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Anatomy of a Murder: The Pentagon, Capitol Hill, and Religious Liberty

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What would you do if you found out that a shocking murder plot was unfolding silently? What if this wasn’t just any murder, but the premeditated and carefully plotted unfolding of a terrifying scenario with nightmarish repercussions for every American citizen? What if the innocent victim was of vital importance to you, your family, and your country? Would you come to the protective defense of the victim? Or would you shrink back into the shadows marinated in trembling fear of possibly being harmed while dutifully standing up to such an injustice?

Unfortunately for all citizens of America, the murder victim in this case is the bedrock democratic guarantee of religious freedom rights, as mandated by the Constitution of the United States of America. In relation to the United States military, the deceased include numerous relevant Department of Defense (DoD) directives, regulations and instructions. Where are the lairs of those sinister perpetrators who are clearly complicit in this nefarious act of murder? Nowhere else but the United States Congress and the Pentagon.

What we’re referring to here is the planned participation and endorsement of a sectarian, exclusivist, fundamentalist Christian “National Day of Prayer” event to be held this coming May 1st on Capitol Hill in the Cannon House Office Building. The event is being sponsored not only by Congressional legislators, but also by uniformed American military personnel… and the Pentagon has shown no sign of relenting in its shameful support of this fundamentalist Christian, big tent revival circus.

Despite all of the disingenuous criticism regarding “Obama’s war on religion,” the present administration can hardly be considered pristine guardians of religious liberty, especially not with respect to the United States military.  Indeed, its approach can best be described as egregiously lackadaisical and, at worst, criminally complicit. Proof positive of this “homicidal” fiduciary failure is its deplorable allowance of the American military’s prominent participation in a Congressional “National Day of Prayer Task Force” (NDP Task Force) event.

Curious readers may be wondering: What actually is this “‘National Day of Prayer’ Task Force”? Well, my friends, let me explain. The National Day of Prayer (NDP) has been an annual observance of faith since 1952 when President Truman started it. One can be more than generous and say it is a “secular holiday”, as it is celebrated by Christians, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Baha’i, pagans, Satanists… or one can call it “abhorrently unconstitutional,” as my dear colleague and Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) Senior Research Director Chris Rodda called it. Loosely construed, NDP is, arguably, supposed to be propagating a celebration of religious liberty and the freedom of Americans to pray or meditate in any manner that they see fit. Whatever NDP is, it most certainly is NOT a day to celebrate one religious tradition, to the exclusion of all other concepts spiritual or temporal.

Enter now that trojan horse of religious freedom-murdering criminals, the NDP Task Force. The NDP Task Force is the group organizing and broadcasting this garish Capitol Hill event under the following banner: “So that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Getting the picture now, my friends? The NDP Task Force’s reasons for existing can be summed up as the following: (1) evangelical, fundamentalist Christian proselytizing, (2) latter day “crusader”-indoctrination (3) theocracy-building in the U.S. armed forces, (4) federally-funded “spirituality molding,” (5) anti-LGBT discrimination, and (6) seethingly sectarian triumphalism and expectionalism on a universal scale of magnitude. This narrow, parochial, and sectarian purpose is irrefutably contemptible from the standpoint of the gentle religious tolerance and respect that was meant to be the mantra of the Truman-created NDP (sans the  “Task Force” suffix).