Navy chaplain fired from teaching job after report exposed his anti-Islamic views
By Jason Leopold
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Mar 31, 2008, 00:16
A top Navy chaplain who wrote a book several years ago
attacking Islam, calling the religion �evil,� and urging the United States to
launch a �jihad� against the faith, has been fired from a prestigious
theological institute after officials at the school recently became aware of
the chaplain�s controversial book.
The chaplain�s dismissal comes nine days after an investigative
story I wrote exposed his stance on Islam as well as the chaplain�s
numerous degrees and training which were obtained through discredited diploma
mills, one of which was the subject of a criminal investigation.
Lieutenant Commander Brian K. Waite
came under scrutiny last year after a senior researcher for the government
watchdog group, The Military
Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), an organization that seeks to enforce
the separation of church and state in the US military, discovered that Waite
appeared in uniform on a website for a fundamentalist Christian group. Waite
used his position as a Navy chaplain to promote the fundamentalist organization
in what appears to be a violation of long-standing military rules.
In an email I obtained, John Morgan, president of the
Graduate Theological Foundation (GTF) in South Bend, Indiana, wrote to members
of his faculty March 20 that Lieutenant Commander Brian K. Waite was
�dismissed� from the school�s faculty and �is NO LONGER affiliated with the
Foundation in any capacity� because of offending material in Waite�s book,
�Islam Uncovered.� The book, which was first discovered by MRFF last year, was
not included in Waite�s lengthy bio that was once posted on the foundation�s
In the book, Waite writes that the Islamic faith itself was
culpable for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
"Undoubtedly our world will experience additional
terrorist attempts or strikes all in the name of Allah. Some of these attacks
may occur within the borders of our own nation by the remaining cell groups
interspersed and hiding among the Muslim population of the United States. My
words may make a number of Muslims in this country and abroad very
uncomfortable. To them I would say, 'Deal with it!' The suspicion that you
encounter is merely a consequence to your own belief system. . . . ,"
Waite's book says. " . . . Should Islam be immune from attack because it
calls itself a religion? If Adolf Hitler called Nazism a religion, would we be
speaking German today? Evil is evil, no matter what nomenclature it hides
The publisher of the book, HeartSpring Media, withdrew the
book from bookstore shelves after they discovered that Waite had plagiarized
much of the material and that the supporting blurbs on the back cover of the
book from prominent members of the religious community had been fabricated.
Waite is also the author of "For God & Country: One Chaplain's
Perspective of War and the Life Lessons Learned," published in 2005, also
by HeartSpring Media.
In addition to relieving Waite of his teaching duties,
Morgan, the GTF president, said the school has scrapped its Military Ministries
program, which Chaplain Waite presided over, in an effort to �distance
ourselves profoundly from his name and his ideas.�
�It has come to our attention that a
"former" member of our faculty, Brian Waite, has written a book which
is now withdrawn by the publisher attacking Islam!� says a copy of the email
written by Morgan sent to Muslim faculty members. �Please know that we have
dismissed him from our faculty and terminated our military ministries program .
. . If anyone enquires of you regarding Brian Waite (a military chaplain
serving in Iraq), please assure them that he was appointed to the faculty
without our knowledge of his book or his feelings about Islam. Please know that
the Foundation as an institution and myself as its President are deeply
committed to our Islamic program, faculty, and students.�
Neither Waite, who is currently assigned to the U.S. Navy
Operational Ministries Center in Norfolk, Virginia, nor a Pentagon spokesman
responded to telephone and email queries seeking comment.
Mikey Weinstein, president and founder of the MRFF, said
Waite�s dismissal from GTF was welcome news.
"We at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation
heartily commend the Graduate Theological Foundation for its expeditious action
in removing Chaplain Waite from its faculty,� Weinstein said. �Sadly, the
United States Navy has not only allowed this well recognized plagiarist into
its Chaplains Corps, it has also taken absolutely no action whatsoever to rid
this miserable disgrace from our nation's honorable armed forces."
GTF scrubbed its website removing all references to Waite
and, in an interview last Thursday, Morgan said the school is now referring all
students interested in military ministries studies to Hartford Seminary in
�After it became know to us that Mr. Waite wrote this book
we immediately terminated our relationship with him,� Morgan said in an
interview. �We had no knowledge whatsoever about this publication. If we had,
he never would have been appointed to our faculty. We have Muslim students and
faculty and our Islamic studies program is very well respected. Our Islamic
faculty are practicing imams. In fact, there are a wide range of religious
studies at this school and there is simply no place here for a person like Mr.
Waite whose views on Islam are not only offensive but conflict with our beliefs
In the summer of 2005, GTF launched the Military Ministries
program offering chaplains who are on active military duty doctorates in
military ministries and philosophy. Waite was appointed director of the
school�s military ministries program in July 2005 and taught chaplaincy classes
at the school on a periodic basis.
Waite�s resume says he holds two doctorates, a Ph.D. in
Historical Theology from Georgia's Covington Theological Seminary, and a
doctorate in Religious Studies from American Christian College and Seminary in
But his credentials are a bit misleading since they were
obtained through unaccredited institutions.
Indeed, Covington Theological Seminary is just one of the
religious institutions that has been identified as a "diploma mill,"
and has been found to award degrees to students through
"correspondence" studies. Covington had received its accreditation
status by The International Accrediting Commission for Schools, Colleges and
Theological Seminaries (IAC) of Missouri, which was caught up in a federal
investigation more than a decade ago for accrediting more than 150 higher
learning institutions that failed to meet the most basic standards under the US
Department of Education, the Generally Accepted Accrediting Principles, and the
Council on Higher Education (CHEA).
