About Lieutenant General William G. "Jerry" Boykin (Ret.)
Boykin served two years as a commander of Delta Force and participated in some of its most high-profile missions, including the Iran hostage crisis in 1980 and the “Black Hawk Down” firefight in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993. That same year, Boykin consulted then-Attorney General Janet Reno on the Branch Davidian standoff in Waco, Texas. In 2003, President Bush publicly distanced himself from Boykin when it was revealed that he had made anti-Islamic statements and cast the “War on Terror” as a religious conflict while giving speeches at churches in full-dress uniform, a violation of regulations. Since his retirement from the military in 2007, Boykin has fully involved himself as a Christian far-right activist and anti-Muslim propagandist. He is currently executive vice president of the Family Research Council, which is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In his own words:
“If we don’t take a stand here, it’s only a matter of time before biological men will be able to share showers and locker rooms with women and girls all across America! … Many on the Left believe that biological men have a right to share showers, locker rooms, and bathrooms with women and little girls as long as they identify as female at that particular point in time — and that anyone who disagrees with that should be punished!”
— In a Family Research Council fundraising plea, September 2017.
“They’re infiltrating every element of our society while we are trying to believe that there is a big separation between the radical Muslims and moderate Muslims. And the reality is, John [Guandolo] said it, the moderate Muslims are just simply Muslims who have chosen not to follow the teachings of the Quran and the hadith. And there are a lot of them, and God bless them, I wish that more of them would refuse to follow it.”
— Speaking during a panel discussion at the “Breaking the Silence” conference, August 2016.
“I will tell you what: the first man that walks in my daughter’s bathroom, he ain’t going to have to worry about surgery. That’s not right. That is not right. It’s not right. It’s ungodly. But it’s also just unnatural. This is crazy. Where are the Christians that are standing up?”
— Address to Liberty Counsel’s “The Awakening” conference, March 2016.
“If you’re a Bible-believing Christian, if you’re a person who has a biblical worldview, if you serve the one and only God, you are going to be persecuted, plain and simple. … This SOGI [‘sexual orientation and gender identity’ anti-discrimination laws] nonsense is an example of exactly what they’re trying to do to us. They’re trying to put us in a situation where we’re going to lose our businesses, where we’re going to be forced to accept what Adolf Hitler forced the church to accept in Germany in 1937.”
— Address to Family Research Council’s Watchmen on the Wall conference, March 17, 2015.
“Well, if you understand anything about Islam, there are subliminal messages, and [Obama’s] message, really, I believe, was … ‘I understand you and I support you.’”
— During a break at the anti-Islamic National Security Action Summit, about President Obama’s first appearance in Cairo, March 6, 2014.
“Our government is so infiltrated and the Muslim Brotherhood has so much influence in this country, it is incredible.”
— WND Radio America, Sept. 21, 2012.
“One of the most disgusting things I hear is for people to call Hitler the extreme right. The absolute opposite was true. It was the National Socialist Party. He was an extraordinarily off the scale leftist. But many Jews in America, for example, can’t identify with the Republican Party because they’re called the party of the right, and they equate that to Hitler when in fact nothing could be further from the truth.”
— April 2011 video for Rick Joyner’s Oak Initiative.
“The continent of Europe is dark, it is hopelessly lost and it’s going to get worse. Every expert will tell you that by the middle of this century the continent of Europe will be an Islamic continent, and they can’t reverse it, they can’t stop it. It is because they took Jesus out of their societies and it’s been replaced by darkness.”
— Address to Family Research Council’s Watchmen on the Wall conference, May 2012.
“So we love the Muslim people but we have to be very careful to understand that Islam — in a pure sense and an authoritative sense — Islam is evil. Islam is an evil concept because it does call for innocent blood. It calls for the subjugation of women, it calls for brutality that is alien to us as Christians. So we do love the Muslim people, but the Bible also speaks of a time when men will call good evil and evil good, and we have to be sure that we are in fact calling Islam what it is, and in reality, it’s evil.”
