As I wrote back in May, the antics of disgraced former Navy chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt, and his retaliation against the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) and Americans United for Separation of Church and State, after the two organizations issued a joint letter to the Chief of Naval Operations requesting an investigation of his use of his image in uniform to solicit funds for political causes, led MRFF to take a closer look at Klingenschmitt's endorser, the Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches (CFGC) and its leader, retired Army colonel Jim Ammerman. What we found was astounding, and led to a decision by MRFF to formally demand that Ammerman, whose agency provides the ecclesiastical endorsements required by the Department of Defense for over 270 military chaplains and chaplain candidates, be stripped of the authority granted to him and his organization by the DoD to endorse military chaplains.
MRFF's letter to the Secretary of Defense, copied to numerous other government and DoD officials, went out on June 24, accompanied by a 55-page package of enclosures supporting the four separate reasons that Ammerman's authority must be revoked.
Included among these enclosures is a 1997 memorandum from a three-star general calling for an investigation of Ammerman and CFGC at that time. This memorandum includes nine pages of excerpts from Ammerman's radio appearances and Prophecy Club video, "Imminent Military Takeover of the U.S.A.," a video circulated among militia groups. Ammerman's statements included everything from saying that Bill Clinton (president at the time the video was released) should have been executed to inciting the militia types by making claims that his chaplains were reporting back to him that they had inside information that the U.S. military was preparing to attack U.S. cities and claiming inside information from other sources indicating an imminent threat of the United States being placed under martial law. Unbelievably, as Kathryn Joyce reported in her recent Newsweek.com article, "Christian Soldiers: The growing controversy over military chaplains using the armed forces to spread the Word," the outcome of this 1997 investigation was that the DoD found Ammerman's statements to be within the bounds of free speech, and Ammerman retained his authority as a DoD authorized chaplain endorser.
Updating the list of excerpts from the 1997 memorandum is a list of more recent quotes from Ammerman, recent CFGC chaplain newsletters, and statements made by Ammerman's protégé, current CFGC chaplain Army Major James Linzey, including an excerpt from a CFGC newsletter suggesting that the four democratic senators who were candidates for president in the 2008 election, including, of course, Barack Obama, should be arrested and executed for voting against making English the official language of the United States.
Here is the letter sent by MRFF to the Secretary of Defense:
June 24, 2009
Hon. Dr. Robert M. Gates
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1000
It has recently come to the attention of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) that an ecclesiastical endorsing agency authorized by the DoD to approve chaplains for military service has continually been in flagrant violation of a number of DoD regulations, the U.S. Code, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and the United States Constitution for well over a decade.
1. The Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches (CFGC), headed by retired Army Col. E.H. Jim Ammerman, which, according to its website, currently has over 270 chaplains and chaplain candidates in all branches of the military, habitually denigrates all religions and religious denominations except Charismatic and Pentecostal Christianity. This denigration, which includes virulently anti-semitic and Islamophobic statements, as well as the deprecation of Catholicism and mainstream Protestantism, occurs in the CFGC's chaplain newsletters, as well as in the speeches, media appearances, and videos of both Mr. Ammerman and a currently serving CFGC chaplain, Army Maj. James F. Linzey. (See attached enclosures for numerous specific examples of these disparaging statements.)
2. Both Mr. Ammerman and Maj. Linzey have made numerous statements against the government of the United States and certain government officials and departments, promoted civilian militia movements, and disseminated many conspiracy theories in an attempt to foment disloyalty to the government of the the United States among both civilians and military personnel. This type of activity has previously led to an investigation of Ammerman and CFGC, called for by Air Force Lt. Gen. Normand Lezy in 1997. (See enclosed memorandum.)
