AFA Got it Wrong on the Department of Defense and is Unapologetic

In the previous post, I mentioned the US Army blocking the Southern Baptist Convention website. Turns out the AFA, who put out the alert I based that post on, was wrong about a few things. You can read the first Alert here and the correction here. They claimed this was an attack on Christianity. Turns out, the SBC website had malware security flaws that the Department of Defense didn’t want their people on that site. The last thing the DOD wants is for someone to breach their security threw malware. So they blocked the SBC site to prevent security breaches into the Defense department. No attacks. Nothing against Christianity. Just national security.

The AFA issued a follow up email that said the following,

Within hours of an AFA Action Alert, the Pentagon said it had resolved the reasons it blocked the Southern Baptist Convention website, http://www.sbc.net, from military computers.

The block came just a few weeks after an Army briefing labeled Evangelical Christians and Catholics as examples of religious extremist groups, and a separate email identified two prominent Christian ministries as “domestic hate groups.”

In this case, the Pentagon said the block was a matter of website security and not an infringement on religious liberty. “In this case, security systems performed as expected in detecting a threat to DoD (Department of Defense) networks,” Lt. Col. Damien Pickart said in a prepared statement.

“We determined that our web filters recently detected malware at the SBC website, which resulted in the block for some service members,” Pickart said. “The department has verified that the Southern Baptist Convention website no longer contains malware that may pose a threat to our networks and will be unblocked today.

Pickart added the block did not have anything to do with the “hostile” or religious content. “The Department of Defense strongly supports the religious rights of service members, to include their ability to access religious websites like that of the SBC,” he said.”

First, makes it sound like the AFA are the heroes. We issued an action alert and “within hours” things got resolved. Yay us! They then sandwich the real reason the site was blocked with further rhetoric about how the DOD is anti-Christian. The email concludes like this,

WHY THIS WAS IMPORTANT
Had this issue not gained national attention, the sbc.net website would still be blocked today. Because hundreds of Baptist military personnel and chaplains depend on their denomination’s website, it was critical that the site be unblocked quickly.

However, Congressman Randy Forbes (R-VA) recently noted during a congressional committee meeting, there is still a level of anti-Christian sentiment within the military, and cited several examples. You can read them here.

THANK YOU
It is critical that we remain vigilant in defending religious freedom, especially in the military. Because of your actions, the Pentagon quickly resolved this issue and unblocked the sbc.net website.”

So let me get this straight, SBC removed the malware so the DOD removed the block. So the action call should have been on the SBC, not the DOD. And yet the AFA (how is that for a string of abbreviations?) is unapologetic for maligning the DOD and US Army and for making false assumptions and false accusations in their previous email about the reason for this block. Here is what they said in the first email,

Subject line: U.S. Army labels Southern Baptist Convention ‘hostile’‏

Dear Matt,

The United States Army has blocked the website of the Southern Baptist Convention from government computers, saying the Christian site contains “hostile content.”

The email went on to say,

“This is just another example of the Christian faith coming under attack in the military. Earlier this month, an Army email listed prominent Christian ministries like the Family Research Council and American Family Association as “domestic hate groups.”

Well now, we see that the “hostile” content was not hostile religious content but hostile malware. How is that for a misunderstanding? The DOD got it right. The AFA jumped to conclusions and should have verified what was going on before sending out a mass email with these sorts of accusations.

I really think the AFA should apologize on this one via a mass email/Action Alert. This kind of stuff makes me trust them less. I am considering asking to be removed from their mailings.

About mattdabbs
I am a minister, husband, and father. My wife and I live and minister in Saint Petersburg, Florida. My primary ministry responsibilities include: small groups, 20s and 30s, involvement, and adult education.

6 Responses to AFA Got it Wrong on the Department of Defense and is Unapologetic

  1. Rob Sparks says:

    So, the AFA was labelled one of the “domestic hate groups”? It doesn’t seem their current course of playing the fear/power/politics game will do much to convince anyone they are actually all about love …

    • mattdabbs says:

      I will have to go back and read it but I don’t think they ever said they were presonally named as a hate group…just that the DOD had named some Christians groups that in the last few months.

  2. mattdabbs says:

    What blows my mind is how unapologetic they are about how they completely blew this one. The Christian thing to do would be to issue an apology.

    • Rob Sparks says:

      Right. I asked about their classification as a “hate group” because of the way they worded the email excerpted in the post.

      The whole affair seems a bit antithetical to the message a Christian organization should be promoting.

  3. I have long regarded this group as shrill complainers who gain their following by claiming to be victims – indeed, they seem to me to be examples of what Jesus said the Lord’s servant would not do:
    Behold my servant whom I have chosen,
    my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased.
    I will put my Spirit upon him,
    and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
    He will not quarrel or cry aloud,
    nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets;
    a bruised reed he will not break,
    and a smoldering wick he will not quench,
    until he brings justice to victory,
    and in his name the Gentiles will hope. (Matthew 12:18-21 quoting Isaiah 42:1-4, ESV)

    Their strident claim of persecution and open expectation that non-believers adhere to the ethics and morality of Christ are little able to win people to faith in the Savior. Plus, the way they appear to me to think that America and the Kingdom of God are somehow synonymous borders on idolatry.

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