A US Air Force chaplain has said Christians in the armed forces who tolerate people of other religions “serve Satan”. Captain Sonny Hernandez claimed those who supported the rights of non-Christian colleagues to practice their faith were “grossly in error”.
The pastor is reserve chaplain for the 445th Airlift Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, which is home to thousands of servicemen and women.
In an article for right-wing website Barbwire, he described worshippers who prioritised the US Constitution, which guarantees the right to freedom of religion over church teachings, as “counterfeit Christians”.
Anyone who enlists in the armed forces is required to swear an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic”.
“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, ” Mr Hernandez wrote.
Christians in the armed forces who supported “accommodating everyone’s alleged rights” could be said to “serve Satan,” he added.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) filed a formal complaint about Captain Hernandez to the US Department of Defence in April.
It called for the chaplain to be investigated over a blog post titled: “How was Col Goodwin – an open homosexual – able to enter the Air Force?”
The complaint accused the chaplain of believing his “bigoted, homophobic, misogynistic” beliefs “take a higher precedence than the law and federal ethical standards”.
It said a number of servicemen and servicewomen had raised concerns about Mr Hernandez.
MRFF told Newsweek it had filed another complaint about the pastor following the chaplain’s latest article this week.
Michael Weinstein, the group’s founder and a retired Air Force officer, said the piece was evidence of President Donald Trump emboldening the far fringes of the Christian right.
The MRFF said complaints about religious bigotry in the armed forces had doubled since Mr Trump’s election.