—Speaking with Rick Joyner and self-proclaimed ex-terrorist Kamal Saleem, Feb. 27, 2012.
“We are at war. And I think that until Americans are willing to find out what Islam is and to find out the truth about what the Muslim Brotherhood is doing in our country, we’re going to continue to live in darkness.”
—2011, speaking on James Dobson’s radio program.
“There is a cabal, a group of very nefarious people, who very much want to create a global government. In order to create a global government, you essentially have to make everybody the same, so there’s not a superpower. Inside America, the foundations of that are the billions of dollars of a guy named George Soros, who has been, really for the last four or five decades, working very hard to bring us to a point where he can make us — lead us into a Marxist government. But there is an entity within the Council of Foreign Relations that is very much focused on global governments — one world government.”
—Answering questions at the Oak Initiative Summit, 2011.
“[Islam] should not be protected under the First Amendment, particularly given that those following the dictates of the Quran are under an obligation to destroy our Constitution and replace it with Sharia law.”
—Video for Rick Joyner’s Oak Initiative, 2010.
William G. “Jerry” Boykin was born in North Carolina, where he worked on his grandparents’ tobacco farm. According to his memoir, Never Surrender, his father was a World War II veteran who was wounded at Normandy. Boykin’s own long and decorated military career began after he graduated from Virginia Tech (which he attended on a football scholarship) in the last weeks of 1970 with a bachelor’s degree in English. He was sworn in as a soldier in the United States Army on Dec. 26, 1970, and the next year made the cut as an officer in the elite 1st Ranger Battalion. In 1972, he was sent to Vietnam, but his combat tour ended after three months with the cease-fire.
In 1978, as a young captain, Boykin was asked to “volunteer” for a new, secret unit being formed called Delta Force. But first he would have to undergo a rigorous 30-day training and screening process for what would come to be considered the United States’ toughest counter-terrorism and hostage rescue squad. Lt. Col. L.H. “Bucky” Burruss helped make Delta Force selections, and he was not convinced that Boykin would physically make the grade because of bad knees. Boykin also claimed in his memoir that a psychologist at Fort Bragg wanted to exclude him from Delta Force because “you rely too much on your faith and not enough on yourself.” But Boykin persevered, and joined Delta Force at age 29. Burress would write at the time that Boykin was a “Christian gentleman of the highest order.” Boykin believed that God had spoken to him and told him to join Delta Force.
By 1980, Boykin was the Delta Force operations officer during the Iranian hostage rescue attempt, Delta Force’s inaugural mission and a catastrophic failure. The mission was aborted after a crash in the Iranian desert killed eight American soldiers. In 1983, Maj. Boykin was tapped for Operation Urgent Fury in the Caribbean island of Grenada, but only because “he begged” to go on the combat assault, according to Burruss. Boykin was mostly riding a desk as an operations officer by then, and Burruss later told the Washington Post that “it was probably a mistake” that he put Boykin on the mission, though he said that “a soldier who wants to get stuck in combat is a good soldier.” On that mission, a bullet that hit the radio Boykin was operating also went through his armpit and out his shoulder. Boykin regained use of his arm later because, he claimed, God had healed him.
He continued to be selected for various missions, including gathering intelligence on troop buildups in North Korea. He spent 1990-91 at the Army War College and 1992-93 hunting Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar. By then, Boykin was a colonel. In 1993, he and Gen. Peter Schoomaker (one of Boykin’s closest friends) advised then-Attorney General Janet Reno during the Branch Davidian standoff in Waco, Texas. He would also serve as the CIA’s Deputy Director of Special Activities and would be promoted to brigadier general.
