Over the past few days, we've gone over a history of dominionist prosyletisation efforts during the Gulf War and how they are endangering not only Christians but our own military to boot.
Today, we get into the real heart of why some of us are so worried about the "God Warrior" tendencies in neopentecostal dominionist groups.
Everyone who hasn't been completely isolated from the outside world knows by now about the revelations of torture and human rights abuses at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and other facilities used for "extraordinary rendition" (or, more properly, gulags).
Not so well publicised is the fact that the very denomination responsible for the "Teen Challenge" chain of "kiddie gulags" is in fact at the very core of the torture scandals--and that the Assemblies' own chaplains were in fact ringleaders of torture.
Assemblies coercion crosses over from "kiddie gulags" to gulags
The involvement of Assemblies men in torture scandals--including, as we will see, persons officially listed as Assemblies of God chaplains directly participating in torture--is particularly odious. Katherine Yurica, a researcher on "Christian nationalism" and neopentecostal dominionism in particular, has been particularly studious in documenting the links between the Assemblies' chaplains and torture.
It turns out an Assemblies man was in charge of interrogation at Abu Ghraib...and, little reported, Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan was in fact an Assemblies of God chaplain. (Yes, you are reading this right. An Assemblies chaplain was in charge of such fun policies as dragging people around naked with dog collars, shocking them, waterboarding, and the litany of human rights abuses documented at Abu Ghraib.) It should be worth noting just what Lt. Col. Jordan was in charge of approving...and actively participating in:
According to an Army statement, Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan, worked as a reservist at the Army’s Intelligence and Security Command at Fort Belvoir, Va. He was activated for the express purpose of setting up the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center (JIDC) at Abu Ghraib which did not exist prior to his arrival. As I noted above, the formation of the JIDC was recommended by Gen. Miller. This would appear to link Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan directly with General Boykin, undersecretary Cambone and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld.
Contradictorily, Jordan was later to claim that he was merely "a civil affairs officer by training and that his assignment was to set up a database at the interrogation center for tracking information gleaned from the prisoners." However, the record clearly shows that Jordan took control of the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center on September 17, 2003 and served as the JIDC director until Col. Thomas Pappas assumed the role of commander of the forward operating base on November 19, 2003, and Jordan then became the deputy director of JIDC.
Col. Pappas said in his statement to General Taguba that LTC Jordan repeatedly took part in searches of detainee cells without notifying military police commanders. Searching cells was an activity that fell outside the usual duties of an intelligence officer.
Taguba’s report and witnesses place Jordan with officers hiding prisoners from the Red Cross inspection. The prisoners were called "ghost detainees," because they were brought to them by Other Government Agencies (OGAs), without accounting for them, knowing their identities, or even the reason for their detention. An interrogator said he overheard Colonel Jordan and other officers say that the Red Cross inspectors did not need to know about those Iraqi prisoners."
From sworn testimony and interviews, Colonel Jordan emerges as a hands-on commander. According to Capt. Donald J. Reese, "Wing One was supervised mostly by LTC Steve Jordan." Capt. Donald J. Reese, commander of the 372nd Military Police Company told the Washington Post, he "was summoned one night in November to a shower room in a cellblock at the prison where he discovered the body of a bloodied detainee on the floor. A group of intelligence personnel was standing around the body. Col. Pappas was among them." Reese said, "An Army colonel named Jordan sent a soldier to the prison mess hall for ice to preserve the body overnight." The next day, the "body was hooked up to an intravenous drip, as if the detainee was still alive, and taken out of the prison." There apparently is no known record of what happened to the body.
And yes, he did do this as an Assemblies chaplain:
Of all the things we have come to understand about Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan, it is most difficult to think of him as a man of the cloth. Max Blumenthal, an excellent web writer, found another significant link to Jordan in an article reprinted on the web site of the Oak Creek Assemblies of God church and on the Assembly’s chaplaincy article page. A man with Jordan’s name and rank was identified as a Pentecostal chaplain mentoring an Assemblies of God chaplain candidate at Fort Jackson in South Carolina in the summer of 2003. Wait a minute! One’s head snaps back. But this is really true.
There are several major possibilities. First, there could be two Lieutenant Colonels with identical names and rank in the Army, in which case the Army can produce both men. Secondly, the Steven L. Jordan of Abu Ghraib could have taken on the identity of a chaplain who subsequently died or retired, in which case the Army can resolve the mystery and explain why a chaplain’s identity was assumed. Thirdly, the Lieutenant Colonel Steven L. Jordan of Abu Ghraib could actually be a Pentecostal chaplain, who was mentoring John P. Smith Jr., an Assembly of God chaplain candidate, during the six-week chaplain training course at Fort Jackson in South Carolina in the summer of 2003. If this is true, General Boykin’s "kingdom warriors" have emerged as a powerful and subversive renegade force in the Army.
