American Prospect Highlights Concerns about John McHugh
The Secular Coalition for America has voiced concerns about President Obama's nomination of Representative John McHugh's to serve as Army Secretary. Despite countless media reports on the serious and pervasive problem of proselytizing and religious discrimination in the military, McHugh has shown no indication that he is willing to address the issue. Sarah Posner of the American Prospect reported on our concerns:
1. Army Secretary Nominee Has Questionable Record on Church-State Separation.
Rep. John McHugh, a Republican from New York who is President Barack Obama's nominee to be secretary of the Army, is drawing scrutiny from church-state separation advocates the Secular Coalition for America and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation because of his congressional voting record on church-state separation issues.
Opposition, or even indifference, to church-state separation is no minor matter in the military, given repeated revelations of violations of constitutional protections at the Pentagon, Air Force Academy, and in the field.
McHugh's voting record in the House shows a disrespect for church-state separation generally, as well as a disregard for the ongoing infringement of service members' constitutional rights from aggressive proselytization in the armed forces. In 2005, in the wake of the exposure of egregious constitutional violations at the U.S. Air Force Academy, McHugh voted against an amendment to a bill that would have required the secretary of defense to report to Congress on progress made in addressing proselytization of cadets. The amendment would have made "clear that coercive and abusive religious proselytizing at the Air Force Academy is inconsistent with the professionalism and standards required by those who serve at the Academy."
Posner went on to quote Jason Torpy, president of member organization Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers saying:
"John McHugh almost ensures a continuation of the stranglehold of dominionist Evangelical Christians on our military. His voting record speaks with a litany of special privileges for the Christian agenda. This decision adds to status-quo appointments [of] a SecDef [Secretary of Defense], DoD IG [Department of Defense Inspector General], and SecAF [Secretary of the Air Force]."
Sean Faircloth, executive director of the Secular Coalition, expressed his desire to see these issues addressed in confirmation hearings. "The coercive religious climate in the military must be addressed by the Pentagon," he said. "Americans need to know whether the Army Secretary will protect all service members of all belief systems. Representative John McHugh has demonstrated no commitment to doing so."