Donât say Christmas.
Thatâs the message that was conveyed to a group of soldiers at Camp Shelby by an equal opportunity officer from the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, according to a soldier who attended a recent briefing.
âItâs unbelievable that the Army would ban âChristmasâ like itâs a bad word,â said Michael Berry, an attorney with the Liberty Institute, a legal firm representing the unidentified soldier.
Two weeks ago, a routine meeting was held at the Mississippi base with various leaders of the 158th Infantry Brigade. During the meeting, they discussed an upcoming Christmas football tournament. The equal opportunity officer immediately objected to the usage of the word âChristmas.â
âOur equal opportunity representative stopped the briefing and told us that we canât say Christmas,â the soldier told me. âAlmost the entire room blew up. Everybody was frustrated. The equal opportunity rep told our commander that not everyone celebrates Christmas and we couldnât say Christmas celebration. It had to be holiday celebration.â
The soldier said there was a brief, but heated discussion about political correctness. At one point, the equal opportunity representative tried to deflect the criticism by pointing out it was the Armyâs rules â not hers.
âShe said an individual can say Christmas, but as an organization in the Army you canât say Christmas,â the soldier told me.
So what does the Army have to say about the DEOMI officerâs edict?
âThere is no policy at the 158th Infantry Brigade, First Army Division East or First Army that forbids using the word âChristmasâ,â Public Affairs Chief Amanda Glenn told me.
She confirmed that there was a discussion in the meeting about the football tournament. She said it was meant to be a team building event and it had no tie to a specific religious event or holiday celebration.
âThe Equal Opportunity advisor simply stated that it would be more appropriate to call it a holiday football event,â she said.
But Attorney Berry tells me that it was made very clear to the soldiers in the room that the name change was not merely a suggestion.
âShe stated that the word Christmas had to be replaced with the word holiday,â Berry said.
The soldier who contacted me said it was just another instance of the military trying to curtail public expressions of the Christian faith.
âBetween the Air Force and the Army â itâs like they donât like Christian values, they donât like the word Christ or Christmas,â the soldier said. âThey donât like you talking about it.â
Berry said itâs a shame that the Army has implemented word police.
âAre they going to have the âMerry Christmasâ police going around issuing citations to an soldier who slips and says the word?â he wondered. âTheyâre treating Christmas like itâs pornography. As a matter of fact, the Army actually treats pornography better than it does Christmas.â
Itâs not the first time Equal Opportunity officers have caused trouble at Camp Shelby. Earlier this year, I reported exclusively about a briefing at Camp Shelby that labeled the American Family Association as a domestic hate group.
After my story was published, the Secretary of the Army ordered military leaders to halt all briefings on extremist organizations that labeled Evangelical Christian ministries as domestic hate groups.