Army Orders End to Training That Calls Evangelicals Extremists

Barbara Boland | November 27, 2013 | 1:13pm EST
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This July 28, 2010 file photo shows soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division saluting during the National Anthem during a welcome home ceremony attended by Vice President Joe Biden in Fort Drum, N.Y. (AP Photo/Heather Ainsworth, File)

( - Secretary of the Army John McHugh has ordered an end to training and instruction that labeled evangelicals as threats. In a memo distributed on Oct. 18, 2013, he wrote that the media has highlighted several accounts of Army instructors using material that is “inaccurate, objectionable and otherwise inconsistent” with current Army policy.

“In two recent high-profile cases,” the memo continues, Army instructors found information “on the website of a particular special interest group” that identified groups as extremist in nature which were not extremist according to Army regulations.

McHugh has ordered that Army leaders create a standardized program of instruction and training. Currently, the Army does not maintain a list of organizations that it labels “extremist,” Army spokesman Col. David Patterson, Jr. told Todd Starnes.

“But the Army does provide a list of organizations that do list groups like the American Family Association (AFA) and Family Research Council (FRC) as domestic hate groups – specifically the Southern Poverty Law Center. And the SPLC is featured in the military’s Equal Opportunity Advisor Student Guide,” wrote Todd Starnes.

The SPLC has also labeled various Tea Party organizations and conservative border-security/immigration groups as “extremist.”

Family Research Council reported that Judicial Watch obtained a copy of a 133-page training document from the “Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute” (DEOMI).

On pages 32-33 titled “Extremism,” it claims to: “provide information that describes sources of extremism information, definitions, recruitment of DoD personnel, common themes in extremist ideologies, common characteristics of extremist organizations, DoD policies, and command functions regarding extremist activities.”

On this page it also cites the Southern Poverty Law Center as an approved source for information.

The DEOMI document says several pages later that service members “cannot participate in such organizations, raise funds for them, encourage others to support them, or attend public rallies organized by them.”

This comes after several highly publicized incidents. Just four days before McHugh released this memo, a briefing at Camp Shelby labeled the American Family Association a “domestic hate group, alongside groups like the Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis, the Black Panthers and the Nation of Islam.” 

A week earlier, soldiers at Fort Hood reported to the Family Research Council that they had been warned against participating or donating money to evangelical Christian groups or Tea Party groups.

McHugh has ordered the Army standardize instruction and training “to ensure consistency with Army policy.” He wants those policies to be completed by Dec. 13.

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