The wall of separation between church and state in the military has completely disappeared. A network of hard-line Christian chaplains and fundamentalist parachurch ministries that operate inside the military are using it as a fertile recruiting ground for coercing soldiers to become Christians. A video posted June 15, 2012 by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation contains actual footage of military chaplains saying young people who enter the military become “government-paid missionaries when they leave here.” The missionaries’ strategy? Pounce on soldiers with the gospel at the most difficult points in their training, when they are most vulnerable. Army Ranger School Chaplain Major Jeff Struecker explains,
“Army Ranger School puts the Ranger student in the absolute worst possible conditions. Most of them will go a couple of days with no food. Some of them have gone as long as three days without any sleep whatsoever. My goal has been to meet them when they are at their absolute worst, when they’re coldest and they’re most tired and the most hungry that they’re going to be, because the more difficult the circumstances [a person is in], the more receptive the average person becomes to issues of faith. Many of them are … confronted with the gospel for the first time with no distractions, and I think that’s part of the reason why a number of them will respond.”
One parachurch ministry that works within the military, Cadence International, says “Shaken people are usually more ready to hear about God than those who are at ease, making them more responsive to the gospel.”
The executive director of Campus Crusade for Christ International’s Military Ministry, Retired Major General Bob Dees, states openly in the video that his “first strategic objective” is to “evangelize and disciple all enlisted members of the U.S. Armed Forces.” He says, “Our vision is to transform the nations of the world through the militaries of the world.” Members of the military in Afghanistan are shown in the film being told by religious leaders that they need to “go on a recruiting drive for the faithful” and “hunt people for Jesus” while on tour there. Several soldiers explain that their mission in Afghanistan is to introduce the Afghan people to Christianity. One says the mission is to “show [Afghans] that there is a better way and to make them free.”
MRFF reports being contacted by service members who say if they resist the pressure within the military to become Christians, they are passed over for promotions. Others say they fear that fellow members of the military will turn against them because of their religion. Some report being denied medical care based on religion. MRFF is the only organization addressing widespread violations of the Constitution in the U.S. military as a result of the free reign the military gives Christin fundamentalist religious zealots within their ranks.
MRFF works to stop the use of American armed forces as government-paid missionaries, end the abuse of U.S. soldiers and restore freedom of religion in the U.S. military.