A panel of former military officials told religious-right activists at Family Research Council’s “Pray Vote Stand” conference on Oct. 7 that the United States military is threatened by “wokeism” and what the panel claimed are attacks on religious freedom. A retired admiral denounced critical race theory and the LGBTQ movement as “tools of the devil.”
Retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, FRC’s executive vice president, emceed the panel, which included retired Coast Guard Vice Admiral William Dean Lee; Michael Berry, a former Marine and current reservist who is now general counsel for the religious-right legal group First Liberty Institute; and retired Army Col. Joe Martin, who worked for Boykin at Fort Bragg.
Berry portrayed resistance to taking a COVID-19 vaccine as a question of religious liberty, claiming that he gets 60 to 80 messages per hour from service members opposed to the Department of Defense’s vaccine requirement. He said that service members are “telling me, ‘The military is forcing me to choose between my faith and serving my nation.’”
Berry said that he is willing to resist the vaccine mandate, saying, “This is the hill for me to die on.” He continued:
I love being a Marine. I love the Marine Corps. And for them to tell me you must choose between serving your God or serving your country, I say, “The oath doesn’t require me to do that. Neither does the Constitution. You’re the one that’s wrong, not me.”
Martin warned that the military lacks leaders who are competent in developing strategy, warning that he could not even get the Department of Defense to include in its dictionary the term “unrestricted warfare,” which he said describes the Chinese government’s strategy to defeat an enemy without firing a shot. Fentanyl coming into the United States from China is the equivalent of poisoning our wells and killing citizens, he said, but “no one’s talking about it.”
Boykin jumped in to compare “unrestricted warfare” by the Chinse government to LGBTQ activism and “the Marxist movement in America.” Here’s Boykin:
You made an interesting point. And let me just follow up on that. He talked about the treatise that was written by these two Chinese colonels—you can find this online folks, it’s called unrestricted warfare. And what they do is they tell us exactly how they’re going to take over America, how they’re going to defeat us, how they’re going to subjugate us.
The thing about it is, there’s two other groups that have done exactly the same thing. And we haven’t paid attention to them, either. One of them is called “After the Ball.” Anybody ever read it? “After the Ball.” It’s the LGBT community telling us how they’re gonna take over America. And the other one is called “The Naked Communist.” It’s by the Marxist movement in America, how they’re going to take over America. I challenge every one of you that are here and especially those of you who are watching us online to read those books. Because they tell you how they’re going to take over this country.
Lee read a list of “new words they’ve invented under this umbrella of woke,” including “inclusivity,” “indigenous people,” “intersectionality,” “gaslighting,” “gender binary,” and “systemic oppression.” He complained that “all of these ideologies are encroaching upon the workforce in the U.S. military.” And he claimed that those ideas run counter to “the core values of honor and integrity” that are taught at bootcamp and the military academies, making things harder for military officers:
And now what’s happening is, as this tsunami breaks upon their heads, and they’re trying to hold up these core values, they’re in a battle against, as the bishop said before, it’s against Satan himself. Because all of these things that fall—I mean, you can name them: critical race theory, the LGBT movement—they’re all tools of the devil. And every single one of them is trying to divide us into identity groups. And that’s the last thing you want in your military armed forces is different teams when they ought to be all one team.
First Liberty Institute’s Berry claimed that the vaccine mandate, “woke ideology,” and “extremism training” are eroding confidence in the military. He claimed that he is speaking with members of the military who aren’t sure whether it is worth fighting the vaccine mandate because they aren’t sure they want to stay in “a military that no longer has our best interests and the country’s best interests.”
Boykin warned that if the 70 percent of military members he said identify as Christian begins to erode due to vaccine mandates and “wokeism,” there will be a “talent exodus” and the U.S. would “wind up with a mercenary military.”
“How do we fix this?” Boykin asked. The 2024 election could be a pivot point, Martin responded, while warning that President Joe Biden could get a second term or “it becomes President Harris, God forbid.”
When the crowd groaned, Boykin joked, “You were doing OK until right then.” Martin responded, “Sir, I went to the Special Forces schoolhouse, someone ran it. And they taught us you have to plan for the worst case. And this is what we as a nation have to plan for and prepare for, and what are we going to do? This is the absolute worst that could happen? What do we do to avoid that? And what do we do if it does happen?”
Lee said that it is important to “breed into our officers, our upcoming officers” the idea “that it is service above self” and that they should be willing to sacrifice their careers if necessary. “Stop fearing your next promotion and start being willing to throw your stars on the table on principle and doing the right thing, because first and foremost, our military services exist to win the nation’s wars, not to be a petri dish for social experimentation.”
Berry said that First Liberty institute will defend vaccine refusers facing the possibility of dishonorable discharges. “We are tired of Dunkirk; we’re ready for Normandy,” he said.
Boykin joined Berry in criticizing Army recruiting commercials, which Boykin called “the most disgusting thing that I’ve seen as I reflect on my military career.” Boykin did not get into specifics, but presumably he was talking about a set of commercials meant to recruit from an increasingly diverse pool of young people that conservative activists have criticized as “too woke.” Berry said that the Chinese government is banning television portrayals of men as non-masculine, adding, “I’m not advocating this, I’m just using it as an example.” Boykin also railed against the possibility of women being drafted.
Lee promoted “Irresistible Revolution,” a book self-published this year by Space Force Lt. Col. Matthew Lohmeier which portrays discussions of racism and extremism in the military as part of a plan for “Marxist conquest” and the replacement of the U.S. government with a “communist dictatorship.” After the book came out, Lohmeier was stripped of his command. Panelists also praised Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller, who publicly criticized military officials over the withdrawal from Afghanistan and who landed up in the brig after repeatedly calling for “revolution” on social media. At his court-martial scheduled tomorrow at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, Scheller reportedly plans “to plead guilty to several charges and seek a discharge that allows him to keep some military benefits.”