Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) appeared on today’s edition of Washington Watch Weekly with Tony Perkins in order to criticize the U.S. military for removing a small church steeple and cross-shaped windows at an Afghan base, which he claims means that the military won’t let service members worship.
As NBC News reported, the steeple and cross “violated Army regulations and could reinforce suspicions that the United States is fighting a holy war” against Islam, which is exactly how Taliban insurgents are framing the war.
But Gohmert said that by removing the steeple the military is telling service members that they “can’t have freedom of religion” or have the right to worship. The congressman said that people who “hate anything to do with Christianity” are leading a “witch hunt” in the military by pushing “active discrimination against Christianity.” He even suggested that they are banning chapels, rather than just removing symbols that violate Army regulations.
Gohmert: It is amazing how many people think that the First Amendment means that government must discriminate against Christianity when actually it says we’re supposed to avoid prohibiting the free exercise thereof. We shall make no law respecting any establishment of religion, we get that, but we’re not supposed to prohibit the free exercise thereof. It’s like, ‘oh you’re in the military you can’t have freedom of religion,’ ‘what do you mean I can’t have freedom of religion, I’m fighting for people to have freedom of religion, you’re not going to allow me to worship at the very time I need it most when my life could come to an end? You’re going to deprive me of that? You’re going to take away the symbols of the things I believe in, seriously?’ So we’ve got a witch hunt going on by those who for some reason, and you and I know the reason, but they just hate anything to do with Christianity. They certainly don’t go after Islam or Hindu [sic] or anything like that; heck we’ll let them build a Muslim worship center on Ground Zero but a Christian chapel? ‘No I don’t think so we’re not going to do that.’ There is active discrimination against Christianity.
Later, Gohmert said that suicides among service members are due to a lack of religious belief but the military is “sitting on the results” of a study proving his point.
He also suggested that the Obama administration is refusing to “speak up” about anti-Christian persecution in the Mideast, when actually the administration has repeatedly condemned the detention of pastors in Iran and anti-Christian violence in Egypt.
Perkins: Why is the military pushing out the very thing that could help them solve this problem of suicide?
Gohmert: It’s a great question and it’s because I think people who are so fervently against Christianity that they just want it squelched so the military has kowtowed to them. When you have a President that seems to be fine with us having such an important role in Afghanistan and yet under our watch the last public Christian church has closed, when you have an administration where Christians in Egypt are being pursued and even in Iran you got a Christian pastor just sentenced to eight years in prison and we don’t speak up, we don’t stand up, so the only people that are being heard and being boisterous enough are those who want to eliminate Christianity, as has been tried many times, from the face of the country. So that’s who is most vocal and so they kowtow the them.
But it is so dangerous and I talked to someone who is very familiar with the study that the military had done and now they are sitting on the results. Supposedly there is a good chance unless there’s an uproar that they won’t release them because if they will release them, they will be honest about the results of a study they paid for involving thousands of soldiers and my understanding is the results show that everyone within their study of thousands of military members who ultimately committed suicide, they were in the bottom two percent of being the most atheistic. We’ve been looking for so long, how do we help these service members? It really is just a plague of suicides like we’ve never had from military members, how do we deal with that? Well one thing is we have to be honest about the problem, what is the problem? What do they have in common? How can we address this? I think tearing down steeples and eliminating crosses in windows are not a good way to go.