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Preach It … Somewhere Else

On Monday, May 6th, in response to the Pentagon’s new policy against proselytizing, The Liberty Institute announced that they would protect the religious freedom of military servicemen and servicewomen, launching the Armed Forces Religious Liberty 800 hotline and a petition campaign.

The Pentagon has since sought to make its position clear, making the distinction that it’s okay to talk about faith as long as one doesn’t try to push that faith onto others.

Fair enough.

I’m grateful for the clarification, but, since I’d been following this story and I kept seeing the word “Christian” in the articles talking about the policy of subjecting members of the military caught talking of their faith to court-martial or imprisonment, I had to wonder if it was only Christians who were being singled out or if it was any religious proselytizing.

Could you talk about any other religions? How about atheism? Was Mikey Weinstein anti-Christian or anti-religion? The whole thing smelled wrong, but it sounded like Weinstein had a hate-on for Christians.

It turns out that, yes, Mikey Weinstein does have a hate-on for Christians – the Evangelical type – because of his sons allegedly being subjected to Christian proselytizing and anti-Semitic language at the Air Force Academy.

Proselytizing, according to Merriam-Webster, means “to recruit or convert especially to a new faith, institution, or cause“.

If you took what the articles said that Weinstein is proposing to mean exactly that, then the simple answer would be to avoid doing that. I can understand not wanting someone to try to give you the “Come to Jesus” speech, just as I understand that it’s part of certain religions to give that speech.

The way this was being taken – and, certainly the way I took it – was that any talk of religion is verboten and that any talk of religion, even between two people who share that faith, could get these people NJP’d or, worse, court-martialed, imprisoned, and/or given a dishonorable discharge – in whatever combination the powers-that-be deemed appropriate.

Also, what about atheism? If you talk about the lack of faith, is that also actionable?

It seemed the simplest solution would be to make the chaplains available for the people who wanted them; problem solved.

It would also be helpful if people wouldn’t flip out if someone around them mentions a belief in Buddha or Jesus or God or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Just say, “No thank you,” and move on. OTOH, for those whose religion says they need to bring other people over to their particular brand of faith, just know the right place to do that is not in the military – or anywhere it could earn you a punch in the mouth.

Not to mention the fact that most servicemen and servicewomen are perfectly capable of telling someone to go tell it on somebody else’s mountain without anyone’s help.