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FIRST-PERSON: Chastening a man of valor

OKLAHOMA CITY (BP)–On the cultural landscape, it appears someone or something has launched a full-scale assault against Christians’ capacity to express themselves in public. When I read of the attempted neutralization of Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin, I sensed something terribly wrong and culturally catastrophic unless people with conscience and conviction say “enough!”

Not the military, but the media is attempting to strip the stars off Lt. Gen. Boykin. Who is this man? In July, the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger printed a news story about this highly decorated military leader who spoke at First Baptist Church in Broken Arrow on June 30. He has served on the Joint Staff, the Army Staff, the Joint Special Operations Command and with the Central Intelligence Agency. His last assignment was as the commanding general of the U.S. Army Special Forces Command (Airborne). If you were in a war that you expected to win, you would want this man leading the troops.

Why is there a problem?

Apparently, according to the media, he made some politically “incorrect” statements.

You be the judge. Here’s what he said (Does this sound “intolerant” or extreme?): “Who is that enemy? It’s not Osama bin Laden. Our enemy is a spiritual enemy, because we are a nation of believers. You go back and look at our history, and you will find that we were founded on faith. Look at what the writers of the Constitution said. We are a nation of believers. We were founded on faith. And the enemy that has come against our nation is a spiritual enemy. His name is Satan.”

Why should the media be so offended by this? Does believing in the reality of Satan warrant this media attack?

Boykin also is quoted as saying, “And we ask ourselves this question, ‘Why do they [Muslims] hate us? Why do they hate us so much?’ Ladies and gentlemen, the answer to that is because we are a Christian nation, because our foundation and our roots are Judeo-Christian. Did I say Judeo-Christian? Yes. Judeo-Christian…. Our religion came from Judaism, and therefore these radicals will hate us forever.”

When the media chastises Boykin because of this kind of statement, does that make them anti-Semitic? They would shudder at the thought. Their problem is they do not like evangelical Christians involved in the public policies of our nation or our national security.

Boykin continues, “There was a man in Mogadishu named Osman Atto…. He went on CNN and he laughed at us, and he said, ‘They will never get me because Allah will protect me.’ Well, you know what I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God, and his was an idol….”

This man of conviction and passion is willing to speak openly about his faith. There are many in our military who understand very clearly that the war in Iraq is much more than a military conquest. We did not go there for imperialistic purposes. Our nation went there to set people free to make individual choices regarding government, economics, education and faith.

One of the major tenets of classical Christianity is that people who choose Christ are free — free to serve the Lord in the marketplace and the church, free to live quiet and peaceable lives. The founding fathers envisioned a nation where the people of God could express their faith publicly and privately in the context of a government disengaged from controlling the behavior of responsible citizens.

Boykin has done nothing less than express the freedoms our forefathers guaranteed us all. Only the extremists and zealots bowing down to the false gods of secularism and pluralism would take issue with Boykin’s statements. The problem they have with Boykin is that he is a mighty man of valor who serves the living God and great American ideals.
John Yeats is editor of the Baptist Messenger, newsjournal of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.

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