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By Jennifer Koons
Washington – High-ranking Army and Air Force personnel violated
military regulations when they participated in a promotional video for a
private evangelical organization, according to a report by the
Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General.
A Pentagon spokesman said Monday (Aug. 6) it would be up to the Army
and Air Force whether to discipline the military brass involved, but
said no action is expected against top civilian employees.
The 47-page report, which was released on July 27, found that Air
Force Maj. Gen. Jack Catton, Maj. Gen. Peter Sutton and a colonel whose
name was not disclosed, and three Army officers — Brig. Gen. Bob
Caslen, Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks and a lieutenant colonel, also not
identified — were wrong to take part in a fund-raising video for the
Arlington, Va.-based Christian Embassy.
The Christian Embassy is part of the conservative Campus Crusade for
Christ International, and sponsors prayer breakfasts and other religious
activities for high-ranking federal employees and elected officials.
The dispute over the video surfaced last December against a backdrop
of complaints that military officials frequently turn a blind eye to
improper proselytizing and show preferential treatment toward
evangelicals.
“The officers were filmed during the duty day, in uniform with rank
clearly displayed, in official and often identifiable Pentagon
locations,” the report said. “Their remarks conferred approval of and
support to Christian Embassy, and the remarks of some officers implied
they spoke for a group of senior military leaders rather than just for
themselves.”
At one point during the 10-minute video, which was filmed inside the
Pentagon in 2005, Caslen refers to the Christian Embassy’s special
efforts for high-ranking officers through Flag Fellowship groups. He
notes that whenever he runs into another fellowship member, “I
immediately feel like I am being held accountable because we are the
aroma of Jesus Christ.”
Catton, from the Air Force, explains in the video that the Christian
Embassy helped him become a “director on the joint staff.”
“As I meet the people that come into my directorate I tell them
right up front who Jack Catton is, and I start with the fact that I’m an
old-fashioned American, and my first priority is my faith in God, then
my family and then country,” Catton says on the video. “I share my faith
because it describes who I am.”
Catton later told the inspector general’s office that he believed
the Christian Embassy, which hosts a weekly prayer breakfast at the
Pentagon, had become a “quasi-federal entity.”
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an Albuquerque,
N.M.-based watchdog group founded by retired Air Force attorney Mikey
Weinstein, asked the Department of Defense to investigate the video last
December.
Weinstein expressed disappointment with the report’s findings, which
he said didn’t go far enough to reprimand those involved.
“They suggested corrective action and we wanted to see courts
martial,” he said, adding that his organization planned to file a
lawsuit against the Department of Defense.

Copyright 2007 Religion News Service

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