Are Roman Catholics, evangelical Christians and “ultra-Orthodox” Jews religious extremists comparable to the Ku Klux Klan and Al Qaeda? Yes, according to a PowerPoint slide that was apparently used by the U.S. Army Reserve in a training program. The briefing materials, which seem to have been discarded a year ago, have prompted complaints by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese for the Military Services and the conservative Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty.
The slide show is, at best, sloppy and simplistic. Under the headline “RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM” is a list of groups including “evangelical Christianity,” “Catholicism,” the KKK, Hamas, Al Qaeda, the Jewish Defense League, “ultra-Orthodox (Israel, Judaism)” and the Nation of Islam. Related training materials said that extremism was present in every religion due to “some followers that believe that their beliefs, customs and traditions are the only 'right way' and that all others are practicing their faith the 'wrong way,' seeing and believing that their faith/religion superior to all others.” This is a description of any faith that believes it is in possession of a superior revelation. By this standard, only Unitarians aren’t “extremists.”
One boneheaded PowerPoint presentation does not a conspiracy make, but that won’t prevent religious groups from citing it is proof that the military is biased against Catholics, evangelicals and religion in general.