Seven U.S. Army and Air Force officers who appeared in a Christian Embassy promotional video may be reprimanded, but that would not be enough for some critics.
In a July 20 report, the Department of Defense's inspector general concluded that the officers had improperly endorsed the Campus Crusade ministry while in uniform. He also faulted the officers for appearing to provide governmental sanction for a particular religion.
Spokesmen for the Army and Air Force said their legal staffs are still considering penalties for the officers. Both said the case would likely be considered a personnel matter, however, meaning any punishment would be private.
"A letter of reprimand is normal," said Paul Boyce, deputy chief of the Army's media relations division.
Mikey Weinstein, president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, wants the officers court-martialed. Weinstein, who complained previously about religious discrimination at the Air Force Academy (see "No Overt Discrimination," CT, August 2005), said the video is another example of pervasive military favoritism toward evangelicals.
"We are not against religion; we are against people pushing their beliefs on (subordinates)," said Weinstein. He seeks remedies to what he calls overbearing proselytizing in the military.
The American Center for Law and Justice, which represents two of the censured officers, expressed disappointment with the Defense Department report. Chief counsel Jay Sekulow said the panel ignored evidence and conducted follow-up investigations without notifying his agency or allowing it to respond.
"It will be a tragedy for the men and women in the military if this report ends up having an adverse impact on the ability of [ministries] to serve the military, as they ...