Also in 1993, Boykin was embroiled in Mogadishu, an operation in Somalia against self-proclaimed president Mohamed Farrah Aidid. What was originally intended as a quick, in-and-out raid turned into an overnight standoff after two Black Hawk helicopters were shot down, and the mission shifted to a desperate and bloody attempt to extract the downed American crewmen from the city. Hundreds of Somali militiamen were killed in the firefight. Out of an air and ground assault force of about 150 American troops, 18 were killed and 84 wounded. Boykin was hit by shrapnel in his legs and feet two days later, when a mortar round landed in the airfield, killing a Delta Force sergeant and critically wounding the unit’s surgeon. In person and in print, Boykin claims to have prayed over the dying surgeon, and now that surgeon is alive and practicing medicine in the Shenandoah Valley.
Following Mogadishu, the Senate Armed Services Committee looked into tactical and policy decisions that might have contributed to the American casualties. Boykin claimed that he saw a copy of an anonymous letter circulating through the Pentagon that blamed his alleged incompetence for the deaths of the servicemen. Committee investigators interviewed Boykin, but Maj. Gen. William Garrison took full responsibility for the battle’s outcome, thus removing Boykin from further inquiries.
Boykin earned his third star in the summer of 2003, which made him a lieutenant general, and he was appointed to Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence in the Bush administration. There, he headed a new office that was focused on hunting down Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and other “high-value targets.” During his tenure in the Bush administration, his religiosity almost cost him his career.
In 2003, he came under fire for remarks he made at several churches where he appeared in full-dress uniform. During those presentations, Boykin referred to the United States as a “Christian nation” joined in “spiritual battle” against Satan, couching Islam as the enemy and casting the war on terror in religious terms — which, detractors noted, could put troops in danger. He told a religious group in Oregon that Islamic extremists hate the United States “because we’re a Christian nation, because our foundation and our roots are Judeo-Christian.”
In another speech in which he discussed Mogadishu, he said of a captured Somali warlord: “I knew my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol.” In photos Boykin had taken from a helicopter, flying over Mogadishu, he said strange marks appeared on the film and he claimed that the photos demonstrated that “a demonic spirit” possessed the city. In yet another of his appearances, he said that the enemy in the antiterrorism fight was Satan, and that God had put Bush in the White House.
Following an outcry about his comments, President Bush publicly distanced himself from Boykin. Also, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John W. Warner (R-Va.) and Carl Levin of Michigan, the committee’s senior Democrat, called for an inquiry and for Boykin to step down while the inquiry was underway.
But then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld kept him at his post, although the Department of Defense investigated his remarks and determined that Boykin had violated three internal regulations: He had failed to obtain clearance for his remarks, failed to clarify that his remarks were personal and failed to report reimbursement of travel expenses from participating religious groups. The investigation also determined that Boykin had spoken at 23 religiously oriented events (mostly Baptist and Pentecostal) since 2002, and that he wore his uniform at all but two.
The investigation and its findings amounted to a slap on the wrist.
Boykin’s religiosity has created problems for him professionally and personally over the years, including a divorce from his first wife after Mogadishu, who, he said, called him a “religious fanatic” as she was leaving him.
Boykin retired from active military service in 2007 and ever since has immersed himself in far-right Christian activist circles. He was ordained as a minister and got involved with Kingdom Warriors Ministry, whose website claims, “The LORD is a warrior, the LORD is his name.” On that site is a 2011 video in which Boykin and anti-Muslim activist Frank Gaffney discuss the supposed threat to America of Sharia, or Islamic religious law, with Christian Broadcasting Network host Erick Stakelbeck.
Boykin also sits on the board of the Christian Dominionist-leaning Oak Initiative, which works to create a grassroots movement of like-minded Dominionists who will “mobilize and organize a cohesive force of activated Christians.” The website states that the Christian activists then “will be called to work on every level where government is found.” Dominion theology calls for Christians to implement a nation governed by Christians or a nation governed by a conservative Christian understanding of biblical law. Boykin has also done videos for the Oak Initiative. In one, he claims that President Obama is developing his own “brownshirt army” to enforce healthcare and Marxism.
