I can’t believe I’m writing, yet again, about Phillip Monk, the Air Force sergeant who lied when he publicly insisted he had been “essentially fired” for his beliefs (Parts 1 and 2 are here.) When the Air Force released the investigation into Monk’s case, which stated what was then obvious (Monk had lied) but did not punish him, I figured Monk’s defenders would just stop caring, since the story no longer fit their worldview.
I was very, very wrong. The Liberty Institute, which represents Monk legally, is doubling down. After the release of the Air Force investigation, they produced two documents which show that Monk’s transfer date was moved from September 30th to August 14th. The Liberty Institute believes that,
This documentation shows that the commander indeed reassigned Monk in a highly irregular manner immediately after her ultimatum to him regarding his views on same-sex marriage. This is totally consistent with his accusation, and totally at odds with the Air Force’s new official explanation.
That’s a lot of intention to read into a date change the Air Force has never denied, which makes the claim that this evidence is “totally at odds with the Air Force’s new official explanation” willfully misleading. From the beginning, the Air Force claimed they moved up Monk’s redeployment when his replacement arrived early, making Monk’s continued presence in his old unit unnecessary and redundant, whereas he was needed in his new unit. Monk has, to the best of my knowledge, not responded to this charge.
It’s apparent here just how weak The Liberty Institute’s case actually is. In response to an official Air Force investigation, backed by interviews and extensive documentation, they’ve produced two pieces of paper which fit into the Air Force’s case as well as their own.
But let’s assume, for a second, that The Liberty Institute is correct. All they’re arguing is that Monk’s commander moved him early because she didn’t like him. Obviously, not a good or ethical thing, but it’s a pretty lame form of retribution. If it was true, it would be less indicative of a military dedicated to persecuting Christians and more of a commander who abused their power and generally acted like a jackass.
Which brings me to a question: why is The Liberty Institute so interested in defending Monk’s case? It’s weak, difficult to understand, and even if proven, wouldn’t necessarily show that the military’s (mis)treatment of Christians is systemic or systematic. Why not pick a case that’s a little more clear-cut?
Just days after the Air Force’s report was released, Monk openly appeared (in possible violation of military code) at the Values Voters Summit for a panel. The Liberty Institute’s Jeff Mateer put his hand on Monk’s shoulder and praised him, saying, “We’ve gotten phone calls from military members who are undergoing discrimination…and with the exception of him, those folks that have called us have all wanted to remain anonymous. Sergeant Monk, to his credit, is willing to stand up.”
Let’s read between the lines here: Monk is, quite literally, the best example of discrimination against Christians in the military that the Liberty Institute could find. He was chosen not so much because his case is strong, but because he was willing. So it’s quite possible that they’re unwilling to let Monk’s case go because he’s all they have.