Tony Perkins Gets His Knickers In A Twist Over Military Yoga

Tony Perkins should just go away. No one pays any attention to anything he says except those who are as extreme as he is — which is to say, not many. Apparently the severe problems associated with seeing active service are a reflection of having a poor relationship with Jesus, and not the many traumas to which soldiers are exposed:

With a temporary ceasefire declared in the war over Christmas, fundamentalist Christian conservatives are looking for other places that religion may be under attack – and one radical thinks that that place may be the military.Tony Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council, a right-wing Christian think tank that has been classified as a hate group, has flipped out over a “wacky” new initiative being tested in U.S. military training programs. No, it’s not the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell” – it’s yoga and meditation classes.

A new Mind Fitness Training program being tested in the U.S. military has integrated yoga, breathing classes and meditation alongside other more traditional training regimes to keep soldiers calm and mentally fit and to reduce depression and use of alcohol and drugs. To Perkins, however, this new initiative is a stand-in for one’s personal relationship with God.

When he heard about the goals of the program – that yoga promotes relaxation, mental calm, productivity and restraint from substances– he exploded:

“What a coincidence—so does faith! Unfortunately, the military seems intent on driving religion out and replacing it with wacky substitutes,” he said on his morning radio program. “They’ve added atheist chaplains, Wiccan worship centers, and now, meditation classes. But none of them are as effective or as constructive as a personal relationship with God. Unfortunately, though, it’s mind over what matters—and that’s faith.”

Perhaps one shouldn’t tell Perkins this, but faith hasn’t really been keeping up its end of the bargain lately – at least as far as the mental health of service members goes. The suicide rate of active service members has skyrocketed in the last few years. In 2012, the U.S. military averaged one suicide every single day, with service members were – shockingly – more likely to commit suicide than be killed on the battlefield.

Meanwhile, there is already a disturbing pattern of aggressive Christian proselytizing and accusations of government-sponsored prayer in major military institutions, including at West Point and the US Air Force Academy, which some say is more divisive than healing. A Yale Divinity School study voiced “concern that the overwhelmingly evangelical tone of general Protestant worship encouraged religious divisions rather than fostering understanding among basic cadets.”

When you think of the numerous stories about military members being targeted and harassed for their lack of belief, or passed over for promotions, you know what a shameless hack Perkins is. Why, oh why, is he ever invited onto “news” channels?