A controversial retired Army officer who has drawn attention worldwide for speeches against Islam will be the keynote speaker at a prayer breakfast Feb 8 at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin was a top Pentagon official in 2004 when he was reprimanded for saying in uniform that Muslims worship idols and not “a real God,” and for depicting the war against Muslim radicals as a Christian struggle against Satan.
Since he retired, Boykin has been on the lecture circuit, speaking more candidly about his belief that the practice of Islam shouldn’t be covered by the First Amendment because it’s “a totalitarian way of life,” and that mosques should be banned.
Several advocacy groups criticized the beach community of Ocean City, Md., for hosting Boykin Thursday at the city’s annual prayer breakfast. The groups called for organizers to withdraw the invitation and for city leaders to speak out against Boykin’s comments.
News reports from the breakfast said Boykin did not mention Islam and focused on how his Christian faith has sustained him.
On Thursday, a veterans’ group released a letter to West Point’s superintendent, asking him to retract the invite for Boykin to speak at the annual prayer breakfast on Feb. 8.
Boykins’ past remarks about Muslims and mosques, the letter reads, “are incompatible with the Army values, and a person who is incompatible with Army values should not address the cadets of the United States Military Academy ... (His address) would be a slap to the face to Muslim Americans who have served their country, not to mention those who gave the fullest sacrifice for their nation and their comrades.”
A school spokeswoman said Thursday in a statement to The Post that it’s important for cadets to be exposed to differing views:
“The U.S. Military Academy at West Point prepares cadets to be leaders of character with honor and consideration of others. In order to produce effective 21st Century leaders for our Army, and our Nation, cadets are purposefully exposed to different perspectives and cultures over the course of their 47-month experience at West Point.
The National Prayer Breakfast Service will be pluralistic with Christians, Jewish, and Muslim cadets participating. We are comfortable and confident that what retired Lt. Gen. Boykin will share about prayer, soldier care and selfless service, will be in keeping with the broad range of ideas normally considered by our cadets,” said the statement from public affairs director Lt. Col Sherri Reed.
Boykin will be the only speaker at the West Point event, which is run by the school’s chaplain’s office.