The Oak Initiative’s board includes a few well-known personalities on the radical Christian right, including its president, Rick Joyner of Morningstar Ministries, who has claimed that Hurricane Katrina was God’s judgment for homosexuality, Islam is also God’s judgment on America for allowing abortion and “other perversions,” and the Japanese earthquake of 2011 that resulted in a massive tsunami opened the doors to the same demonic forces that caused Nazism. Cindy Jacobs of the Generals International ministry also sits on the board. She’s perhaps best known for claiming that the mass bird die-offs in Arkansas in 2011 were caused because God was displeased about the repeal of the military’s anti-LGBT “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Lou Sheldon, the founder of the anti-LGBT hate group Traditional Values Coalition, is also on the board, as is Janet Folger (Porter) of Faith2Action Ministries, who peddles anti-LGBT myths about the “homosexual agenda” and has claimed that Obamacare would create “death panels” that would target tea party members.
In 2010, Boykin gave an interview to Dan Wooding, founder of ASSIST Ministries, in which he expounded on his apocalyptic beliefs and his work with Kingdom Warriors Ministries. He told Wooding that Christians are persecuted in America at an unprecedented level and that Russia would eventually invade Israel, both predictions that Boykin claims are found in Scriptures.
For the most part, however, Boykin is now known publicly for his involvement on the anti-Islamic front. He helped author what’s known as the “Team B II” report titled “Shariah: The Threat to America,” published in 2010 by the anti-Islamic Center for Security Policy, headed by Frank Gaffney. The name “Team B II” is a nod to the original “Team B” report, in which conservative analysts were commissioned by the CIA in 1976 to assess the threat the Soviet Union posed. That report has been declassified and determined to be mostly wrong on nearly every count, and it also grossly exaggerated the threat the Soviet Union then posed to the United States. A Senate investigative committee found in 1978 that the members of the original Team B had “yielded a flawed composition of political views and biases.”
The Team B II contributors are a list of anti-Islamic notables such as Frank Gaffney, David Yerushalmi and discredited FBI agent John Guandolo. Boykin was one of the “team leaders” in the Team B II report, along with his fellow retired military colleague Lt. Gen. Harry Soyster. The report is a 170-page compendium of conspiracy theories and anti-Islamic claims, including the notion that “many of the most prominent Muslim organizations in America are front groups for the Muslim Brotherhood,” which is trying to implement Sharia law all over America and the rest of the world. Gaffney, who has claimed that President Obama is a “secret Muslim,” admitted to a reporter in 2010 that he couldn’t name an actual Muslim or Islamic scholar who was consulted in the writing of the report.
In 2012, Boykin was hired by the anti-LGBT hate group Family Research Council, where he is currently an executive vice president. He is tasked with, among other things, highlighting conservative opposition to Obama’s military policies, especially the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which allows gay men and lesbians to serve openly in the armed forces.
Boykin continues to insist that he is not anti-Muslim, though he has said that Islam is “evil” and should not be protected under the First Amendment. He also claimed there is a nefarious cabal at work that will implement a “one-world government,” a standard conspiracy theory among antigovernment “Patriot” groups.
In 2012, Boykin was scheduled to speak at a prayer breakfast at West Point. But his remarks were abruptly canceled after several Muslim organizations and liberal veterans’ groups protested his appearance at the event. VoteVets, a coalition of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, released a letter to the president of West Point requesting that Boykin’s speaking invitation be rescinded because his “incendiary rhetoric regarding Islam” would put “our troops in danger.”
Incidents like that have not moderated Boykin’s views, and Islam continues to be one of his main issues. Speaking to reporters during a break at the rightist and anti-Islamic National Security Action Summit (held to highlight speakers who were not invited to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference) in Washington, D.C., in March 2014, Boykin claimed that Islam is full of subliminal messages, and that President Obama engaged in them as a way to encourage Muslims. Boykin added that “Al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and everybody else” are taking advantage of this support and of a president who is “unwilling to go against them.”
At one of FRC’s regional “Watchmen on the Wall” events in Springfield, Missouri, in March 2015, Boykin called upon Christian activists to “rise up like an army … because, in fact, we are God’s army,” in reference to an effort to repeal Springfield’s recently enacted non-discrimination ordinance, which banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI).
