WASHINGTON – An evangelical Christian speaker exposed a few years ago for using a fake degree and clinical garb to bolster his credentials as a caregiver has pulled out as guest speaker at a Pentagon prayer breakfast after a protest from a well-known advocate of church-state separation in the military.
Ray Giunta, a Las Vegas pastor, counselor and co-founder of We Care Ministries, was to speak Wednesday at the weekly Pentagon Prayer Breakfast, as first reported by the Huffington Post.
But an Army spokesman said that Giunta “declined the invitation” from the Office of the Pentagon Chaplain late Monday.
Earlier in the day, Mikey Weinstein, head of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, had blasted the invitation. In a statement on the group’s website, Weinstein demanded that senior Defense Department leaders revoke the offer to speak and investigate how Giunta was invited.
Articles in 2008 by the Las Vegas Sun newspaper reported that Giunta had purchased a fake Ph.D. he used to burnish his credentials as a counselor. The paper also wrote that a California state audit had determined he illegally took more than $10,000 while serving as the state's cemetery board director in the 1990s.
The weekly prayer breakfasts, held in the Pentagon conference center, have primarily featured Christian speakers, officials said, but members of other faith groups have given talks as well.