There is some background here that is important to understand before we get to the meat of this thing.
I’ve been following the reports coming out of Colorado Springs for about 6 months. From what I have read and heard there does indeed seem to be something going on out there and the Academy, if not the big boys at the Pentagon, should be looking into it.
Unfortunately, the US House of Representatives decided to jump the gun today when Section 9012 of the Defense Appropriations bill which read in part:
Congressional Record for June 20, 2005 (See link on right column for the searchable Congressional Record)
(1) PLAN.–The Secretary of the Air Force shall develop a plan to ensure that the Air Force Academy maintains a climate free from coercive religious intimidation and inappropriate proselytizing by Air Force officials and others in the chain-of-command at the Air Force Academy. The Secretary shall work with experts and other recognized notable persons in the area of pastoral care and religious tolerance to develop the plan.
(2) REPORT.–Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to the congressional defense committees a report providing the plan developed pursuant to paragraph (1). The Secretary shall include in the report information on the circumstances surrounding the removal of Air Force Captain Melinda Morton from her position at the Air Force Academy on May 4, 2005.
was read and quickly amended by Representative Duncan Hunter(R-CA) to read:
Amendment offered by Mr. Hunter:
Strike section 9012 (page 115, line 14, through page 117, line 5) and insert the following:
SEC. 9012. SENSE OF CONGRESS AND REPORT CONCERNING RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AND TOLERANCE AT UNITED STATES AIR FORCE ACADEMY.–
(a) Sense of Congress.–It is the sense of Congress that–
(1) the expression of personal religious faith is welcome in the United States military;
(2) the military must be a place where there is freedom for religious expression for all faiths; and
(3) the Secretary of the Air Force and the Department of Defense Inspector General have undertaken several reviews of the issues of religious tolerance at the Air Force Academy.
(1) RECOMMENDATIONS.–The Secretary of the Air Force, based upon the reviews referred in subsection (a)(3), shall develop recommendations to maintain a positive climate of religious freedom and tolerance at the United States Air Force Academy.
(2) SECRETARY OF AIR FORCE REPORT.–Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to the congressional defense committees a report providing the recommendations developed pursuant to paragraph (1).
which essentially allows the Academy to continue their reviews and supply their recommendations to the Congress before any thing more was to be done. The original language of the bill would force the Academy to halt their ongoing investigation and comply with the “sense of the Congress”. Mr. Hunter was correct in suggesting allowing the Academy and the Air Force to continue their investigation.
During the ensuing debate Mr. Hunter clarified why he added the amendment:
[Page: H4760][emphasis added]
My point is this, there are a number of reviews that are ongoing right now at the Academy, and in this letter that Acting Secretary of the Air Force, Secretary Michael Dominguez, sent to me, I think the crux of our amendment is laid out and I think justifies. He talks about the work that is ongoing to make sure that the Academy has religious freedom and religious tolerance. He says, As this work progresses, and I am quoting the Secretary, our work and critics of that work will generate news stories. It was a news story that generated this base provision that is in the bill. I ask that you reserve your opinions on this matter until I can get to ground truth through the objective processes now ongoing.
That is what he asks for. He has got lots of reviews, and what we say is, we reestablish, revalidate that there should be both freedom of religion and religious tolerance, and we set a date for a report to come back after the reviews are done, for the Secretary of the Air Force to report back to us with the reviews and with recommendations.
Amen and Amen Rep. Hunter! We cannot continue to allow the media to determine policy for our military whether that is on the battlefield or the classroom. Unfortunately for the House this debate took a decidedly bad turn. Mr. Hunter took exception to the “coercive religious intimidation and inappropriate proselytizing” portion of Section 1 of the portion of the bill in question.
The word “proselytizing” could possibly be applied to what they were doing in that battleground in Iraq[Pilgrim: A Church service Mr. Hunter was forced to enter during a mortar attack] . I have always thought that when I argue religion I am making reasoned judgments and the other guy is proselytizing, and the problem is with that word. With establishing that as a standard, that people in uniform have to adhere to, the average person in uniform is going to say, what does proselytizing mean? Am I proselytizing, and if they are not sure whether or not their statement is proselytizing, you know what they are going to do? They are not going to say anything, and we are going to put a chill on what we have heretofore for our entire history welcomed, and that is, expression of religious views by our uniformed personnel.
