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Army orders halt to all training that labels Christians as 'extremists'

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According to a report published Wednesday by CNS News, Secretary of the Army John McHugh has ordered all training and instructions that label evangelicals as "extremists" or possible domestic terror threats be ended. In a memo distributed to troops on Oct. 18, 2013, McHugh addressed media reports that have highlighted US Army training material that is “inaccurate, objectionable and otherwise inconsistent” with current Army policy.

“In two recent high-profile cases,” McHugh wrote in the memo, Army instructors discovered information "on the website of a particular special interest group” that labeled groups as "extremist in nature which were not extremist according to Army regulations," according to the CNS News report.

The report goes on to say that McHugh has ordered the Army to create a standardized program of instruction and training.

An earlier report from Todd Starnes on the Fox News website says Army spokesman Col. David Patterson told him that McHugh “directed that Army leaders cease all briefings, command presentations or training on the subject of extremist organizations or activities until that program of instruction and training has been created and disseminated.”

Col. Patterson told Starnes that the Army does not maintain lists of groups or organizations that it deems to be extremist.

The Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty told Starnes that he "welcomed the news" and said "it was about time the Secretary of the Army intervened."

“Men and women of faith, who have served the Army faithfully for centuries, have been likened to those who regularly threaten the peace and security of the United States,” Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance said to Starnes. “It is dishonorable for any U.S. military entity to allow this type of improper characterization.”

“But the Army does provide a list of organizations that do list groups like the American Family Association (AFA) and Family Research Council (FRC) as domestic hate groups, specifically the Southern Poverty Law Center. And the SPLC is featured in the military’s Equal Opportunity Advisor Student Guide,” wrote Starnes.

Starnes report also says the SPLC has labeled various Tea Party organizations and conservative border-security/immigration groups as “extremist.”

However, just four days before McHugh released the memo, a briefing at Camp Shelby, an Army National Guard Training Center in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, labeled the American Family Association a “domestic hate group, and compared the AFA to groups like the Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis, Black Panthers and Nation of Islam.”

Also, soldiers at soldiers at Fort Hood were warned in October that "participating in or donating money to evangelical Christian groups or Tea Party groups could result in military punishment," according to Starnes.

Starnes' report also says an Army Reserve training brief released in May "listed Catholics and Evangelical Christians as examples of "religious extremism."

Starnes said, "The Army repeatedly told me the briefings were isolated incidents where instructors used materials that were not approved by the military."

McHugh told Starnes that the instructors used material that is “inaccurate, objectionable and otherwise inconsistent with current Army policy.”

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