(AgapePress) - An Evangelical leader and retired military chaplain says the United States Air Force is engaged in religious persecution against evangelical Christianity with its new policy forbidding chaplains from praying in the name of Jesus.
Dr. Billy Baugham is Executive Director of the International Conference of Evangelical Chaplain Endorsers (ICECE). The retired Army chaplain agrees with the more than 70 members of Congress who have signed a letter urging President George W. Bush to issue an executive order to allow chaplains to pray according to their individual faith traditions.
Baugham feels the Air Force's written policy banning prayers in Jesus' name is a direct attack on a specific faith community. Those behind this policy "have targeted the Evangelicals in this to marginalize them," he asserts, "and if they're not marginalized, if they don't carry out these guidelines, they will be punished according to the Uniform Code of Military Justice."
The former U.S. military chaplain insists that what the military authorities are doing to the chaplains is wrong. "It's religious persecution from the very organization, the United States Air Force, that you would expect to protect American freedoms," he says.
The American Center for Law and Justice has gathered more than 173,000 signatures on a petition asking the President to correct this injustice by signing an executive order protecting the religious freedom of chaplains in the Air Force and other branches. However, Baugham believes Mr. Bush has hesitated to do so because he does not want to embarrass U.S. military officials.
"It would be egg on the face of the Air Force," the ICECE spokesman remarks, "and they ought to have egg on their face for what they've done. For the Commander in Chief to slap down the United States Air Force with an executive order is quite a thing. But he has that authority to do it, and we think he ought to do it."
The U.S. Air Force is discriminating against the Evangelical ministers in its ranks, Baugham maintains. And if the military branch continues trampling the constitutional rights of its Christian chaplains, he insists, it is only right that the executive branch should step in and put a stop to it.
- Chad Groening, a regular contributor to AgapePress, is a reporter for American Family Radio News, which can be heard online.
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