Fundamentalist Ministries At US Basic Training Facilities Promote "Theology Of War"
Bruce Wilson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 11:17:48 AM EST
[note: I've reposted this article because the problem described needs far greater prominence than it's received so far. These abuses remain largely unchecked and pose a threat to American pluralist Democracy - Bruce Wilson] As detailed in recent reports from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), a 501c(3) nonprofit organization which fights for freedom of religious and philosophical belief in the US military, fundamentalist Christian ministries promoting what can be described as a "theology of war" have increasingly been invited onto US military basic training facilities such as Fort Jackson in South Carolina, and Fort Sam Houston and Lackland Air Force Base (both based in Texas), with the apparent endorsement of commanders at those bases.
[note: although I've written at length about MRFF related news there's been little coverage, thus far, on the distinct nature of the ministries that have been targeting, unconstitutionally and in violation of Department of Defense regulations argues MRFF, US military members. The following is a short introduction of that theme. ] The most prominent of these ministries is the `Military Ministry' of the immense, 1/2 billion dollar a year Campus Crusade For Christ, a global nonprofit evangelical organization founded in 1951 with the financial help of key John Birch Society funder Nelson Bunker Hunt. In the 1970s Campus Crusade's founder evangelist Bill Bright, whose political views have almost totally escaped media scrutiny called his group a "conspiracy to overthrow the world", and a 1998 book Bright co-authored declared the Theory Of Evolution to be a fraud. Bright was one of the signatories of an October 2002 letter sent to President George W. Bush, along with Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, Chuck Colson, D James Kennedy, and others, asserting that the Bush Administration's intended war with Iraq would fall under traditional Christian "just war" theory.

Materials discovered by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, on the web site of Campus Crusade's Military Ministry at Fort Jackson, include pictures of US soldiers-in-training holding both assault rifles and Bibles (provided by Campus Crusade), and a promotional flier for the Ft. Jackson ministry's Bible study course, entitled "God's Basic Training", features a drawing of a Roman Legionnaire holding a sword and a shield emblazoned with a Christian cross. Frank Bussey, director of Military Ministry at Fort Jackson, has reportedly told soldiers at the base that "government authorities, police and the military = God's Ministers."

Another Campus Crusade ministry, the Washington DC based "Christian Embassy", evangelizes in the Pentagon and recently became embroiled in controversy because of a promotional video, filmed in the Pentagon, in which top Pentagon officials in uniform were filmed providing glowing testimonials to the work of "Christian Embassy". A Pentagon Inspector General report subsequently concluded some of those appearances violated Department Of Defense regulations concerning the endorsement of religious groups. The recent MRFF findings included discovery of a similar promotional video, filmed by Campus Crusade at the United States Air Force Academy, in which USAF officers in uniform praise the work of Campus Crusade at the Academy, also in apparent violation of DoD regulations concerning the endorsement of religion, and a Campus Crusade employee ministering at the Academy declares that cadets are "government paid missionaries" by the time they graduate.

MRFF has received, according to founder Michael 'Mikey' Weinstein, thousands of complaints from active duty US military personnel who describe being persecuted and harassed for their religious and philosophical beliefs, and 90 percent of those complaints have come from Christians.

It seems that retiring military personnel are also target candidates for missionary service. .... Active Duty Missionary explains the issue that they are combatting as the trend for missionary programs to focus on relief and development efforts as opposed to aggressive prosyletizing: "THE ISSUE: Band-Aid Approaches to Complex Problems Short-term missions and Relief and Development programs are becoming increasingly popular in America's churches. Combined, they account for 73% of the total dollars spent on missions in our country leaving only 27% for evangelism and church planting. They are an easy sell in our churches because they appeal for a compassionate response to obvious hopelessness and despair. The secret is that sadly, they DO NOT WORK in changing those desperate conditions." It is disturbing that this organization use of military personnel as the "foot soldiers" of a missionary movement that shuns relief and compassionate missions in favor of aggressive enagelism and church planting. I would like an opinion about the legality of using GI bill education assistance funds for missionary indoctrination.

by protectdemocracy on Sun Dec 30, 2007 at 08:05:21 PM EST
MRFF receives periodic emails asking us to check out this organization, and we have determined that they are doing nothing wrong. They are merely looking for military personnel to become missionaries after the leave the service, making use of the experience these people would have obtained in the military, i.e. knowing a foreign language, having knowledge of a region where they were stationed, being accustomed to moving around. This is no more unconstitutional than an aerospace company or contractor trying to recruit military personnel whose particular experience in the military would benefit their company.

by Chris Rodda on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 12:28:20 PM EST
In contrast, a group that has come up on MRFF's radar for illegal and coercive proselytizing within the military is FORCE Ministries.  This is not surprising since FORCE is affiliated with Every Nation Ministries, a group which is directly descended from Maranatha Campus Ministries, an infamous Discipleship/Shepherding cult which disbanded in 1989, though many of its leaders and ministries reconverged soon afterwards under the Every Nation (previously Morning Star International) umbrella.  Richard Bartholomew wrote a Talk to Action article about them some time back.  Even though the group's current leadership will deny it until their teeth are so blue they fall out, the US contingent of this group still practices coercive Shepherding-style discipleship to this day, particularly among those identified with "leadership potential" in various "spheres of influence"--including college students, athletes, and yes, military.

