Todd Starnes — Fox News Dec 24, 2013
Don’t say Christmas.
That’s 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.
“It’s unbelievable that the Army would ban ‘Christmas’ like it’s a bad word,” 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 “Christmas.”
“Our equal opportunity representative stopped the briefing and told us that we can’t say Christmas,” the soldier told me. “Almost the entire room blew up. Everybody was frustrated. The equal opportunity rep told our commander that not everyone celebrates Christmas and we couldn’t say Christmas celebration. It had to be holiday celebration.”
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 Army’s rules – not hers.
“She said an individual can say Christmas, but as an organization in the Army you can’t say Christmas,” the soldier told me.
So what does the Army have to say about the DEOMI officer’s edict?
“There is no policy at the 158th Infantry Brigade, First Army Division East or First Army that forbids using the word ‘Christmas’,” 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.
“The Equal Opportunity advisor simply stated that it would be more appropriate to call it a holiday football event,” 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.