Turning US Military Members Into "Government Paid Missionaries" For Christ
Bruce Wilson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Oct 09, 2007 at 08:59:09 AM EST
A new story on Truthout.org entitled Report:  Pentagon Facilitating Christian Evangelism details new Military Religious Freedom Foundation findings on a Campus Crusade For Christ sponsored ministry that has been given access to set up religious education programs at two leading US military basic training facilities in Texas. A page from the ministry website states explicitly the goal ; to make  US active duty service members into "government paid missionaries". The Merriman family, through their  Campus Crusade For Christ supported Military Ministry, are not promoting Christianity in general but but a very specific, sectarian, politicized interpretation of Christianity*, and that is consistent with a pattern that is emerging from research findings by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation ; the pervasive presence in, and institutional favoring by, the Department Of Defense, of a warlike, apocalyptic interpretation of Christianity. The pattern can be construed as an unofficial institutional endorsement of what is at base a Christian theology of war.

The Merrimans have been granted access to the US basic training facilities at Fort Sam Houston and Lackland Air Force Base - where they evangelize recruits in basic training. The Merriman ministry, which is under Campus Crusade For Christ's "Military Ministry", has notable points of commonality with the organization described below, the Military Missions Network. As Truthout notes, both "count current and former high-level personnel from all four branches of the military as board members and use their relationships with base commanders to gain access to soldiers, according to documents from both groups."

Military Missions Network is a fundamentalist networking organization devoted to evangelizing the military, which has current, high level active duty US military members on it board and also features a 40 page document on its website that amounts to a strategy for evangelizing the military.  

As the Truthout story describes:

Military Ministry boasts that it has successfully "targeted" basic training installations, or "gateways" and has converted soldiers to Christianity.

    "Young recruits are under great pressure as they enter the military at their initial training gateways," the group has said, according to an archive on its web site. "The demands of drill instructors push recruits and new cadets to the edge. This is why they are most open to the 'good news.' We target specific locations, like Lackland AFB [Air Force base] and Fort Jackson, where large numbers of military members transition early in their career. These sites are excellent locations to pursue our strategic goals."

    Military Ministry is a subsidiary of Campus Crusade for Christ, an evangelical missionary organization. In August, several high-level Pentagon officials were admonished for participating, while in uniform and on active duty, in a promotional video sponsored by Campus Crusade for Christ's Christian Embassy group.

Many of MRFF charges concerning Pentagon officials who appeared "Christian Embassy" video were later confirmed in a Pentagon Inspector General Report(link to PDF of report)

In mid September 2007, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation filed a lawsuit, in Kansas District Court, that alleges a widespread pattern of religious abuses in the military. Here is a PDF of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation's  most recent lawsuit

Fundamentalist Christian right "para church" ministries, some with apocalyptic theological views, appear to have penetrated the United States military in a pattern, going from the Pentagon on down to the base level, by which evangelical :"military ministries", many of which are under the Campus Crusade for Christ. Many of these ministries have been invited onto US military bases and even onto basic training facilities to - run "religious education" programs and evangelize recruits.

The budgets of these organizations have also increased considerably over the last few years and their efforts appear to have accelerated considerably. In other words, as the political influence and clout of the Christian right has ebbed somewhat recently, fundamentalist influence in the military appears to be growing. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is the only organization devoted to fighting abuses of religious liberty in the US military. Of the roughly 6,000 complaints MRFF has received from US military members, approximately 90% have been from Christians.    

image, right: click on picture to see short promotional video from Military Ministry, which is one of the several ministries from Campus Crusade For Christ that target the US military and whose Christian Embassy ministry evangelizes in the US Pentagon. Another Campus Crusade ministry, Officers Christian Fellowship, has roughly 15,000 members in the US military officer corps.