Back in the day, Maranatha was accused of using deceptive and coercive recruiting practices.  So it's not surprising (to me at least) that MRFF would find FORCE to be doing the same thing.

by ulyankee on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 01:06:01 PM EST

The reason I rated your article a "1" is not because of your ability to communicate - which is excellent. I rate your article a "1" because you have failed to investigate properly the effect of the Gospel message (not religion - but the Gospel message) as history bears out. The pervasive and, yes, beautiful effect of the Gospel in every society that it has reached fills volumes of history books and is all around you today. You take for granted these freedoms you enjoy while their origin is in the Truth of God as revealed by and through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you are able to completely sever the Gospel from public life, you will have severed the artery that feeds life into the public. This has been proven over and over again. Christians cannot solve all the horrible conditions in the world, but they can send out what they believe is the transforming message of the Gospel in order that it may do its work.

by Adam on Wed Apr 09, 2008 at 10:16:01 AM EST
you do understand that we are not here to argue for or against Christianity, or any other particular view. To be critical of dominionism if not to be critical of all Christianity, all evangelicals or anything else; any more than to be critical of Sam Harris is to be critical of all atheists.  Our site topic is the religious right and what to do about it.

If you are here soley to offer knee jerk defenses of your particular idea of faith, you are not long for this site.

Did you read the terms of use and the site guidelines before you signed up?

by Frederick Clarkson on Wed Apr 09, 2008 at 12:36:51 PM EST

Soldiers should be entitled to worship or not to worship any god or gods they choose so long as their first allegiance is to the Constitution of the United States, which they have sworn to support, protect and defend.  Any man or woman wearing the uniform of the United States, claiming a higher spiritual allegiance than their sworn military oath, or possessed by the notion that their uniform confers upon them some militant ecclesiastical mission has violated the code of honor.  Such people are unfit to be soldiers.  Soldiers live to serve the United States.  Anyone who lives to serve Jesus should consider the ministry.

by sulphurdunn on Mon Dec 31, 2007 at 11:00:15 AM EST
I'd add that the public endorsement of specific religious organizations by officers in the US military is generally a violation of Department Of Defense regulations.

by Bruce Wilson on Mon Dec 31, 2007 at 01:54:04 PM EST

These are the words of the Jewish Apostle who was held captive by Roman Soldiers: These are his words about authority; its nature and origin:///////////////////////////////////////// Rom 13:1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Rom 13:2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. Rom 13:3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: Rom 13:4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Rom 13:5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. Rom 13:6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Rom 13:7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Rom 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////Note that Jesus the King of Kings did not tell this Centurion to stop his "bloody" job, but instead honors him for his faith://///////////////////////////////////////////////////////// ///////// Mat 8:5 And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, Mat 8:6 And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. Mat 8:7 And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. Mat 8:8 The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. Mat 8:9 For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. Mat 8:10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. Mat 8:11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. Mat 8:12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Mat 8:13 And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour. ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// ////////////////////////////// It seems there are two basic approaches to this: Biblical or not. The Christian is supposed to follow the Bible as best they can. Every intelligent discussion I have had with those who believe the Bible and actually have studied through it many times concur that it is a good thing for a Christian to go and serve his country; obey his orders; and serve with honor. If that means pushing the button that destroys a city - so be it. If that means driving a knife into the back of someones skull - so be it. my main point here is that ever since the founding of this Nation, there has always been a large percentage of Bible believing Christians who serve in the military and serve well (George Washington............) - IT IS THEIR MINISTRY.

by Adam on Tue Apr 08, 2008 at 09:13:02 PM EST
see my comment above.

by Frederick Clarkson on Wed Apr 09, 2008 at 12:37:43 PM EST

It appears that the "theology of war" folks want to impose religious tests for citizenship, office-holding, and military service. It resembles nothing so much as Cromwell's New Model Army wed to a dangerous sense of self-righteousness.

by khughes1963 on Tue Jan 01, 2008 at 11:07:17 AM EST

Could you even begin to imagine the horrors that would be unleashed if these fanatics were to seize control of an Ohio fleet ballistic missile submarine?

by haroldf on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 01:31:08 PM EST

I just need to know what you mean by "American Pluralist Democracy." Can you define it for me - I just need to know how it relates to a "republic?"

by Adam on Wed Apr 09, 2008 at 04:37:32 PM EST
Do you support the purposes of this site?  When you checked off the box that allowed you to register, you were stating that you did. From your comments on this post, I don't get the sense that you do.

As the site co-owner, I need your answer to this question.

by Frederick Clarkson on Wed Apr 09, 2008 at 04:58:26 PM EST

It is alarming to see that fundamentalist Christian ministries, promoting a 'theology of war', have been invited onto basic training facilities of the US military with the apparent endorsement of commanders.   real estate for sale Armuchee The most prominent of these ministries is the Military Ministry of Campus Crusade For Christ, a massive 1/2 billion dollar a year organization. This is in direct violation of Department of Defense regulations and is incredibly concerning. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) is a 501c(3) nonprofit organization that fights for the freedom of religious and philosophical belief in the US military and has raised the alarm about these unconstitutional invasions of basic training facilities.

by isabelladom on Fri Jan 20, 2023 at 01:04:50 PM EST

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