Tom Gilson

Pentagon Reportedly Forbidding Military Personnel To Share Their Faith

The Pentagon confirmed to Fox News that Christian evangelism is against regulations.

“Religious proselytization is not permitted within the Department of Defense, LCDR Nate Christensen said in a written statement. He declined to say if any chaplains or service members had been prosecuted for such an offense.

“Court martials and non-judicial punishments are decided on a case-by-case basis and it would be inappropriate to speculate on the outcome in specific cases,” he said.


This could potentially include chaplains, according to some reports.

Decisions on whether to court-martial or not, and in what manner to punish infractions, will be made on “on a case-by-case basis.” I’d be interested to know how “case-by-case” differs from “arbitrary.”

Disagree with this Pentagon action? Please join me in signing this online petition.

The source on this seems to be of sufficient authority for me to feel confident in re-publishing it. If it should turn out to be false, I’d be the first person to be glad of it. Please let me know if you’re aware of other information on it.


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20 thoughts on “Pentagon Reportedly Forbidding Military Personnel To Share Their Faith

  1. How is discussing your faith, in whatever way you like, not protected free speech? How can the government abridge those free speech standards guaranteed in the 1st Amendment. Military personnel, of course, have many parts of their jobs they are not allowed to talk about but are they claiming their religious speech falls under those provisions. Seems like even the ACLU might want a part of this one.

  2. Knowing nothing about it, I imagine it’s about the chain-of-command.

    Anybody should have the right to share their faith, or lack thereof, with anyone with whom they’re not in a authority relationship. Once you’re in an authority relationship with someone, it’s not “sharing”, it’s “coercion”.

    I had a boss once who held “optional” prayer meetings every morning: it doesn’t matter how well-intentioned the act or actor might be, it’s not OK to do that.

    There’s some background here, from the groups pushing on the other side: For God and Country: Religious Fundamentalism in the US Military.

  3. Sault,

    I haven’t seen anything about that being the issue.


    I haven’t seen anything about that being the issue, either.

    It’s not like it would be surprising considering the attitude of those currently in a position to issue such orders.

  4. BillT – from the linked article:

    “Leaders at all levels must balance constitutional protections for an individual’s free exercise of religion or other personal beliefs and the constitutional prohibition against governmental establishment of religion,” the regulation states.

    Military leaders were admonished not to use their position to “promote their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates or to extend preferential treatment for any religion.”

    Imagine your CO was Muslim, and told you that you could either come to an Islamic religious service, or clean the barracks?

  5. Tom Gilson –

    I’d be interested to know how “case-by-case” differs from “arbitrary.”

    You could ask Dallas Willard. After all, you quoted him, and you apparently didn’t think he meant to say “Jesus deftly rejects the question, “Who is my neighbor?” and substitutes the only question really relevant here: “To whom will I be a neighbor?” And he knows that we can only answer this question [arbitrarily] as we got[sic] through our days.”

    Or you could ask Tom Gilson, who presumably didn’t mean “So one does not need to have an overall position on natural law; one can simply assess arguments [arbitrarily].”

  6. Ray,

    Yes, I saw that but it seems a lot like code to me. Does that kind of incident really happen so much that these new directives are necessary. Seems much more like P.C. anti-religious intimidation than a response to actual issues. And how does that work? Can Sergeants only discuss their religious beliefs with other Sergeants or Captains only discuss their religious beliefs with other Captains or have it become “use(ing) their position to “promote their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates…” Please pardon me if I’m overly cynical about the motives here.

  7. Here’s a helpful clarification.

    But Ray, really, what is it about you that makes you want to push this false equivalence on us? Do you think I meant that “case-by-case” always means “arbitrarily”? Do you think that’s always what it means? Do you think that’s what it meant in the Willard quote? Do you think that when I said “assess arguments case by case,” I meant, “throw a random dart at arguments case by case?”

    Or do you think that “case by case” never means “arbitrarily”?You shouldn’t There is a long history in law that states that where laws are not enforced on the basis of enunciated principles they tend to become arbitrary and unjust.

    I asked whether “case by case” was different from that? Do you think that there was something wrong with my wondering that?