DoD Directive Number 1325.6, "Guidelines for Handling Dissident and Protest Activities Among Members of the Armed Forces," cited in Lt. Gen. Lezy's 1997 memorandum, states that "Military personnel must reject participation in organizations that espouse supremacist causes." The Prophecy Club, an organization for which both Mr. Ammerman and Maj. Linzey have made videos, unquestionably espouses a supremacist cause. In addition, various statements made by both Mr. Ammerman and Maj. Linzey in their Prophecy Club videos, as well as in other forums, such as radio appearances and speeches, incontrovertibly violate one or more of the following statutory provisions found in Enclosure E1.2 of DoD Directive Number 1325.6.
E1.2. STATUTORY PROVISIONS
E1.2.1. Applicable to All Persons E220.127.116.11. Section 2385 -- Advocating overthrow of the Government. E18.104.22.168. Section 2387 -- Counseling insubordination , disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty.
E1.2.2. Applicable to Members of the Armed Forces E22.214.171.124. Section 888 (Article 88, UCMJ) -- Contemptuous words by commissioned officers against certain officials. E126.96.36.199. Section 934 (Article 134, UCMJ) -- Uttering disloyal statement, criminal libel, communicating a threat, and soliciting another to commit an offense.
3. According to the definition of a "Religious Organization" found in DoD Directive Number 1304.19, "Guidance for the Appointment of Chaplains for the Military Departments," CFGC is not eligible to be authorized as an ecclesiastical endorser. CFGC is not an "entity that is organized and functions primarily to perform religious ministries to a non-military lay constituency." CFGC, which is operated out of a house located in a residential neighborhood of Dallas, Texas zoned for single family homes, did not have a "non-military lay constituency" at the time of its founding, but was founded for the sole purpose of endorsing chaplains, and this continues to be its primary purpose to this day.
4. In a clear and blatant violation of CENTCOM's General Order 1-A, which absolutely prohibits the proselytizing of any religion, faith or practice in Iraq and/or Afghanistan, a network of forty CFGC chaplains has engaged in the organized distribution in Iraq of Arabic language Bibles and other Arabic language fundamentalist Christian evangelizing materials to the Iraqi people. The violation of this explicitly prohibited activity by these forty CFGC chaplains was initiated, encouraged, and aided by Mr. Ammerman. (See enclosed Newsweek article and other enclosures.)
Given CFGC's and Mr. Ammerman's multiple, habitual, and ongoing violations of military regulations, the U.S. Code, and the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and Mr. Ammerman's encouragement, aiding, and abetting of the chaplains he oversees in their violations of these regulations and the United States Constitution that they swore an oath to uphold, MRFF demands the immediate revocation of CFGC's ecclesiastical endorsing authority. Furthermore, MRFF demands an aggressive investigation to identify and swiftly punish all CFGC chaplains and any other enabling DoD military or civilian personnel involved in any of the aforementioned violations of military regulations and/or the U.S. Code.
Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein, Esq.
Founder & President
Military Religious Freedom Foundation
President Barack Obama
Pete Geren - Secretary of the Army
Ray Mabus - Secretary of the Navy
Michael B. Donley - Secretary of the Air Force
Admiral Michael Mullen - Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
General James E. Cartwright - Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
General George W. Casey, Jr. - Chief of Staff of the United States Army
Admiral Gary Roughead - Chief of Naval Operations
General Norton A. Schwartz - Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force
General James T. Conway - Commandant of the Marine Corps
Carl Levin - Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services
Ike Skelton - Chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Armed Services
Executive Director of the Armed Forces Chaplains Board
Gail H. McGinn - Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness
Pedro L. Irigonegaray, Esq. - Law Offices of Irigonegaray & Associates
Robert V. Eye, Esq. - Law Offices of Kaufman & Eye
The entire package of enclosures sent with this letter can be viewed on the MRFF website. In addition to the items and articles mentioned above, the package contains articles by Bruce Wilson and Talk to Action contributor Ruth, both of whom volunteered many hours to help MRFF in its investigation of Ammerman and Maj. Linzey, and whose tireless efforts over the last two months, and continuing exposure of the many aspects of this story, are greatly appreciated.