The Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches (CFGC) has been in the news lately, and not in a good way. They endorse approximately 270 chaplains in the United States military. Jim Ammerman runs the CFGC out of an office in his house. They seem to exist only to endorse chaplains, they do not serve any specific religious sect or congregation. This violates several of the rules regarding chaplain endorsing agencies. Talk2Action author, Chris Rodda, and MRFF have been investigating this story for the past month. The story finally bubbled up to Newsweek. MRFF weekly briefs also cover some of the articles. The MRFF also has sent a letter with 55 pages of supporting evidence to Secretary Gates and others.
From MRFF's letter:
According to US Army Regulation 165-1 :
1. The Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches (CFGC), headed by retired Army Col. E.H. Jim Ammerman, which, according to its website, currently has over 270 chaplains and chaplain candidates in all branches of the military, habitually denigrates all religions and religious denominations except Charismatic and Pentecostal Christianity. This denigration, which includes virulently anti-semitic and Islamophobic statements, as well as the deprecation of Catholicism and mainstream Protestantism, occurs in the CFGC's chaplain newsletters, as well as in the speeches, media appearances, and videos of both Mr. Ammerman and a currently serving CFGC chaplain, Army Maj. James F. Linzey.
2. Both Mr. Ammerman and Maj. Linzey have made numerous statements against the government of the United States and certain government officials and departments, promoted civilian militia movements, and disseminated many conspiracy theories in an attempt to foment disloyalty to the government of the the United States among both civilians and military personnel. This type of activity has previously led to an investigation of Ammerman and CFGC, called for by Air Force Lt. Gen. Normand Lezy in 1997.
DoD Directive Number 1325.6, "Guidelines for Handling Dissident and Protest Activities Among Members of the Armed Forces," cited in Lt. Gen. Lezy's 1997 memorandum, states that "Military personnel must reject participation in organizations that espouse supremacist causes." The Prophecy Club, an organization for which both Mr. Ammerman and Maj. Linzey have made videos, unquestionably espouses a supremacist cause. In addition, various statements made by both Mr. Ammerman and Maj. Linzey in their Prophecy Club videos, as well as in other forums, such as radio appearances and speeches, incontrovertibly violate one or more of the following statutory provisions found in Enclosure E1.2 of DoD Directive Number 1325.6.
3. According to the definition of a "Religious Organization" found in DoD Directive Number 1304.19, "Guidance for the Appointment of Chaplains for the Military Departments," CFGC is not eligible to be authorized as an ecclesiastical endorser. CFGC is not an "entity that is organized and functions primarily to perform religious ministries to a non-military lay constituency." CFGC, which is operated out of a house located in a residential neighborhood of Dallas, Texas zoned for single family homes, did not have a "non-military lay constituency" at the time of its founding, but was founded for the sole purpose of endorsing chaplains, and this continues to be its primary purpose to this day.
4. In a clear and blatant violation of CENTCOM's General Order 1-A, which absolutely prohibits the proselytizing of any religion, faith or practice in Iraq and/or Afghanistan, a network of forty CFGC chaplains has engaged in the organized distribution in Iraq of Arabic language Bibles and other Arabic language fundamentalist Christian evangelizing materials to the Iraqi people. The violation of this explicitly prohibited activity by these forty CFGC chaplains was initiated, encouraged, and aided by Mr. Ammerman.
4–3. Professional status of chaplainsSection 4b states that Army chaplains must come from a DoD recognized faith group. If the Wiccans can't have an official chaplain in the Army, then some group operating from a guy's home office shouldn't be able to endorse chaplains either.
a. Army chaplains have a dual role as religious leaders and staff officers. Their duties are prescribed by law, DOD policy, Army regulations, religious requirements, and Army mission. In performing their duties, chaplains do not exercise command, but exercise staff supervision and functional direction of religious support personnel and activities (title 10, United States Code, section 3581).
b. The chaplain is a qualified and endorsed clergy person of a DOD recognized religious denomination or faith group.
c. Chaplains are noncombatants and will not bear arms.
d. The proper title for a chaplain is “chaplain” regardless of military rank or professional title. When addressed in writing, the chaplains rank will be indicated in parentheses (see AR 25–50 and AR 600–20).
e. Commanders will detail or assign chaplains only to duties related to their profession. Chaplains may perform unrelated duties in a temporary military emergency. Chaplains may volunteer to participate or cooperate in nonreligious
functions that contribute to the welfare of the command. Commanders will not—
(1) Detail a chaplain as an exchange, athletic, recreation, drug or alcohol, graves registration, welfare, morale, dining
facility, personal affairs, information, education, human relations, equal opportunity, next-of-kin notification, suicide prevention, or survivor assistance officer. However, in the event of the death of a chaplain, chaplain(s) will be appointed to assist Summary Court Officers in review of confidential records and personal effects when next-of-kin is present.
(2) Assign a chaplain as military judge, trial counsel, defense counsel, investigating officer, member of a courtmartial, or member or adviser to investigative boards of officers. Chaplains may be required, however, to conduct inquires into chaplain-related activities or incidents.
(3) Require a chaplain to serve in a capacity in which he or she may later be called upon to reveal privileged or sensitive information incident to such service.
It starting to look like some of the worst offending chaplains have been endorsed by the CFGC. Our old friend Gordon Klingenschmidtt is still endorsed by this agency despite having been drummed out of the Navy with a courts-martial. Since 1993, this agency's chaplains have participated in the following:
- Violated numerous service members' constitutional rights.
- Made up conspiracy theories.
- Called for the violent overthrow of the United States government.
- Pushed white supremacy.
- Advocated for military members to ignore military rules.
- Denigrated other religions and those who are non-religious.
- Called for the execution of those they disagree with politically.
Of course not all of the offending chaplains have come from the CFGC. Capt. Robert Nay was accused of making anti-Semitic remarks against Jewish chaplains in 2001. He was also accused of hanging up Nazi uniforms at a prayer breakfast where chaplain attendance was mandatory. The Army investigated and found Rabbi Goldman's complaints were valid. I did a Google search on Chaplain Nay and found he is a member of the Carlisle Reformed Presbyterian Church. It can also be seen that instead of being courts-martialed, this man was promoted. This is not surprising since the chaplain leadership is almost exclusively extreme right-wing evangelists.
Here is a very long and detailed reading list for this story. These stories have to be read to be believed. The CFCG advocates the same type of conspiracy theories espoused by an insane co-worker I worked with during the mid 1990's.
- MRFF's Complaint Letter to Secretary Gates - a good overview and lots of links.
- MRFF's Weekly Watch for 26 Jun 09 - another good list of articles.
- Christian Soldiers by Newsweek. - story finally hits a major news magazine.
- Toxic To Democracy - Chip Berlet's very good overview of conspiracy theories and hate groups.
- Conspiracy Theorist Military Chaplains Promote Anti-American Militia Activity - First story by Chris Rodda.
- Conspiracy as Prophecy - Ruth
- Col. Jim Ammerman, Apostle & New World Order Conspiracy Theorist - Ruth
- Defense Department-Certified Agency Newsletter Suggests Killing Democrats - Bruce Wilson, with lots of video of Army Chaplain James F. Linzey advocating violent action against the US government and bizarre conspiracy theories.
- Al Jazeera Special Report Covers Advance of Fundamentalism in the US Military - Bruce Wilson
- MRFF Demands DoD Revoke Authority of Chaplain Endorser Who Suggested Democrats Should be Executed - Chris Rodda
- Jim Ammerman's Lunacy - Dispatches From the Culture Wars
- Why is This Man Still a Chaplain?
- Onward Christian Supremacists