Note: also see Is George W. Bush Planning To Trigger Apocalyptic War ?
[Update: Susan Hu sent me a link to this INN News Service video interview with Mikey Weinstein and Ambassador Joe Wilson. It's very much worth a look. ]
"It took decades for evangelicals to infiltrate the military, but eventually fundamentalist theology adapted as its entry points the culture of authority, duty, and sacrifice in the armed forces."
Power, it was once said, flows from the barrel of a gun. Needless to say, power of a sort also spits from the muzzle cannon of an A-10 Warthog.
Today, over on Alternet, you can find an extended excerpt from Mikey Weinstein's recent book With God On Our Side: One Man's War Against An Evangelical Coup In The US Military [link to review of book]
Mikey Weinstein's Military Religious Freedom Foundation is a nonprofit devoted to opposing Christian Evangelical religious coercion in the US military
Talk To Action is the only original-reporting website, with daily coverage, devoted to exclusively to the Christian and religious right and featuring researchers and journalists specializing in the intersection of religion and politics.
For Additional information on Christian Evangelicals in the US military, see Jews On First, a Jewish 1st Amendment defense organization.
Now, let me say right from the top that there is nothing wrong with a heavy Evangelical Christian presence in the US military.
What Mikey Weinstein is concerned with, and what American pluralistic democracy should perhaps be concerned with as well, is a growing atmosphere of Christian Evangelical religious coercion, and oppression of religious and philosophical minorities, in the US military.
Further, as evidenced in the Christian Embassy video, some high ranking Evangelical Christians in the US military have become openly willing to declare, in uniform and from within the Pentagon, that their primarily allegiance is not to the United States but to "God" and "Church". That presents possible major and high level compromises in the US military chain of command. If Evangelical Christians, in the military or even in the Pentagon, perceive a US president as "un-Godly", do they therefore refuse to follow direct presidential orders ? And, who speaks or "God" in the temporal realm ? Pat Robertson ? John Hagee ?
Such possible chain-of-command compromise has a counterpart in civilians government sectors, as the mainstream media seems to have recently and belatedly realized in the Monica Goodling / 'Pat Robertson Army' freakout, as media and journalists came to grips with what dedicated religion and politics watchers had known for years, that the Bush Adinistration has stuffed the federal bureaucracy with partisan religious ideologues who in many cases have dubious job qualifications or almost no job qualifications at all.
In the end, this post is about power, raw and simple.
Two days ago, John McCain made a now infamous gaffe, at a VFW Hall appearance, in which he sung "Bomb Iran, Bomb Bomb Iran" to the tune of the Beach Boys' song "Barbara Ann". McCain's song has been turned into a MoveOn.com political ad, fairly hard hitting, that asks if the US can afford someone so reckless as McCain as president:
What got lost in translation was the background to McCain's remark and the surrounding context including heavy Christian Evangelical penetration of the US armed services and the undeniable fact that many or even most, maybe, of those Evangelicals hold apocalyptic end-time beliefs.
Before the US invasion of Afghanistan, large numbers of a "military"
edition of a book from Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins' "Left Behind" series were distributed, through official military channels, among US soldiers....
In an April 2, 2006 appearance on Meet The Press, McCain told Tim Russert that, beyond merely getting the US mired in fighting two wars at once ( three actually, counting Afghanistan ) a US war against Iran could become "Armageddon".
McCain's April 2, 2006 statement condemns McCain's recent political courting of rising Christian right power broker John Hagee, a man who says he wants Armageddon and who has formed a national lobby to make Armageddon happen, and the implication is troubling :
John McCain may be sometimes loopy, but he has also been in politics for a long, long time and so his calculation on the political influence and clout of John Hagee should be taken seriously. As another indication Pastor Hagee, who has called for a preemptive US/Israeli military strike on Iran, speculated that such an attack could trigger "Armageddon", and also formed a political lobby to bring on Armageddon and the Apocalypse, spoke before a considerable fraction of the US Congress at AIPAC's February 2007 yearly national political convention, as the event's keynote speaker.
John Hagee has predicted a US attack on Iran could lead to a nuclear strike on the US, by Russia, that would destroy the East and West coasts of the United States, and if that comes to pass, suggests Hagee, the hundreds of millions of Americans so immolated would deserve their fate, as divine retribution for alleged sins against Israel. Hagee also appears to blame Jews for the Holocaust and has speculated that Hitler and the Nazis were doing God's work.
US Senator John McCain met with Hagee, privately, last February and the two, as John Hagee subsequently exulted in a CUFI email memo, "John McCain gets it !".
Mikey Weinstein's book on the Evangelical penetration of the US military should raise widespread alarm and not merely for Evangelical presence in the military and the considerable threat to US church/state separation that heavy Evangelical Christian presence implies:
Many Evangelicals in the US military will, simply as a matter of statistics, have been inculcated in the revisionist historical belief that the US was founded as a Christian nation, and many of those Evangelical armed services personnel will also believe that the Apocalypse, the final battle between absolute good and absolute evil, is immanent and that they can expect to fight, as US armed forces members, in that battle.
As the brazen Christian Embassy video demonstrates, high level Pentagon officials seem, to feel quite secure professing that their primary allegiance is to "God", then to "Church" or "Family", with "nation" last in the priority chain.
That represents a possible fundamental compromise in the US military command chain, and paired with Apocalyptic religious beliefs that reality raises the specter of a religious war fought with nuclear weapons.
For a personal account of someone who was forced out of the USAF for her religious beliefs, Lorie Johnson's account of her harrowing time in the Air Force provides firsthand testimony that well accompanies Weinstein's account of Christian Evangelical coercion in the Air Force, and Johnson offers this disturbing recollection:
"Their participation and promotion of this group is in direct violation of their oaths to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. One officer said that God, his family, and then the US were his priorities.
