ALASKA -A Christian chaplain currently serving at the Air Force Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska could face punishment for posting a religious column on the base’s website.
Lt. Col Kenneth Reyes wrote an essay titled “No Atheists in Foxholes: Chaplains Gave All in World War II” and posted it on his page on the site, called “Chaplain’s Corner,” reports Fox News.
The phrase has been attributed to Father William Cummings, a Catholic priest in the Second World War; it was later used by President Dwight D. Eisenhower during a 1954 speech, when he said, “I am delighted that our veterans are sponsoring a movement to increase our awareness of God in our daily lives. In battle, they learned a great truth that there are no atheists in the foxholes.”
But shortly after Reyes posted his essay online, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), led by activist Mikey Weinstein, sent a letter to the base allegedly on behalf of 42 anonymous airmen who had complained about it.
“In the civilian world, such anti-secular diatribe is protected free speech,” the MRFF reportedly wrote in a letter to Col. Brian Duffy, the base commander.
“Beyond his most obvious failure in upholding regulations through redundant use of the bigoted, religious supremacist phrase, ‘no atheists in foxholes,’ he defiles the dignity of service members by telling them that regardless of their personally held philosophical beliefs they must have faith,” the letter said.
Five hours after the complaint was received, Reye’s essay was taken down “out of respect for those who considered its title offensive,” Duffy told Fox News.
Duffy also wrote an e mail to the MRFF saying, “While certainly not intended to offend, the article has been removed from our website. We remain mindful of the governing instructions on this matter and will work to avoid recurrence.”
But the MRFF reportedly still wants Reyes to be punished for what he wrote, insisting, “Faith-based hate is hate all the same. Lt. Col Reyes must be appropriately reprimanded.”
Ron Crews, the executive director of Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, said Reyes was within his duties to write an article about faith, telling Fox News, “Chaplains have religious liberty as well to speak to issues. It is a sad day for the Air Force and for our country when officers obey every command from Weinstein to silence even chaplains from talking about their faith.”
According to Breitbart News legal columnist Ken Klukowski, “The Obama-Hagel Defense Department and Air Force have met with Weinstein and MRFF over a period of four years and recently told Congress that there were no problems with suppressing religious speech in the military.”
“However,” Klukowski noted,” because this growing wave of anti-Christian extremism has been exposed to the public, the U.S. House has inserted new religious liberty protections for military members in pending legislation.” Obama has reportedly threatened to veto it.
Klukowski, a senior fellow for religious liberty at the Family Research Council, quoted his colleague, retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, who said, “A chaplain has been censored for expressing his beliefs about the role of faith in the lives of service members. Why do we have chaplains if they aren’t allowed to fulfill that purpose?