Dark Christianity
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May 2008
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Watchdog groups force military to drop sponsorship of evangelical event


The good people at Jews on First have been doing a bang-up job tracking the involvement of evangelical groups in the military.

While it's OK for religious groups to have access to the troops, it is NOT OK for the military to officially sponsor any religious group. But that was exactly what happened on Memorial Day weekend in Stone Mountain Park near Atlanta, GA:

Last-minute intervention by constitutional watchdog organizations forced the Army and Air Force to drop their sponsorship of a right-wing evangelical Christian event.

The event, "Salute to the Troops," at Stone Mountain Park near Atlanta ran without official government sponsorship. Planned military involvement in the three-day Memorial Day weekend event was also greatly reduced after Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) wrote to the secretaries of the Army and Navy.

Nevertheless, Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said he is planning to sue the Pentagon over the event.

The Salute to the Troops event was advertised locally as having official Army and Air Force sponsorship. It was to have featured official military displays and speakers, most notably Army parachute jumps and hourly Air Force flyovers -- until Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation learned of it.

Americans United wrote to the secretaries of the Air Force and the Army, confronting them with evidence of their services' official involvement in the event.

In its May 23rd letter, AU exposed the services' involvement and forced both Army and Air Force to make statements backing away from their endorsements and to greatly tone down their official participation. AU quoted a Robins Air Force Base publication calling the Stone Mountain event an "official" Air Force event. The URL AU cited, "http://www.robins.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-070504-20.pdf," appears to have been taken down.

Task Force Patriot USA
The Salute's main sponsor was Task Force Patriot USA, a suburban Atlanta group whose website says:

Task Force Patriot exists for the purpose of sharing the fullness of life in Jesus Christ with all U.S. military, military veterans and families. The outreach is to those in need of gaining new growth and balance in their lives.... as they assist others, while serving Him.

According to a local paper, the Gwinnett Daily Post, TFP has ambitions to expand across the country.

This super show is not a one-shot deal. Salute to the Troops is on the calendar for the next 10 years, and Task Force Patriot is planning similar events in other major cities.

But weekend celebrations are only a minor detail. The group’s main task is to set up military support groups like theirs all over the nation.

The article linked above has all the embedded links. This was a partial excerpt. There's more- lots more- at the site.

For the newcomers here, the military has long been a very juicy target for infiltration by elements of the hard Christian Right. Unfortunately, the diversity of chaplains serving in the military has been nearly obliterated by a huge inflow of Assemblies-sponsored chaplains, who apparently are not as obedient to the requirements of being a military chaplain as the older corps was. They have flaunted the requirements of non-sectarian prayer at public events, actively pursue 'unchurched' soldiers, openly proselytize people who are their inferiors in rank, and do many other things that have started to turn the military into a religious right bastion. It goes all the way up to the Pentagon. Check the 'military' tag for past posts about this.

Worse, the influx of these chaplains and believers has created a climate of open distaste for non-believers, which was very sharply demonstrated at the USAF Academy. Mikey Weinstein's own children were cadets there, and they, along with others, reported open evangelicizing, and punitive assignment to 'heathen squads' for those who either did not bow to the pressure, or would not convert. "Jews on First" has done an excellent job in covering this. I recommend exploring their site, along with Mikey's, to learn more about this ongoing problem.

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