At least a dozen members of Congress have signed a letter demanding the Secretary of the Army rescind and apologize for a briefing that labeled Evangelical Christians and Catholics as religious extremist groups, Fox News has learned.
“This is astonishing and offensive,” read a draft of the letter written by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO). “We call on you to rescind this briefing and apologize for its content and set the record straight on the Army’s view on these faith groups by providing a balanced briefing on religious extremism.”
Lamborn is referring to an Army training session conducted last year that featured a presentation listing Evangelical Christianity and Catholicism as examples of extremism – alongside Al Qaeda and Hamas.
Army spokesman George Wright later said it was an isolated incident not condoned by the Dept. of the Army. And the slide, he said, was not produced by the Army nor did it reflect their policy or doctrine.
“To say that Evangelicals or Catholics are somehow in the same league with Al Qaeda or the KKK is outrageous,” Lamborn told Fox News.
He said it appeared the Army was using material gleaned from the Southern Poverty Law Center.
“I’m amazed that the army would listen to voices of intolerance that would play fast and loose with these kinds of labels,” he told Fox News. “I’m concerned this group has any sway with the Army.”
The training briefing is just the latest in a number of incidents involving attacks on the Christian faith within the ranks of the military.
Fox News obtained a copy of an email written by a lieutenant colonel at Fort Campbell identifying the Family Research Council and American Family Association, two prominent Christian ministries, as “domestic hate groups.” Read the email by clicking here.
Rep. Steve King (R-IA) told Fox News he believes there is an anti-Christian movement within the military.
“There’s been an effort for a long time to marginalize Christianity,” King told Fox News. “I wonder why that is?”
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King said the latest incidents remind him of when the Army banned Bibles from Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The rule was later rescinded.
“They said it was done out of ignorance,” King said. “I don’t believe it was. I believe some anti-Christian wrote that in.”
King is among the lawmakers who signed the letter to the Secretary of the Army and he’s prepared to call military officials to Capitol Hill to explain the recent incidents.
“If we’ve got to have the FBI going through federal documents scrubbing out anything that might be critical of Muslims, we surely can’t allow an anti-Christian movement taking place within our own United States military,” King said.
Army spokesman George Wright denied there is any anti-Christian movement in the military.
“The notion that the Army is taking an anti-religion or anti-Christian stance is contrary to any of our policies, doctrines and regulations,” said Wright. “Any belief that the Army is out to label religious groups in a negative manner is without warrant.”
Lamborn’s letter to the Army acknowledges that religious extremism is a serious topic.
“But equating these major world religions with violent extremist groups is simply not acceptable,” Lamborn wrote. “This briefing reveals an anti-religion bias rather than a rational approach to religious extremism.”
Some of the nation’s top religious leaders have condemned the military’s attacks on Christianity – and all of them place the blame on the Obama Administration.
“This is reprehensible,” said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. “The people who are responsible should be severely reprimanded.”
Land called for an investigation to determine if there is an anti-Christian movement afoot in the military.
“It’s not only warranted, I think it’s essential,” Land told Fox News. “It’s absolutely required. This needs to be stopped and we have to have guarantees that it doesn’t happen again.”