The Assemblies of God article offers more than one clue to the puzzle. It reports that Jordan asked Smith to preach the Sunday morning sermon at the base auditorium, which holds over 1,000 seats and preaching wasn’t in the Army’s training course. The auditorium was full that morning.
An Assemblies chaplain, I'll note, that the Assemblies' own chaplaincy program was heralding as a success story as late as 2007.
Even worse, the head of the military chaplaincy program is in fact an Assemblies man:
On June 1, 2004, Assembly of God Chaplain Cecil R. Richardson was promoted to Brigadier General, to a key position that assists in the overseeing of the quality of the chaplain service. In this position, he also comes in contact with the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. Richardson’s official title is Deputy Chief, Air Force Chaplain Service.
Richardson’s educational background should not be overlooked. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in biblical studies at the Assemblies of God, Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri in 1973. He received his Master of Divinity degree in Hebrew studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill. in 1976. In 1981 he attended the Squadron Officer School by correspondence and in later years he attended the Air Command and Staff College by correspondence.
He is the first Pentecostal to be promoted to a general officer as a chaplain. His new job places Richardson in a position of control on the department of defense side of the equation: as Deputy Chief of the Chaplain Service, he is directly involved in directing and maintaining a trained, equipped and professional chaplain service. This means he supervises more than 2,350 active duty, Guard and Reserve chaplains. According to information released by the Air Force, "As a member of the Armed Forces Chaplains Board, Richardson and other members advise Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff on religious, ethical and quality-of-life concerns."
Worse yet, the head of operations at both Abu Ghraib and Gitmo during the torture scandals was former Gen. William Boykin--who has, incidentially, been linked not only to the Assemblies' infiltration of the US Army but has promoted the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan as a literal neopentecostal "God Warriors With Guns" crusade:
Boykin became the focus of media reports when he spoke about his involvement in the war on terrorism at twenty-three Baptist and Pentecostal churches across the country, accompanied by two military aides. According to a 10-month internal investigation conducted by the defense department’s deputy inspector general for investigations and reported by the Washington Post, Boykin received reimbursement for his travel costs from one of the sponsoring church groups and failed to report that fact. He wore his uniform and gave the impression that he was representing the military.
The investigation confirmed that Boykin said that the U.S. military is recruiting a spiritual army that will draw strength from a greater power to defeat its enemy. In fact, he told the First Baptist Church of Broken Arrow, Okla. on June 30, 2002, "What I’m here to do today is to recruit you to be warriors of God’s kingdom."
(Again, this info can be confirmed by Assemblies literature, particularly in its magazine "Pentecostal Evangel".)
It's also worth noting some of those speeches Boykin would give to churches. At one point (describing military actions in Mogadishu), he literally engages in a "My God can beat up your God" contest with a Somalian insurgent; in another speech he literally links terrorism with opposition to Christian Zionism (of the sort that wants to herd the world's Jewish population to Israel and convert them en masse to "Messianic Jews" so they can set up their own RL Tribulation Force); in the same speech where he invokes Christian Zionism as a reason for terror, he also engages in some very interesting "American historical revisionism".
Abu Ghraib isn't the only case here--the abuse at Gitmo also has Assemblies linkage, specifically with--again--the interrogation department:
On November 4, 2002, Major General Geoffrey Miller was appointed Commander of Joint Task Force Guantanamo. According to the independent panel’s findings, Miller brought Military Police (MP) together with Military Intelligence (MI) and called upon them to work together cooperatively. "Military police were to collect passive intelligence on detainees. They became key players, serving as the eyes and ears of the cellblocks for military intelligence personnel. This collaboration helped set conditions for successful interrogation by providing the interrogator more information about the detainee--his mood, his communications with other detainees, his receptivity to particular incentives, etc. Under the single command, the relationship between MPs and MIs became an effective operating model."
Significantly, there is another branch of the military that was used by General Miller: the U.S. military chaplains.
Assemblies of God (AG) Army Reserve Chaplain (Maj.) Daniel Odean served as chaplain for the Joint Task Force, at Guantanamo. Odean said that his job focused, "Primarily on the Joint Detention Operations Group (JDOG) that consists of service members from all branches."
