Albuquerque, New Mexico — An atheist organization that seeks freedom from religion in the military is asking officials at the Pentagon to court martial any Armed Forces superior who “promote[s] their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates” or “extend[s] preferential treatment for any religion.”
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, led by Mikey Weinstein, recently told reporter Todd Starnes that he wants to end proselytization on military bases, and compared evangelistic activity to rape.
“Someone needs to be punished for this,” he said. “Until the Air Force or Army or Navy or Marine Corps punishes a member of the military for unconstitutional religious proselytizing and oppression, we will never have the ability to stop this horrible, horrendous, dehumanizing behavior.”
“It is a version of being spiritually raped and you are being spiritually raped by fundamentalist Christian religious predators,” Weinstein asserted. “As soon as we find a fundamentalist Muslim, atheist, Jewish person or anybody else, we will be happy to fight them, but so far they have been few and far between.”
Starnes reports that Weinstein met with Pentagon officials on April 23rd in an effort to urge them to enforce current laws, which require military superiors to “balance constitutional protections for an individual’s free exercise of religion or other personal beliefs and the constitutional prohibition against governmental establishment of religion.”
“If a member of the military is proselytizing in a manner that violates the law, well then of course they can be prosecuted,” he stated. “We would love to see hundreds of prosecutions to stop this outrage of fundamentalist religious persecution.”
Weinstein said that to promote one’s religion in the Armed Forces is “sedition” and “treason” and should be stopped.
The Pentagon confirmed that proselytization is not permitted on military bases.
“Religious proselytization is not permitted within the Department of Defense,” spokesperson Nate Christensen stated. “Court martials and non-judicial punishments are decided on a case-by-case basis and it would be inappropriate to speculate on the outcome in specific cases.”
While punishments may vary, those who are court martialed can either face jail time or, at worst, be dishonorably discharged.
In response to Weinstein, Family Research Council has launched a petition drive to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to urge him to protect the free exercise of religion.
“Reports indicate that senior Pentagon officials have recently consulted with radical secularists to formulate a policy that would put military chaplains and other leaders who ‘promote their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates or to extend preferential treatment for any religion’ in danger of court-martial,” the petition states. “Subverting the religious freedom of our troops both hurts the morale of our troops and puts our nation at risk by labeling courageous military personnel as enemies.”
“I urge you to resist the demands of anti-Christian activists who are calling for a court-martial order upon chaplains and service members who share their faith,” it continues. “If Christian chaplains and other troops are censored from offering the full solace of the Gospel, there is no religious freedom in the military.”
As of press time, over 67,000 signatures have been received.
“The very troops who defend our religious freedom are at risk of having their own taken away,” the Washington-based organization lamented. “If this policy goes forward, Christians within the military who speak of their faith could now be prosecuted as enemies of the state. … Our brave troops deserve better.”