Representative David Obey (D-WI) entered into the discussion:
Mr. OBEY. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.
Mr. Chairman, the language of the committee amendment does nothing whatsoever to discourage proselytizing. What it does is make clear that the Congress of the United States is opposed to coercive and abusive proselytizing. I think it would be good to go back and look at the history of this problem.
This is a classic tactic of the left, inserting some fairly harsh words(coercive, abusive) but still vague enough that ANY definition could be applied to them. Is inviting a fellow cadet to a Bible Study coercive? Is denying to laugh at a crude joke or correcting religiously offensive behavior abusive? We are so worried about offending Mohammed at Gitmo yet a Christian can’t say, “Don’t say that around me” when someone says “goddamnit!” because it’s coercive or abusive.
This is probably what set Representative John Hostettler (R-IN) off a bit later when he said:
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.
Mr. Chairman, the long war on Christianity in America continues today on the floor of the United States House of Representatives. It continues unabated
with aid and comfort to those who would eradicate any vestige of our Christian heritage being supplied by the usual suspects, the Democrats. Do not get me wrong. Democrats know they should not be doing this. The spirit of, if not the exact, language in the underlying bill added by the Democrat ranking member, the gentleman from Wisconsin was offered by a Democrat in the Armed Services Committee during consideration of the fiscal year 2006 DOD authorization bill.
The author of that language in the authorizing committee, the gentleman from New York, has suggested since that time that “extremist groups” are behind the removal of language similar to his. I and others who spoke in opposition to that amendment had never even heard of the notion of such an amendment until the gentleman from New York actually offered it during the committee markup. And so I am curious as to who these extremists are that the gentleman from New York spoke of.
Mr. Chairman, we may never know because that is the nature of this debate, name-calling of unspecified people and groups who hold a world view different than many of these Democrats. And, as I said, Mr. Chairman, Democrats know they should not be doing this. Following the overwhelming opposition voiced at the DOD markup, the Democrat ranking member of the committee requested the gentleman from New York to withdraw the amendment, which he did. *.*.*
The last sentence of Mr. Hostettler’s remarks were stricken from the record at HIS OWN REQUEST roughly an hour later.(Mr. Durbin, take note of this please) Mr. Obey saw fit to make sure they made there way into the record however:
Mr. OBEY. Mr. Chairman, I move that the gentleman’s words be taken down.
The CHAIRMAN. The gentleman will suspend.
The Clerk will transcribe the words.
Mr. HOSTETTLER. Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent to withdraw the last sentence I spoke.
The CHAIRMAN. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Indiana?
Mr. OBEY. Mr. Chairman, reserving the right to object, I think the House needs to understand why I objected to the language of the gentleman.
As I understand it, the language that the gentleman is saying he will withdraw is the following: “Like moth to a flame, Democrats can’t help themselves when it comes to denigrating and demonizing Christians.”
The reader will notice the time marker in the above quote. This denotes a suspension of the transcription while a minor brawl erupted on the House floor. No punches or the like of a Sumner-Brooks fight on the Senate Floor but rather a rhetorical brawl where Mr. Hostettler was threatened with censure if he didn’t have his own words stricken. To his credit, he didn’t take two days and issue a weak statement…he did the right thing and had his overly heated rhetoric stricken from the record. Not because he thought what he said was wrong, but because the work of the House had to continue and he wanted to be part of it. You can go to the Congressional Record and read Brer Obey’s attempt to extricate himself, and his party, from the tarpit Representative Hostettler had tossed them into. The fact remains that Hostettler was right in what he said but perhaps he could have used different words so he didn’t have to remove them from the record later.
There is a war against Christianity and the opposition uses veiled words with intentionally vague definitions. Any attempt to offer a Christian prayer at a public function is met with severe and immediate reactions by the opposition claiming the mythical “seperation of Church and state”. Let someone wish to offer a Muslim prayer at a public function and it’s called Diversity.