Pentagon asked to block Christian broadcast
A foundation that has sued the military alleging widespread violations of religious freedom is asking the Pentagon to block a Christian cable TV broadcast featuring officers in uniform.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation has raised objections to 20 minutes of the two-hour broadcast of “Carman’s Red, White and Blue Spectacular,” saying the program may violate a prohibition against uniformed officers endorsing a particular religion.
Mikey Weinstein, president of the foundation, said the military’s involvement in the program “maliciously defiles and lays waste” to regulations. He wrote Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on Monday seeking a full investigation.
The program is scheduled to air July 4 and 5 on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. It was produced in 2003 and re-aired in 2005.
Included in the program is a segment where Lt. Gen. Robert L. Van Antwerp appears in uniform and is introduced as the then-president of the Officers Christian Fellowship. The interview was filmed at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., where he was commander of the U.S. Army Maneuver Support Center.
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In his letter, Weinstein also claims that footage also was shot of soldiers training at Fort Leonard Wood with the knowledge and permission of Van Antwerp.
Weinstein said the video is a tacit endorsement the U.S. military of Christianity and the Christian singer and evangelist Carman. He also said it’s fodder for those in Iraq and Afghanistan who perceive U.S. military action as part of crusade to spread Christianity and Western ideologies. Several terrorist groups already post video of statements made by U.S. officials and clergy as part of their recruitment efforts, he added.
“This represents a quintessential national security threat for those in harm’s way,” Weinstein said.
The foundation previously has sued Gates in Kansas City, Kan., federal court. Government attorneys are expected to file a response to the lawsuit by July 8.