Military atheist activist goes after ROTC programs at Christian schools

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The secular humanists are on the offensive again and this time it’s not the Freedom from Religion Foundation but the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) and former U.S. Air Force Academy graduate, Mikey Weinstein. Weinstein now has an Army ROTC program in his sights.

Todd Starnes writing for Fox News asks, “Do Christian colleges have the right to require that ROTC officers [instructors] be followers of the Christian faith? That’s the crux of a controversy surrounding the ROTC program at Wheaton College, one of the nation’s most prominent Christian schools. The ROTC program at Wheaton College has a long and storied history that is steeped in the school’s Christian tradition. The Rolling Thunder Battalion was established in 1952. The college required all freshmen and sophomore male students to participate in ROTC until 1969.”

“The U.S. Army says they have launched a review of ROTC policies nationwide after the Military Religious Freedom Foundation raised concerns about an ROTC assignment listing for an assistant professor of military science at Wheaton.”

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As a former ROTC instructor at Kansas State University and the 1993 U.S. Army ROTC “Instructor of the Year,” I believe I can weigh in on this matter. An ROTC instructor on ANY type of college campus is beholden to the standards and codes of behavior for that respective university as a member of its faculty. It is the right of the university to have criteria for its faculty, especially if it is a private institution. It is not establishing any formal religion but rather requiring that the qualities and character of the intended instructor are in keeping with that of the university.

Now, Wheaton College has been around for some years and has had an ROTC program as well — so this isn’t some new occurrence. As a matter of fact, Fox reports, “Wheaton said it’s been their preference from the beginning to have an officer who matches the religious identity of the school. “We have historically required that the lead professor of military science meet the same basic religious standards as the rest of our faculty, as this person is fully a member of our faculty and serves as the interface of the ROTC program with the rest of the Wheaton College academic program,” according to Wheaton spokesperson LaTonya Taylor. Other ROTC instructors are not required to meet the same standard, she said. However, they are expected to understand and respect Wheaton’s religious mission.”

And of course that instructor isn’t promoting religion, since the students attending Wheaton already comply with the faith belief and standards of the institution.

But for some reason, this again offends the declared radical atheist Weinstein. “While Wheaton is a private Christian college, and can impose a religious test on its own faculty members, it cannot impose that same religious test on the faculty members provided by the U.S. Army for its ROTC program, and the U.S. Army unequivocally cannot require a religious test for any ROTC assignment, regardless of the religious preference of the college at which that ROTC assignment exists,” MRFF founder Mikey Weinstein wrote in a letter sent in November to Secretary of the Army John McHugh.”

So if this has been an established practice previously and no one has complained, what’s so offensive to Weinstein? What if the person assigned to the ROTC program was a U.S. Army chaplain — who was a former combat arms officer? And if the Army as Weinstein suggested cannot proffer a “religious test,” then how does the Army accept and assign chaplains? And we all know Weinstein and the MRFF are behind the move to institute atheist chaplains into the military — not there’s a tricky one for you.

Fox says “Weinstein (who reminds me of Saul before his road to Damascus conversion moment making him the devoted Christian disciple and astute Gospel writer Paul) called Wheaton’s policy a blatant violation of the Constitution’s “no religious test” clause and demanded those involved be punished. “Given the magnitude of these breaches at Wheaton, any and all Army personnel found to be either directly or indirectly complicit in these egregious violations of constitutional and regulatory law must be swiftly, visibly and meaningfully punished,” Weinstein wrote in a letter to the Pentagon.”

Weinstein has previously stated that Christians in the U.S. military who profess their faith and “proselytize” are guilty of treason and sedition and should be court-martialed and imprisoned. I have to wonder if he’s related to Houston’s Mayor Annise Parker…

Todd Starnes, writing for Fox says, “That sounds fairly reasonable to me. A Christian college wants to hire Christian leaders. Who could possibly take offense at that – besides Mr. Weinstein?” I concur.

However, Weinstein fired off a letter to the Pentagon on Nov. 6th demanding an investigation. On Nov. 10 the Army confirmed they had launched a probe. “The Army is conducting a holistic review of the ROTC agreements and policies in effect to ensure compliance with Army regulations and policies,” spokesperson LTC Alayne Conway told Starnes in a written statement.

So from a policy and priority perspective let me analyze this. We have no idea about the status of U.S. Army SGT Bowe Bergdahl but the Army, which is undergoing severe cuts in its readiness, is going to drop everything to appease Weinstein and begin an investigative probe?

Ok, here is how Secretary of the Army West would have replied (and don’t laugh there’s already been one — Togo West), “Mr. Weinstein, thanks so very much for your letter. I have read it and my response is that your U.S. Army is busy maintaining our readiness to protect you and your right to free speech and the ability to say really dumb things. We will continue to protect that right and that includes the future leaders of our Army being developed at Wheaton College. Have a nice Army Strong day.”

If our military continues to entertain these social egalitarians, who are making much ado about nothing, then we shall indeed see the demise of one of the greatest fighting armies the world has ever known.

Starnes says “Wheaton spokesperson Taylor said the school will cooperate with the Army review. “We fully support the Army conducting whatever investigations it needs to ensure the appropriateness of the training received by ROTC cadets, and we do so with gratitude that any such examination will take place in the context of the US constitutional standards guaranteeing the free exercise of religion and preventing governmental establishment of religion,” Taylor said.”

“There is a call today for a Joshua, a Gideon, a David, as well as for an Elijah and a Paul. ROTC at Wheaton is the answer,” former Wheaton president V. Raymond Edman once declared.

There is nothing wrong from a policy perspective with that statement and the goal of the U.S. Army and Wheaton College in developing the next generation of fine upstanding Army leaders — but there is something amiss with Mikey Weinstein and those who find fault and cause where there truly is none.

In the ROTC assignment world, it was an unwritten rule that for HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) the first preference was to select a black officer as head of the program — even more so, someone who was also a graduate of an HBCU. After Operation Desert Storm, I was told my next assignment would be ROTC instructor, possibly in Mississippi, but as it happened my wife Angela was a budding young professor at Kansas State. In any event, the reason for this guideline was to have ROTC instructors who could “identify” with the cadets and share a common background — same as what Wheaton is requesting. I’m quite sure Mr. Weinstein has no problem with agnostic liberal progressives being sought out on college campuses in certain departments of study.

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