New Docs Raise Questions About Timing of Order to Suspend Anti-Christian Army Training Materials
After Breitbart News reported on Thursday an official Department of Defense (DOD) document approved the anti-Christian Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as a trustworthy source for information on dangerous “extremist” organizations and movements, Fox News released a letter dated Oct. 18 from
Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh. He begins his letter noting a string of
anti-Christian presentations and says the material is “inaccurate,
objectionable and otherwise inconsistent with current Army policy.”
McHugh criticized SPLC for labeling Christian ministries, public-interest groups, and other conservative organizations as extremists, adding the “groups identified in the instruction were not ‘extremist’ organizations as that term is defined in Army Regulation 600-20.”
The DOD document revealed on Thursday confirmed suspicions as to why multiple military trainers nationwide have cited traditional Christian and Tea Party groups as dangerous, and forbids military service members from supporting them or participating in their events. This official document was issued by DOD’s Defense Equal Opportunity Military Institute (DEOMI).
Now Breitbart News has exclusively obtained two
additional unclassified military documents that raise additional questions. The
first is a redacted letter signed Oct. 17—one day before McHugh’s letter—referencing
a new “stand down” order from an Army general at Forscom (U.S. Army Forces
Command), saying that “FORSCOM has directed all Equal Opportunity (EO) training
be suspended until” military trainers have received updated training to change
what they are currently presenting in their briefings. So an Army general in
charge of military training on extremists and dangerous movements had already
issued an order before McHugh.
Breitbart News has also exclusively obtained yet another
letter, this one dated Oct. 23, which makes clearer what the redacted Oct. 17
letter contained. This letter is issued by Lt. Gen. Jeffrey W.
Talley—commanding general of the U.S. Army Reserve Command. This letter states:
Commanders at all levels … are personally responsible for ensuring
that EO [Equal Opportunity] Training is consistent with [Army] policy and
command needs. Identifying and obtaining references and training material are
key elements in conducting effective EO training. Commanders must ensure that
EO briefings are vetted with the appropriate subject matter experts prior to
presentation. Effective immediately, all unit EO training, to include EO Leader
Course (EOLC) training is suspended.
The letters use similar formats and the same key terms, so
it is a reasonable assumption that their substance is also similar. If so, an Army
commander issuing the Oct. 17 letter a single day before McHugh sent his Oct.
18 letter raises two possibilities.
McHugh was a center-right Republican congressman from New
York (not a Tea Party person, but not a committed moderate, either) when
President Barack Obama appointed him Secretary of the Army. One possibility is that
the Oct. 17 letter made him aware of this very serious problem: that the
Pentagon was officially approving material from a radical anti-Christian
organization that has been linked to domestic terrorism. McHugh may have decided to elevate the “stand down” order to his level, issuing a directive to
the entire Army to stop using this material until a full review could be
conducted. In other words, his Oct. 18 letter could mean McHugh did the right
thing for the right reasons.
Retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin—former commanding general of
U.S. Army Special Operations Command and now executive vice president of the
Family Research Council—is giving McHugh the benefit of the doubt, telling
The letter of 17 Oct. demonstrates that the Army sees the
problem of persecution of Christians. The letter from the SecArmy on 18 Oct. shows
that the Army is doing something about it. I am encouraged but we have a long
way to go.
The other possibility is when McHugh saw the general’s
letter, he had the political sense to know that the news media would eventually
get a copy (as Breitbart News now has), and that it would be a damaging
political scandal for the Obama administration to have proof that this
administration is in fact using anti-Christian propaganda as training material
for American soldiers. The way to head off that scandal was to immediately
issue his own letter to supersede and overshadow the Oct. 17 letter, making
it look like the Obama administration was proactively looking for a solution to avoid being blamed as the source of the problem.
It would be pure speculation at this point to guess which
one of these possibilities explains the Oct. 18 letter, but one thing that is not speculative is that McHugh's letter amounts to the
Army’s admission that the military has in fact been using anti-Christian
indoctrination material in training our soldiers about threats to the nation.
Congress should investigate who knew what and when, as well as why
McHugh issued his letter on Oct. 18. Additionally, DEOMI materials can be used by all the
branches of the military, and the Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps might
still be using anti-Christian material and are outside McHugh’s jurisdiction to prevent them from doing so. As such, Congress
should also ask Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel about this and demand to know
why Hagel has not reissued McHugh’s order under his own name to ensure that
no one in the U.S. military is using the SPLC’s anti-Christian material.
Ken Klukowski is senior
legal analyst for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.