon May Court Martial Soldiers Who Share Christian Faith”. No where in the article does it state that the Air Force are the ones who are going to do it. In practice, Court Martials are done at the local level, unless the soldiers are brought back to the States, which has happened before.

    Double check with the Pentagon. You might find that quite a few court martials are done there, especially the show trials.

  9. See, I was believing your opinion, until you had to slam President Bush and you lost me . Shame on you .

  1. Pingback: 666 ALERT: Is the U.S. Military Preparing to Court Martial Christians? - ALIPAC

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