Watchdogs Decry Chaplain's Book
************* | By Bryant Jordan | January 04, 2008

By regulation and custom, military chaplains are required to serve Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen of all faiths.

But some of the writings of Lt. Cmdr. Brian K. Waite, currently chaplain for the Naval Submarine Support Center in Norfolk, Va., has a watchdog group wondering how he can deal honestly and professionally with Muslims, who, he argued in a 2002 book, Islam Uncovered, "embrace a religion that is hostile to peace-loving Christians, Jews, and anybody that does not conform to [their] beliefs."

Waite may be better known for a more recent book, For God and Country: One Chaplain's Perspective of War and the Life Lessons Learned, about his service in Iraq. There he served with Marines during some of the early, heavy fighting of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

But before Iraq, while head of a large Oklahoma church, he wrote Islam Uncovered, in which he held that the Muslim faith is itself culpable for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Since 9/11 was carried out "with the battle cry of 'Jihad'," he wrote, Islam should be subject to attack as much as the terrorists who plotted it and the countries that harbored them.

The book was published by HeartSpring Media, a Christian publishing house in Texas, but Waite took it out of circulation after allegations that significant portions of the book were lifted from other sources and that endorsements on the back of the book from evangelist Franklin Graham and syndicated columnist Cal Thomas were not authorized, according to 2002 reports in two Christian publications.

Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which recently turned up a copy of Islam Uncovered, said the book is evidence that Waite cannot properly meet his duties as a chaplain, given his anti-Muslim views and impugned scholarship.

"Given the fact that he's the dubious author of a plagiarized book he's about as helpful to Islamic members of the United States military as Michael Vick would be at a local dog shelter," said Weinstein, whose foundation has been waging a court battle to try and end proselytizing in the military.

Waite, who reportedly is also an instructor at the Navy's Operational Ministry Center in Norfolk, Va., could not be reached for comment; nor was Navy public affairs at the Pentagon able to comment on Waite's writings by publication time.

In Islam Uncovered, Waite argued that Islam should be as much a target of the United States after 9/11 as the terrorists who plotted the attacks and the country's that harbored them.

"What about the religious infrastructure that has created the terrorist by teaching them to hate and kill anything that does not fit their mold?" he wrote "Should Islam be immune from attack because it calls itself a religion? If Adolph Hitler called Nazism a religion, would we be speaking German today? Evil is evil, no matter what nomenclature it hides under."

Referring to suspicions against Muslim Americans that the 9/11 attacks would provoke, "To them I would say, 'Deal with it!' The suspicion that you encounter is merely a consequence to your own belief system," he wrote.

According to March 2002 reports in the publications Charisma Christian and The Alabama Baptist, Waite, then head of a 3,600-member church in Oklahoma City, admitted to falsely using the endorsements and that "significant information" in the book was not properly attributed.

Charisma Christian magazine said that about 2,000 copies of the book were printed, of which about half had been sold for $16.95 each. It said Waite stopped selling the remaining copies after the plagiarism and the phony endorsements reports surfaced.

"The issue with the plagiarism was that the work was not properly cited," HeartSpring president Russell Lake wrote in a Jan. 4 email to *************, "and as the publisher we withdrew the book and no longer sell it."

Lake also recalled that the unauthorized endorsements were due to a miscommunication, and that Waite used them believing Graham and Thomas approved them. Graham could not be reached for comment, but a spokeswoman for Thomas told ************* that the columnist has no recollection of offering an endorsement of the book.

According to Waite's biography on the HeartSpring Web site, Waite had previously been a chaplain from 1992 to 1996. In August 2002 he accepted a new commission and reported for duty at Camp Lejeune, N.C., eventually to accompany the 2nd Recon Battalion (Special Forces) to Iraq.

While with the Marines in Iraq, according to a story published in The Baptist Press, Waite baptized 60 Marines and one journalist in the Tigris River. But at one point he turned away about 20 Marines because he felt they weren't ready to make the commitment.

For Weinstein, this suggests Waite even failed to give Christian Marines going into harm's way what they wanted and needed at the time, based on his own view of who is ready.

"Father Mulcahy [of MASH] is dead," Weinstein said. "The majority of chaplains in the armed forces today … see the military as a mission field, filled with low-hanging fruit in a target-rich environment for fundamentalist Christian evangelizing and proselytizing."