Secular Coalition for America Calls Upon Pentagon to Cancel 'Christian-Themed' Event

Nontheist Advocacy Group Also Asks Pentagon to End Relationship with Dobson Group

The Pentagon should respect the constitutional separation of church and state and cancel a planned National Day of Prayer event, particularly in light of its recent labeling as a "Christian-themed event" by an Army spokesman, the Secular Coalition for America said today. The Pentagon should also sever all operational ties to the National Day of Prayer Task Force, a radical right wing organization headed by the wife of Focus on the Family's James Dobson, and housed in Focus on the Family's headquarters.

"It is bad enough that the administration is going ahead with an observance of the National Day of Prayer, correctly ruled unconstitutional by the courts only last week. But for the Pentagon to hold an explicitly 'Christian-themed event' around the day of prayer is brazenly out of all reasonable bounds, and explicitly exclusionary to U.S. service members of all non-Christian faiths and of no faith," said Secular Coalition for America Executive Director Sean Faircloth, referring to a characterization of the event by Army spokesman Col. Tom Collins, as reported by the Associated Press yesterday. "This event should be cancelled, and the Department of Defense should apologize to all non-Christians who are being rendered second-class by this ill-advised program."

Faircloth also called upon the Pentagon's chaplain's office to end its working relationship with the National Day of Prayer Task Force, a right-wing, theocratic group headed by Shirley Dobson, wife of Focus on the Family's James Dobson. "It is difficult to imagine a less wise alliance than one between Pentagon officials and anyone working under the Dobson umbrella. The already-dubious military chaplaincy should end once and for all its connections to Mrs. Dobson's radical group."

On Fox News on April 4, Chaplain Terry Brewly asserted that it was "very true" that there is "no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole," a direct affront to the brave men and women of the military who identify as nontheists. The Secular Coalition for America has advocated strongly for an end to religious proselytizing and coercion in the U.S. military. The group pressed its case for equal rights for nontheist military personnel in its historic meeting with administration officials in February, and its founding director, Lori Lipman Brown, appears in a new documentary on the military chaplaincy, Chaplains Under Fire, premiering at the Newseum in D.C. on April 30.

For Immediate Release: April 22, 2010
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, 202-299-1091 / press(at)secular.org

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