The chief of the U.S. Army has ordered that training for the military on "extremists" be halted until the program can be corrected and standardized to eliminate reported Christian-bashing
It was earlier this month that one such "training" course was reported to have labeled the pro-family American Family Association as a hate group – a designation that earlier was applied to the group by the domestic terror case-linked Southern Poverty Law Center.
According to Fox News Radio's Todd Starnes, Army Secretary John McHugh has given military leaders a memo with the orders.
Advertisement - story continues below
"On several occasions over the past few months, media accounts have highlighted instances of Army instructors supplementing programs of instruction and including information or material that is inaccurate, objectionable and otherwise inconsistent with current Army policy," the memo said.
Starnes reported an Army spokesman, David Patterson Jr., said McHugh "directed that Army leaders cease all briefings, command presentations or training on the subject of extremist organizations or activities until that program of instruction and training has been created and disseminated."
It was a soldier at a Camp Shelby in Mississippi who presented evidence to media that an Army presenter at a briefing identified AFA as a "hate group" because of its stance on homosexuality and marriage.
Army spokesman George Wright later confessed the characterization of AFA was "acquired from an Internet search" and "did not come from official Army sources, nor was it approved by senior Army leaders, senior equal opportunity counselors or judge-advocate personnel."
Advertisement - story continues below
Tim Wildmon, president of AFA, one of the country's largest Christian ministries, said: "We are probably going to be taking legal action. The Army has smeared us. They've defamed the American Family Association."
Brian Fischer, AFA's director of issues analysis, said the Internet source likely was the Southern Poverty Law Center, which routinely labels Christians who adhere to biblical teaching on homosexuality as "hate groups."
At the time, he said: "The blatantly false 'hate' allegation is coming from the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is now a thoroughly discredited source on any subject, especially hate. In fact, for spreading malicious lies about pro-family groups, SPLC belongs on its own hate group list. They've made a despicable career out of using lies, distortions and innuendo to whip up reckless and dangerous animosity against groups which defend the values of the Founders."
Fischer said the "real hate group here is the SPLC."
That isn't news to anyone familiar with the terror attack on the Washington headquarters of the Family Research Council, an organization with standards and beliefs like those of AFA.
Advertisement - story continues below
The convicted assailant, Floyd Lee Corkins, said he chose to attack FRC because the organization was listed as an "anti-gay" hate group by SPLC on its website.
FRC promotes traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs about the family and homosexuality, but SPLC claims the organization's "real specialty is defaming gays and lesbians."
Corkins, a former volunteer at an LGBT community center, pleaded guilty to domestic terrorism. It was on Aug. 15, 2012, when the heavily armed Corkins walked into FRC headquarters and began shooting with the intent of killing "as many people as I could." He managed to shoot and injure just one person, facilities manager Leo Johnson, who is credited with heroically stopping the attack.
Advertisement - story continues below
In a speech at recent the Values Voter Summit 2013, Alveda King, a niece of Martin Luther King Jr., condemned the practice of labeling Christian organizations "hate" groups.
She said Corkins "came to FRC as a gunman, fueled by hate mongering from the Southern Poverty Law Center."
"The shooter admitted he was directed to FRC's location by the Southern Poverty Law Center's website. While SPLC claims to fight against hate, they have been saying hateful things about the Family Research Council and perhaps other groups who are represented her today," she said.
"Today the shooter is behind bars as the result of being convicted for domestic terrorism. But the SPLC and many others, who couch hate and anger in false claims of civil rights activism, still roam free to confuse the masses with their deceptions," said King.
See King's speech:
Sandy Rios, another vocal advocate on behalf of Christian organizations, also spoke at the summit.
"We have 2.5 million constituents, we have 190 radio stations, we have a journal. And just, not that long ago, the SPLC has decided that we are in fact a hate group," she said.
It was the SPLC's own letter asking members of Congress to boycott the summit that gave supporting evidence, she said.
She quoted from the SPLC letter: "Given the demonizing lies about the LGBT community spread by the host, the Family Research Council and another major sponsor of the event, the American Family Association, we urge you not to lend the prestige of your office to the summit."
Rios continued: "We all know that a little more than a year ago, Floyd Corkins came into the offices of the Family Research Council because he had looked on the Southern Poverty Law Center's website, checked their list of 'hate' groups, found FRC and a couple of others, gone into the building with the idea that he would commit mass murder. With a bag full of Chick-fil-A sandwiches that he was going to stuff in their mouths after he murdered them."
She noted SPLC has refused to apologize and remove FRC and AFA from their list of hate groups.
"But let me tell you something about why this is important," she said. "The Southern Poverty Law Center sounds great, doesn't it? You know it's always had a reputation, sort of a history of helping people in the civil rights movement. And they had a good reputation. That's what people think they do. But that's not really what they do."
Rios said SPLC "now has millions of dollars in funding, endowments in excess of $223 million, and lots of off shore accounts."
"Let me just say that the American Institute of Philanthropy has given an F grade to the SPLC for their excessive reserves," she said.
Rios charged SPLC's "main business is attacking and suing conservative organizations."
"They are out to destroy people like the Family Research Council, the American Family Association, and people like you," she said.
"Hate is a cottage industry for the SPLC," charged Rios.
"And let me give you just an idea of some of the things that they do. They have a hate map and they list on their hate map, at least at this writing, they listed 1,018 groups," she said.