Raising Up A 'Godly Military'

The Officer's Christian Fellowship motto is: Christian officers exercising Biblical leadership to raise up a godly military. The OCF has roughly 15,000 members in the officer corps of the US military, on around 200 US bases worldwide. Christian Embassy evangelizes in the Pentagon, on Capital Hill, and among foreign diplomats. One top Pentagon official claims that there are more than 350 Christian Embassy affiliated Bible study classes, using Christian Embassy Bible study curriculum, held regularly among the 25 to 30 thousand members of the Pentagon. Military Ministries targets enlisted members of the military. The three ministries are subsidiaries of the Campus Crusade For Christ, which promotes fundamentalist, apocalyptic  Christianity and whose founder, Bill Bright, promoted the formation of "cell groups" (originally a communist tactic) and said in the 1970's that Campus Crusade was a "conspiracy to overthrow the world" .

"Christian Embassy"

For a quick overview, "Christian Embassy" is a fundamentalist group that evangelizes in the Pentagon, and at any given point there are as many as twenty or so high level Pentagon military officers and civilians leading regular "Christian Embassy" Bible study lessons. Christian Embassy lesson plans use terms such as "spiritual warfare", call faith a "force multiplier", have titles such as "Warfare in Christ".

The image, below, links to the "Christian Embassy" video. In the Pentagon Inspector General report summarizing the ensuing investigation about the fact that top Pentagon officials had appeared, in uniform and filmed within the Pentagon, to endorse a partisan, fundamentalist Christian group that targets the Pentagon for it evangelizing efforts, one of the Pentagon officials appearing in the  video said he thought Christian Embassy was a "quasi federal" entity because it had been given, for decades, access to the Pentagon.

(click on image to watch video)

Most, if not all, of the Pentagon officials who appeared in the Christian Embassy video have since received career promotions. For example, Pete Geren is now Secretary of The United States Army, and Bob Caslen is Commandant of Cadets at West Point

*note: originally, I categorized the theological views promoted by Campus Crusade For Christ Military Ministries as both fundamentalist and Premillennial Dispensationalist, and while is debate over whether or not Campus Crusade founder Bill Bright held such views I've come to feel it would be more accurate to describe Campus Crusade itself as promoting what journalist Jeff Sharlet calls an "ecumenical fundamentalism". There is considerable murkiness inherent in the picture - as Sharlet has written, the head of Campus Crusade's Christian Embassy suggested, in an interview with Sharlet, that the US invasion of Iraq may have had Biblical justification. But, that view would not necessarily need to be rooted in an apocalyptic premillennial dispensationalist belief system. In contrast, the Officer's Christian Fellowship clearly promotes such beliefs, through it's study guide that can be found on the OCF's website.

As has been said, evangelical theology is incompatible with democracy, because democracy allows for dissent, for differences of opinion, religious and otherwise. Hard line evangelicals can brook no dissent or difference of opinion. All must march in lockstep to the church's dictates. All must conform to their theology in order to validate it. Thanks for the in-depth article.

by COinMS on Wed Oct 10, 2007 at 06:33:58 PM EST
are as described in this post. Bill Clinton and Al Gore are evangelical Christians. They believe in and defend democracy last I checked. There are evangelical front pagers here at Talk to Action.  

It is more than wrong to generalize about any group of people in this way.

by Frederick Clarkson on Wed Oct 10, 2007 at 07:17:02 PM EST

Sorry, I did generalize. I carry bitter memories of my upbringing. My apologies to Mr. Gore, et al.


