US Army draws flak for listing Evangelicals, Catholics as extremists

(Photo: Reuters / Erik De Castro)Soldiers from the U.S. army take part during a Sunday holy mass at Forward Operating Base Fenty in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, Sept. 28, 2011.

The inclusion of Evangelicals and Catholics on a list of religious extremists developed by the U.S. Army has caused a firestorm among Christians.

The list, which also includes al Qaeda and the Ku Klux Klan, indicates that Evangelicals are the number one threat to the United States.

The material was taught to a group of soldiers in Pennsylvania during a training session.

The list was leaked by an evangelical soldier who told the instructor he was offended, asked for a copy of the presentation, and sent it to the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty.

(Radio Fox News)

A number of new outlets are now carrying news of the incident.

Among them are The Telegraph (UK), Washington Times, and Fox News.

Col. (Ret.) Ron Crews of the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty expressed dismay over the list.

"Men and women of faith who have served the Army faithfully for centuries shouldn't be likened to those who have regularly threatened the peace and security of the United States", said Crews.

Crews called the characterization "dishonorable" and "wrongheaded".

He pointed out that a Roman Catholic chaplain will be posthumously presented the Congressional Medal of Honor next week by President Barack Obama.

The Washington Times cited a National Public Radio report in 2005 which indicated that 40 percent of active duty military personnel claimed to be Evangelicals.

The Times also noted that more than half of Americans consider themselves either evangelical or Catholic.

It also said the list called the Klu Klux Klan "Christian".

The Archdiocese for the Military Services (AMS) expressed its surprise at the military's inclusion of Catholics on the list, according to Fox News.

AMS called on the Department of Defense to ensure that taxpayer funds not be used for such presentations to military personnel again.

The U.S. has issued statements indicating that the list was included in the presentation without the knowledge of anyone in the chain of command and that the presenter was not a subject matter expert.

Crews is not totally satisfied with the Army's explanation.

He questioned why the instructor was allowed to give a presentation when they were not a subject matter expert.

In addition, the material the presenter used came from an Army briefing.

Crews spoke to the presenter and was told that the information in the briefing came from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

The SPLC has listed mainstream political organizations that are conservative on social issues as hate groups in the past.

"Why is there such a dependence on the work of the SPLC to determine hate group and extremist groups," said Crews. "It seems that some military entities are using definitions of 'hate' and 'extreme' from the list of anti-Christian political organizations."

"That violate the apolitical stance appropriate for the military."

Crews called on the military to retrain the soldiers given the material. He also exhorted the Defense Department to issue an apology to Christians, Catholics and Orthodox Jews, who were also included on the list.

Copyright © 2013 Ecumenical News