The House Armed Services Committee hosted a hearing today on the issue of religious accommodation in the military. Articles about the hearing (example) make it appear black and white. One side says fundamentalist Christians are proselytizing without opposition, and the other side says Christians are oppressed. Obviously both can’t be right — and I have to say I haven’t seen evidence of either. I don’t see the reality I know in most of the stories, whether they come from Mikey Weinstein or from FOX News. And if you actually watch the video, there is more nuance in the presentations; but no one challenged any of the facts or their interpretation given by the witnesses.
Only about eight of 60 committee members bothered to attend today’s hearing. And the performance did not appear intended to really investigate the issues. The conservative evangelicals on the panel were given much more freedom to respond than the non-evangelicals. When one member launched into a diatribe on prayer in Jesus’ name, he cut off Mikey Weinstein when he wanted to respond. When another made a comment, and asked for response, he refused to respond to an inquiry from Weinstein. Another Congressman blew off the witness of actual chaplains a few months ago, in effect accusing them of ignorance, incompetence, or dissembling.