Recent events involving perceived restrictions on religious liberty within the Army, Air Force, and the Pentagon have many concerned about the military’s stance toward people of faith. These concerns have even prompted Members of Congress to send a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, seeking answers and clarifications around such circumstances.
In early April, an Army official, in a slideshow presentation to an Army Reserve group in Pennsylvania, compared evangelical Christians and Catholics to “extremists” in the same vein of the terrorist group al-Qaeda.
Army spokesman George Wright said this was an “isolated incident not condoned by the Dept. of the Army,” according to news sources.
“This slide was not produced by the Army and certainly does not reflect our policy or doctrine,” Wright said. “It was produced by an individual without anyone in the chain of command’s knowledge or permission.”
In early May, news outlets reported that military officials at the Pentagon met with activist Mikey Weinstein, who heads the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. Weinstein is notorious for his inflammatory remarks about Christians. The Washington Post reports that the meeting was held to discuss Weinstein’s concerns about proselytizing in the military.
Weinstein met on April 23 with officials to discuss an August 2012 document titled “Air Force Culture, Air Force Standards,” which discussed government neutrality on religion, free exercise, and religious accommodation, according to Fox News.