Dispatches > The Buzz Sidebar

Pentagon attacked

This time, it's a 'radicalized evangelical' incursion

Issue: "Cellblock campaign," Dec. 23, 2006

I confess: I have attended Bible studies led by the Christian Embassy. Multiple times. And here's the worst part: They changed my life.

The ministry, a longtime work affiliated with Campus Crusade, serving diplomats, politicians, and staff in Washington and New York, came under fire this week for hosting a Bible study inside the Pentagon. When Pentagon brass showed up-in uniform-on a 10-minute promotional video for the group, Mikey Weinstein and his media minions went nuclear.

Weinstein runs something he calls the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and Washington reporters, such as Alan Cooperman of The Washington Post, like to call it "a military watchdog group." Attack dog is more like it.

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In 2005 Weinstein demanded an overhaul of Defense Department regulations after one of his sons, an Air Force Academy cadet, experienced what he described as anti-Jewish slurs. Weinstein further charged that Air Force chaplains were forcing cadets to convert to Christianity. His media blitz sent the academy into a tailspin, forcing a lengthy investigation, which concluded that no religious discrimination had taken place but also prompted a mandatory, campus-wide program teaching religious tolerance.

Now Weinstein's trying to shut down lunch-time Bible studies by portraying Pentagon officers as victims of thought crimes at the hands of officers armed with the Four Spiritual Laws and backed by embeds like pastor D. James Kennedy, who was recorded speaking at a Christian Embassy--sponsored prayer breakfast. Such events, Weinstein told reporters at the National Press Club Dec. 11, represent "the cognoscenti and glitterati, the leadership of the Pentagon, pushing a particular virulent biblical worldview down the throats of people who are helpless to argue against it."

This is not the same U.S. military the Washington press corps loves to hate when it comes to real wars. It's hard to imagine Rummy or a four-star standing for what Weinstein described as "a radicalized evangelical Christian Pentagon within the rest of the Pentagon."

This time the watchdog's timing may be off. Pentagon spokesman Air Force Lt. Col. Todd Vician made it plain that Weinstein gave his letter of demands to reporters before delivering it to the Pentagon itself and said, "It is impossible for me or the department to comment on a letter we haven't received yet." The Christian Embassy says it had Defense Department permission to film the Pentagon-related segments, and will gladly add a disclaimer to the footage. And soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other outposts, enjoying Christmas ornaments sent by schoolchildren and cookies and presents sent from their home or church, may wonder what Weinstein has against a little comfort and joy.


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