Citing a report by Fox News' Todd Starnes, the Washington Post reported Thursday that soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, were warned to stay away from the Tea Party and evangelical Christian organizations like the American Family Association. Failure to heed the warning could result in punishment, the Times said.
According to the Times, that was the message soldiers at a pre-deployment briefing said they received from a counter-intelligence agent who headed up the meeting.
Starnes said one soldier who attended the Oct. 17 briefing told him the agent spent nearly a half-hour saying these groups are "tearing the country apart."
The Times said that the agent allegedly said those who donate to these groups would be subject to discipline under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Michael Berry, an attorney with the Liberty Institute and former Marine Corps JAG officer, has launched an investigation into the incident and is advising the soldier who made the allegation.
“The American public should be outraged that the U.S. Army is teaching our troops that evangelical Christians and Tea Party members are enemies of America, and that they can be punished for supporting or participating in those groups,” he said. “These statements about evangelicals being domestic enemies are a serious charge.”
“My first concern was if I was going to be in trouble going to church,” the Christian soldier told Starnes. “Can I tithe? Can I donate to Christian charities? What if I donate to a politician who is a part of the Tea Party movement?”
Another unidentified soldier confirmed the statement and alerted the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty.
“I was very shocked and couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” the soldier said, adding that almost nothing was said about Islamic extremism. “I felt like my religious liberties, that I risk my life and sacrifice time away from family to fight for, were being taken away.”
Starnes reported that the soldier also said the pro-life movement is another example of "radicalization."
“They said that evangelical Christians protesting abortions are the mobilization stage and that leads to the bombing of abortion clinics,” he recalled.
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, told Starnes the Pentagon is pushing anti-Christian propaganda.
“On the very base that was the site of mass murder carried out by a radicalized Muslim soldier, it is astonishing that it is evangelical groups that are being identified as a ‘threat,’” he said. “Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel must immediately intervene to stop this march against the rights and freedom of our soldiers.”
This is not the first report of anti-Christian statements being made by the military.
In April, an Army Reserve unit in Pennsylvania was told by an instructor that Evangelical Christianity and Catholicism were examples of religious extremism, equating followers with the KKK, al Qaeda and Hamas. Later that month, an Army officer reportedly told subordinates in an email that Christian groups like the American Family Association and Family Research Council are “domestic hate groups” because of their opposition to homosexuality.
The Times said that Army officials at Fort Hood said in a Breitbart.com report that the claims weren’t true.
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