Chaplain Quotes Eisenhower, Gets Censored (Updated)

Chaplain ReyesUpdate 15 August 2013. Billy Hallowell reports that the military has reversed itself and has reposted the blog post that had been taken down. They’ve added a disclaimer for the column.


Original Post July 26, 2013

Ken Klukowski, Todd Starnes, and others are reporting that Lt Col. Kenneth Reyes, an Air Force chaplain, has been censored for quoting President and former Supreme Allied Commander, Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890–1969) on the chaplain’s blog. The title of the blog was, “No Atheists in Foxholes: Chaplains Gave All in World War II.” According to Starnes, the phrase is usually credited to Father William Cummings, who thought to have said during the ordeal at Bataan. Eisenhower quoted it in a 1954 speech to the American Legion. The Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson commander, Col. Brian Duffy, ordered the blog taken down because of complaints by the secularist group known as Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). The HB has been keeping an eye on what appears to be a growing trend toward repression of religious speech under pressure from this group.

What is disturbing in the case is the rationale used for taking down the blog post:

The 673d Air Base Wing does not advocate any particular religion or belief set over another and upon learning of the complaints from some readers, the article was promptly removed….We regret any undue attention this article may have brought to any particular group or individuals.

This is precisely why the post should have remained. Col. Duffy and the rest of the airmen at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson are there in order to protect the freedom of religion (not the freedom from religion) and the freedom of speech. Further, the blog post did not advocate a sectarian view but even had it done so, the chaplain would have been within his rights to do that. The most disturbing thing that Col. Duffy wrote, however, is that he regrets that “undue attention” was brought to a group or individuals. What on earth does that mean? One hesitates to speculate what this means but such language is hardly a profile in courage.

On this rationale any objection by anyone about anything should bring expression to a halt. If this is the basis on which we’re not operating in this country, freedom is in grave condition. No one is guaranteed not to be offended. The constitution of the United States guarantees your right to speak, within certain limits (you cannot yell “fire” in a crowded theater) and there are special limits on what members of the military may say (e.g., criticizing the commander-in-chief may be problematic, however tempting it may be) nevertheless, the actual or potential loss of civil liberties in this country should be a matter of real concern to Christians and especially to those of a confessional Reformed bent who hold culturally unpopular views (e.g., the truthfulness of Scripture, the uniqueness of Christ, the normativity of God’s moral law etc).

According to Klukowski, a lawyer and a law professor at Liberty University, Lt. Col. Reyes violated no military regulations:

My legal research on this issue uncovered no regulation prohibiting Reyes’ speech, which looks like expression protected by the free speech and religious freedom provisions of the First Amendment.

He continues by noting that the military did not explain the legal or regulatory basis for Col. Duffy’s action.

If a noisy group armed with a website and an email account can intimidate the United States military into censoring a chaplain’s blog post for a historical quotation—mind you President Eisenhower really said that in public; it’s a fact—then what other speech is now off limits? Will a meteorologist face censure for telling us the temperature if a “climate change” group doesn’t like the facts? When facts and innocuous historical quotations can be quashed out of fear that someone might be offended by what happened in history then liberty (relative absence of restraint) is in jeopardy.

The MRFF itself would be better served, rather than seeking the repression of free speech, to show why Father Cummings and President Eisenhower were wrong logically. That their first move was not to persuade but to threaten reveals something about the MRFF and about the strength of their logic.

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  1. Perhaps if he had quoted Eisenhower when Eisenhower warned of the Military Industrial Complex, he would not get censored.

  2. Does anyone happen to have a contact email for Col. Brian Duffy? He needs to hear from me (and others hopefully).

  3. Eisenhower was absolutely right. If words really bother this group that much then they are unfit for foxholes.

    • Anyone who finds anything offensive in the article needs to have their head examined. I find this to be a very well drafted essay leading up to the final question he poses to all. He is not besmirching anyone’s religious beliefs and the fact that he inserted a historical quote is just that, a recitation of a historical quote which is the basis of his question. Father Cummings, the Catholic priest who first uttered the phrase, gave up his life in order to feed the soldiers. What religion they followed, if any at all, did not determine who he fed. The difference between then and now is the fact that we have generated a society of sniveling wimps who have nothing better to do than to complain about everything. Milquetoasts, just yellow bellied milquetoasts !!!

  4. I’m an Army JAG. I think we need to be careful with some of these stories–that we don’t as Christians fall into a paranoia of our own. There are some Christian organizations which feed off some of these stories and turn them into other than what the are in order to pump up their membership lists. As a JAG, I have to believe there are some other facts to this story which aren’t being revealed here.

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