Est. May 2008

03 May, 2013

A Matter Of Semantics

You may have read or heard about the recent announcement (or was it leaked information?) concerning the Pentagon’s idea of court-martialing any service member who spoke about their faith.

Yesterday, the Pentagon went on-record – after a firestorm of protests – by backtracking on their intentions:
“Service members can share their faith (evangelize), but must not force unwanted, intrusive attempts to convert others of any faith or no faith to one’s beliefs (proselytization),” he said.

[Lt. Cmdr. Nathan] Christensen said that if a service member “harasses another member on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, or disability, then the commander takes action based on the gravity of the occurrence.”

“Likewise, when religious harassment complaints are reported, commanders take action based on the gravity of the occurrence on a case by case basis,” he said.
There’s plenty of background information at the link; what I want to do is focus on those three paragraphs in the blockquote, because it’s here where the problem lies: a Mikey Weinstein mind-set against religion (or, to paraphrase Family Research Council’s President, Tony Perkins, a ‘rabid atheist’ mindset).

First, what’s a Mikey Weinstein mind-set against religion?  Let’s let Mr. W explain it himself:
The issue surfaced after activist Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religion Freedom organization met with department officials and then wrote that Christians in the military are “monsters” who must be stopped from talking about their faith.

Weinstein had declared: “We face incredibly well-funded gangs of fundamentalist Christian monsters who terrorize their fellow Americans by forcing their weaponized and twisted version of Christianity upon their helpless subordinates in our nation’s armed forces.”

In an interview with Fox News, Weinstein said the military needs to begin prosecuting Christians who share their faith.

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.” (emphases all mine)
A ‘Weinstein-mind-set’ is one which conflates evangelizing with proselytizing; and though evangelization – the preaching of the gospel – can lead to proselytization – the conversion to Christianity – it doesn’t always happen.

But as you can see from the very first paragraph, Mr. Weinstein believes that mere discussion of belief is proselytizing.

So, what happens if (more like when) a third-party Weinstein-ite overhears a discussion of faith between two other soldiers?  Or if said Weinstein-ite hears of a soldier becoming a believer (a proselyte) after discussing the faith?  What happens when that Weinstein-ite goes running off to his or her commanding officer and complains about being ‘harassed’ – or complains that the converted soldier was harassed into converting?

Even more to the point, if a chaplain is preaching a sermon, what if our Weinstein-ite – who probably isn’t attending the service but is likely just walking by – hears something he or she considers to be ‘harassment’?

In short, who decides when ‘harassment’ is actually ‘harassment’, and when it’s just somebody with a wild hair up their hind end who wants to complain?  When does typical soldierly needling of each other step over the line into ‘harassment’?  And when is that line crossed when it comes to faith?  A Weinstein-ite could feel ‘harassed’ if his barracks-mate reads his Bible ever night before he goes to sleep, for crying out loud.

That’s why the idea of taking action ‘based on the gravity of the occurrence on a case by case basis’ is going to cause commanders no end of headaches – they’ll be dealing with more ‘religious harassment’ cases than they’ll be dealing with anything else.

One of two things are going to end up happening here, IMO: either people of faith will be driven out of military service wholesale, or the Weinstein-ites are going to be told to stuff a sock in it.

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