A U.S. airman is facing a formal investigation for allegedly falsely claiming that he was punished for opposing marriage equality - a statement widely promoted by Fox News. Now, Fox News is citing the investigation as further evidence that the military is cracking down on anti-gay Christians.
Hoping to advance the right-wing myth that the military has an anti-Christian bias, Fox News has aggressively touted the case of Air Force Sgt. Phillip Monk. In August, Monk told Fox News that he had been relieved of his duties for vocally opposing marriage equality - a claim that the Air Force flatly denied, saying he was simply at the end of his assignment.
Now, Monk is being investigated for providing false statements about the incident, prompting further outrage from Fox.
During the September 23 edition of America Live, Fox's Shannon Bream - who's made a career of trumpeting bogus religious liberty claims - spoke to hate group leader Tony Perkins about Monk's case. Bream and Perkins framed the investigation as further evidence of anti-Christian bias, asserting that Monk was being punished for advocating for his "First Amendment right":
Aside from Fox News' own sensationalistic reporting, there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Monk was reprimanded for opposing same-sex marriage, as the Air Force has repeatedly stated.
Hoping to lend credibility to Monk's story, Perkins suggested that the investigation was part of a "pattern under this administration to intimidate and silence" anti-gay Christians. Earlier this month, Perkins' group the Family Research Council (FRC) released a report titled "A Clear And Present Danger: The Threat to Religious Liberty in the Military," which similarly warns of "growing hostility to religion within the armed services in the last decade." The report lists a number of examples of alleged anti-Christian discrimination and has already been promoted by Fox Nation.
But FRC's report is based largely on bogus stories reported by Fox's own hate group mouthpiece Todd Starnes, who has a history of inventing fake anti-Christian controversies where none exist. In April, for example, Starnes warned that an Army email instructing subordinates to be on the lookout for hateful behavior was a sign of the "end of days."
Most of the examples in FRC's report don't even describe acts of discrimination but instead merely document instances where concerns were raised about inappropriate religious proselytizing.
In other words, Fox News attempted to substantiate its shoddy reporting by relying on a report that cited other examples of Fox's shoddy reporting. At every step in the creation of the "anti-Christian military" narrative, Fox News has used misinformation and conjecture to dismiss factual evidence that contradicts the network's broader conspiracy theory.