Over the past week, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) has received about forty communications from chaplains, former chaplains, and others expressing their dismay at the selection of Navy chaplain CAPT Carey Cash to be the Navy’s new Deputy Chief of Chaplains, the second highest ranking chaplain in the Navy, a position that comes with a promotion to the rank of Rear Admiral Lower Half (the equivalent of a one-star general).
Emails like the following one from a retired chaplain point out CAPT Cash’s contempt for the religion of Islam, which comes through loud and clear in statements he made in his 2004 book A Table in the Presence: The Inspiring Account of How a U.S. Marine Battalion Experiences God's Grace Amid the Chaos of the War in Iraq — statements that were widely reported by major news outlets when Cash was in the spotlight as the chaplain at Camp David during the Obama administration.
“As a retired military chaplain with over 20 years, and a MRFF client, I must say I was a bit surprised by the recent announcement of the selection of CAPT Carey Cash to be the next Navy Deputy Chief of Chaplains. CAPT Cash is a very well-seasoned chaplain, with all the right tickets punched, but comes with significant baggage that would have derailed many in their tracks long before Flag. The Navy claims it is concerned about women issues but on the list that included Cash only 1 out 36 was a woman. This despite the fact there were two well-qualified women in-zone with him. The simple truth is they picked him because they wanted to pick him - and his previous statements about Islam are of no concern or consequence despite the fact that any if another chaplain had called another world religion it would have been grounds for reprimand, dismissal, or both. Senior leaders are picked for judgment and temperament - how does someone lead a diverse group of religious organizations that has already called out one of the world religions as violent? Perhaps the Navy's senior leaders should think more carefully about the message they are truly sending to the Fleet, the Nation, and the world. One shudders to consider this was the best choice the Corps had to offer.”
Writing in his book about his 2003 deployment to Iraq, Cash said he believed a "wall of angels" shielded his unit, even though two of the unit’s men were killed and dozens more injured. And, in a statement reminiscent of Jerry “Jesus is coming back with an AR-15” Boykin’s infamous anti-Muslim “I knew my God was bigger than his,” comment, Cash wrote:
"Yes, our men were lost and separated, but our God was not confused. Just as he had from the very beginning of the war, He was providentially working all things together for the good of a cause that was just and true."
A front page article from the Washington Post in October 2009 noted:
The book also offers an unflattering assessment of Islam, which Cash views as a flawed faith.
“Sadly, grace is often absent in Islam, which is based upon binding religious law, requiring strenuous adherence to every tenet of the 'Five Pillars of Allah,' " Cash writes. "A religion that emerges from the soil of strict adherence to law as a means of gaining God's favor will always tend toward extreme self-sacrifice."
The story of Chaplain Cash’s anti-Muslim views went international, with The Times of London, in an article titled “‘Islam is violent’ says President Obama’s new pastor Carey Cash,” observing:
“The emergence of Mr Cash, 39, who was profiled on the front page of The Washington Post yesterday, will pose some tough questions for the White House — and for President Obama, whose father was Muslim.”
In addition to their revelations about Cash’s anti-Muslim views, both the Washington Post and The Times of London cited what I had written several months earlier about his penchant for proselytizing, and particularly about his relationship with the parachurch military proselytizing organization Campus Crusade for Christ’s Military Ministry, which now calls itself CRU.
MRFF founder and president Mikey Weinstein, remembering what we had turned up about Cash over a decade ago, had some strong words about his injudicious appointment and promotion:
“Carey Cash represents the absolute wretched epitome of sectarian, fundamentalist Christian nationalism in our U.S. military. With Defense Secretary Austin’s justifiable mandate to rid our armed forces of racial, religious, ethnic, sexual orientation, misogynistic and cultural extremism, it’s a fair question to ask WHY THE HELL is he promoting the very Poster Child of this type of extremism to the rank of Admiral?"
MRFF’s reason for looking into Cash back in June of 2009 was the initial reporting (which turned out not to be true) that Obama had chosen the Camp David chapel as his church, making Cash his pastor. As I wrote at the time, within minutes of starting to look into then-Lieutenant Cash we found him quoted as saying:
"First we get the military, then we get the nation.”
Cash had made this statement via video in 2005 to the congregation of Grace Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, during an Independence Day weekend service at which Campus Crusade for Christ Military Ministry then-executive director Bob Dees delivered the sermon, a sermon during which Dees made statements such as:
"I'm here today to testify that we have found the weapons of mass destruction. It is Satan's artillery," and, "...the reality is, too many of our troops are prisoners of war still. Prisoners of war to the master of deceit, these troops do not yet know liberty in Jesus Christ."
During the service, Cash came up on a video screen, reiterating Dees's CRU talking points, and making the statement, "First we get the military, then we get the nation," a statement that echoed CRU’s mission:
"Evangelize and Disciple All Enlisted Members of the US Military. Utilize Ministry at each basic training center and beyond. Transform our culture through the US Military."
According to Dees:
"We must pursue our particular means for transforming the nation -- through the military. And the military may well be the most influential way to affect that spiritual superstructure. Militaries exercise, generally speaking, the most intensive and purposeful indoctrination program of citizens..."
And according to CRU, in a statement referring to their "gateway" strategy of preying on new recruits and cadets while they are worn down by the rigors of training:
"Young recruits are under great pressure as they enter the military at their initial training gateways. The demands of drill instructors push recruits and new cadets to the edge. This is why they are most open to the 'good news.' We target specific locations, like Lackland AFB and Fort Jackson, where large numbers of military members transition early in their career. These sites are excellent locations to pursue our strategic goals."
CRU’s goal, which appeared again and again in their literature and videos of the time, which we have no reason to believe has changed since then, was to transform the U.S. military into, in their words, "government paid missionaries for Christ.”
Referring to Obama’s attendance at Cash’s Camp David services, the 2009 Washington Post article commented:
But that doesn't mean Obama endorses Cash's controversial views on Christian proselytizing in the military and on Islam, which the chaplain describes in a 2004 book as a violent faith that "from its very birth has used the edge of the sword as a means to convert or conquer those with different religious convictions."
It is, of course, presumable that Obama was completely unaware of Cash’s anti-Muslim statements and that his primary focus in Iraq seems to have been how many baptisms he could rack up among the Marines on their way to Baghdad and his later boasting about how many troops he had converted.
And now, this Islamophobic chaplain who subscribes to the Christian nationalist strategy of “First we get the military, then we get the nation" is going to be the second highest ranking chaplain in the Navy.
As the retired chaplain quoted at the beginning of this post wrote:
“One shudders to consider this was the best choice the Corps had to offer.”