Days after the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, former Ambassador Joe Wilson sent then-Sec. of State Hillary Clinton an email slamming “religious zealotry,” emails released by the State Department this week show.
But Wilson’s tirade was not aimed at the kind of religious fanaticism behind the al-Qaida affiliates’ attacks in Benghazi. Instead, he complained about “Christian Dominionists” within the U.S. military bent on turning it into “an army for Christ.”
And perhaps Clinton was just being polite, but the current Democratic presidential frontrunner did not rebuke or correct Wilson, who served as ambassador to Gabon and São Tomé and Príncipe in the Bill Clinton White House. Rather, she thanked him for his email and wished him and his wife, Valerie Plame Wilson, the best.
In the Sept. 15 email, Wilson began by thanking Clinton for her remarks at a memorial service for the four Americans killed in Benghazi.
He also mentioned to Clinton that he had served on the advisory board of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation with Glen Doherty, the CIA operative who was killed at an annex during a firefight with terrorists. Libyan ambassador Chris Stevens, State Department information officer Sean Smith, and CIA operative Tyrone Woods were also murdered in the onslaught.
It was in touting the foundation that Wilson essentially compared U.S. soldiers to Crusaders.
The foundation “fights to ensure that our military is not further compromised by the Christian Dominionists who seek to turn it into an instrument of their religious zealotry, an army for Christ rather than for the defense of our nation,” Wilson wrote.
He also said that Doherty helped uncover several cases “where religious indoctrination was taking place under the guise of military training.”
And rather than rebuke Wilson, Clinton merely thanked him.
“Thanks, my friend. All the best to you and Valerie,” she responded days later. In a separate email, she asked one of her State Department aides to print Wilson’s message.
Whether Clinton agrees with Wilson’s position is not made clear in the email exchange. The former New York senator is a Methodist and has cited her religiosity in public before. There is no public record of her criticizing the military for being too pro-Christian.