QUESTION: Al Qaeda, Hamas, Catholics and the KKK. What do these groups have in common?
ANSWER: All of these groups are “dangerous extremists” according to the United States Military.
In a training program for military reservists, the U.S. Army Reserve has included Catholics in a bulleted list of religious extremists. Explaining “extremism” for their new recruits, the military training slide explains:
Extremism is a complex phenomenon; it is defined as beliefs, attitudes, feelings, actions, or strategies of a character far removed from the “ordinary.” Because “ordinary” is subjective, no religious group would label itself extreme or its doctrine “extremism.” However, religious extremism is not limited to any single religion, ethnic group, or region of the world; every religion has some followers that believe that their beliefs, customs and traditions are the only “right way” and that all others are practicing their faith the “wrong way,” seeing and believing that their faith/religion superior to all others.
Well, actually, yes. Catholics DO believe that they are practicing their faith the “right way.” But does this mean that our young men and women in uniform should be trained to be suspicious of adherents to the Catholic faith, expecting them to engage in criminal acts or work to subvert a just society? Should Catholics ever be lumped in with Abu Sayyah in the Philippines, or Ikhwan in Egypt? How about with the Muslim Brotherhood, with its creed: “Allah is our objective; the Quran is our law, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.”?
The Archdiocese for the Military Services, U.S.A. doesn’t think so. The Archdiocese for the Military Services (AMS) issued the following statement on April 4 on the mischaracterization of “Catholicism” as an example of “religious extremism” on Slide #24 of the U.S. Army Reserve training brief:
The Archdiocese for the Military Services and Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty recently became aware of a U.S. Army Reserve Equal Opportunity training brief that expressly listed “Catholicism,” “Evangelical Christianity” and other religious groups as examples of “religious extremism” alongside groups such as “Al Qaeda”, “Hamas” and the “KKK.”
The Archdiocese is astounded that Catholics were listed alongside groups that are, by their very mission and nature, violent and extremist.
According to an investigation and reply from the Army Chief of Chaplains office, the training in question appears to have been an isolated incident not condoned by the Department of the Army. The Archdiocese and the Chaplain Alliance explained that the Army can and should take steps to prevent such incidents in the future.
The Archdiocese calls upon the Department of Defense to review these materials and to ensure that tax-payer funds are never again used to present blatantly anti-religious material to the men and women in uniform.
Matthew Archbold, writing in Creative Minority Report, notes that the Army Chief of Chaplains told AMS that the training slides appear to have been an isolated incident, and were not condoned by the Department of the Army. But Archbold adds:
That should make you feel all safe, right? Except for the little fact that this is hardly an isolated incident, as The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Intelligence and Analysis released a nine-page report in 2009 called “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment” which instructed law enforcement to watch out for pro-lifers and Christians.
Once might be an anomaly. Twice? A trend.