Pentagon denies Christian ‘hate group’ slur
Fri, 18 Oct 2013
The US military has distanced itself from an Army training session which listed a pro-family Christian organisation as a “domestic hate group”.
The pentagon said the training session for soldiers did not use official sources of information and does not reflect Army policy.
But the group at the centre of the storm, the American Family Association (AFA), says it is likely to sue the military for defamation.
“We are probably going to be taking legal action,” said Tim Wildmon, president of the AFA.
“The Army has smeared us. They’ve defamed the American Family Association.”
Mr Wildmon said he refuted the Army’s claims that this was a one-off mistake.
He said: “We’re hearing from too many people across the country who’ve witnessed these training sessions”.
He added: “We know this is going on in the Army and the Air Force.”
And Hiram Sasser of the Liberty Institute, which is backing the AFA, said it is time for the Army to admit they are in the wrong.
He said: “For them to keep saying there are just a bunch of rogue instructors out there is either evidence they have a massive disciplinary problem or they are full of baloney.”
Earlier this year, an American journalist exposed other military briefings which classified evangelical Christians and Catholics as examples of religious extremism.
The AFA are taking action over a recent incident in which dozens of troops were told that the organisation should be classed alongside groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and Neo-Nazis.
The organisation has previously been designated a hate group in a list of organisations compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC).
During the training session at Camp Shelby in Mississippi, soldiers were told they may face punishment if they support organisations which the army considers to go against its values.
One Christian soldier who attended the session contacted a journalist, raising concerns about the fact that he donates to the AFA.
The organisation has urged its supporters to contact politicians to ask “why the Pentagon relies on the extreme left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center as its source for listing ‘hate groups’”.