The Southern Baptist Convention issued a joint statement Monday urging Christians to avoid sensationalism and misrepresentations, while also raising issues of concern regarding recent reports that the U.S. military may be violating the religious freedom of Christians.
“We reject any and all attempts to sensationalize or misrepresent situations, in this or any other context. Having said that, we are concerned,” the statement says. “While rejecting any conspiracy theory linking the reports above, we believe there are in some of these cases elements that are indicative of a troubling lack of respect for true religious diversity in our military. Furthermore, problematic attempts in some sectors of the military to compromise the free exercise of religion have given a sense of plausibility when other such reports emerge, even when those reports are not grounded in fact.”
The impetus for the statement was four separate recent incidents: 1) In a presentation at a U.S. Army training briefing, evangelical Christians were listed alongside other religious sects and the terrorist group al-Qaida under the heading “Religious Extremism.” 2) The Southern Baptist Convention’s website was blocked on military bases. 3) U.S. military officials met with Mikey Weinstein, who has made anti-Christian inflammatory remarks, on religious issues in the military. And 4) military spokespersons announced that Christian soldiers could be punished for “proselytization.”
The statement notes that many of the news reports on these issues contained a mix of misinformation and facts.