Pentagon officers found guilty of proselytism charges

By staff writers
August 8, 2007

In the USA the Pentagon's Inspector General has found against seven military officers, including four generals, who engaged in misconduct three years ago when they appeared in a controversial promotional video for an evangelical group called Christian Embassy, contravening proselytism regulations.

Constitutionally, no-one serving in the US military is allowed to seek converts while on active duty. However, as Ekklesia previously reported, the officers concerned appeared in uniform in the evangelical video.

According to The Washington Post and other news sources, much of the film was shot inside the Pentagon itself.

A former Acting Secretary of the Air Force within the US administration, Pete Geren, appeared in the video.

Mikey Weinstein, an Air Force Academy graduate and former assistant counsel under President Reagan who founded the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which asked for the investigation, told CNN TV that it was an open-and-shut case.

He declared: "[These men] were absolutely proselytizing. ... Numbers of them had actually led Christian Embassy Bible studies. They were well aware what this was about."

Christian Embassy, which targets the government and military, is an outreach group of Campus Crusade for Christ. The front page of their website features links for "I Work on Capitol Hill," "I Am a Member of the Diplomatic Community," "I Am a Presidential Appointee," and "I Work at the Pentagon."

Commentators point out that the issue of Christian proselytism is especially sensitive at the moment because al Qaeda and other hard-line Islamist groups often make the claim that the US military is in a crusade against Islam.

Such language has been used by President Bush in the past, though he has backed down on the employment of the word ‘crusade’ under pressure from Christian and secular critics.

Mainstream church groups draw a distinction between proselytism, which is the use of manipulation to promote a religious view, and legitimate evangelism, which seeks to commend a message by open example in civil society.

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