One would think a group that calls itself the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (http://www NULL.militaryreligiousfreedom NULL.org/) would be in favor of religious freedom in the military, right?
(http://www NULL.grahamfestivals NULL.org/)Why, then, does the MRFF claim “victory” when the military rescinds an invitation (http://www NULL.foxnews NULL.com/politics/2010/04/21/army-weighs-rescinding-invitation-evangelist/) to Rev. Franklin Graham to address a Pentagon Day of Prayer breakfast? They objected to Graham’s invitation and demanded that it be canceled, because Graham had spoken critically of Islam.
Specifically, Graham had said Islam has enslaved people and suppressed women, and “is a very evil and wicked religion.” Graham emphasized his love for Muslims as people, but “as a minister … I believe it is my responsibility to speak out against the terrible deeds that are committed as a result of Islamic teaching.” He further stated that he “wants Muslims to know that Jesus Christ died for their sins.”
Military spokesman Col. Tom Collins said Graham’s remarks were “not appropriate” — not factually incorrect but inappropriate — because “”We’re an all-inclusive military. We honor all faiths. … Our message to our service and civilian work force is about the need for diversity and appreciation of all faiths.”
An “all-inclusive military” that practices “diversity and appreciation of all faiths”? How about a blindfolded military that, because of orders from higher up the chain of command, refuses to face the reality of the enemy we are fighting?
During World War II, would this “all-inclusive military” have disinvited a speaker who had criticized the horrors of Nazism? Or during the Korean War and the War in Vietnam, would the Pentagon have rescinded an invitation to a speaker who had denounced Communism?
Note that the Pentagon canceled Graham’s invitation, not because of anything he was expected to say at the prayer breakfast, but because of statements he had made in the past. This sends a clear message to pastors: Be careful what you say, and don’t ever make politically-incorrect statements about a group the White House favors, or you can forget about ever speaking at a prayer breakfast. In First Amendment jurisprudence we might call that a “chilling effect” on free speech.
As one of the best-known and most-respected religious leaders in the world today, Graham was a natural choice for the prayer breakfast. His father, the Rev. Billy Graham, had spoken for presidents of both parties and all persuasions. His son, Army Captain Edward Graham, was wounded in Iraq and is currently serving in Afghanistan.
In fairness to the military spokesmen, this decision probably came from the top of the chain of command. But it is further evidence that the armed forces are being used as a tool to further the Administration’s ideological goals, and further that the armed forces are becoming increasingly hostile to evangelical Christian.
As an old soldier who served 23 years as an Air Force Judge Advocate and who is currently serving as a State Defense Force Chaplain, I am outraged that the Pentagon has caved in to the demands of political correctness. The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment was enacted as a shield to protect religious freedom, not a hammer to suppress it. Unfortunately, it is being used as a hammer.