Not God’s Army: The Front Lines of the Fight Against Proselytizing in the U.S. Military
A conversation with the Military Religious Freedom Foundation’s Mikey Weinstein
By Candace Chellew-Hodge
Candace Chellew-Hodge is the founder/editor of Whosoever: An Online Magazine for GLBT Christians and currently serves as the pastor of Jubilee! Circle in Columbia, S.C. She is also the author of Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians (Jossey-Bass, 2008) Since this interview took place RD has learned that one member of the armed forces, having been the object of persistent harassment from a military superior in their direct chain of command for their religious afﬁliation, has attempted suicide. In the coming weeks, this MRFF client faces an ofﬁcial military proceeding. Due to the sensitive nature of the situation all identifying information has been omitted. –Eds
Last month, right before his retirement, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. Norton Schwartz issued new rules regarding proselytizing among the troops. The document instructs commanders to “avoid the actual or apparent use of their position to promote their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates or to extend preferential treatment for any religion.”
Although the new order is backed up by military law, Mikey Weinstein, founder of and force behind the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), remains skeptical:
It was a transparent and likely guilt-ridden concession by Schwartz, yet it was both too little and too late. With Schwartz’s butt-covering, last second, ‘midnight drive-by’ delivery of AFI 1-1, we have no alternative left but to look to the new USAF Chief of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, to show the all-too-rare backbone once required of all top leaders within the U.S. Military.