I was reading a blog today by a gentleman named Michael Weinstein, a lawyer, author, civil rights activist, and founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. Mr. Weinstein is militantly opposed to Christianity, particularly the exercise and or spread of Christianity in our nation’s armed forces. In the subject blog, posted April 16 of this year, Mr. Weinstein addressed fundamental Christians as “monsters who terrorize their fellow Americans by forcing their weaponized and twisted version of Christianity upon their helpless subordinates in our nation’s armed forces.” The tone of this blog, in conjunction with its vitriolic nature, clearly reveals Mr. Weinstein’s lack of civility in the matter and furthermore his complete lack of understanding or perception as to what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. I would, therefore, like to address a few of what appear to be the underlying presumptions of Mr. Weinstein’s position concerning Christians and what we believe.
A second underlying current in Mr. Weinstein’s rant seems to be a lopsided idea of tolerance. Most dictionaries define tolerance as putting up with something you don’t particularly like. We often endure the middle seat on a crowded airplane, even when we don’t like it. We tolerate the middle seat because we want to get to our destination. It is common for words or terms to take on new meanings as they are used in society. Toleration is used more and more today to mean accepting all beliefs, actions, and lifestyles as being equally true or correct. There is a basic philosophical flaw in such a view or definition. One of the basic laws of philosophy is called the law of non-contradiction. That means two opposing views concerning the same issue cannot both be right at the same time. For example, God says homosexuality is wrong and secular society today says it is right or at least okay. One of those views concerning homosexuality is wrong and here is a hint as to which one; God is never wrong. The same is true concerning religious philosophies and doctrines. There are not multiple ways to be forgiven of sin or to go to heaven. Every religion in the world cannot be correct or right at the same time. Jesus said He is the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father but by Him (John 14.6). That’s a pretty definitive statement. The law of non-contradiction is even true when it comes to atheism. There is either a God, a first cause of all things, or there is not, the two positions cannot both be true at the same time. By the way, the evidence is overwhelming that there is a God. The point here is this, we can indeed tolerate one another under the laws of our land, but it does not mean we must accept as true and or correct every deviant practice or idea sinful man can come up with. Christianity has a right to speak the truth just as the lost man has a right to speak and promote his sinful lifestyle or philosophy.
Finally, concerning Christianity in the military, I am a retired Naval Officer with over 20 years of service to this nation I love. I served in combat zones and sacrificed large portions of my life to defend the freedom of this nation, including the freedom of every person who lives here to think and live as their conviction directs. The men and women who served under my command came from every section of society. Their religious beliefs or lack thereof were an important part of who they were as individual sailors and Marines. Those who serve in the military cannot divorce themselves from their spiritual lives just because they are on active duty. If a group of Muslims want to huddle together and pray, there is no reason why they cannot. If a group of Christians want to have a Bible study, it is fully voluntary and in no way diminishes the readiness of the command. In fact, happy fulfilled sailors and Marines serve and perform better. Furthermore, if the command makes available the opportunity for voluntary participation in religious functions, there is no constitutional infringement.Some closing thoughts concerning leadership and the military. The Transformational Leadership Theory includes the elements of individualized consideration, intellectual stimulation, inspirational motivation, and idealized influence. Without getting into all the details of this leadership theory, individualized consideration includes fulfilling an individual’s self-worth and helping meet the needs of their personal lives, perceived and real. The fact is, faith is a key element in the lives of most people and cannot be simply turned on and off just because they are in the military. The military was never designed to be, nor has it ever been sterile of religious beliefs. Christians are not monsters in the military. Christians bring many helpful and constructive moral, ethical, and relational contributions to any organization, including the military. The men and women who served under my leadership never suffered because of my devout faith in Christ. Not only did they not suffer, they benefited from the fact that I genuinely cared for each and every one of them and did all I could to help them be successful in their military careers. Mr. Weinstein, Christians are not a danger or threat to the military. Perhaps your articulate energies could be better applied to some worthy endeavor that would grow young men and women of our military services into the dynamic leaders we need in the defense of our nation. Jesus Christ is not your enemy and neither are those of us who love Him and follow Him.