“This SOGI nonsense is an example of exactly what they’re trying to do to us,” he said. “We’re at war. … This is not about civil rights, this is about the evil that has come into our society and is trying to destroy our ability and our freedom to be able to worship our god as we choose.”
Boykin endorsed Ted Cruz early in the 2016 Republican presidential primary race, before endorsing Donald Trump after his primary win. Boykin and Cruz both spoke at the February 2015 Center for Security Policy “Defeat Jihad Summit.”
Vitriolic remarks Boykin made about transgender people at the anti-LGBT hate group Liberty Counsel’s annual conference, “The Awakening,” in March 2016 proved problematic for the retired lieutenant general. Again railing against non-discrimination ordinances that include sexual orientation and gender identity protections, Boykin even threatened physical violence against anyone using a bathroom that didn’t align with their assigned sex at birth.
“Where is the Christian world today?” he asked. “Where are the Christians of America today? They should be flocking to people like Kim Davis. They should be flocking to the city council to say, ‘No, you’re not going to let a man go in my daughter’s bathroom, just because he feels like a man today.’ Where are the Christians that are standing up to this kind of evil? … And I’ve already said and somebody will be recording this and this will be on YouTube before it’s all over with, but I’ll tell you what — the first man that walks in my daughter’s bathroom, he ain’t gonna have to worry about surgery. That’s not right. … It’s ungodly, but it’s also just unnatural.”
Two months later, Boykin announced on his Facebook page that he’d been terminated from his teaching position at Hampden-Sydney College after nine years working in the college’s Military Leadership and National Security program because of his remarks about transgender people. “The bottom line is that I oppose these so called ‘#Bathroom’ bills that let men go into women’s locker rooms, showers, and toilets and I have been very public about it,” he wrote.
But it seems Boykin mischaracterized what was actually the termination of a contract with Hampden-Sydney. On Facebook, the college posted, “It is inaccurate to suggest that General Boykin was fired,” adding that he “was a part-time adjunct faculty member serving as the Wheat Professor, employed on a year-to-year basis.” Just days later Boykin accepted a new contract with the college.
In June 2016, a prayer breakfast at Fort Riley, Kansas, where Boykin was scheduled to speak was rescheduled with an announcement that Boykin would not be asked back to the gathering, after the Military Religious Freedom Foundation lobbied against his appearance, noting multiple instances of Boykin’s anti-Muslim remarks.
After the election of Donald Trump in 2016, a group of largely Christian Dominionists, including Boykin, formed “POTUS Shield,” a network organized to “discern, declare, and decree the strategies of the Lord for our nation, with a special sensitivity to the three branches of the United States Government.”
In May 2017, Boykin wrote an article for Breitbart praising President Trump for his attempts to ban transgender troops from serving in the military. Boykin claimed that the cost of healthcare for trans troops was too high, and that transgender people would join the military in order to access healthcare for transitioning. He then went on to link trans people to sexual assault, claiming:
Continuing implementation of Obama’s transgender policies ignores the strongly-felt concerns of women who do not want to be exposed to individuals of the opposite sex in facilities that offer minimal privacy. This is a particular problem when the incidence of rape in the military is so severe.
In another Breitbart piece Boykin wrote in November 2017 after a judge issued a preliminary injunction in October on Trump’s ban on transgender troops, he claimed that the judge failed to respond to the “real” reasons trans troops have always been banned from serving: “Namely, their physical and mental health.”
In September 2018, POTUS Shield held a conference call for its “prayer warriors” to fight the opposition to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, which it said was organized by “Satan himself.” On the call, Boykin criticized the “resistance movement,” calling it “a diabolical movement as far as I’m concerned,” and saying there are “an awful lot of Christians that think we ought to just love our enemies. Well, there comes a point where we need to take ‘em on. We need to be aggressive … because they are guided by evil.”