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Conservative Christian boycott of the U.S. Army 

Free Congress Foundation's boycott

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Sponsored link.


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The boycott:

The boycott was organized by the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation. 1 A total of 13 conservative Christian groups were said to initially support the boycott when it was announced on 1999-JUN-9:

bullet60 Plus (a conservative alternative to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP),
bulletAmerican Association of Christian Schools,
bulletAmerican Council for Immigration Reform,
bulletAmerican Family Association,
bulletChristian Coalition,
bulletChristian Action Network, (One of their 5 goals is to educate the public to  ("Protect the religious beliefs of a free people.")
bulletHome School Legal Defense Association. (Their advertising banner states that they are "Advocates for Family & Freedom.")
bulletI Love Jesus Worldwide Ministries, 
bulletThe Madison Project,
bulletReligious Freedom Coalition,
bulletTraditional Values Coalition. (The "Coalition focuses upon issues such as...religious freedom.")
bulletTradition, Family, Property Inc.

However, there were some conservative groups which disagreed:

bulletMarc Levin, vice president of the American Freedom Institute commented that the boycott is an act of  political suicide. "This brings back the specter of the Salem witch trials. In addition to being wrongheaded, conservative calls for a boycott of the military are politically suicidal. Support for the military is a bedrock conservative principle." Hal Seimer, president of the American Freedom Institute said: "What's insane about it is that we fight for the freedom to practice religion in public, and now the conservatives who seek to deny these groups their right to worship are espousing the philosophy of 'freedom of religion for me and not for thee'...As long as a religious group does not advocate an illegal or unpatriotic position, which Wiccans do not, they should be allowed freedom on worship on U.S. military installations."
bulletThe American Family Association originally supported the drive to ban Wicca from army bases. However, they had been unaware that the Free Congress Foundation was also calling for an enlistment boycott. Pat Trueman, director of governmental affairs for the AFA commented: "We were totally blindsided by this." 2 The AFA has since withdrawn its support for the boycott.
bulletFree Congress Foundation does not seem to have placed information about their boycott on their web site as of 1999-JUN-28. 3

We wrote each of the 12 remaining groups, asking for their comments on the boycott. We have received only three replies:

bullet60 Plus (a conservative alternatibe to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP): No response
bulletAmerican Association of Christian Schools: No response
bulletAmerican Council for Immigration Reform: No response
bulletChristian Coalition: The Christian Coalition has stated that their organization "is not involved in this matter." 4
bulletChristian Action Network: No response
bulletFree Congress Research and Education Foundation: Their press release was titled " 'Satanic' army unworthy of representing United States." 1 They appear to equate Wicca with Satanism throughout their essay. It stated in part: "The official approval of Satanism and witchcraft by the Army is a direct assault on the Christian faith that generations of American soldiers have fought and died for." [We have difficulty understanding this point.  The U.S. Army's most recent battle, in Kosovo, was largely against Serbian Orthodox Christians, and motivated by a desire to bring human rights to the Kosovars - who are mostly Muslim. If the U.S. Army was fighting to preserve Christianity, they would have helped the Serbian Orthodox folks exterminate the Muslims.]
bulletHome School Legal Defense Association: They responded on 2000-MAY-31, stating that: "HSLDA has never participated, nor is currently participating, in a boycott of the military.  An early draft of the Free Congress Foundation letter listed HSLDA as a supporting organization, but it was listed without our consent.  We asked to have our name immediately removed as soon as we learned that it had been added to the list of organizations. 

HSLDA has nothing but the utmost respect for the men and women who make the ultimate sacrifice for their country by choosing to serve in the military to protect our nation's freedoms.
bulletI Love Jesus Worldwide Ministries: We were unable to find their web site or E-mail address 
bulletThe Madison Project: Unable to send fax or Email.
bulletReligious Freedom Coalition: No response
bulletTraditional Values Coalition: No response
bulletTradition, Family, Property Inc.: No response

Only three agencies responding to our 10 inquiries may seem like a small percentage return. Actually, it is higher than normal. We have averaged about 5% response in some previous inquiries to conservative Christian groups.

On 2000-MAR-1, we Emailed Robert McFarland of the Free Congress Foundation to learn the current status of this boycott. He did not respond. We wrote back on 2000-NOV-29. Steve Lilienthal responded that the boycott is not currently being actively pursued by either Free Congress Foundation or any other groups who were initially involved in the effort." 7

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Sponsored link:

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Paul Weyrich's comments

Paul Weyrich is the president of the Free Congress Foundation. In his article in the Salt Lake Tribune, a Salt Lake City UT newspaper, he exhorts Christians to join the army boycott. His strategy appears to dry up the supply of volunteers enlisting in the army by diverting Christians to the other armed forces. He feels that this will eventually starve the army of personnel and force them to terminate the religious freedom of Wiccans on army bases.

