By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
April 26, 2013
A block that kept service personnel from accessing the Southern Baptist Convention’s web site and instead linked to a “hostile content” warning was caused by malware on the SBC site, the Defense Department announced late this week after the problem caused an outcry from religious liberty defenders.
“The Department of Defense strongly supports the religious rights of service members, to include their ability to access religious websites like that of the SBC,” Lt. Col. Damien Pickart wrote in an e-mail. He said software filters designed to block pornography and gambling sites as well as detect malicious software had found malware on the Baptist site.
Between the first reports of the issue and its resolution on Thursday evening, the American Family Association had called on supporters to contact the Department of Defense and demand that the site be unblocked. Many feared that the “hostile content” warning referred to the SBC’s articles rather than a software issue, especially in the wake of recent incidents highlighting what some believe is a growing animosity between the military and the nation’s faith organizations.
Recently, the AFA and the Family Research Council had been referred to as “domestic hate groups” in an Army e-mail, and Army Reservists were told that Evangelical Christians and Catholics were “religious extremists.”
But while many decried the site-block as further evidence of the military’s attempt to demonize faith groups, some SBC officials said no one should rush to judgment.
“Though there have been several instances recently in which evangelical Christians have been marginalized by the broader culture, we think that a rush to judgment that the United States Military has targeted the Southern Baptist Convention as a hostile religious group would be premature,” Roger Oldham, vice president for convention communications and relations for the SBC’s Executive Committee, told the media as he announced that the Convention’s Information Technologies department was analyzing the SBC server array to determine if there was hostile or malicious coding that would cause the site to be blocked.
“We’re glad to see this issue resolved and glad to know that it was more of a technological glitch than an attack on the Southern Baptist Convention,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “And we agree with the AFA that had this issue not gained national attention, the site would probably still be blocked today. We must be vigilant in defending religious freedom in the military where the environment appears to have changed, especially after the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.'”
Throughout the nation’s history, Southern Baptists have had close ties to the military. Some 1,400 military chaplains are part of the Convention.