New 25th Infantry Leader Riles Religious-Rights Group

May 3, 2008

Author: John Milburn

Source: Star Bulliten

Wire Service: AP

The founder of a foundation that has sued the military, alleging widespread violations of religious freedom, has criticized the promotion of an Army general who was reprimanded last year for helping a Christian group produce a fundraising video.

Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation raised concerns after the Army announced on Thursday the promotion of Brig. Gen. Robert Caslen Jr. to major general and commander of the 25th Infantry Division, based at Schofield Barracks. Caslen is currently commandant of cadets at West Point.

Last year a report from the Defense Department's Inspector General recommended that Caslen be disciplined for wearing his uniform in a video for the evangelical group Christian Embassy, which holds prayer meetings regularly at the Pentagon.

Army spokesman Paul Boyce said yesterday that Caslen and Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks received "written memoranda of concern" from the Army based on the July 2007 report, which concluded that the officers "improperly endorsed and participated with a nonfederal entity while in uniform."

Lt. Col. George Wright said officers are promoted based on "patriotism, valor and fidelity, and for their potential for handling positions of greater responsibility."

"The major general's entire service career would have been considered as part of the promotion decision," Wright said.