Ordained minister and retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin was set to deliver remarks at a military prayer breakfast, but the event was rescheduled and he was not retained after an advocacy group complained about his biblical view of sexual morality and past criticisms of Islam.
Fort Riley, home of the 1st Infantry Division of the U.S. Army in Kansas, said the disinvitation from the base’s D-Day anniversary celebration for this upcoming Monday was the result of “scheduling conflicts.”
But it came less than 24 hours after the Military Religious Freedom Foundation lobbied the base not to host Mr. Boykin, saying his “fanatical” religious views constituted a threat to unit cohesion and morale.
Mr. Boykin said he found out he had been dropped from the event on Wednesday when a newspaper contacted him for an interview.
“They said there actually was a genuine scheduling conflict, but at the end of the day it was the result of a radical, leftist, anti-Christian group who objected to my being there,” said Mr. Boykin, who is executive vice president of the Family Research Council. “The ultimate decision was based on that.”
Mikey Weinstein, MRFF president and founder, said he was threatening to take the matter to federal court and demand an injunction if the base did not drop Mr. Boykin from the prayer breakfast.
Although Mr. Weinstein said he was happy with the military base’s decision to dismiss Mr. Boykin, he said those responsible for inviting the retired three-star general in the first place should be “prosecuted.”
“We’ve made it clear to the Army that whoever was involved in the machinations of inviting this monstrosity should be aggressively investigated and visibly punished,” he said.
MRFF claimed to be speaking on behalf of a group of 131 U.S. Army officers, noncommissioned officers and civilians of all religious backgrounds, who did not want Mr. Boykin to speak at the voluntary event due to his controversial beliefs.
Mr. Weinstein said several of his clients were “weeping” on the phone because they were “terrified” of Mr. Boykin.
“If you want to believe the horrible things that Boykin has said about Islam and Jews and women and the LGBT community, that’s fine,” he said. “But not to be sponsored by the U.S. Army.”
While working as Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence in President George W. Bush’s administration, Mr. Boykin compared the war against terrorism to the war against Satan. Mr. Bush publicly reprimanded him for the remark.
Mr. Boykin also said he was confident going into an engagement against an enemy warlord in Somalia, because “I knew my God was bigger than his.”
And the retired general said Islam is not simply a religion, but a “totalitarian way of life” that should not be protected under the First Amendment.
Earlier this year, he said a transgender man who tries to walk into a bathroom with his daughter “ain’t going to have to worry about the surgery” anymore.
Mr. Weinstein said such views are divisive and threaten to erode unit cohesion and morale.
“If somebody believes in this guy’s particular religious convictions of being a diminutive and fundamentalist Christian, that’s fine,” he said. “But not to be brought in under these circumstances. I don’t give one hoot about Boykin’s religious faith or the faith of the Religious Freedom Council, where he is VP operating officer.”
“This guy is the duke of divisiveness,” he said.
This is not the first time the MRFF has objected to Mr. Boykin speaking at a military event. In 2012, the group lobbied the U.S. Military Academy to disinvite the outspoken general from a prayer breakfast, from which he eventually withdrew.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins criticized Fort Riley’s decision to disinvite Mr. Boykin, saying the MRFF “actively stalks” the general due to his religious beliefs.
“If Bible-believing Christians are not permitted to speak at a prayer breakfast where attendance is voluntary, what’s next?” Mr. Perkins said in a statement. “Will Christian chaplains who hold a biblical worldview be disallowed to speak in on-base chapel services?”
Mr. Boykin said the MRFF has been “after me for a long time.”
“They’ve been trying to silence me for a long time,” he said. “They are very much afraid of the message I carry, which is really one of faith and hope and empowerment through our faith.”
Mr. Boykin was one of the founding members of Delta Force and headed the U.S. Army Special Forces Command. He received a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts, among other commendations, during his 36-year career.