Some of the points raised in his article:

bulletChristians didn't complain when prayer was abolished in the classroom. Actually, conservative Christians did object and continued to object. Fortunately, public school students are still allowed to pray at the flagpole, in the cafeteria, before classes, after classes, in school Bible clubs, etc.
bulletChristians didn't complain when the NEA desecrated a crucifix. Actually, it was an artist who desecrated a crucifix, not the NEA.
bulletIf you are a Wiccan soldier, you are given the same rights as Christians and Jews. This is precisely what the 1st amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires. Weyrich appears to be opposed to religious freedom for followers of non-Christian religions.
bulletThere are Wiccan chaplains in the army: There are no Wiccan chaplains in the army.
bulletThe Army recognizes grottos of the Church of Satan: The Army Chaplain's Handbook does describe Satanism as one of many religions that chaplains may come across in their pastoral work. However, to our knowledge, no local Satanic group -- called Grottos by the Church of Satan -- has ever has been recognized by any of the armed forces. 5
bulletThe Fort Hood Wiccan coven is mounting an "out-and-out attack on our Judeo-Christian heritage." The Wiccans are not attacking anyone; they are simply quietly practicing their religion. However, the reverse is true. A small minority of Christians near Fort Hood have threatened to take action against the Wiccans.
bulletThe Wiccans in the army will recruit Christians: Wiccans do not recruit members. They do make themselves available so that anyone interested in Wicca can contact them.
bulletWhen will a young lady be ritually sacrificed by the Ft. Hood coven in a Satanic ritual? The answer to this question is simple: never. The Wiccan rule of behavior prohibits harming other people. Wiccans do not perform Satanic rituals. Finally, Satanists are identical to Southern Baptists and Presbyterians in one behavior: they do not ritually murder people.
bulletA Christian who becomes involved with Wicca could lose his soul: This is a theological concept that is foreign to most religions. Presumably he would believe that a Christian who becomes involved with Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and other world religions would also lose their soul.
bulletNeopagan beliefs bring only death: This is another theological concept.
bulletBelieving in the Christian God necessitates the terminating of religious freedom for non-Christians: That may be Weyrich's belief, but such action violates the 1st Amendment, and the human rights of citizens.

We are at a loss to understand why Weyrich is attacking only Wicca while ignoring Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, and dozens of other non-Christian religions. One could re-write his article, substituting "Buddhism" for "Wicca" and "Pagan" and it would make as much sense.

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Comments by Senator Strom Thurmond:

In late 1999-JUN, Senator Strom Thurmond (R-SC) submitted a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee suggesting that the religious freedoms of Wiccan soldiers be terminated. He wrote: "Army soldiers who consider themselves to be members of the Church of Wicca are carrying out their ceremonies at Fort Hood in Texas.  "The Wiccas [sic] practice witchcraft. At Fort Hood, they are permitted to build fires on Army property and perform their rituals involving fire, hooded robes, and nine inch daggers. An Army chaplain is even present...I do not dispute that individuals may believe what they wish, and they can practice their religion in private life. However, limits can and should be placed on the exercise of those views, especially in the military. I do not believe that the Armed Forces should accommodate the practice of witchcraft at military facilities. The same applies to the practices of other groups such as Satanists and cultists. For the sake of the honor and prestige of our military, there should be no obligation to permit such activity. This is an example of going too far to accommodate the practice of one's views in the name of religion." 6

By way of correction:

bullet

There are no followers of the Church of Wicca at Fort Hood, TX

bullet

Followers of Wicca are called "Wiccans," not "Wiccas."

bullet

Wiccans at Ft. Hood are allowed to have fires on base, but only bonfires. Local Boy Scout troops are also allowed to light bonfires.

bullet

Nine inch daggers are not permitted anywhere in Texas. There is a state law forbidding knives longer than 5 or 6 inches. 

bullet

The term "witchcraft" has been used to refer to at least 17 different and mostly unrelated practices.

bullet

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prevents the U.S. government from discriminating among religions. If the U.S. Army permits Christians to worship on base, then they must allow Wiccans to conduct rituals as well.

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References:

  1. Robert McFarland, "Satanic' Army Unworthy of Representing United States. 10 Groups Call for Nationwide Recruiting Boycott," Free Congress Foundation, 1999-JUN-9, at: http://www.freecongress.org/media/1999/990609.asp
  2. Kim Sue Lia Perkes, "Conservative groups split on Army boycott against Wicca rituals," American-Statesman, Austin TX, 1999-JUN-11 at: http://www.austin360.com/news/2state/1999/06/11wiccafolo.html
  3. Free Congress Research and Education Foundation has a web site at: http://www.freecongress.org Their boycott posting is at: http://www.freecongress.org/media/1999/990609.asp
  4. Email from Debra, CC E-mail correspondent, 1999-JUN-11.
  5. "Army Chaplain's Handbook," Department of the Army Pamphlet #165-13. It is online at: http://www.churchofsatan.com/pages/
  6. "Senate Republican joins call to end military accommodation of Wicca," First Amendment Center, at: http://www.freedomforum.org/religion/1999/6/29barrwicca.asp 
  7. Personal communication, 2001-DEC-4

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Copyright 1999 to 2001 incl., and 2004 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 1999-JUN-9
Latest update: 2004-JUL-07
Author: B.A. Robinson

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