"In 2008, Ammerman implied that four presidential candidates should be "arrested, quickly tried and hanged" for not voting to designate English America's official language, and speculated that Barack Obama would be assassinated as a secret Muslim." - Newsweek, June 20, 2009
Last Friday's June 20, 2009 Newsweek story by journalist Kathryn Joyce, "Christian Soldiers: The growing controversy over military chaplains using the armed forces to spread the Word", explores the role of a highly connected, retired US Colonel and military chaplain endorser at the center of a recently exposed scheme to distribute native-language Bibles in Iraq: chaplain endorsement agency head Jim Ammerman, who claims friends in the US Congress and Senate and states that his agency works with three and four star generals in the Pentagon. As Founder and President of the Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches, Ammerman presides over more than 270 active duty military chaplains, perhaps 7-8 percent of military chaplains.
The Newsweek story also noted that in 2008 Jim Ammerman "implied that four presidential candidates should be "arrested, quickly tried and hanged" though Newsweek did not reveal the names of those senators or when the newsletter was published. But a May 20, 2009 story Huffington Post story by Military Religious Freedom Foundation Senior Researcher Chris Rodda does: Dodd, Biden, Clinton, and Obama. The newsletter was published in September, just as the 2008 presidential election was heating up [PDF file of September 2008 Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches newsletter].
Joyce's story expertly covers the foreign policy dimensions of the story as well as the religious freedom issues defended by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which defends freedom of worship, and fights improper evangelizing, in the United States Military. But the Newsweek story only hints at another aspect, Ammerman's domestic activities:
In in a 1997 speech the retired Colonel accused Bill Clinton of treason and suggested that President Clinton should be executed along with actress Jane Fonda. Ammerman made his call for Bill Clinton's execution while on a national speaking tour, arranged through a Topeka, Kansas ministry called The Prophecy Club, during a January 1997 speech that was recorded, sold as a VHS cassette, and broadcast across America on scores of radio and television stations.
[For 1997 video footage of Jim Ammerman calling for the execution of then-President Bill Clinton and claiming that Jewish bankers control the American economy, see Buzzflash.com. Scroll down Buzzflash page & look for video with the title "Jim Ammerman/Prophecy"]
From the late 1990's and up into the 2008 presidential election, Retired Colonel Jim Ammerman has engaged in a pattern of anti-government agitation and has promoted overtly anti-Semitic conspiracy theories of the type that experts who study the relationship between conspiracy theory and right wing violence, such as Political Research Associates Senior Analyst Chip Berlet, suggest feed a cultural climate that can provoke acts of violence against targeted, demonized groups in society.
Both Jim Ammerman, and one of his top chaplains noted in the Newsweek story, James Linzey, have aggressively incited the American anti-government militia movement by promoting dire conspiracy theories claiming that a United Nations takeover of the United States, with the help of foreign troops hidden in national forests and military bases, is immanent. James F. Linzey's conspiracy theories, which Major Linzey promoted in 2005 during a Prophecy Club speaking tour and through appearances on Christian media venues in 2005 and 2006, had an overtly racialist, anti-immigrant slant. Both Ammerman and Linzey have publicly claimed that Jewish banking concerns, including "The Rothschilds", control the American economy through the Federal Reserve. The Anti-Defamation League identifies that class of conspiracy theory as A Classic Anti-Semitic Myth."
As Joyce's Newsweekstory describes, Jim Ammerman and his chaplain endorsement agency are unabashedly Christian supremacist, and that posture often spills over into domestic politics:
"Department of Defense policy says that chaplain-endorsing agencies should "express willingness" for their chaplains to cooperate with other religious traditions. But Schulcz claims that Ammerman, who is not a paid government official, and his chaplains, who are, are entitled to say whatever they want unless they're advocating insurrection.
On this point, MRFF charges they come close. Ammerman and chaplain Linzey have espoused conspiracy theories about "Satanic forces" at work in the U.S. government facilitating a military takeover by foreign troops; Ammerman even appears in a video favored by militia groups titled The Imminent Military Takeover of the USA."
[note: Ammerman appeared in two videos with similar titles, "Imminent Military Takeover of the United States", filmed during a 1996 speaking tour, and "Imminent Military Takeover of the United States II", videotaped during a 1997 speaking tour.]
As Kathryn Joyce frames the foreign policy aspect of her Newsweek story,
Ever since former President George W. Bush referred to the war on terror as a "crusade" in the days after the September 11 attacks, many have charged that the United States was conducting a holy war, pitting a Christian America against the Muslim world...
A May article in Harper's by Jeff Sharlet illustrated a military engaged in an internal battle over religious practice. Then came news about former Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld's Scripture-themed briefings to President Bush that paired war scenes with Bible verses... Later in May, Al-Jazeera broadcast clips filmed in 2008 showing stacks of Bibles translated into Pashto and Dari at the U.S. air base in Bagram and featuring the chief of U.S. military chaplains in Afghanistan, Lt. Col. Gary Hensley, telling soldiers to "hunt people for Jesus."
At the center of the Bible distribution scheme was Jim Ammerman who, through his military chaplain endorsing agency, The Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches, wields power, over the 270-plus chaplains his agency currently endorses, to terminate their jobs by pulling his agency's endorsement. All active duty military chaplains must carry such endorsements as a precondition to their employment.
Buzzflash has some video of Jim Ammerman in action, from a 1997 video. Scroll down Buzzflash page & look for video with the title "Jim Ammerman/Prophecy"