Responding to the uproar about the prospect for court martials for evangelism that we blogged about, the military is clarifying that evangelism will, in fact, be allowed. Just not proselytizing.
So what’s the difference? The military’s definition is after the jump. Is this a valid distinction? What will determine one from the other? How might this apply outside the military, to the ways Christians share their faith in the public square? Is there some “witnessing” that should be out of bounds?
By journalist Bob Smietana:
Members of the military are free to share their faith as long as they don’t harrass others, the Department of Defense said in a statement Thursday.
A Pentagon ban on proselytzing had caused an uproar in social media this week. Conservative activists claimed that service members could face court martial for talking about Jesus.
But a Defense Department spokesman said that evangelizing is allowed, as long as it is not disruptive.
“Service members can share their faith (evangelize), but must not force unwanted, intrusive attempts to convert others of any faith or no faith to one’s beliefs (proselytization),” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a Pentagon spokesman, in an email.
“If a service member harasses another member on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, or disability, then the commander takes action based on the gravity of the occurrence. Likewise, when religious harassment complaints are reported, commanders take action based on the gravity of the occurrence on a case-by-case basis.”