The Gospel and the Military

An op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal offers a helpful summary and analysis of recent events that have been reported (and misreported) concerning the place of evangelism in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, a contributor to GetReligion.org and a frequent writer for Christianity Today and World, notes that some reports have been “exaggerated, taken out of context or simply false.” But all is not well. She writes,

The Pentagon statement clarifying that military personnel would not be court-martialed if they “evangelize” also said that “proselytization” is considered a Uniform Code of Military Justice offense.

What’s the difference? No clarification is offered.

Hemingway cites two Southern Baptist leaders, Russell Moore and Kevin Ezell, who note that the distinction is left to “subjective interpretation.” They continue, “The fact that this has been raised at all in such a subjective fashion could have a chilling effect on service personnel sharing their faith at all.”

Hemingway’s piece also discusses the role that Mikey Weinstein, the founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, has had. Weinstein recently referred to evangelicals as “monsters of human degradation, marginalization, humiliation and tyranny.”

The whole editorial is worth reading and reflection. Here’s her conclusion:

The Pentagon is still struggling to contain the rumors that unsettled so many evangelicals in recent weeks. The erroneous reports do need to be corrected. But military leaders should recognize that the rumors spread far and fast in part because they were so believable.

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One Response to The Gospel and the Military

  1. Seth Rone says:

    As a chaplain may I put some light on this subject? Through out my training and 9 years of being in the military there has always been a distinction between proselytization and evangelism. Proselytization: the act of coercing one to beleive something he/she would not believe or forcing them to go to worship/ Bible study when it is against their will to do so. A commander may not tell his whole company you will be at worship this Sunday. Evangelizing: the simple act of sharing ones faith in a non-confrontational manner, or inviting one to come to worship.

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