Chris Sikich and Michael Boren have an article entitled National Guard leader draws heat for promoting religious group. Apparently Maj. General R. Martin Umbargar, adjutant general of the Indiana National Guard filmed a promotional spot for Centurion’s Watch, (pdf) an evangelical Christian group, while using his title and wearing his uniform. The spot itself seems fairly innocuous.
In the video, he says: “I would say Centurion’s Watch is a wonderful way that you can help. Any donation or resource that you can give this organization — it’s faith-based, it’s wanting to keep families together with the stresses and strains of being apart, being in harm’s way, risking their lives for this, for this country. I can’t think of a better organization that you can support. So if you want to give back, if you want to have some way you can help, I would highly encourage that you support this organization.”
However, by doing this in uniform and in his capacity as the leader of Indiana’s National Guard, the general appears to have violated a number of regulations. (Here is a graphic showing the allegedly violated regulations.) And, the watchdog group, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, is seeking to have those regulations enforced.
If this was happening in a vacuum, I probably wouldn’t bat an eyelash. But, I’m a little more inclined to be wary of this kind of promotion in light of the disturbing things I’ve heard coming out of, in particular, the Air Force Academy. I don’t know if it has been coming from the same groups or if the information I’ve been seeing is reliable. But, if it were the case that a particular religious faction were becoming dominant in the U.S. military, that would be bad news. Anyway, this is the type of thing I’ve read about the USAFA:
The email describes a group of cadets who don’t fit the Protestant evangelical stereotype; they’re Catholics, mainstream Protestants, LGBT, atheists or agnostic. They tell Weinstein that his earlier advice to “trust the system” and take their grievances up the chain of command has failed, and they are forced to pretend to be something they are not. In order to achieve and prosper in the academy, these cadets pretend to be evangelicals and even attend Bible studies to avoid being “outed.”
“Despite the Cadet Honor Code we all lie about our lives,” the anonymous cadet writes. “We have to. We don’t have a choice. Thus we are all ‘invisible’ to our tormentors. They will never find us. My own parents don’t know. Only my fiancée knows and he/she is one of my classmates and a fellow member of our underground group. I keep ‘Christian’ books and ‘Christian’ CD’s in my room so others will be fooled and leave me alone and not suspect that I’m not actually with the USAFA ‘Christianity is the Only Way’ program here, even though I consider myself to be a Christian.”
The Indiana National Guard is a long way from Colorado Springs, so maybe it’s not fair to associate the two things.