I ran into this "God First, orders second" attitude when I served in the USAF. There were people in charge of the communications facilities who felt that they should do what God and the Bible told them, not what their commanders said. And if God told them to do something to launch a nuclear holocaust, they would do it. Yes, they actually told me that.
Sleep well tonight: your military wants to bring about the Rapture". - Talk To Action contributor Lorrie Johnson
In part one of a six part series, entitled Onward Christian Soldiers: How minority faiths are treated in the US Military, Lorrie Johnson recounts her experience of religious coercion within the USAF, and her exemplary courage in fighting for religious freedom. ( 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 ).
It was in Germany that I met fellow Pagans, and it was there that some of us got together and compared stories. I was not the only person subject to proselytization and harassment by aggressive evangelicals. My other Pagan peers reported the same problem, and an overt lack of respect, and even hostility by the Christians in their various units. We could not get dog tags which stated our religious faith. We were stuck with either 'no religious preference', 'none', or 'other', which generated more hostile questions from evangelicals. With fellowship in mind, I created the "Farwander Fellowship" which eventually morphed into the Military Pagan Network. It was meant to permit military Pagans to find likeminded people, so that they did not believe that they were totally alone. The press got wind of this, and an article appeared in the Air Force Times about our attempts to get a little respect and recognition.
It worked: the Army Chaplain's handbook now contains a section about Wicca, the earliest versions written by me. It's since been revised, but the bulk of my work remains.
But it came with a price: my career. ...a group of very religious colleagues was determined to end my career one way or another. They resorted to sabotage in order to get me demoted and removed from the USAF because of high year of tenure requirements. I was discharged honorably.
Wiccans and other Pagan faiths are still legally recognised in all branches of the military, but they also still face harassment, prosetylization and outright hate by the hard core Christian evangelists...
New ministries have focused on specific areas of the military such as special forces ( the target of FORCE Ministries and the issue of religious coercion at the US Air Force Academy has never really gone away although media attention has passed on.
Another lens on the pervasive nature of this, as reported by the Agency French Presse, mass baptisms before the first US assault on Fallujah:
Men with buzzcuts and clad in their camouflage waved their hands in the air, M-16 assault rifles beside them, and chanted heavy metal-flavoured lyrics in praise of Christ late on Friday in a yellow-brick chapel.
They counted among thousands of troops surrounding the city of Fallujah, seeking solace as they awaited Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's decision on whether or not to invade Fallujah.
"You are the sovereign. You're name is holy. You are the pure spotless lamb," a female voice cried out on the loudspeakers as the marines clapped their hands and closed their eyes, reflecting on what lay ahead for them....
The marines then lined up and their chaplain blessed them with holy oil to protect them.
"God's people would be anointed with oil," the chaplain said, as he lightly dabbed oil on the marines' foreheads.
The crowd then followed him outside their small auditorium for a baptism of about a half-dozen marines who had just found Christ....
The three laid down in a rubber dinghy filled with water and the chaplain's assistant, navy corpsman Richard Vaughn, plunged their heads beneath the surface.
Various ministries on the Christian right inculcate children into the ideology of religious warfare : "Jesus Camp" was far from the only manifestation of that ( see: The Road To "Jesus Camp" ? - "Kids In Combat", Young Christian Soldiers ) and legions of "Royal Rangers", a Pentacostalist analog to The Boy Scouts, pledge allegiance not to the United States but to "God, Church, and Family"
Meanwhile, within the larger American culture, conservative religious figures make bloodthirsty exhortations for the nuclear destruction of entire cities and an apocalyptic end-times lobby labors to bring on an Armageddon it is predicted will rain down nuclear destruction of the East and West coasts of the United States.
We ignore these phenomenon at our peril. [ excerpt from "Christian Embassy Video Meets Religious War Video Game" ]
Until last Wednesday, John Hagee's "Apocalypse Lobby" website featured an image, of Jerusalem's Wailing wall and the Temple Mount, from which the 3rd Holiest Site in Islam had been airbrushed out. As a result of my blogging, it seems, CUFI last Wednesday replaced its website logo image with another image in which the Haram el-Sharif was visible. A number of observers considered the original, airbrushed CUFI logo image to be wildly provocative to the Islamic world.
Another way you can help :
Chris Rodda, author of Liars For Jesus: The Religious Right's Alternate Version Of American History" combats the Christian historical revisionism that fools Christian Evangelicals, in the military and outside of it, into thinking the US was originally founded as a "Christian Nation". If you bought a copy of her book, it'd help support her crucial work of undercutting Christian historical revisionist lies.
Here's a review of Rodda's book I did a few months ago
There's Evangelical penetration of the US military, then there's the construction of a wholly private, parallel military, as exewmplified by Blackwater USA. I have not mentioned Blackwater USA thus far: so here's Jeremy Scahill to fill you in:
I covered Blackwater, recently, as part of the tie in of Blackwater's founder, Erik Prince, to religious right moneybag man and strategist Dick DeVos, in DeVos Wages War On Public Education, But Meet His Brother In Law... While Prince is pioneering the privatization of the US military via Blackwater USA, Dick DeVos is pioneering the destruction of American public education: a fun pair, those two.
note: my real name is Bruce Wilson. Troutfishing is my brand name on this forum. I tried to rebrand myself as me, but branding takes a while, so I reverted to Troutfishing. I do not fish for Trout however - inland Trout currently contain too much Mercury. I chose the moniker in memory of Richard Brautigan whose last book, "Lest the wind blow it all away", serves as a caution to our current age. And, I enjoy writing in the style of Brautigan though I rarely allow myself to do so.