by COinMS on Thu Oct 11, 2007 at 12:11:56 AM EST

WWW Talk To Action

Progressives Are Taking Up Religious Freedom Day
In the heat of our political moment, we sometimes don't see how our future connects deeply to our past. But the Christian Right does......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Freedom vs. Fear: Restricting Religious Liberty Isn't The Answer To Terrorism
Last week, a community meeting was held in Spotsylvania County, Va., to discuss plans by a group of Muslims who want to relocate and......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Christian Right Electoral Hegemony, Rising in the States
This is a revised, updated and retitled post I did on the long term trend of significant political progress of the Christian Right and......
By Frederick Clarkson (5 comments)
Who's Been Naughty, Who's Been Nice?: The AFA Explains It All For You
If you're like me, you've been sitting around anxiously awaiting the release of the American Family Association's "Naughty or Nice" list of retailers for......
By Rob Boston (3 comments)
U.S. Department Of Judeo-Christian Values?: Kasich Proposes New Religious Propaganda Arm
According to some polls, the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination is Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who believes that ancient Egyptians built......
By Rob Boston (5 comments)
Scripture Stories: Religious Right Claims About The `Aitken Bible' Don't Hold Up
Tomorrow several conservative members of the U.S. House of Representatives plan to hold a public reading of the Aitken Bible on the East Front......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
The Tallest Statue in the Nation of an Individual
Many a day I drove on I 45 past the statue of Sam Houston.  The monument to the statesman is the largest in the......
By wilkyjr (1 comment)
Honoring Everyone Who Served: A Veterans Day Reflection
In 1952, a private group sought permission from government officials to erect a large cross atop Mt. Soledad near San Diego. They did it......
By Rob Boston (5 comments)
One Million Maniacs?: AFA Attacks Magazine For Highlighting Family Headed By Same-Sex Couple
I have a daughter named Claire who is 21 years old and working her first job in journalism since graduating from college. I'm awfully......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
What Catholic Neo-Confederates Don't Want You To Know About Secession
During the summer of 2013 I wrote several posts about Catholic Neo-Confederates. My purpose was to explain the activities of libertarians such as Tom......
By Frank Cocozzelli (10 comments)
Sex And Common Sense: Texas Public School Reconsiders `Chastity' Speaker
A self-appointed expert on sex and relationships won't speak at an El Paso, Texas, high school - for now.Jason Evert runs an outfit called......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Two Trials that Impacted American Religion
Silent movie, Birth of a Nation, became the first blockbuster screen phenomena.  Civil Rights groups deplored the production and sought to ban it.  It......
By wilkyjr (3 comments)
The Francis Trajectory.
The recent dust-up over the meeting between Pope Francis and culture warrior Kim Davis has caused the Pontiff's stock to fall somewhat among liberals.......
By Frank Cocozzelli (11 comments)
Taking Care Of Business: Religious Right Group Plans `Religious Liberty' Ratings For Companies
My inbox this morning contained a press release from the American Family Association (AFA). The Tupelo, Miss.-based Religious Right group has exciting news: It......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Quest for Utopia
Surfing through old videos on youtube I found some interesting tapes of H. L. Hunt.  Certainly one of the original founders of the modern......
By wilkyjr (6 comments)

Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (2 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (1 comment)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (0 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (2 comments)
Evangelicals Seduced By Ayn Rand Worship Crypto-Satanism, Suggest Scholars
[update: also see my closely related stories, "Crypto-Cultists" and "Cranks": The Video Paul Ryan Hoped Would Go Away, and The Paul Ryan/Ayn Rand/Satanism Connection Made Simple] "I give people Ayn Rand with trappings" -......
Bruce Wilson (10 comments)
Ted Cruz Anointed By Pastor Who Says Jesus Opposed Minimum Wage, and Constitution Based on the Bible
In the video below, from a July 19-20th, 2013 pastor's rally at a Marriott Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, Tea Party potentate Ted Cruz is blessed by religious right leader David Barton, who claims......
Bruce Wilson (1 comment)
Galt and God: Ayn Randians and Christian Rightists Expand Ties
Ayn Rand's followers find themselves sharing a lot of common ground with the Christian Right these days. The Tea Party, with its stress on righteous liberty and a robust form of capitalism, has been......
JSanford (2 comments)
Witchhunts in Africa and the U.S.A.
Nigerian human rights activist Leo Igwe has recently written at least two blog posts about how some African Pentecostal churches are sending missionaries to Europe and the U.S.A. in an attempt to "re-evangelize the......
Diane Vera (2 comments)
Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while......
COinMS (0 comments)
A death among the common people ... imagination.
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”What a society we've become!The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things......
Arthur Ruger (0 comments)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (3 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (4 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (5 comments)

More Diaries...

All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.