Two high-profile cancellations by the Pentagon of speeches from prominent Christian leaders have many outraged over censorship of Christianity by a politically-correct military.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and Rev. Franklin Graham both recently had invitations to speak at prayer events hosted by the Air Force and the Army revoked.
Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) wants to examine the military regulations guarding freedom of religious exercise, so he’s asking for hearings to examine if conservative Christian leaders are being censored because of their religious beliefs.
Kingston informed House Armed Services Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) the rescinded invitations of Graham and Perkins offer evidence of a growing movement in the military to censor certain biblical teachings.
“When you uninvited people as high profile as Tony Perkins and Franklin Graham you’re sending a very strong message to all the rank and file military chaplains that certain messages which the Pentagon has deem controversial that they are no longer welcome,” Kingston told Fox News this morning. “The message to the chaplains is keep it in the middle of the road. Give Hallmark greeting card type prayers and sermons. Don’t offend anybody and don’t really get into the tenets of your religion because it might be considered controversial.”
“The Department of Defense has a directive 1300.17 and it says that just as the Constitution does not allow the prohibition of the exercise of free religion the Department of Defense honors that and allows the military chaplains to exercise free religion but these decisions show that’s not the case,” Kingston added.
Even though he’s the honorary chairman of the task force, the Army rescinded Graham’s invitation to speak at the Pentagon’s National Day of Prayer Service on May 6th because of past statements made about Islam and particularly its harsh treatment of women.
When asked who was responsible for the censorship?
“One of the things [Graham] was told is that the message is offensive and incompatible to members of the military and the commander in chief,” Kingston said in the Fox interview. “So I think the Pentagon is trying to reflect views they believe the White House has.”
Earlier this year, Perkins’ invitation to speak at a prayer breakfast on Andrews Air Force Base was revoked simply because he opposes the repeal of the military’s policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
“By targeting such high-profile figures, bureaucrats are trying to send a message throughout the Chaplain 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.”
Without hearings, Kingston believes the enactment of substantial new policy would be ceded to unelected bureaucrats rather than those members of Congress 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.”