Disputed Pentagon evangelistic video stokes global conflict, say critics

By staff writers
December 17, 2006

The Interfaith Alliance Foundation in the US has used its show on Air America Radio today (17 December 2006), to examine the continuing controversy over a promotional video for an evangelical Christian group filmed inside the Pentagon – in likely violation of military regulations about religious proselytizing, it says.

The evangelistic organization Christian Embassy produced a ten minute video that features uniformed military officers praising the efforts of the group to spread their ideas within the American military.

Much of it seems to have been filmed inside the Pentagon, and the officers, including three colonels and four generals, appear in uniform. Nothing indicates that the views expressed by the officers are their own and not the views of the US Department of Defence.

The argument about the video comes in the wake of a public review of US military policy in the Middle East, which critics say has been strengthened and shaped by the malign influence of the ideology of the religious right in American government circles.

Last week, disgraced former Majority Leader Tom DeLay launched his political weblog, and the first posting attacked the Military Religious Freedom Foundation for its opposition to the Christian Embassy video.

DeLay’s condemnation has been roundly rejected by Michael “Mikey” Weinstein, president the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and author of the book ‘With God on Our Side’.

Weinstein, a former White House lawyer in the Reagan administration, claims the implications of this incident go far beyond the First Amendment. He says that attempts by the Christian right to identify US policy with their cause is endangering lives – by encouraging those who talk of a crusade against Islam.

“This video is the number one best recruiting tactic for al-Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah,” claims Weinstein. “It strengthens our enemies because it adds a religious dimension to our military operations.”

The Interfaith Alliance (TIA) is a non-partisan, grassroots organization dedicated to promoting the positive and healing role of religion and challenging those who manipulate religion to promote a narrow, divisive agenda.

With more than 185,000 members drawn from more than 75 faith traditions and 75 local activist groups throughout America, TIA describes itself as promoting “compassion, civility and mutual respect for human dignity in our increasingly diverse society.” [www.interfaithalliance.org]

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