The government-funded targeting of the children of our servicemen and servicewomen by Christian religious organizations is an issue that the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) has been gathering information on for some time now. The countless complaints and reports from members of our armed services that we receive about this completely unconstitutional practice include everything from Christian “public service announcements” being snuck into non-religious programming on the Armed Forces Network to the complete lack of youth programs that are not Christianity-based, leaving our non-Christian military parents with the dilemma of either turning their kids over to Christian evangelists or having to explain to them why they can’t participate in all the fun and exciting activities, events, and trips with the other kids.
These youth programs, many funded by Department of Defense (DoD) contracts, are designed to target and evangelize the “unchurched” among our military youth. No comparable non-Christian youth programs exist for the children of our servicemen and servicewomen who are of other religions or non-religious.
The tactics employed by the Christian military youth ministries range from luring teenagers with irresistible events and activities to infiltrating the public middle and high schools in the communities surrounding military bases, where most children of military personnel attend school. And, with this month being the fifth annual observance of National Stalking Awareness Month, it seems quite timely to note that one of these organizations, Youth For Christ Military Youth Ministry, actually goes as far as stalking military children, following their school buses to find out where they live and what schools they go to. Even the job descriptions for DoD contracts make it clear that stalking kids is expected. One recently posted Army base position requires that the contractor target “locations and activities where youth live and spend time, such as neighborhood community centers, school and sports and recreational activities, etc.” to draw in “youth that are not regularly affiliated with established chapel congregational youth programs.”
Recently, one of MRFF’s Research Associates came across a video interview of Fort Riley’s Religious Education Director talking about one of these exclusively Christian youth programs, Fort Riley’s Spiritual Rangers. This video, which was aired on the base’s local cable access channel, Fort Riley TV KFRL, describes a program where teenage boys get to do things like use the base’s Close Combat Tactical Trainer, Engagement Skills Trainer, and Helicopter Flight Simulator. In other words, the coolest video games EVER! And all a kid on Fort Riley has to do to play them is hang out with the “godly” men and memorize some scripture.
While Spiritual Rangers is a program specific to Fort Riley, the base also offers the military-wide Military Community Youth Ministries (MCYM) program, Club Beyond. MCYM, which “seeks to celebrate life with military kids and introduce them to the Life-giver, Jesus Christ,” has received millions of dollars in DoD contracts, and operates on dozens of U.S. military bases, both overseas and in the United States.
Read my entire post on Huffington Post to find out more about MCYM and their school bus stalking partner organization.