Yes, truth is indeed the first casualty in the ongoing religious wars.
But it turns out, NOT telling the truth is a good way to raise money. So why not take it to another level and use falsehoods, inuendoes and outright lies to rile up your base and raise money to advance your agenda? That is precisely what the Family Research Council (FRC), a self-proclaimed Christian organization, has done in its most recent action alert.
They are appealing to like-minded Christians with a donate button saying "Help Stop Attacks on Christians in the Military." They offer a one two punch by wrapping themselves in the flag with another donate button saying "Donate to the American Hero Defense Fund Now."
Never mind that there is no attack on Christians in the military. Never mind that American heroes do not need a defense fund for their religion (save that money for jobs, health care, housing, etc., but not for their religious freedom). The attitude of the FRC seems to be never let the facts get in the way of your fundraising efforts, especially when you have a $75,000 challenge grant.
After reading FRC's goal, let's take a look at their allegations to see what is true and what is false.
"The aggressive anti-Christian actions of the Obama administration are real, documented and escalating. We must STOP anti-Christian actions like these":
1. January 2010 -- Department of Defense orders removal of Bible references from military scopes and gun sights.
True. This statement and the action taken by the Department of Defense (DoD) was an appropriate response to weapons used to kill and wound mostly Muslims.
2. June 2011 -- The Department of Veterans Affairs forbids references to God and Jesus during burials at National Cemetery.
False. One Department of Veterans Affairs director told volunteers they could not inject their religious beliefs into the funerals of others. Lawsuit was filed by conservative lawyers and settled. References to God and Jesus are permitted unless the survivors object.
3. August 2011 -- The Air Force stops teaching the Just War theory because it is based on a philosophy of St. Augustine.
False. The reference is to the so called "Jesus Loves Nukes" training program mandated of all Air Force nuclear missile launch officers. The program was canceled because using biblical references and Christian philosophy clearly violated the establishment clause of the Constitution.
4. September 2011 -- Air Force Chief of Staff prohibits commanders from notifying airmen of religious programs.
True. This order is an appropriate response to avoid the appearance of the command's endorsement of religion. Policy memo places all religious activities where they belong, under the purview of a chaplain's office.
5. September 2011 -- The Army issues Walter Reed Medical Center guidelines stipulating that no religious items (i.e. Bibles, reading materials and/or tracts) are to be given to the wounded.
False. Walter Reed National Military Medical Center's policy is that visitors could not give Bibles to strangers. It prohibits proselytizing sick and wounded service members. Currently, it appears this policy is not being enforced.
6. November 2011 -- The Air Force Academy rescinds support for Operation Christmas Child because it is run by Christians.
True. It was appropriate to remove this faith-based program from the chain of command and place it within the chaplain's purview. The implication that the program has ceased to function is false. The Air Force Academy (AFA) simply no longer provides official command support.
7. November 2011 -- The Air Force Academy pays $80,000 for a Stonehenge-type worship center for pagans, druids and witches.
False. The AFA built a general-use chapel facility, in the Wiccan tradition, to supplement the already existing Christian, Jewish Buddhist and Muslim Cadet Chapel.
8. February 2012 -- The U.S. Military Academy at West Point disinvites three-star Army general, decorated war hero and FRC Executive Vice President, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) William "Jerry" Boykin, because he is an outspoken Christian.
False. Boykin withdrew from speaking of his own volition. There was concern from many because of his past anti-Muslim rhetoric.
9. February 2012 -- The Army orders Catholic chaplains not to read archbishop's letter to soldiers.
True. This order was appropriate because the letter arguably called for civil disobedience. The letter was not read but distributed at Mass.
10. May 2012 -- The Obama administration opposes legislation to protect the rights of conscience for military chaplains who do not wish to perform same-sex "marriages."
False. DoD policy is clear that chaplains need not perform weddings if doing so would be against their belief or faith tradition. The Administration did oppose legislation that was redundant.
11. June 2012 -- Obama administration revokes the long-standing U.S. policy of allowing military service emblems to be placed on military Bibles.
False. Only one publisher was instructed not to use official military service emblems on Bibles. There is no such policy and in fact generic insignia are being used.
12. August 2012 -- Lt. Col. Jack Rich of the U.S. Army emails subordinates saying they should be on the lookout for people who share FRC's values because they are not "Army values."
True. An email went out that claimed FRC does not share Army values in regards to LGB service members.
13. January 2013 -- Obama announces the opposition to a provision in the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act protecting the rights of conscience for military chaplains.
False. Although the administration opposed this amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act because it was already DoD policy -- and therefore redundant -- the president signed the legislation into law.
14. April 2013 -- Officials briefing U.S. Army soldiers include "Evangelical Christianity" and "Catholicism" along with the terrorist organizations al Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas as examples of "religious extremism."
True. The Army publicly apologized for this misstep. The command reprimanded the soldier and took action to prevent such inappropriate conduct in the future.
15. May 2013 -- The Pentagon meets with Mikey Weinstein and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) to establish new rules which would restrict the religious freedom of Christian and Jewish military personnel.
False. The Pentagon met with Weinstein but the topics discussed dealt with protecting the religious freedoms of all service members.
The bottom line is that out of 15 allegations, two were arguably true on their face, four were true but the actions taken and/or policy were appropriate under the constitutional mandates of the establishment and free exercise protections of the First Amendment, and nine were outright lies. So FRC's claims are 60 percent false, 40 percent true, not a winning or credible record of veracity.
Apparently, the biblical admonition that "you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free" has been cast aside by the FRC. As a Christian, I am indignant and embarrassed FRC claims to be protecting my faith, because they are not. As a veteran, I am offended by FRC's use of false allegations against the military and the Commander in Chief to raise money for their values which are not Army or military values.