Hot Document

Onward Christian Soldiers

Rep.  J.D. Hayworth, R-Az., several Bush appointees, and various high-ranking Army officers and Pentagon civilians appear in a 10-minute promotional video (to watch it, click here and here) for an evangelical organization called Christian Embassy. Founded by the late Rev. Bill Bright (who also founded the Campus Crusade for Christ International), the nonprofit  “comes alongside presidential appointees in the White House and federal agencies to help direct their focus on Jesus Christ.” It’s an army of Rev. Billy Grahams tending souls at the sub-cabinet level.

Most of the government officials who appear in the promotional video probably violated a federal prohibition against  proselytizing in the workplace. The video puts special emphasis on the ministry’s presence at the Pentagon; military personnel appear in uniform as they sing the praises of Christian Embassy, and both military and civilian Pentagon employees are shown in their Pentagon offices. That almost certainly violates a department  directive forbidding “use of official position” to promote “non-federal entities.”

On Dec. 11, the nonprofit Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a watchdog group that polices separation of church and state in the United States military, sent a letter about the video to the defense department’s acting inspector general. (See below, and on the following five pages.) The letter, by Ezra Reese, counsel to the foundation, enumerates a long list of regulations that the video appears to violate; points out that the video further appears to violate the  establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution; and asks the inspector general to find out which numbskulls okayed the taping at the Pentagon.

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