Washington, D.C. — The Pentagon has unblocked the website of the Southern Baptist Convention for military access following a situation that raised concern among some soldiers who could not gain entry to the site.
According to reports, hundreds of military personnel noted last week that they were blocked from visiting the website, which was labeled as possessing “hostile content.” Suspicions began to arise among some that perhaps that the Pentagon had labeled Southern Baptists as a hate group, especially in light of a previous situation where an Army instructor had dubbed evangelical Christianity as “religious extremism.”
However, the Southern Baptist Convention urged members not to be hasty in assuming the block on the site was due to the beliefs of the denomination.
“Though there have been several instances recently in which evangelical Christians have been marginalized by the broader culture, we think that a rush to judgment that the United States Military has targeted the Southern Baptist Convention as a hostile religious group would be premature,” said spokesperson Sing Oldham.
Dissimilarly, the American Family Association (AFA) was alarmed by the matter and asked Christians to contact the Pentagon to express their concerns.
After complaints began pouring in, prompting a response from the government, it was discovered that the site was blocked because it contained malware — a harmful type of virus. Officials deny that the shutdown was related to any type of attack on Christianity.
“In this case, security systems performed as expected in detecting a threat to DoD (Department of Defense) networks,” Lieutenant Colonel Damien Pickart explained in a statement on Thursday. “We determined that our web filters recently detected malware at the SBC website, which resulted in the block for some service members.”
After the issue was identified and the threat removed, the block was lifted.
“The Department has verified that the Southern Baptist Convention website no longer contains malware that may pose a threat to our networks and will be unblocked today,” Pickart said. “The Department of Defense strongly supports the religious rights of service members, to include their ability to access religious websites like that of the SBC.”
Regardless of the issue, some still remain concerned that the military may have negative feelings about Christians. As previously reported, earlier this month, over 40 members of Congress signed a letter to Secretary of the Army John McHugh seeking an official apology over an incident that occurred last year during an unauthorized training briefing.
“We were deeply concerned to learn of an Army Reserve training brief that lists Catholics, evangelical Christians, Sunni Muslims and some Jews in a ‘religious extremism’ category along with groups like Al Qaeda, Hamas and the KKK,” wrote Representative Doug Lamborn, who spearheaded the effort. “This is astonishing and offensive and we urge you to immediately rescind this briefing.”
“Our nation needs to have an honest conversation about religious extremism and what we can do to avoid religious violence,” the letter concluded. “However, labeling these major world religions as extremists is wrong and hurtful. We call on you to rescind this briefing and set the record straight on the Army’s view on these faith groups by providing a balanced briefing on religious extremism.”