As Muslim Extremists Finalized Boston Terror Plot, Pentagon Battled Christian Threat
Even as two Chechen Muslim extremist imports were finalizing their murderous plot to plant explosives at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, the Department of Defense was maintaining a relentless focus on the Christian threat.
Just three days before the April 15th attack on the Boston Marathon, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was appearing before Congress and answering questions – notably from Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) – about actions the Department of Defense had taken to repress the religious observance and expression of Christians within the military.
“They’ve been on the attack for the last four plus years at the Pentagon,” Forbes told conservative radio talk show host Laura Ingraham in a recent broadcast.
“They have issued statements from the Pentagon where our commanders cannot even disclose approved acceptable programs if they’re under the Chaplain’s office,” Forbes continued. “When we asked Secretary Hagel if he was going to protect their religious freedoms, and if he was going to protect the section of the National Defense Authorization bill that we put in last year to do that, he could not respond, and he didn’t know anything about it!”
Forbes was referring to Section 533 of the National Defense Authorization Act, which reads, in pertinent part: “No member of the Armed Forces may — require a chaplain to perform any rite, ritual, or ceremony that is contrary to the conscience, moral principles, or religious beliefs of the chaplain; or discriminate or take any adverse personnel action against a chaplain.”
The president signed the Act into law, but issued a signing statement voicing opposition to that particular provision:
Section 533 is an unnecessary and ill-advised provision, as the military already appropriately protects the freedom of conscience of chaplains and service members. The Secretary of Defense will ensure that the implementing regulations do not permit or condone discriminatory actions that compromise good order and discipline or otherwise violate military codes of conduct. My Administration remains fully committed to continuing the successful implementation of the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and to protecting the rights of gay and lesbian service members; Section 533 will not alter that.
Section 533 is a political flashpoint in the law, because many chaplains and social conservatives are concerned that the military may force chaplains to sanctify or officiate over same sex marriages, provide same-sex marriage counseling, or conduct other religious services in violation of the tenets of their faith. Clearly, the Administration was concerned about the threat to good order from his military chaplains, and the issue got visibility at the very top level of government.
Meanwhile, Section 533 also drew the opposition of the American Civil Liberties Union.
“The language is too broad,” said Laura Murphy, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office, who cautioned that it could lead to claims of a right to discriminate.
“We strongly support accommodating beliefs, so long as doing so does not result in discrimination or harm to others,” Murphy said. “The hastily drafted provision, though, has the potential to give rise to dangerous claims of a right to discriminate against not just lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members, but also women, religious minorities, and in the provision of health care.”
The attacks in Boston also came within a few weeks after some military observers were ringing the alarm bells about religious extremism within the ranks – again, focused on those pesky Christians, as we reported here. We also reported – as did a number of other media outlets – on a training PowerPoint slide that categorized evangelicals, certain Mormons, Catholic and Jewish groups as hate groups in the same category with Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda and the Ku Klux Klan.
The Army also cracked down on its Catholic chaplains earlier this year, when Archbishop Timothy Broglio, the head of military services in the U.S. for the Catholic Church, sent a letter to parish priests and chaplains, objecting to certain contraceptive provisions in the Affordable Care Act, or the so-called “Obamacare” law. “We can not, and we will not comply with this unjust law,” the letter read. The Archbishop directed his priests to read the letter to their congregations at mass on January 28th. The Department of the Army issued a gag order. The Army would not agree to allow the chaplains to read the letter until that line was excised, considering it too close to a call to civil disobedience.
The strange Pentagon preoccupation with the Christian threat in the face of the Boston attacks continues even now, more than a week since the Boston attacks, with the strange censorship of the Southern Baptists Convention website. Servicemembers trying to access the SBC website from military installations found their access blocked by Team CONUS, the Virginia-based IT department responsible for network security and policing up offensive material. The Pentagon blocked access for servicemembers. Anyone attempting to access the site from a military installation received the message “The site you have requested has been blocked by Team CONUS (C-TNOSC/RCERT-CONUS) due to hostile content.”
It is not clear precisely what “hostile content” the Pentagon is referring to.
Chaplains and Baptists within the military raised objections. The Pentagon is now claiming that the censorship of the Southern Baptist Convention website was “accidental.” However, as of this writing, access has not yet been restored and the military could not explain how this “accident” could have happened. Attempts to contact Team CONUS via phone and email seeking comment were unsuccessful as of this writing.
Meanwhile, rest easy, America. We’re confident that the next mass bombing attack on American civilians is far more likely to come from radical Islamist rather than Christians.