Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin, the new Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, is a much-decorated and twice-wounded veteran of covert military operations. He also is a Christian, an outspoken evangelical Christian who appeared in dress uniform before a religious group in Oregon in June to declare that radical Islamists hated the United States “because we’re a Christian nation, because our foundation and our roots are Judeo-Christian … and the enemy is a guy named Satan.” He also stated that God put George W. Bush in the White House.
President Bush has said that’s not what ‘the government’ thinks and Senator John Warner, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, wants the General to be ‘re-assigned’. However, House of Representative congressman Todd Tiahrt, a Republican from Kansas, says, “I am disappointed at the level of intolerance being shown to the general for speaking about his faith in a church.”
The problem isn’t that General Boykin expressed his faith in church. The problem is that his position within our nation’s government, which recognizes a host of religions as being legitimate, makes his public speech more significant than that of a private citizen. He is representing our country. With this guy in charge, Muslims and any one not professing Christ as their savior would be much less likely to enlist in our armed services. It paints the endeavor as a Christian Crusade, which it obviously is not. (It’s a corporate greed crusade – but that’s another discussion.)
Additionally, simplifying geopolitics and our foreign struggles as ‘us vs. them’, ‘God vs. Satan’, where we are the good guy and they are the bad guys – it’s just naive and, frankly, dumb. Especially given the fact that the winner of any conflict can claim – ‘God is on our side.’ Well, I guess it seems that way. But, is that really true? Hard to say. It’s just a matter of personal faith.
And that’s the point. Personal faith and personal belief should remain personal If you want to share your beliefs with fellow believers, that’s great. Take off the uniform, dress as a civilian and make sure you preface your remarks with – ‘This is my personal opinion – I’m not speaking for the government when I say this.’ That way you can say whatever you want to and if someone gets bent out of shape, then you can simply say – ‘Well, you don’t have to agree with me. It’s just my personal belief.’
To his credit, General Boykin did state recently, “I am not anti-Islam or any other religion,” Boykin said. “I support the free exercise of all religions. For those who have been offended by my statements, I offer a sincere apology.”
Fact Sources: Richmond Times-Dispatch, L.A. Times, CBS News