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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Airmen say Air Force is Punishing Evangelical Christians

Published September 30, 2013

Evangelical Christian airmen at Lackland Air Force Base are facing severe threats and retribution for their religious beliefs and some personnel have been ordered to publicly express their position on gay marriage.
“There is an atmosphere of intimidation at Lackland Air Force Base,” said Steve Branson, the pastor of Village Parkway Baptist Church in San Antonio. “Gay commanders and officers are pushing their agenda on the airmen. There is a culture of fear in the military and it’s gone to a new level with the issue of homosexuality.”

Branson tells me at least 80 airmen attended a private meeting at the church where he heard them voice their concerns about religious hostilities at the Air Force base. It was a standing-room only crowd.

“The religious persecution is happening,” the pastor said. “It’s getting bigger every day. Gay and lesbian airmen can talk about their lifestyle, but the rest have to stay completely quiet about what they believe.”

One airman was told that even thinking that homosexuality is a sin is discriminatory.

Among those at the church meeting was Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk. The 19-year veteran was punished after he refused to tell his lesbian commander his position on gay marriage. I was the first reporter to tell his story.

Monk disagreed with his commander when she wanted to severely reprimand a new instructor who had expressed religious objections to homosexuality.

The senior master sergeant was relieved of his duties after he refused her order to disclose his personal opinion about gay marriage.

Monk, who had a spotless record, filed a religious discrimination complaint against the Air Force. When he showed up for a meeting about the complaint, he was accused of giving false statements to me – and was subsequently read his Miranda Rights.

Monk is now facing a possible court martial.

So far, Monk is the only airman willing to go on the record. Others are terrified that they will face similar repercussions. But that’s not stopping them from speaking off-the-record.

“All the guys who are active say they want to speak but they are still afraid because they see what happened to Phillip,” the pastor told me. “Guys who are good men are afraid to do anything because it will hurt them, cost them their career.”

One airman was told that even thinking that homosexuality is a sin is discriminatory.

“A commander told him, ‘Don’t you understand discrimination – that your thought process is discrimination?’” Pastor Branson said. “The commander actually pulled up the definition of discrimination on Wikipedia and read it to him in front of everyone so he would understand what it was.”

The parent of a 19-year-old Christian airman said their son was directed to disclose his religion during Basic Training.

“What’s your religion, little boy?” a master sergeant asked the young man. When he answered “Christian” he had to repeat Basic Training.

One member of the military was written up for having his Bible out – while a Muslim was allowed to publicly display a prayer rug.

A colonel told the pastor that officers are being ordered to publicly affirm and promote homosexuality.

“The colonel told me he hasn’t been asked to do so, but if it did, he would refuse the order,” the pastor said… Finish reading article