Traverse City Record-Eagle


May 18, 2013

Fact Check: Is Pentagon court-martialing on basis of faith?

Q: Has the Pentagon recently declared that sharing one’s faith is punishable by court-martial?

A: No. The Pentagon merely restated its long-held policy that military members can “share their faith (evangelize)” but “not force unwanted, intrusive attempts to convert others … to one’s beliefs (proselytization).”


I have seen several postings on Facebook regarding a story in Breitbart News concerning the Pentagon court-martialing soldiers, including chaplains, who share their Christian or Jewish faith with others in the military. What’s the truth behind this story?


After the publication of an April 30 Fox News Radio report about religious proselytizing in the military, a number of conservative websites jumped to the erroneous conclusion that the Pentagon would court-martial members of the military for merely sharing their religious faith.

That article, from Fox News contributor Todd Starnes, quoted Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a Defense Department spokesman, saying that “religious proselytization is not permitted within the Department of Defense,” and that “court martials (sic) and non-judicial punishments are decided on a case-by-case basis and it would be inappropriate to speculate on the outcome in specific cases.”

Those quotes spawned some inaccurate claims from a variety of sources: reported that “President Barack Obama’s civilian appointees who lead the Pentagon are confirming that the military will make it a crime - possibly resulting in imprisonment - for those in uniform to share their faith.”

A post on followed with “the Obama administration has released a statement confirming the unthinkable: Any soldier who professes Christianity can now be court-martialed and may face imprisonment and a dishonorable discharge from the military … even if they are a military chaplain.”

The New American magazine ran a story claiming that the Pentagon had admitted “that U.S. military personnel could face court-martial for sharing their Christian faith with others.”

Text Only

Opinion Poll
AP Video
House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways