Defense Department classifies Catholics as ‘extremist threat’

BY JORDAN OTERO

The U.S. Department of Defense has been facing scrutiny since April 4 when a U.S. Army Reserve presentation classified Roman Catholics and evangelical Protestants as “extremist” groups, alongside groups such as al Qaeda and the Ku Klux Klan.

The Washington Times reported that the presentation identified 17 religious organizations in a slide entitled “religious extremism.” They include al Qaeda, Hamas, the Filipino separatist group Abu Sayyaf, and the Ku Klux Klan, which the slide identifies as a Christian organization.

“This is one more example of the effort of the left both to promote a culturally radical agenda in the military and, more broadly, to try to marginalize traditional moral belief and the churches that uphold them,” said Stephen Krason, chair of the political science department at Franciscan University of Steubenville. “This is one more sign of the increasing intolerance and repressive bent of the left.”

Slides from the presentation define extremist organizations as groups “which advocate the use of force or violence, advocate supremacist causes; based on ethnicity, religion, gender or national origin; or otherwise engage in efforts to deprive individuals or groups of their civil rights.”

“Undoubtedly, the presenter crossed a line into absurdity by even implicitly making this comparison,” said Daniel Kempton, vice president for academic affairs and professor of political science at Franciscan University of Steubenville. “It was likely motivated by our increasingly absurd insistence on political correctness.”

The Washington Times cited data that more than half of all Americans identify themselves as Catholic or Protestant. National Public Radio reported in 2005 that 40 percent of active duty military personnel were evangelical Christians.

An Army spokesperson said the presentation was created “by an individual without anyone in the chain of command’s knowledge or permission.” The Army removed the offending slide after receiving complaints. The person responsible for the presentation, the spokesperson said, “was not a subject matter expert, and produced the material after conducting Internet research.”

Krason said the viewpoint expressed in the presentation is “consistent with the views of the hard left,” which is embodied in the Obama administration, he said.

“The upholding of traditional Christian teaching not only about the immorality of homosexual practices but also about marriage is somehow a form of hate, equated with the racial views of the Ku Klux Klan,” he said. “That’s almost certainly what is involved in such claims that traditional Christians are proponents of hate.”

Kempton said that in order to not stereotype Muslims, the slide producer was likely trying to show that terrorism is sometimes a tool of adherents of every major religion. He added while this, in itself, is true, it “obviously misses the common sense fact that terrorism is much less common among adherents of other religious groups, including those lumped in with radical Islam by this particular instructor.”

“While the administration cannot be held directly responsible for the actions of this particular instructor, it is the political correctness, and cultural sensitivity that the administration engenders and even demands that indirectly results in such nonsensical behavior,” he said.

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