Just a few days ago, the Air Force announced that it had withdrawn a set of newly-issued guidelines that allowed chaplains to evangelize non-affiliated Air Force personnel. The Associated Press reported that the Air Force rescinded the guidelines in response to a lawsuit field by Mikey Weinstein, a Jewish graduate of the Air Force Academy.
According to the AP report: The code of ethics — issued by the Air Force Chaplain Service in January 2005 — includes the statement: “I will not actively proselytize from other religious bodies. However, I retain the right to instruct and/or evangelize those who are not affiliated.”
More: Last week, Mary L. Walker, the Air Force’s top lawyer, wrote in a letter to an attorney for Weinstein that an Air Force chaplain service document “might have been understood to represent such a policy statement” on evangelizing but that the document was withdrawn from use. Stephens said Walker was referring to the Air Force code of ethics statement.
Weinstein filed his suit last week in federal court in New Mexico. Among the evidence he cited was a July 12 article in The New York Times that quoted the Air Force’s deputy chief of chaplains, Brig. Gen. Cecil R. Richardson, as saying, “We will not proselytize, but we reserve the right to evangelize the unchurched.”
In her letter, Walker disputed that statement. “There is no existing Air Force policy endorsing ‘proselytizing’ or ‘evangelizing’ ‘the unchurched,'” she wrote.
Now, the Air Force Times fills out the story: An Air Force Academy cadet who filed suit against the Air Force on Oct. 6, alleging that several cadets and senior leaders forced evangelical Christianity on others at the school, has agreed to settle the lawsuit if the Air Force agrees to prohibit its members from evangelizing or proselytizing while on duty.
This report indicates that Weinstein now demands that the Air Force enter into an order with the U.S. District Court that would stipulate: “No member of the USAF, including a chaplain, is permitted to evangelize, proselytize, or in any way attempt to involuntarily convert, pressure, exert, or persuade a fellow member of the USAF to accept their own religious beliefs while on duty [and that the Air Force] is not permitted to establish or advance any one religion over another religion, nor one religion over no religion.”
Chaplains are to be categorically prohibited from all evangelization? So much for the First Amendment and the whole idea of religious liberty. This is secularism’s twisted offer — keep the chaplains, but don’t allow evangelical chaplains to practice their faith or to bear witness to Christ. Chaplains from non-conversionist faiths would still be welcome.
While thinking about this king of secularist logic, take a look at a recent opinion column published in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Akiva Kenny Segan, writes to protest the fact that a church is using faciltiies at the University of Washington for what he calls “religious rallies.”
Segan also called evangelical Christianity a form of “religious supremacism” and “racist theology,” presumably because evangelicals believe in witnessing to the Jewish people.
See these statements: While some Christians will bristle at the idea that Christianity can be a threat to values and family, that is the case for many non-Christians.
In the United States, students attending publicly funded schools should be entitled to practice the faith of their families without facing peer pressure to convert.
Rallies on public campuses are un-American and run counter to the spirit of tolerance that our nation’s founders and generations of public school teachers and political leaders have led us to believe is our right.
So, toleration is construed to mean that no person should ever be confronted with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Peer pressure is now equated with conversion by the sword, and talking to an unbeliever about Christ is to be treated as a hate crime.
Segan praises “post-proselytizing Christians” and “church institutions-of-conscience” who “no longer engage in conversion campaigns.” Liberal Protestantism is apparently seen as lacking any power to offend secularist sensibilities. Evangelicals, on the other hand, need not apply.
R. Albert Mohler Jr.
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