The Department of Defense classified Catholics and Evangelical Christians as religious extremists similar to Al-Qaeda, according to training materials obtained by the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty.
The Pentagon also considered the Southern Poverty law Center’s “hate group” list a “reliable source” for determining extremism and labeled “Islamophobia” as a form of religious extremism.
The Chaplain Alliance uncovered in more than 1,500 pages of documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request after a U.S. Army training instructor told a Reserve unit based in Pennsylvania that Catholicism, Evangelical Christianity, Al Qaeda, Hamas, Sunni Muslims, and the Ku Klux Klan were examples of extremism.
“The materials we obtained establish that the U.S. military violated its appropriate apolitical stance and engaged in a dishonorable mischaracterization of multiple faith groups,” said Ron Crews, executive director of the Chaplain Alliance, an organization that represents thousands of military chaplains.
The documents show an unknown number of equal opportunity officers were trained at Fort Jackson, SC, using information obtained from the SPLC.
The training material was made public after a soldier who attended the briefing alerted Chaplain Alliance.
“He considers himself an Evangelical Christian and did not appreciate being classified with terrorists,” Crews said. “There was a pervasive attitude in the presentation that anything associated with religion is an extremist.”
The soldier “produced the slides based on EO Leader’s Course Program of Instruction obtained from the Soldier Support Institute at Fort Jackson, South Carolina,” the document reads.
In addition to the slide presentation, the Reserve unit was also shown a video provided by the SPLC and Teaching Tolerance. The trainer told her superior officers she showed the video because it was part of the “EO Advisor course curriculum.”
Crews is calling on the Pentagon to stop relying on the Southern Poverty Law Center or any other group that considers mainline religious organizations to be extremist or terrorist groups.
“Men and women of faith who have served the military faithfully for centuries shouldn’t be likened to those who have regularly threatened the peace and security of the United States,” Crews said. “The materials we have received verify that the military views the Southern Poverty Law Center as a reliable source for Equal Opportunity briefings.”
The Pentagon did not return calls seeking comment. Last April, spokesman George Wright told Fox News the training briefing in Pennsylvania was an “isolated incident not condoned by the Department of the Army.”
“This slide was not produced by the Army and certainly does not reflect our policy or doctrine,” he said. “It was produced by an individual without anyone in the chain of command’s knowledge or permission.”
The Army said the slide was removed, the presenter apologized and they considered the matter closed.
“Mr. Wright’s response is accurate but incomplete,” Crews told Fox News. “Yes, the one offensive slide was deleted, but how many other EO officers continue to use the SPLC as a source for training materials?”