'Christian extremist' Kenneth Copeland's Ft Jackson appearances sparks protests

'Christian extremist' Kenneth Copeland's Ft Jackson appearances sparks protests

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Both military and veteran groups are protesting a well-known televangelist's appearance at a prayer breakfast on Fort Jackson this week.

A number of veterans and military groups - including the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, the Forum on Military Chaplaincy, Vote Vets - have called for Fort Jackson to rescind the invitation from televangelist Kenneth Copeland. A petition has also started making the same request.

The prayer breakfast is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 1.

Copeland - a member of President Donald Trump's faith advisory board - and longtime television preacher whose headquarters is in Fort Worth, TX, has made a number of claims in the past stating that the Bible says soldiers should not suffer or claim to suffer from a post-traumatic stress disorder.

In one 2013 sermon, the self-described "Christian extremist" cites Numbers 32: 20-22 as the verse to back his claim. The passage reads:

Then Moses said to them: “If you do this thing, if you arm yourselves before the Lord for the war, and all your armed men cross over the Jordan before the Lord until He has driven out His enemies from before Him, and the land is subdued before the Lord, then afterward you may return and be blameless before the Lord and before Israel; and this land shall be your possession before the Lord.

"Any of you suffering from PTSD I want you to listen to me right now," Copeland said in 2013. "You get rid of that right now. You don't take drugs to get rid of it, it doesn't take psychology - that promise right there [points to Bible] will get rid of it."

In a letter to Fort Jackson Commander Maj. Gen. John P. Johnson, MRFF President and Founder Mikey Weinstein asked that given PTSD is a recognized mental health disorder, why would Copeland even be allowed to be on post. 

"If you trivialize PTSD, you trivialize the members of the military that have this very serious disease. Is he going to claim next that you can't have [a] traumatic brain injury? Is he going to say at Fort Jackson that PTSD doesn't exist?"

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 3.6 percent of U.S. adults had PTSD in from 2016 to 2017. People who battle PTSD are not just veterans and soldiers - PTSD can occur when a person survives any traumatic event, such as a physical assault, car accident, or natural disaster.

A Fort Jackson spokesperson issued this statement when asked about the event and Copeland's involvement:

The Prayer Breakfast is open to all community members, is entirely voluntary, and is cost free to the Army and attendees.

The spokesperson also provided a statement from Copeland's organization about their approach to PTSD:

We believe that PTSD is an all too common result of the tragic and horrific events witnessed by our military in combat that cause feelings of hopelessness and despair.

On Wednesday, MRFF's president issued one final letter to Fort Jackson's commander, pleading to rescind Copeland's invitation:

Copyright 2018 WIS. All rights reserved.