Monday, December 5, 2011

De-Christianizing the Military

It was by George Washington’s insistence that his troops would have chaplains. He and others recognized that their war was a moral one, and victory required that the highest moral standards had to be maintained. On July 9th, l776, he wrote to the Continental Congress:

• The Colonels or commanding officers of each regiment are directed to procure Chaplains accordingly; persons of good Characters and exemplary lives - To see that all inferior officers and soldiers pay them a suitable respect and attend carefully upon religious exercises. The blessing and protection of Heaven are at all times necessary but especially so in times of public distress and danger -The General hopes and trusts, that every officer and man, will endeavor so to live, and act as becomes a Christian Soldier defending the dearest Rights and Liberties of his country.

Much has changed. The de-Christianizing of America has become more than a matter of removing crèche scenes and crosses. On Dec. 2, 2011, the Family Research Council (FRC) revealed:

• The soldiers who wake up in Walter Reed Medical Center are in Maryland--not communist China. But under the Navy's new rules, they may not know the difference…And this time, it has a high-value target: the Bible. In a memo obtained by FRC, Navy officials have announced that "no religious items (including Bibles, reading material, and/or artifacts) are allowed to be given away or used during a visit." The new orders are buried in a four-page document about patient care, which an Army officer forwarded to us in disbelief. Effective immediately, families, friends, and even pastors will have to check their beliefs at the door to visit one of the largest military hospitals in the United States .

• Last night, after we circulated the memo to leaders on the Hill, an outraged Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) took to the House floor and blasted the policy. "Mr. Speaker, these military men and women who are recovering at Walter Reed and Bethesda have given their all for America ... They've defended and taken an oath to the Constitution, and here they are. The people that come to visit them can't bring a religious artifact? They can't bring a Bible? ...A priest can't walk in with the Eucharist and offer communion to a patient who might be on their deathbed because it's prohibited in this memo from the Department of the Navy?"

Washington and the Founding Fathers would have been shocked by these developments. While we are no longer allowed to give away a Bible in certain circumstance, other religions are being promoted in the military. The LA Times reported on Nov. 26, 2011 that,

• The [US Air Force] academy this year dedicated an $80,000 outdoor worship center — a small Stonehenge-like circle of boulders with propane fire pit — high on a hill for the handful of current or future cadets whose religions fall under the broad category of "Earth-based." Those include pagans, Wiccans, druids, witches and followers of Native American faiths.

All forms of sexual contact are also becoming protected behaviors – unlike the giving away of a Bible – within the US military

• On Nov. 15 [2011], the Senate Armed Services Committee had unanimously approved S. 1867, the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes a provision to repeal Article 125 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Article 125 of the UCMJ makes it illegal to engage in both sodomy with humans and sex with animals.

These developments, along with many other similar ones, are truly troubling, at least for me. How do I cope? We justifiably realize our insignificance when pitted against these powerful and destructive societal shifts. However, such threats are nothing new to the people of God. David confidently proclaimed: “When I am afraid, I will trust in you. (Psalm 56:3).

Trust is central, when faithfulness to the Gospel can result in jail. This is the very situation that confronted Peter and the others, when they were brought before the threatening Court. However, they did not buckle but proclaimed, "We must obey God rather than men!” (Acts 5:29). God help us!

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