October 15, 2007

DOD Supported Military Proselytizing

English: The Pentagon, looking northeast with ...
The Pentagon, looking northeast with the Potomac River and Washington Monument in the distance (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Just when I thought the ongoing saga of Christian extremist proselytizing in the U.S. military couldn't possibly get any worse, it now appears that this idiocy may have been explicitly approved by the Department of Defense (DOD) in clear violation of the Constitution. I suppose this should not come as a surprise given that we are witnessing a neo-conservative administration which has routinely the rule of law and appears to consider itself above the laws of our nation.

According to Truthout (update: link no longer active),
The Defense Department (DOD) allegedly provided two fundamentalist Christian organizations exclusive access to several military bases around the country. This access became official sanction for these groups to proselytize amid the ranks, despite the fact that such activities were in violation of federal law.
Lest we think this is a simple error of oversight and not part of a much larger and far more deliberate strategy:
According to a week-long investigation by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a government watchdog organization, the evidence it has uncovered proves the Pentagon has been engaged in a pattern of widespread evangelizing in violation of Clause 3, Article VI of the Constitution, which forbids a religion test for any position in the federal government, and the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights, which says Congress shall make no law regarding an establishment of religion. Furthermore, individuals representing a specific denomination may only offer spiritual guidance to soldiers and are prohibited from using the "machinery of the state" to proselytize or try to convert members of the military.
H/T to Dispatches From The Culture Wars