Odean, explained to his AG interviewer from U.S. Missions, "The JTF conducts operations for detaining, securing, sustaining and worldwide escort operations of suspected terrorists to Camp Delta (the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Global War on Terrorism."
Thus Odean served the men in the unit either directly connected to Donald Rumsfeld’s secret "Special Access Program" or one that supports that unit. He was their chaplain at the time of his interview. Guantanamo, according to Hersh, is the final destination of those prisoners "who turned out to not be useful." Hersh told us that the prisoners were kidnapped, put in prison without charges and without a trial and we know that there were eight cases of abuse at Guantanamo that have already been substantiated.
When asked in his interview with his Assembly of God interviewer, what his main responsibilities were, Odean said that he served as a chaplain to about 1,000 troopers. He added, "I serve as an advisor to the commander on religious, moral, ethical and morale issues."
He was then asked, "How do you respond to critics who say you, as a Christian chaplain, cannot meet the needs of Muslim captives?" Odean’s response reveals that he has become the eyes and ears for his commander and for the military intelligence units. It reveals a man who is serving two masters; one has been pushed to the background. He responded:
"I am responsible to carry out the Commander’s Religious Support Program and intent. At Camp Delta, the Commander is concerned with the Military Police’s ability to maintain a high standard of military professionalism and excellence.
"I serve the Commander by advising on issues and concerns [regarding the detainees] that have been communicated to me while I am interacting with the MPs."
The interviewer then asked, "In what ways do the detainees turn to you for help?" Odean responded:
"I help manage detainee religious issues and promote religious sensitivity.
"I do not want to lead anyone to believe I have a counseling type relationship with the detainees. But I assist the Military Police with mission focus and by remaining firm, fair and consistent toward the detainees."
Odean was asked, "What do you say to those who say Guantanamo Bay is just another example of the United States being at war with Islam?"
The chaplain replied by rote,
"U.S. Policy is that we are not at war with the religion of Islam; we are at war with terrorism. We are at war with the enemies of freedom. We are defending freedom here at Guantanamo Bay. America and the world are safer places because of missions such as this one and many others our military are involved in."
Of note, most of the quotes in the article are from an Assemblies of God-written article (which was on the A/G's chaplaincy website as late as 2007) that goes into even more detail on the level of prosyletisation:
The JTF conducts operations for detaining, securing, sustaining and worldwide escort operations of suspected terrorists to Camp Delta (the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Global War on Terrorism.
I also serve as an advisor to the commander on religious, moral, ethical and morale issues.
As the JDOG Chaplain I minister to more than 1,000 troopers, but also ensure that appropriate free exercise of religion is maintained throughout Camp Delta.
This is done through advising command, communicating with the Military Police and ensuring that the detainee population has the religious items they are allowed to have and which are approved.
Finally, I conduct worship services. I pioneered the "Soul Survivor" program, which is a contemporary spirit-filled worship experience. The JTF Command has supported it and the response has been great. God is using "SS" to touch the JTF!
(Yes, let's get this straight. On the one hand, he claims to ensure "free exercise of religion", and yet on the other hand, his primary worship service is an Assemblies of God tent revival. Quite literally, in fact, in the early days of Camp X-Ray. Let's continue.)
This isn't the only example of Assemblies men treating the military chaplaincy as just another Assemblies missionary group (like Teen Challenge's "kiddie gulags", or its "bait and switch" evangelism groups like Seven Project, or even its training of its equivalent of Eagle Scouting with live arms fire in the Royal Rangers). No less than the head of the US chaplaincy program, Charles Marvin, stated as much in an interview with the Assemblies' official rag Pentecostal Evangel:
PE: Anything else?
MARVIN: The chaplaincy is as vital a ministry as A/G outreach on any mission field. We like to call the chaplaincy an "incarnational" ministry, or "ministry of presence." A chaplain is right there, with the soldier, living out the demands of military duty as an in-the-flesh representative of God’s love.
(As if our soldiers in Iraq didn't have enough to worry about, what with being put through a military meatgrinder!)
Sad to say...in this light, the "Bible coin" controversy is probably among the milder of things going on there.
And it is no bloody wonder, in this light, that Moslems in Iraq have a genuine fear of the Tenth Crusade--especially considering that the Assemblies of God is not exactly the friendliest denomination towards Islam in the first place. (In fact, it pretty much explicitly considers Islam as an agent of the devil in its endtime theology--and there's some disturbing evidence to suggest governmental policy is explicitly being directed by this endtime theology.