Friday, 26 July 2013

Air Force Bans Chaplain's “No Atheists in Foxholes” Article

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The commander of Alaska's Elmendorf-Richardson Air Force base has caved in to the demands of an atheist cabal that a chaplain be required to remove a personal article from the base's website that hearkens back to President Eisenhower's observation that there are “no atheists in foxholes.”

Lt. Col. Kenneth Reyes, a chaplain at Elmendorf, recently posted the article, entitled “No Atheists in Foxholes: Chaplains Gave All in World War II,” to his “Chaplain's Corner” page on the base's website. Ken Klukowski of the Family Research Council recalled that the saying, common among active-duty troops, “is attributed to a Catholic priest in World War II,” but “made famous when President Dwight D. Eisenhower said during a 1954 speech: 'I am delighted that our veterans are sponsoring a movement to increase our awareness of God in our daily lives. In battle, they learned a great truth that there are no atheists in foxholes.'”

In his article Reyes observed that everyone “expresses some form of faith every day, whether it is religious or secular. Some express faith by believing when they get up in the morning they will arrive at work in one piece, thankful they have been given another opportunity to enjoy the majesty of the day, or express relief the doctor’s results were negative.”

The rabid atheist group Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) picked up on Reyes' comments as an opportunity for some free media, and quickly contacted the base's commander, Col. Brian Duffy, to complain and demand the removal of Reyes’ “anti-secular diatribe.” According to the group, by using the “bigoted, religious supremacist phrase, ‘no atheists in foxholes,’” Reyes had “defiled the dignity of service members.”

In a letter supposedly written on behalf of 40 unnamed Air Force personnel who were offended by the article, the MRFF's Blake Page complained to Duffy: “In the civilian world, such anti-secular diatribe is protected free speech. Beyond his most obvious failure in upholding regulations through redundant use of the bigoted, religious supremacist phrase, ‘no atheists in foxholes,’ he defiles the dignity of service members by telling them that regardless of their personally held philosophical beliefs they must have faith.”

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Within hours of receiving the letter, Duffy had Reyes' article summarily removed, and submissively responded to the MRFF with an e-mail explanation: “While certainly not intended to offend, the article has been removed from our website. We remain mindful of the governing instructions on this matter and will work to avoid recurrence.”

Apparently, however, simply sanitizing the base's website of faith was not enough. Fox News reported that Page also demanded that Reyes be punished for his words of inspiration and encouragement. “Faith-based hate is hate all the same,” seethed Page in his missive to Duffy. “Lt. Col. Reyes must be appropriately reprimanded.”

Such retribution appears doubtful, since, according to Klukowski, Reyes broke no military regulations, and, of course, his free speech rights are supposedly guaranteed by the First Amendment. The real damage, however, was accomplished by Duffy's willingness to submit to the MRFF's absurd demand to remove the article. Retired Army General Jerry Boykin told Fox News that Duffy's action amounts to nothing less that “discrimination against Christians.” Boykin noted that an anti-faith climate has gripped the Air Force over the past several months, and has “worsened to such an extend that even chaplains now fear carrying out the most basic duties of their job.”

He said that in the case of Reyes, “a chaplain has been censored for expressing his beliefs about the role of faith in the lives of service members. There has to be a recognition that this is discrimination against Christians. Chaplains are placed there for a purpose. Why do we have chaplains if they aren’t allowed to fulfill that purpose?” Boykin added that when “anti-Christian” activists like Mikey Weinstein, the MRFF's founder and leading provocateur, “are dictating the rules for what chaplains are allowed to do, then we must ask why we have chaplains?”

Retired U.S. Army Reserve Chaplain Ron Crews, founder and president of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, pointed out that “chaplains have religious liberty ... to speak to issues. Mr. Weinstein appears to want to silence any speech of faith in the military. It is a sad day for the Air Force and for our country when officers obey every command from Weinstein to silence even chaplains from talking about their faith.”