Our view: Overblown reaction to this matter
August 30, 2012 2:10PM
THE FIRST AMENDMENT
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Updated: October 1, 2012 4:30PM
After 43 years of distinguished service to the nation, Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger has found himself in trouble because of his role in one 33-second video — a clip designed to promote an organization that helps to strengthen the marriages of warriors returning home from war.
So what’s the problem?
Well, the group that Umbarger, Indiana’s adjutant general, endorsed is a faith-based — in this case, Christian — organization called Centurion’s Watch.
That raised the ire of a self-appointed watchdog, an attorney named Mikey Weinstein, who started an organization that bills itself as the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. Weinstein shot off a letter this month to the National Guard Bureau, claiming that Umbarger had shown favoritism by taping the video for Centurion’s Watch last fall.
But a more reasonable way to view Umbarger’s involvement is that he chose to donate a small portion of his time and energy to tape the endorsement in an attempt to help veterans, whose marriages often can be affected by the lingering effects of combat.
In an over-the-top protest, Weinstein has demanded that the general be relieved of his command and court-martialed.
Again, the more reasonable approach would be to remind Umbarger that he should not have worn his uniform while taping the video. And leave it at that.
For his part, Gov. Mitch Daniels defended the general, noting that if a mistake were made, “it’s obviously an innocent one.”
No evidence has been shown, by the way, that anyone actually was hurt by Umbarger’s promotion of Centurion’s Watch.
Nor is there anything to indicate any patterns of discrimination against people who are not Christians.
In short, this issue is a small drop in a sea of far more important issues.
It should evaporate quickly.
The Indianapolis Star