Contact: Chris Crawford (202) 225-5831
KINGSTON FORMALLY REQUESTS HEARINGS ON RELIGIOUS CENSORSHIP IN MILITARY
Revoked invitations sign of larger effort to silence biblical teachings
Washington, Apr 29, 2010 -
Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA) today called for congressional hearings to investigate possible clerical censorship within the military. The call follows actions taken by the military to rescind the invitations of two high-profile conservative Christian leaders because of their religious beliefs.
In a letter to House Armed Services Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO), Kingston cited the rescinded invitations of evangelist Franklin Graham and Family Research Council Tony Perkins as evidence of a growing movement in the military to censor certain biblical teachings.
“By targeting such high-profile figures, bureaucrats are trying to send a message throughout the chaplains’ corps that certain biblical teachings are not acceptable because they are inconvenient to policy debates,” said Kingston. “But when we send young men and women into battle, it’s essential that we arm them with access to comprehensive pastoral care. Denying them this access and shutting out these leaders sends a chilling message throughout the Chaplain Corps.”
Last week the Army rescinded an invitation to Christian evangelist Franklin Graham from speaking at the Pentagon’s National Day of Prayer Service on May 6th because of his past statements on Islam. Earlier this year, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins had an invitation to speak at a prayer breakfast on Andrews Air Force Base because of his opposition to the repeal of the military’s policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
Without hearings, Kingston believes, the actions could go unnoticed and the enactment of substantial policy would be ceded to unelected bureaucrats rather than those elected to represent the will of the people.
“I’m concerned that we’re seeing a major policy shift but Congress is sitting on the sidelines,” Kingston said. “It appears the Pentagon is systematically weeding out preachers and leaders of the clergy who give messages and sermons that might ruffle feathers. If this is the will of the American people, it should be reflected by a vote in Congress not by fiat of a bureaucrat.”
The Honorable Ike Skelton The Honorable Howard P. “Buck” McKeon
Dear Chairman Skelton,
I am deeply concerned about the issue of clerical censorship within the Department of Defense. Two recent events highlight this disconcerting trend. In February of this year, Tony Perkins saw his invitation to be the keynote speaker at the National Prayer Luncheon at Andrews Air Force Base withdrawn. The stated excuse was that Mr. Perkin’s beliefs on repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell were offensive to some. Last week, Franklin Graham was uninvited from speaking at the Pentagon in celebration of the National Day of Prayer, ostensibly for statements he has made about Islam. Both individuals were simply stating their beliefs, based on the teachings of the Bible.
Political correctness and placating all religious views in the military community have had the effect of marginalizing our military chaplains. The simple fact is that sometimes Biblically-based ideas may run afoul of the approved politically correct message. The purpose of military chaplains is to first and foremost serve the spiritual needs of military members and their families. Being a chaplain is an inherently religious activity; to make it subject to politically correct sensitivities renders military chaplains ineffective. A Christian chaplain should be able to share the teachings and beliefs presented in the Bible, a simplistic concept that seems obvious but is currently under attack by the Pentagon.
I request that your committee hold a hearing on this important issue. Our troops deserve religious care unencumbered by political correctness.