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 fromSecretary of the Army John M. McHugh. He begins his letter noting a string ofanti-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 twoadditional unclassified military documents that raise additional questions. Thefirst is a redacted letter signed Oct. 17–one day before McHugh’s letter–referencinga new “stand down” order from an Army general at Forscom (U.S. Army ForcesCommand), saying that “FORSCOM has directed all Equal Opportunity (EO) trainingbe suspended until” military trainers have received updated training to changewhat they are currently presenting in their briefings. So an Army general incharge of military training on extremists and dangerous movements had alreadyissued an order before McHugh.
Breitbart News has also exclusively obtained yet anotherletter, this one dated Oct. 23, which makes clearer what the redacted Oct. 17letter 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 ensuringthat EO [Equal Opportunity] Training is consistent with [Army] policy andcommand needs. Identifying and obtaining references and training material arekey elements in conducting effective EO training. Commanders must ensure thatEO briefings are vetted with the appropriate subject matter experts prior topresentation. Effective immediately, all unit EO training, to include EO LeaderCourse (EOLC) training is suspended.
The letters use similar formats and the same key terms, soit is a reasonable assumption that their substance is also similar. If so, an Armycommander 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 NewYork (not a Tea Party person, but not a committed moderate, either) whenPresident Barack Obama appointed him Secretary of the Army. One possibility is thatthe Oct. 17 letter made him aware of this very serious problem: that thePentagon was officially approving material from a radical anti-Christianorganization that has been linked to domestic terrorism. McHugh may have decided to elevate the “stand down” order to his level, issuing a directive tothe entire Army to stop using this material until a full review could beconducted. In other words, his Oct. 18 letter could mean McHugh did the rightthing for the right reasons.
Retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin–former commanding general ofU.S. Army Special Operations Command and now executive vice president of theFamily Research Council–is giving McHugh the benefit of the doubt, tellingBreitbart News:
The letter of 17 Oct. demonstrates that the Army sees theproblem of persecution of Christians. The letter from the SecArmy on 18 Oct. showsthat the Army is doing something about it. I am encouraged but we have a longway to go.
The other possibility is when McHugh saw the general’sletter, he had the political sense to know that the news media would eventuallyget a copy (as Breitbart News now has), and that it would be a damagingpolitical scandal for the Obama administration to have proof that thisadministration is in fact using anti-Christian propaganda as training materialfor American soldiers. The way to head off that scandal was to immediatelyissue his own letter to supersede and overshadow the Oct. 17 letter, makingit 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 whichone of these possibilities explains the Oct. 18 letter, but one thing that is not speculative is that McHugh’s letter amounts to theArmy’s admission that the military has in fact been using anti-Christianindoctrination material in training our soldiers about threats to the nation.
Congress should investigate who knew what and when, as well as whyMcHugh issued his letter on Oct. 18. Additionally, DEOMI materials can be used by all thebranches of the military, and the Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps mightstill be using anti-Christian material and are outside McHugh’s jurisdiction to prevent them from doing so. As such, Congressshould also ask Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel about this and demand to knowwhy Hagel has not reissued McHugh’s order under his own name to ensure thatno one in the U.S. military is using the SPLC’s anti-Christian material.
Ken Klukowski is seniorlegal analyst for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @kenklukowski.