Given the current threats under a progressive administration in Washington on religious rights, especially for members of military, it took “real courage” for an admiral simply to say he gave a Bible to a hurting soldier and would do so again.
That’s according to Gen. Jerry Boykin, executive vice president of the Family Research Council, which was the target of a violent attack by a leftist last year.
Boykin was citing the bold statement by Coast Guard Rear Admiral William D. Lee at Thursday’s National Day of Prayer event in Washington.
Lee recalled a recent meeting with a young soldier who had tried to kill himself but survived the gunshot to his own head.
Lee said he knew he needed to respond, and he gave the soldier a Bible.
“The lawyers tell me that if I do that, I’m crossing the line. I’m so glad I’ve crossed that line so many times,” said the admiral, who received a standing ovation.
That statement, Boykin said, is worthy of admiration.
“Rear Admiral William Lee demonstrated real courage yesterday when he spoke at the National Day of Prayer event in the nation’s capital,” Boykin confirmed.
“I have seen courage manifested in many ways, including the ultimate sacrifice of one’s life for one’s country, but this type of moral courage is becoming more and more rare,” Boykin said. “This is especially true as we live in an environment increasingly hostile toward religious expression.
“The kind of courage that the admiral displayed yesterday is a refreshing reminder that there are still courageous men in uniform. Rear Admiral Lee spoke of rules in the uniformed services that prevent Christians from sharing their faith and he pledged to continue to be open about his faith regardless of the pressure not to. He obviously knows that he has a constitutional right to share his faith unimpeded. Talking about Jesus Christ with interested friends and colleagues should be as natural and protected as talking about sports teams and the weather. That it is now under threat is simply un-American.”
Boykin said, “You want a real hero? Just look no further than Rear Admiral William D Lee.”
Lee had pledged not to back down from “my right under the Constitution to tell a young man that there is hope.”
And he warned that military members need to be prepared for “the storm that I am almost certain will come.”
“Hopefully, the skeptics who have offered opinions about the extent of hostility toward Christians in our uniformed services will wake up and take notice of what the admiral said yesterday,” Boykin said. “He is giving you the truth and it is hard truth that must cause concern among all Americans and not just Christians.”
The speech followed a week of controversy after the Washington Post reported last Friday that anti-Christian activists had met with senior Pentagon officials to press for the court-martial of Christians in the military who “promote their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates or to extend preferential treatment for any religion.”
The Post said the activists were given assurances that an instruction booklet on proselytizing would be forthcoming within the next few weeks.
According to FRC, since then, the Pentagon has issued several statements, but none has explained what assurances were offered in the meeting and if none were offered, why the Pentagon has not made clear that anti-Christian activist Mikey Weinstein has misrepresented his relationship with the Air Force.
Since Monday evening, more than 130,000 people have signed an FRC petition urging the Pentagon to scrub plans to censor religious beliefs.
WND reported just days ago that the Pentagon announced military members who want to talk about their faith with other members have every right to do so, backtracking on a previous warning against “proselytizing,” which it said could be subject to court-martial.
The statement from Lt. Cmdr. Nathan Christensen said the Department of Defense “never and will never single out a particular religious group for persecution or prosecution.”
The Pentagon walked back its statement after the Alliance Defending Freedom filed a Freedom of Information Act request for records relating to Pentagon statements on the issue.
“Members of our military should not be denied the very freedoms they fight to defend. Freedom of religion and speech are paramount among those freedoms,” said ADF Legal Counsel Joseph La Rue. “We appreciate the Pentagon’s clarification, but little or no evidence exists of coercive proselytization in the military, so we are still troubled over what motivated the original comments.”
The Pentagon’s Christensen said in the statement that the Department of Defense department “makes reasonable accommodations for all religions and celebrates the religious diversity of our service members.”
“Service members can share their faith (evangelize), but must not force unwanted, intrusive attempts to convert others of any faith or no faith to one’s beliefs (proselytization),” he said.
The Department of Defense, Christensen said, places “a high value on the rights of members of the military services to observe the tenets of their respective religions and respects (and supports by its policy) the rights of others to their own religious beliefs, including the right to hold no beliefs.”
He said members are free to exercise their constitutional right to practice their religion “in a manner that is respectful of other individuals’ rights to follow their own belief systems; and in ways that are conducive to good order and discipline; and that do not detract from accomplishing the military mission.”
The issue surfaced after Weinstein met with department officials and then wrote that Christians in the military are “monsters” who must be stopped from talking about their faith.
Weinstein had declared: “We face incredibly well-funded gangs of fundamentalist Christian monsters who terrorize their fellow Americans by forcing their weaponized and twisted version of Christianity upon their helpless subordinates in our nation’s armed forces.”
In an interview with Fox News, Weinstein said the military needs to begin prosecuting Christians who share their faith.
“Someone needs to be punished for this,” he said. “Until the Air Force or Army or Navy or Marine Corps punishes a member of the military for unconstitutional religious proselytizing and oppression, we will never have the ability to stop this horrible, horrendous, dehumanizing behavior.”
It seemed the military was listening, with a statement that, “Religious proselytization is not permitted within the Department of Defense.”
Weinstein, according to Fox News’ Todd Starnes, told officials at the meeting that U.S. troops who evangelize are guilty of sedition and treason and should be punished, by the hundreds if necessary.
But leaders of the Washington-based Family Research Council said the Pentagon’s apparent intent to punish evangelism makes no sense.
“Why would military leadership be meeting with one of the most rabid atheists in America to discuss religious freedom in the military,” asked FRC President Tony Perkins in a Fox News interview. “That’s like consulting with China on how to improve human rights.”
Boykin said, “This has the potential to destroy military recruiting across the services as Americans realize that their faith will be suppressed by joining the military. Our brave troops deserve better. If chaplains and other personnel are censored from offering the full solace of the Gospel, there is no religious freedom in the military.”
Ron Crews of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty told Starnes: “Saying that a service member cannot speak of his faith is like telling a service member he cannot talk about his spouse or children. I do not think the Air Force wants to ban personnel from protected religious speech.”
However, Weinstein told the Washington Post that such conversation is a national security threat and “sedition and treason.”
Ken Klukowski, a senior fellow for religious liberty at FRC, noted that Weinstein cites Focus on the Family founder James Dobson as “illustrating the extremist, militant nature of these virulently homophobic organizations’ rhetorically charged propaganda.”
Weinstein concludes: “Let’s call these ignoble actions what they are: the senseless and cowardly squallings of human monsters.”
Kulkowski pointed out that Weinstein endorses the Southern Poverty Law Center, which publishes a list of “hate groups” that lump together Christian organizations such as FRC with the Ku Klux Klan.
As WND reported, the man who shot a security guard at FRC headquarters last August, Floyd Lee Corkins II, confessed that he targeted FRC because of information provided by SPLC.
Asked by the FBI why he picked FRC to attack, Corkins stated, “It was a, uh, Southern Poverty Law, lists, uh, anti-gay groups. I found them online. I did a little bit of research, went to the website, stuff like that.”
FRC said that when Corkins later pleaded guilty to a charge of domestic terrorism, the SPLC “was connected in federal court in this first domestic terrorism conviction in Washington, D.C., under the post 9/11 law.”
SPLC has refused FRC’s demand to remove the Christian organization from the hate list.
In an FBI interview, Corkins confessed he wanted to “kill as many people as I could.”