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Letter to Secretary McHugh - Nunnelee Expresses His Concerns on Religious Freedom in the Military

November 6, 2013
The Honorable John M. McHugh

Secretary of the Army

The Pentagon

101 Army Pentagon

Washington, DC 20310-0101

Dear Secretary McHugh,

We write today regarding the unsettling trend of Army instructors and officers portraying Christians and socially conservative non-profit organizations as "extremists" and potential threats to our nation. We are troubled by these developments and what appears to be a mounting culture of religious intolerance and hostility towards Christianity within the Army.

In April, an Army Reserve trainer in Pennsylvania presented material classifying both evangelical Christianity and Catholicism as examples of religious extremism, along with Al Qaeda and other violent groups. A few days later, an Army Lieutenant Colonel based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, sent a 14-page e-mail to a number of his colleagues and subordinates denigrating the "Christian Right" and "religious right," and listing Christian organizations, such as the Family Research Council and the American Family Association (AFA), in the same category as racist and violent Neo-Nazis, Skinheads, and the Ku Klux Klan.

This month, a briefer at Camp Shelby again portrayed the AFA as a domestic hate group. A slide within the presentation linked this conservative Christian group with an image of the fringe Westboro Baptist Church, known for its offensive protests of military funerals. And, just a few days ago, a trainer at Fort Hood reportedly warned his trainees that evangelical Christians and members of the Tea Party were a threat to the nation and that soldiers who donate to such groups would be punished under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice.

We applaud you for taking action to standardize the Army's Equal Opportunity training material and ensure it complies with Army policy. However, we do not believe these steps adequately address the root cause of these incidents, which appears to be a growing intolerance toward those who hold conservative, Christian beliefs. What are you and your leadership team doing to foster a culture of religious liberty among our soldiers?

Without a doubt, intellectually honest discussions about violent religious and non-religious extremism are essential in understanding threats to our security. However, when our Soldiers cannot distinguish between violent extremists and peaceful faith-based groups, our most basic Constitutional rights are increasingly placed at risk, as these young Americans have sworn oaths to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

While we appreciate the actions you have taken to standardize and vet training material, we believe Army leadership can and must do more to cultivate a culture of religious liberty at all levels within the organization. We appreciate your heightened attention and active engagement regarding this matter.


Alan Nunnelee (MS-01)

Michele Bachmann (MN-06)

Lou Barletta (PA-11)

Kerry Bentivolio (MI-11)

Rob Bishop (UT-01)

Jim Bridenstine (OK-01)

Mo Brooks (AL-05)

Paul Broun, M.D. (GA-10)

Doug Collins (GA-09)

Mike Conaway (TX-11)

Ander Crenshaw (FL-04)

Trent Franks (AZ-08)

Louie Gohmert (TX-01)

Tim Griffin (AR-02)

Ralph Hall (TX-04)

Gregg Harper (MS-03)

Andy Harris, M.D. (MD-01)

Vicky Hartzler (MO-04)

Tim Huelskamp (KS-01)

Bill Huizenga (MI-02)

Randy Hultgren (IL-14)

Walter Jones (NC-03)

Jim Jordan (OH-04)

Mike Kelly (PA-03)

Steve King (IA-04)

Doug LaMalfa (CA-01)

Tom McClintock (CA-04)

Mick Mulvaney (SC-05)

Randy Neugebauer (TX-19)

Steve Pearce (NM-02)

Joe Pitts (PA-16)

Bill Posey (FL-08)

Keith Rothfus (PA-12)

Steve Scalise (LA-01)

Tim Walberg (MI-07)

Randy Weber (TX-14)

Lynn Westmoreland (GA-03)

Ted Yoho (FL-03)

Read full text of letter as PDF here:

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