(UPDATE: Chaplain Hernandez is being investigated by the Air Force Inspector General, with oversight by the Department of Defense Inspector General.)
According to a highly misleading September 19 article from Stars and Stripes, the Air Force is not conducting an investigation into Captain Sonny Hernandez, the Air Force Reserve chaplain whose September 12 article on barbwire.com, titled “Christian Service Members: Avoid Supporting or Accommodating Evil!,” in which Chaplain Hernandez publicly proclaimed that Christians in the military who support the constitutional rights of service members to practice other religions “serve Satan.”
In his article, Hernandez did nothing short of instructing service members to disobey the Constitution that they swore an oath to uphold, with statements such as:
“Counterfeit Christians in the Armed forces will appeal to the Constitution, and not Christ, and they have no local church home — which means they have no accountability for their souls (Heb. 13:17). This is why so many professing Christian service members will say: ‘We ‘support everyone’s right’ to practice their faith regardless if they worship a god different from ours because the Constitution protects this right.’
Christian service members who openly profess and support the rights of Muslims, Buddhists, and all other anti-Christian worldviews to practice their religions — because the language in the Constitution permits — are grossly in error, and deceived.”
“Also, is it wrong for a professing Christian service member to say, ‘I support the rights of all Americans to practice their faith since the Constitution protects their rights?’ Absolutely!”
“There is no exegetical support, and no moral justification for any Christian service member to openly profess or support the alleged rights of anti-Christians. Christian service members must share the Gospel with unbelievers so they can be saved, not support unbelievers to worship their false gods that will lead them to hell.”
Chaplain Hernandez’s article was so outrageous that it garnered widespread media attention, generating headlines such as: “Christians in U.S Military ‘Serve Satan’ if they Tolerate Other Religions, Air Force Chaplain Says” (Newsweek), “Air Force chaplain: Don’t let non-Christian service members practice their faith” (salon.com), “US Air Force chaplain says Christians who tolerate other religions ‘serve Satan’” (independent.co.uk), “Air Force Chaplain Says Christians Must Put God Above The Constitution” (taskandpurpose.com), “Going to a Methodist Church? You Might as Well Shout ‘Hail Satan’” (lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com), “Christians who tolerate other religions ‘serve Satan,’ says Air Force chaplain” (Air Force Times), and many, many more similar headlines from a plethora of news sites and blogs.
Chelsea Clinton, when retweeting the Newsweek article, summed up the almost universal reaction seen in the comments on all of the news articles and blog posts about Chaplain Hernandez’s shocking and disgraceful attack on the Constitution, saying simply, “Ummm...No. And, the First Amendment.”
Chaplain Hernandez’s defense of what he wrote is that it he was merely expressing a theological argument. But as Don Byrd of the Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty wrote in a post titled “Air Force Chaplain is Wrong to Oppose Religious Liberty Rights for All”:
Hernandez’s post goes well beyond questions of theology. He encourages Christian service members to refuse support for the ‘rights of all Americans.’ Though he does not explain what that refusal should look like, it suggests conduct that could impact fundamental liberties guaranteed by the Constitution.
Despite the nearly universal opinion that Chaplain Hernandez was clearly advocating and encouraging disobedience of the Constitution, the Air Force, according to the September 19 Stars and Stripes article, is standing behind him. As reported in the article: “Air Force Reserve spokesman Lt. Col. Chad Gibson said Hernandez is expressing his own views, not those of the Air Force, and his freedom to express his own faith is an essential protection in the military. The Air Force is not conducting an investigation, he said.”
And it is the statement made by Lt. Col. Gibson — that the Air Force is not conducting an investigation — that makes the Stars and Stripes article very misleading, and led many to wrongly believe that Chaplain Hernandez has been cleared. This is not the case. Although it is true that the Air Force is not conducting an investigation, that’s because it wasn’t the Air Force that was asked to conduct the investigation in the first place. The complaint, filed by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), was filed with the Department of Defense Inspector General (DoD/IG), not the Air Force, so it is the DoD/IG that is conducting the investigation — an investigation that is still open and ongoing. (The Stars and Stripes article has now been corrected to correctly state that the complaint was filed with the DoD/IG, not the Air Force.)
In a statement addressing the misleading impression given by the Stars and Stripes article that Chaplain Hernandez has been cleared, MRFF founder and president Mikey Weinstein explains why MRFF filed its complaint with the DoD/IG rather than the Air Force:
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) and its legal counsel have reviewed the terribly erroneous Stars and Stripes article authored by its reporter Dianna Cahn released earlier this Tuesday evening and would like to make the following rebuttal. The second paragraph of the article incorrectly states, “The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which advocates on behalf of a pluralistic military with sharp separation of church and state, CALLED ON THE AIR FORCE TO INVESTIGATE HERNANDEZ after the chaplain called Christian servicemembers who give credence to other faiths ‘counterfeit Christians.’ At the very outset, let me emphasize that MRFF NEVER ‘called on the Air Force to investigate Hernandez.’ Indeed, we at MRFF long ago gave up expecting ANYONE in the Air Force to enforce its own regulations and the Constitutional mandates to separate church and state and guarantee religious equality within its own ranks.
Instead of requesting an investigation from the Air Force, MRFF called upon the Department of Defense Inspector Generals Office (DOD/IG), which has investigatory oversight over the Air Force and the other armed forces branches, to investigate Hernandez regarding this latest shocking incident of his glaring, unconstitutional fundamentalist Christian triumphalism, bullying and oppression. MRFF’s request for the DOD/IG to investigate Hernandez for this latest incident was yet another supplemental request of several made after MRFF’s initial request for DOD/IG to investigate Hernandez was granted over 5 months ago on April 17, 2017. All of MRFF’s requests to supplement the original DOD/IG investigation have been accepted by DOD/IG. MRFF has been informed through its legal counsel that the Hernandez investigation by the DOD/IG is still quite open and ongoing. DOD/IG has informed MRFF’s legal counsel that DOD/IG would advise our legal counsel as soon as the investigation was completed. No such advisement has been received as of this date and time. Thus, it is hardly news that the Air Force is not investigating Hernandez. The critical piece of information that actually MATTERS is that Hernandez is STILL being investigated by the agency which has oversight above the Air Force level, the DOD/IG.
The fact that a lower level spokesperson speaking for the Air Force Reserve has essentially ‘cleared’ Hernandez is essentially meaningless at the present time while the DOD/IG investigation of Hernandez continues now into its 6th month.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, the cowardly and craven statement by the Air Force in support of the despicable, religious extremist Hernandez is a perfect illustration as to the depths, depravity and disgrace into which the Air Force has fallen in its failure to uphold its sworn oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, especially the church-state separation and protection of religious equality mandates of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights and the requirements of every officer’s oath of commission.
MRFF will continue to provide the DOD/IG salient information about the applicable law and regulations regarding the Hernandez case and other unconstitutional outlaws in the Air Force as the data becomes verified.
MRFF’s supplemental complaint (technically a “Memorandum of Law”) against Hernandez, which has now been sent to the DoD/IG, can be found here.
For the background on some of the previous writings of Chaplain Hernandez, along with his “tag team” Bible-believing blogging buddy Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Dowty (a.k.a. the “Christian Fighter Pilot”), which led to MRFF’s filing of its initial DoD/IG complaint in April and other supplemental complaints, see these prior posts: