ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (ABP) – A group dedicated to separation of church and state in the armed forces charged that Southern Baptists are against religious equality after an article compared its work at the U.S. Air Force Academy to “a mission to rid the institution of Christian influence.”
“Well, it doesn’t get any clearer than this,” Chris Rodda, senior research director for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, wrote in the Huffington Post. “In an article from the Baptist Press, the news arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Southern Baptists have finally come right out and admitted what we at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation have known all along — they oppose religious equality in the U.S. military.”
A Dec. 13 article in Baptist Press quoted a Baptist pastor in Colorado Springs attributing “hostility toward Christianity” at the academy not to leadership there but to pressure from one man — MRFF founder Mikey Weinstein.
Rodda said the article gets some facts wrong and recycles old news, but more importantly “shows the true colors of the Southern Baptist Convention when it comes to religious freedom,” by presenting action like providing worship space for all and requiring training in religious respect “as if it’s a bad thing.”
“Hey, they have to have some other juicy, if not quite true, examples of Christian persecution to generate some good outrage, right?” Rodda wrote. “And they also need someone to target as the big, bad anti-Christian boogeyman — and that would be Mikey Weinstein, the founder and president of MRFF. In fact, the main gist of the Baptist Press article is that none of this horrible Christian persecution at the Air Force Academy is the Academy’s fault; it’s all the work of Weinstein.”
Rodda said Weinstein, a 1997 Air Force Academy graduate who was honored last year as Americans United for Separation of Church and State’s first-ever “Person of the Year,” is not anti-Christian. Of 351 Military Religious Freedom Foundation clients at the Air Force Academy, she said, 316 are Christians, both Protestant and Catholic.
Rodda said Southern Baptists’ problem with MRFF clients is not that they are atheists but rather the “wrong kind” of Christians. The “right” kind of Christians, she contended, are “dominionist and fundamentalist” evangelicals who want to take over the U.S. military.
Bob Allen is managing editor of Associated Baptist Press.