Pentagon plans could restrict soldiers' freedom to evangelize

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Hope is the fuel for life. It keeps us going. People place their hope in different things—bank accounts, political parties and families. My hope is the Gospel. Gospel means “good news.” I believe there is a God who is good. And while I am evil, and deserve to suffer eternal punishment when I die, God allows me to be spared if I believe in his son—Jesus. Jesus took the punishment I deserve when he died on a cross 2,000 years ago. 

Because Christians are blessed with this good news, we are commanded to share it with a world that doesn’t know, or believe yet. This is evangelism. Many call it proselytizing. The motivation for evangelism is love for God, and a love for the people who we believe still face judgment when they die.

It may sound cliché, but I’ve often heard pastors and evangelists say people don’t know when they will die. But soldiers have no illusions about the transient nature of life. When in combat situations, they face imminent danger. Christians in uniform hopefully desire to share the good news with comrades before it may be too late. There are probably chances for a soldier in the barracks or between missions to sit down with a friend and crack open a Bible so he can share Scripture.

However, the government has entertained discussions that aim to stop men and women in uniform from sharing their faith.

Former Air Force Officer Mikey Weinstein met privately with Pentagon officials on April 23, according to a May 1 Gospel Coalition article by Joe Carter. 

Weinstein also met with Air Force Officials on April 24, according to an article by Markeshia Ricks in the Army Times. Weinstein wants the military to use nonjudicial and judicial punishments for soldiers caught proselytizing, according to those reports.

According to the Family Research Council, Pentagon and Air Force officials made several statements last week. Among those:

“Religious proselytization is not permitted within the Department of Defense.”

 “Air Force members are free to express their personal religious beliefs as long as it does not make others uncomfortable.”

“Service members can share their faith (evangelize), but must not force unwanted, intrusive attempts to convert others of any faith or no faith to one’s beliefs (proselytization).”

The first statement is straightforward—soldiers aren’t allowed to share their faith with others. The other two statements include double talk—and the last one contradicts itself. It says soldiers can evangelize, but can’t proselytize. Both words mean the same thing. The goal in evangelism is to convert another to Christianity. Christians can’t faithfully practice our religion without evangelizing. We are commanded to do it. The Bible’s Matthew 28:18-20 says, “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Soldiers take oaths to defend the United States Constitution. The Constitution includes the Bill of Rights, which guarantees Americans the right to practice religion. It is unfair to deny that liberty to those who sacrifice their safety, and their lives, to protect it.