I was browsing MRFF’s latest newsletter for February. Its only the second week in February and already they have a full list of the craziness perpetrated by the right-wing Christians in the US military. This story just boggles my mind. It’s also mentioned in the Stars and Stripes.
An Air Force Colonel is under fire for distributing an e-mail to thousands of Air Force personnel from her official government account directing personnel under her command to visit a far-right, Catholic website where President Barack Obama was compared to Adolf Hitler and the Antichrist.
Col. Kimberly K. Toney’s Jan. 16 e-mail was sent to eight different Air Force installations in the United Kingdom and Norway and included the subject line: “Inspiration of the day – A Giant of a Man – Meet Nick Vujicic,” who was born without limbs.
“Every day, all around us, we meet people who make a difference in our lives,” Col. Toney’s e-mail says. “Please take a few minutes to enjoy the attached video and meet a truly inspirational individual who will provide you with an opportunity to think about life and how we handle challenges in our personal and professional day-to-day lives.
“Keep doing the GREAT things you do and don’t ever let the challenges get you down. Live, learn and enjoy! Thank you!”
Col. Toney’s e-mail would appear to be a harmless, motivational message from a Colonel to personnel under her command. But the electronic communication pointing Air Force personnel toward a five-minute video clip about 25 year-old Vujicic, whose incredible story of courage and hope is indeed inspirational, is also rife with religious undertones. His story, as showcased on the website 4marks.com, would seem to have little to do with the challenges he faces and more about turning one’s life over to Jesus Christ.
Why is Col. Toney sending out an exclusively Christian emails to a base with personnel of many varying beliefs? Does she think that the US Air Force only consists of right-wing born-again Christians?
In fact, at least one of the e-mail’s recipients also believed Col. Toney was endorsing religion with her mass e-mail. Master Sergeant Jeffrey L. Thompson filed a formal complaint against Col. Toney accusing her of illegal proselytizing that would “negatively impact the human relations climate of the wing by sending a message of exclusion to those who do not share that faith.”
MSgt. Thompson, who said he is a Roman Catholic, was told by an official with the Military Equal Opportunity office (MEO) that Col. Toney’s e-mail was not intended to come across as proselytizing.
In a letter Thompson wrote directly to Col. Toney, he said he was told by the MEO official “that because the wing chaplain programs belong to you, that you are able to publicize religious programs.”
“He made the point that the Air Force has legitimate concern in its members’ spirituality (not necessarily in a religious sense, but which can include faith),” MSgt Thompson’s letter to Col Toney says. The MEO official “made the point that after his own thorough review of [Department of Defense] guidance, [Air Force Instructions], and chaplain program guidance, he cannot see a direct MEO violation by the e-mail. He made the point that you were unaware that the video and website had a religious association; again if I understand him correctly it was a simple oversight. Despite those clarifications and the context, I still cannot set aside my own impression that, even if unintentional, the e-mail promoted and endorsed Christian faith, which creates an environment of exclusion of others that do not share that faith.
“Perhaps I am especially sensitive to this issue because I have been persistently pursued by fundamentalist Christians throughout my 23-year career to convert; from supervisors, to subordinates, to the once agenda-covert Military Marriage Seminar, and more recently strong anti-Muslim sentiment and characterization of our current operations in Southwest Asia as a mission from God by the then deputy undersecretary of Defense for intelligence Lt General [William] Boykin. For me, some of the pieces of the puzzle fell into place when the Air Force Academy scandal was uncovered in the media. Our top Air Force leaders were being “character-shaped” into a fundamentalist Christian mindset with the help of organizations the Campus Crusade for Christ and The Military Ministry who has run Military Marriage Seminars in order to proselytize.”
It seems that a clear pattern is emerging here. Fundamentalist Christians have been proselytizing and pushing their religion so much that moderate Christians are turned off by any attempt to push religion on others, even when it is their own religion. There was also some mention of the MEO office giving the name of the complainant to the Colonel. How unprofessional.
Neither Col. Toney nor an official from the MEO’s office returned messages left for Col. Toney at her base of operations in the UK and Norway. A Pentagon spokesman said he was unable to comment for “at least a week” and did not elaborate.
“How comforting it is to know that the MEO official sees no problem here,” Weinstein said. “Until the military is ready to treat unconstitutional religious predators with the same seriousness and severity which they finally impose on sexual predators, these transgressions will never stop.
I love how Mikey Weinstein compares these guys to sexual predators. HehHehHeh. It also looks like the Equal Opportunity office is doing nothing as usual.
Moreover, aside from the alleged proselytizing, MSgt. Thompson and many others of the 501st Combat Support Wing who received Toney’s e-mail were outraged by what they believed was the Air Force’s endorsement of a website openly hostile to the new Commander-in-Chief.
Apparently, personnel who surfed 4marks.com stumbled upon a series of presidential campaign articles and videos about Barack Obama on the site, one of which said the president is “a veritable forerunner of the Antichrist” who wants to “kill babies.” In another article, Obama is depicted as Hitler, wearing a Nazi uniform and holding a Nazi flag. Vice President Joseph Biden is called a “pseudo catholic,” an “American Judas,” and “pathetic.”
Looks like the 4marks.com website is an extreme right-wing Catholic website. In the past 10 years or so right-wing Catholics and Protestants have joined together politically,even though they still call each other names and consider the others not real Christians.
Here is the letter from MSgt Thompson after his personal information was leaked by the MEO office to Col. Toney.