In 2004, Geren participated in the infamous Pentagon Christian Embassy video, a promotional video filmed inside the Pentagon that, at the request of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), led to an investigation by the Department of Defense Inspector General. In July 2007, the IG issued a 45-page report finding seven officers, including four generals, guilty of violating a number of DoD ethics regulations. But, because of the IG's narrow choice of which regulations to focus on, the civilian DoD officials who appeared in the video, including then Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense Geren, got off scot free.
It's his ties to the CCC (see below) that are particularly alarming:
The Christian Embassy endorsed by Secretary Geren in the video is an arm of Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC), a fundamentalist Christian organization whose far reaching Military Ministry has become entrenched in every part of the military. Geren, who was a Congressman from Texas from 1989 to 1997, first became involved with Christian Embassy through their Capitol Hill branch. He continued this relationship when he came to the Pentagon in 2001, joining the organization's Senior Executive Fellowship. To understand why having a Secretary of the Army with long time ties to any part of this organization is of such great concern, here are a few examples showing what the goals of CCC are for our military.
And what are the CCC's goals?
"Responsibilities include working with Chaplains and Military personnel to bring lost soldiers closer to Christ, build them in their faith and send them out into the world as government paid missionaries."
A former CCC program director at the Air Force Academy, Scott Blum, said in a promotional video filmed at the Academy, CCC's purpose is to "make Jesus Christ the issue at the Academy" and for the cadets to be "government paid missionaries" by the time they leave.
According to MRFF (Military Religious Freedom Foundation) founder and president Mikey Weinstein,
In July of 2005, the Air Force's Deputy Chief of the Chaplains Corps, Brig. Gen. Cecil R. Richardson, boldly asserted in a front page story in the New York Times that the Air Force's official policy would continue to be to reserve its right 'to evangelize the unchurched.' I immediately registered my shock, telephonically, directly with Acting USAF Secretary Geren. Further, I demanded that the Air Force immediately retract this completely unconstitutional religious policy statement of evangelical Christian supremacy, which must have been vetted beforehand, as it had appeared in the New York Times -- the one newspaper most despised by the Pentagon.
Geren and I spoke several times on the phone over the next several weeks.
What disturbed me the most was that he was absolutely clueless as to the constitutional illegality of his service's ignominious declaration/intention of evangelizing the unchurched.
This is an ominous precedent that does not bode well for people of other non-Christian religious persuasions, such as Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, or atheists. But it also does not bode well with the tone and character of how wars themselves are conducted, notably the Global War on Terror. It really DOES fulfill the extremists' charge that this war is a war on Islam itself, not a war against terrorism per se as a method of battling perceived injustice, etc.
Another area of concern are the indications that Geren, like many who subscribe to the views of organizations such as CCC, may see the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as a religious struggle, and that our own religious freedom here in America is somehow dependent on victory in these Muslim countries.
Is this what America is all about? Promoting religious war? Are we federally-funding a crusade? Are non-Christian military men and women being pressured to "convert" in order to form "God's army"? If that's not Obama's vision of America, then it's time
to weed out those DoD officials who have been complicit in promoting or endorsing what has in recent years evolved into a full-fledged constitutionally prohibited religious test for countless members of our armed forces.
Starting with Preston Geren.