"So, the interesting thing about it is the statistics on crime, the hate crimes, between 1996 and 2011 decreased by 29 percent while the number of hate groups the SPLC identified rose 69 percent. A little strange. So when law enforcement and others looked into this list they found that many of these groups don't even exist. So the SPLC I have to say is not to be trusted. And yet, the reason I am spending so much time telling you about them is that, in fact, they are used as a resource by the Department of Homeland Security, the Justice Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Pentagon, and thousands of local law enforcement agencies. They conduct trainings all around this country, informing these groups of who the haters are and we are on that list. We are on that list."
See Rios' speech:
Starnes' latest report noted that Ron Crews of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty welcomed the orders from McHugh.
"Men and women of faith – who have served the Army faithfully for centuries – have been likened to those who regularly threaten the peace and security of the United States. It is dishonorable for any U.S. military entity to allow this type of improper characterization," he told Starnes.
The Camp Shelby episode also drew the attention of Congress, where Reps. Doug Lamborn, Steve Scalise, John Fleming, Joseph Pitts and Tim Huelskamp joined in a letter to the Pentagon stating: "This most recent mislabeling of a Christian organization reflects what appears to be a troubling trend of religious intolerance in the military."
Starnes noted that Fort Hood soldiers also were warned that contribution to evangelical Christian groups could result in military punishment, and earlier this year a training brief listed Catholics and evangelical Christians as extremists.
WND reported that the U.S. military already had been caught teaching that the Founding Fathers, whose beliefs and political positions could accurately be described in today's terminology as conservative, were "extremists."
Also, a study at the West Point Military Academy asserted people who are part of the ideological right wing of American society constitutes a danger to the nation.
Then it was revealed that SPLC was caught providing information to a terrorist later convicted of a domestic attack who was "advising" the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
'Hostile to Christian faith'
AFA's Fischer suggested that if the "military wasn't headed by a commander in chief who is hostile to Christian faith, these allegations would be laughed off every military base in the world."
"The truth is that AFA doesn't hate anyone," he said. "We love everybody. We love homosexuals enough to tell them the truth about the moral, spiritual and physical dangers of homosexual conduct."
Listen to AFA's Brian Fischer:
The Obama administration's attacks on conservatives date back to just weeks after he took office.
At that time a newly unclassified Department of Homeland Security report warned against the possibility of violence by unnamed "right-wing extremists," including opponents of abortion.
The report was followed days later by a report from the Missouri Information Analysis Center that warned law enforcement officials to watch out for individuals with "radical" ideologies based on Christian views.
DHS officials later told WND they would refuse to identify the authors of the report or comment on any actions taken in response to the controversy.
But the steady drumbeat of statements from the administration even prompted members of both parties in Congress to blast the reports.
The Department of Defense later was caught teaching that those who oppose abortion are "low-level terrorists."
Weeks later, SPLC confirmed to WND it published a report and delivered it to law enforcement officers across the nation that lumped adherents of constitutional principles with crazed killers.
It further was revealed SPLC was advising DHS formally on how to "combat violent extremism." The DHS also was caught monitoring a blog posted by a Christian who was forced to flee Brazil because of the conflict between that nation's pro-homosexual "hate crimes" agenda and his advocacy for traditional marriage.
The Obama administration declined comment on its decision to monitor Julio Severo's unabashedly Christian Last Days Watchman blog.
Early this year a West Point study from the U.S. Military Academy's Combating Terrorism Center linked opposition to abortion and other "fundamental" positions to terrorism.
The study, "Challenges from the Sidelines: Understanding America's Violent Far-Right," cites "anti-abortionists" as an active threat for terrorist activity.
"The anti-abortionists have been extremely productive during the last two decades, amassing 227 attacks, many of them perpetrated without the responsible perpetrators identified or caught," author Arie Perliger wrote. "And while, in both cases, the 1990s were more violent than the last decade, in the case of anti-abortion, the trend is much more extreme, as 90 percent of attacks were perpetrated before 2001."
American Life League President Judie Brown called it a smear tactic.
"I can see exactly what is going on with reference to the pro-life movement. The use of two words expose the bias and hatred for what we stand for as a movement. Those words are 'attacks' and 'violence'," Brown said.
Herb Titus, a constitutional law professor, former dean of the Regent University School of Law and distinguished fellow with the Inter-American Institute for Philosophy, Government, and Social Thought, says it's an attempt to link conservative thought with violence.
"Professor Perliger has adopted the strategy of many left-wing members of the professoriate, concentrating on the behavior of a few in order to discredit many who hold similar views but who do not engage in any form of violence," Titus said.
"His theory is that of the iceberg, that which as seen may be small, but it hides what is a much larger threat just below the surface. Obviously, the professor disagrees with those who favor small government, cutting back of federal government encroachments upon the powers of the state and to discredit this movement focuses on a few gun-toting militia," Titus said.
Titus turns his attention to whom he believes is the source of the study.
"Like so many in the Obama administration, Perliger does not want to engage in any dialogue on the issues, but just discredit an entire political movement by ad hominem charged words," Titus said. "Perliger is not a serious scholar, but a propagandist for the existing regime."
The military teaching that the colonists were "extremists" was traced back to SPLC.
Judicial Watch, a government corruption monitor, said it obtained records regarding the "preparation and presentation of training materials on hate groups or hate crimes distributed or used by the Air Force."
The teaching claimed: "In U.S. history, there are many examples of extremist ideologies and movements. The colonists who sought to free themselves from British rule and the Confederate states who sought to secede from the Northern states are just two examples."
The 9/11 attacks by Muslims who killed nearly 3,000 people are called a "historical event."