Weeks after religious leaders blasted the military for training material that labeled evangelicals, Catholics, and orthodox Jews among “extremist” elements in the United States, the U.S. Army has reportedly blocked access to the Southern Baptist Convention's (SBC) website at some military bases. The American Family Association (AFA) reported that it was notified by an Army officer at a U.S. base that he was denied access to the SBC website when he attempted to access it on his government computer. The SBC, a conservative evangelical fellowship, is the nation's largest Protestant denomination.
The officer said that a message came up notifying him that the site was being blocked by the Army's Team CONUS [Continental United States] for alleged “hostile content.” Team CONUS is tasked with protecting computer networks throughout the Defense sector. “So the Southern Baptist Convention is now considered hostile to the U.S. Army,” the officer complained in an e-mail to the pro-family group.
Officials from the denomination have been in contact with the Defense Department in an attempt to bering clarity to the situation. “This is deeply disturbing,” SBC spokesman Sing Oldham told Fox News. “While the Deputy Chief of Operation of the U.S. Army has assured us this is a random event with no malicious intent, the Army must run this to the ground to assure that this is the case.”
Army officials could not pinpoint exactly what supposedly “hostile content” had caused the SBC site to be blocked, and while few other military personnel had complained publicly, several military bases across the country appeared to be affected. Oldham said the precedent was troubling. “If the government blocked any portion of the SBC.net website for any purpose, that would be an unconscionable breach of trust with the American public,” he told Fox News. “The First Amendment exists to protect the church from governmental censorship of or infringement upon religious speech and the free exercise of religion.”
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