  8. Tom Gilson –

    Do you think I meant that “case-by-case” always means “arbitrarily”?

    Obviously not, which is why I pointed out cases where you didn’t. If you’re going to imply that someone does mean “arbitrarily” by the phrase “case-by-case”, though, it’s incumbent upon you to offer some evidence that they actually do. Otherwise, it’s just ad hominem.

    There is a long history in law that states that where laws are not enforced on the basis of enunciated principles they tend to become arbitrary and unjust.

    The converse can be just as arbitrary and unjust, though. See: “zero tolerance”, especially as applied to schools these days.

    The clarification you linked to should, I think, help allay your concern. Feel free to keep an eye on things, but I’m not sure what else you’d like said.

  9. Thanks, Ray.

    I think that “case by case” does call for “keeping an eye on things” when it comes to matters of law. That’s why I asked the question.

  10. Linking articles from the Center for Inquiry who’s mission statement reads as follows:

    About the Center For Inquiry
    The mission of the Center for Inquiry is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values.

    Real convincing, Ray.

  11. BillT – The question is, do they list actual cases or not? I mean, what if I said I wasn’t convinced that Christians were persecuted in other parts of the world just because you linked to a Christian source? What if I said Behe was wrong about the clotting cascade simply because he’s an ID proponent?

    As C.S. Lewis put it, “You must show that a man is wrong before you start explaining why he is wrong.”

  12. Ray,

    If you want to believe the drivel from a website that has an anti-religious agenda as it’s stated purpose, be my guest. You can be convinced or not about any of those other topics. They have nothing to do with the current discussion in any case.

  13. BillT – “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance—that principle is contempt prior to investigation.” – William Paley

    You don’t think there could be a problem with proselytizing in the military, and therefore any reports of it must be wrong. Got it.

  14. Ray,

    The document is not just a report. Its analysis is one-sided. You don’t think there could be any innocent spiritual involvement in the military, and therefore any resistance to this report must be wrong. Got it.

    But no. I don’t actually believe what I just wrote, any more than I believe your version of it. The fact is there are biases in these kinds of reports, as you must surely recognize. There are biases in counter-reports. I spent two years in a ministry to military members, and I have a bias in favor of Christianity in the military. I think it’s a well-informed and substantively founded bias, and I think in the main it’s correct, but I recognize it as a bias when I read accounts like this one.

    And I recognize bias when I see it in accounts like this one.

    Do you?

  15. Tom Gilson –

    You don’t think there could be any innocent spiritual involvement in the military,

    Quotes where I say that?

    and therefore any resistance to this report must be wrong.

    I’d like to see some specifics about why it’s wrong, particularly about proselytizing in the military. Just saying “it’s from the CFI, and therefore wrong,” is pure ad hominem.

    Tell you what. If that source is really, permanently tainted in all your eyes, how about I just link to some cases. Each from a different source. Gotta be at least one in there you’ll not dismiss out of hand, right?

    1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

  16. Ray, I’m about to go out for the day. I won’t have time to look at all your examples.

    I am quite sure they can be adduced. That’s not the question. The question is what they mean in context of the whole. Are these reports indicative of some widespread problem? Are they isolated incidents? Can they be dealt with on the basis of existing policy without having to create new restrictions on military members’ free speech?

    These are questions that can’t be answered by a list of instances: or maybe they can. Maybe they all illustrate that current policy is sufficient to deal with it! But I don’t have time right now to see.

  17. I posted this elsewhere, too, but… a question for reflection.

    The military bans fraternization between officers and enlisted. In the cases of dating, sexual relationships, etc., fraternization is flatly prohibited – even when the relationship is free from perceived bias, unfairness, coercion, etc. – because some relationships have too much potential for abuse.

    Is it possible that evangelization of enlisted troops by their superior officers could be such a circumstance? They have much more power than a boss in civilian life. As the Marine fraternization policy states, “(REMEMBER: when dealing with the subject of fraternization, perceptions are as deadly as reality).”

    Ask yourself how you’d feel if your CO asked, even politely, if you’d ever considered adopting, say, Islam or Wicca.

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