Air Force Chaplain, Sonny Hernandez, Targeted by Anti-Free Speech Advocates
Capt. Sonny Hernandez is an Air Force Reserve chaplain with the 445th Airlift Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. Hernandez also founded Reforming America Ministries, and Hernandez is an outspoken proponent of Biblical Christianity. As it turns out, some people think those two things don’t mix.
According to Stars and Stripes, the military news publication, Hernandez has received official complaints for saying of practitioners of other religions, “Their faith will lead them to hell.” In other words, Hernandez – who holds to the Second London Baptist Confession (1689) – was teaching the exclusivity of Christ, an orthodox and historic position of the Christian church.
To some, this is a problem. The “Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF)” charged Hernandez with violating his oath of office, saying Hernandez, “blatantly and indisputably advocates the subordinating of the U.S. Constitution to his personal Christian ideology.” MRFF president, Mickey Weinstein – who made the previous statement about Capt. Hernandez – apparently feels that the U.S. Constitution (which, ironically enough, enshrines the freedoms of religion and speech) somehow subordinates the individual religion and speech rights of Airmen.
Thankfully, the Airforce is defending Hernandez’ freedom of religion, with Air Force Reserve spokesman Lt. Col. Chad Gibson saying that the Air Force is not conducting an investigation into Hernandez, saying, “I think we should reflect on why the Air Force is here. We are sworn to protect freedom of faith and religion unless it infringes on other people’s rights…That’s why we fight.”
Stars and Stripes goes on to say that Hernandez is “no stranger to controversy,” referencing his public statement of support for another service person who objected to the promotion of a brigadier general who was a lesbian. MRFF also accused Hernandez of violating his oath of office then, as well.
Drawing criticism from the MRFF, Hernandez wrote…
“Christian service members who openly profess and support the rights of Muslims, Buddhists and all other anti-Christian world views to practice their religions – because the language in the Constitution permits – are grossly in error and deceived. Christian servicemembers must share the Gospel with unbelievers so they can be saved, not support unbelievers to worship their false gods that will lead them to hell.”
It should be noted that Hernandez did not deny the Constitution permits the free exercise of false religions – in fact, he explicitly said it does. Rather, Hernandez said that those who actively support those rights are in error for spiritual (and not legal or constitutional) reasons.
What Stars and Stripes does not say is that the MRFF is also no stranger to controversy. The founder and president, Mickey Weinstein, is author of With God on Our Side: One Man’s War Against an Evangelical Coup in America’s Military, a book that laments freedoms of religion and speech for military personnel. Weinstein believes that the only way to make it “safe” for the Constitution in the Armed Services is to make those serving in the Armed Services ineligible for its protections. Weinstein is a JAG in the Air Force, has an extensive career, and served as General Counsel to Ross Perot during his presidential run. Since 2005, Weinstein has regularly sued branches of the United States military to “prevent religious proselytizing.”
In other words, MRFF’s Weinstein is suing his own country and employer to restrict the First Amendment rights of service people. Whether suing to stop service members from promoting “Operation Christmas Child” from their government email to complaining that an Army Corps of Engineers member signed his emails with a Scripture reference, Weinstein has made it the goal of the MRFF to stifle all expressions of religion among service members both while in official military capacity and as Citizens not acting in their official military capacity.
Weinstein, who was appointed an advisor to President Obama, said the following…
“Today, we face incredibly well-funded gangs of fundamentalist Christian monsters who terrorize their fellow Americans by forcing their weaponized and twisted version of Christianity upon their helpless subordinates in our nation’s armed forces.”
You can find Capt. Hernandez’ ministry (not associated with his military service), Reforming America Ministries here.