In 1989, Missouri's attorney general launched an
investigation to determine the ease of which IAC awarded accreditation to
schools, particularly Bible colleges, as long as the educational institutions
had the cash. The attorney general set up a fictitious college, the East
Missouri Business College, and rented a one-room office in St. Louis and issued
a typewritten catalog with such school executives as "Peelsburi
Doughboy" and "Wonarmmd Mann."
Their marine biology text was The Little Green Book of
Fishes. The school's motto,
translated from Latin, was "Education is for the birds," according to
Bears' Guide to Earning Degrees by Distance Learning, written by John and
Mariah Bear. Nonetheless, Dr. George Reuter, Director of the IAC, visited the
school, accepted their money, and duly accredited them. Soon after, the IAC was
enjoined from operating and slapped with a substantial fine, and the good Dr.
Reuter decided to retire.
Waite's other alma mater, American Christian College and
Seminary, formerly American Bible College and Seminary, which itself was
formerly the University of Biblical Studies & Seminary, permanently shut
down in 2005 after losing their accreditation with the Transnational
Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS).
TRACS is a recognized accrediting association that also
approved accreditation for Liberty University, Bob Jones University, and
Patrick Henry College. American Christian College and Seminary, however,
apparently didn't meet TRACS's rigorous standards. At the association's April
2003 meeting, officials refused to reaffirm the school's accreditation because
it failed to comply with numerous educational standards.
On the website for St. John's church, a civilian Anglican
church near the military station where Waite is stationed, he is listed as a
Former Priest Associate and Chaplain-in-Residence. Waite's bio on the church's
website contains additional information about his background that could not be
verified with state officials. The bio states "Chaplain Waite is also
recognized as one of the foremost traumatologists in the nation, holding
certification as a Field Traumatologist with the International Traumatology
Institute at the University of South Florida. He holds 'Diplomat' [sic] status
with the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress, and has served as
point person for Harvard University�s Crisis Response portion of the Kennedy
School of Government�s National Securities Program."
"Field Traumatologist" appears to be the lowest
level of certification issued by the University of South Florida's
International Traumatology Institute. The American Academy of Experts in
Traumatic Stress provides applicants with certification in traumatology by
simply filling out an application for a fee of $375, according to its website.
Military chaplains have come under fire from civil rights
groups over the past several years for allegedly force feeding soldiers a form
of fundamentalist Christianity originating from highly controversial,
apocalyptic "End Times" evangelists and their mega-churches.
Evangelical Christians have become such a dominating presence in the military�s
chaplain corps that the Air Force held a four-day Spiritual Fitness Conference
at Hilton Hotel in Colorado Springs in 2005 for chaplains and their families.
The presence of evangelical Christian chaplains in the
military is certainly nothing new, but it comes at what some believe are widespread
constitutional violations with the full knowledge and support of Pentagon
brass. Chaplains and their evangelist counterparts who lead mega churches
across the country have been invited to US military installations throughout
the world and have been openly proselytizing military personnel, in violation
of the basic tenets of the United States Constitution. Under federal law,
chaplains are only authorized to offer �spiritual guidance� to soldiers. They
are strictly prohibited from using government resources to proselytize or
Last October, Waite appeared in an advertisement published
in Time magazine using his Navy chaplaincy position to promote another
Christian organization. That would be another violation of military
regulations. Weinstein excoriated Waite for exaggerating his educational
background as well as Waite�s alleged constitutional violations conducted in
the name of religion.
Waite, who was formerly the pastor of a 3,600 member
mega-church in Oklahoma City, first came under scrutiny last year after MRFF
senior research director Chris Rodda noticed Waite�s photograph on a website
for Revival Fire Ministries, a fundamentalist Christian organization. Waite was
photographed in his Navy uniform which is prominently displayed on the Revival
Fires website and was featured in a brochure for a 2006 camp meeting that
advertised Waite as having "distributed thousands of Bibles provided by
Revival Fires" in Iraq. He believes the organization has played an
integral part on the war on terror.
"I believe Revival Fires truly became a genuine hero in
the war on terror," Waite says in a statement that appears under his
photograph on Revival Fires� website. "Not knowing where I was going to
get a sufficient number of God's Word for my men, I began to inquire from
others about the possibility of securing bibles. The immediate response I
received was that Revival Fires had provided literally thousands of copies of
the Word of God for the U.S. Military. Needless to say, I could not pass them
out fast enough."
In an article in Oklahoma�s Ponca City News last August,
Waite said that the distribution of Bibles to US troops in 2003 resulted in
several dozen troops asking to be baptized.
�I personally saw 60 men come to a saving knowledge of Jesus
Christ. I baptized 44 of them at midnight (for security reasons) in the Tigris
River on Easter Sunday, with another 16 following shortly thereafter,"
Waite said, according to the report in the Ponca City News. But Waite appeared
to have exaggerated details of the baptism. However, photographs of the
baptism, which were featured on the Baptist Press website show that the
ceremony took place not at midnight, but in broad daylight. Moreover, Waite said
that 20 members of the military who asked to be baptized were turned away
because they �did not seem ready to make such a commitment.�
Leopold is the author of the National Bestseller, "News Junkie," a
memoir. Visit newsjunkiebook.com
for a preview. He is also a two-time winner of the Project Censored award, most
recently in 2007, for an investigative story related to Halliburton's work in
Iran. He was recently named the recipient of the Military Religious Freedom
Foundation�s Thomas Jefferson Award for a series of stories he wrote that
exposed how soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan have been pressured to accept
fundamentalist Christianity. Leopold is working on a new nonprofit online
publication, expected to launch soon.
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