Needy Airmen to Receive Free 'Turkeys for Christ' from Law-Breaking Evangelical Slaughterhouse
The holiday season is upon us, and one thing that means for us at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) is that we'll be getting reports of alleged improper promotions of religion. We'll check out these reports, and, as always, we'll find some cases where there are legitimate issues that need to be addressed and others where no lines are being crossed. But that's not what this post is about. This is about something that started out as a routine look at a possible holiday-related military religious issue, but ended up leading one of MRFF's research volunteers to stumble upon one of the worst cases of hypocrisy from a self-proclaimed "Christ-centric" company that I've ever seen.
A little background:
It's a pretty common practice in the military for officers and senior NCOs to do things during the holiday season to help those on their bases who are struggling financially -- typically the young enlisted service members who have families to support. Many bases set up "angel trees," for example, where people can take a tag off the tree with the name of a child to buy a gift for. (Incidentally, MRFF gets a lot of emails about these "angel trees" every year, but we've never once found any of them being used to inappropriately promote religion.)
One such holiday program is at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, where the First Sergeant's Council runs a Thanksgiving basket program, which this year will provide 300 young airmen with families with turkeys and everything else for their Thanksgiving dinners. A story about this Thanksgiving basket program on the base's website raised a red flag, not because of what the First Sergeant's Council is doing, but because of who this year's turkeys are being donated by -- a Christian ministry called FLOCK, which stands for "Faithful Love Offering for Christ's Kingdom."
There's nothing wrong, of course, with a religious organization donating things for our troops, and there are many good organizations out there that do this out of nothing but genuine generosity and support for the troops. There are others, however, that have ulterior motives, and that's where MRFF steps in. We check to make sure that donations like this don't come with any evangelical strings attached, as they unfortunately sometimes do.
So, Mark, a research volunteer for MRFF, began our routine procedure of checking out this turkey-donating ministry to see if they have a track record of using their donations as opportunities to proselytize. As long as Mark didn't find any indication that the airmen at Whiteman Air Force Base were going to be getting turkeys that were accompanied by a note saying "This turkey brought to you by your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" or something like that, that would have been the end of it. And Mark's quick checking-out of this FLOCK ministry actually was the end of it as far as it being a typical MRFF issue goes, but that was only because what he found out about this ministry was much worse than anything he expected. At this point Mark emailed MRFF president Mikey Weinstein and myself to let us know what he had found.
The article on the Whiteman Air Force Base website had said that the FLOCK ministry was run by House of Raeford which is one of the country's largest poultry companies. It is also a very Christian company, with a CEO who started a ministry "dedicated to bringing youth and people of our nation to a personal salvation experience with Jesus Christ through music, testimony, and God’s word," chaplains at all of its facilities, and of course, its FLOCK ministry.