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Umbarger’s Ouster Sought Following Religious Group Video

Major General Martin Umbarger has apologized for appearing in a video supporting a Christian group which offers marriage counseling to soldiers.

Martin Umbarger

Photo: Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill / Flickr

Maj. Gen. Martin Umbarger has come under fire for what he says felt like instinctive advocacy of his soldiers.

The Department of the Army says it is investigating whether the head of the Indiana National Guard violated regulations when he made a video supportive of an evangelical Christian group.

A spokesman says the Army‘s inspector general is reviewing the complaint lodged by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation against Major General Martin Umbarger.

In September 2011, Umbarger appeared in a video on the website of Centurion‘s Watch, a Christian group in Indianapolis that promotes free marriage counseling services for military families.

Mikey Weinstein with the Military Religious Freedom Foundation says his group found out about the video after being contacted by 31 Indiana National Guard members. Weinstein contends Umbarger‘s appeal on behalf of an evangelical Christian group, especially while in uniform, violates several military regulations as well as the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.Weinstein sent a letter to the National Guard Bureau in Washington, which forwarded the complaint to the Army‘s inspector general.

Umbarger declined a request for an interview, but issued a statement apologizing for the negative attention brought to his unit by what he calls instinctive advocacy of service members. Weinstein says he believes Umbarger should be removed from his position immediately.

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