Christian Group Says Pentagon OK'd Video

December 12th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Christian Group Says Pentagon OK'd Video

USA Today
December 12, 2006
Pg. 11
By Associated Press
WASHINGTON An evangelical Christian group, under fire for a promotional video featuring active-duty military officers praising the organization, said Monday that the Defense Department gave it permission to record the video.
The video prompted a religious freedom watchdog group to ask the Pentagon to investigate whether the tape violated regulations and possibly the Constitution.
Robert Varney, executive director of the Christian Embassy, which produced the video, said the group is adding a note to tell viewers that the content does not represent the military or any government agency.
"We don't think we did anything in violation," Varney said. "The Pentagon gave us permission to film the video, and I don't think they'd give us permission if it were in violation of the regulations."
The Christian Embassy was established 31 years ago to promote prayer groups and Christian values among government officials.
The 10-minute video features military officers speaking on the group's behalf while in uniform. Much of it was recorded inside the Pentagon.
Service regulations in general prohibit active-duty officers from lobbying for political causes while on duty or wearing uniforms. The issue of religion is trickier. Regulations seek to uphold religious freedom and protect members from proselytizing.
In letters released Monday, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation asked that the Defense Department's inspector general investigate the matter and that any documents authorizing officers' involvement in the video be released.
Mikey Weinstein, founder of the group, said he hoped the footage would serve as "a testament to systemic problems of religious bias and constitutional neglect that continue to occur within the United States armed forces."
The Pentagon said it needs more time to determine whether the latest incident warrants an investigation. "The Department of Defense does not endorse any particular religious faith, but we do provide servicemembers with the ability to practice their religion," said a spokesman, Maj. Stewart Upton.

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