Earlier this year, Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk became a cause célèbre for the Religious Right after he was supposedly relieved of duty for opposing gay marriage; so much so that his tale of victimization was even the focus of an entire panel at the annual Values Voter Summit.
The only problem was that his tale of anti-Christian persecution was false:
The Air Force has found unsubstantiated the claim of a senior master sergeant who said he was reassigned after making known his religious objections to same-sex marriage.
Senior Master Sgt. Phillip Monk, now assigned to the 59th Medical Wing, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, said he was relieved July 26 of his duties as first sergeant of the 326th Training Squadron and forced to take leave because he disagreed with his commanding officer’s position on gay marriage.
The investigation, initiated Aug. 15 by Col. Mark Camerer, 37th Training Wing commander at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, found the claim unsubstantiated. The investigation also concluded Monk made false official statements, but did not violate Articles 107 or 134 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
“The weight of the evidence shows that religion was never discussed between the two,” Camerer said in an Air Education and Training Command release.
“In the end, this is a case about command authority, good order and discipline, and civil rights — not religious freedoms,” he said.
Monk was not removed from his position, but rather moved, as scheduled, to another Lackland unit, an assignment he was notified of in April, the release says.
Like so many other right-wing myths, the fact that the central claim is entirely untrue does not in any way stop the Religious Right from repeating it endlessly, as demonstrated by the fact that the Family Research Council has produced a new video featuring Monk claiming that “his punishment was intended to have a chilling effect on service members throughout the military.”
“I was the victim here,” says the man that a military investigation found repeatedly made false statements about his supposed victimization: