"We Won't Go Down Without Firing a Shot !"
Bruce Wilson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Aug 02, 2007 at 08:10:53 PM EST
Imagine:

On a sunny Memorial Day afternoon, Christian rock and country bands play while volunteers from the sponsoring church, which espouses end-time theology, wander amidst the audience, trying to win souls for Jesus before advent of the Rapture, Tribulation, and battle of Armageddon. USAF jets streak overhead, performing stunts.

The commander of a nearby base has bused troops in, while other soldiers have arrived in Humvees, Blackhawks, and Chinooks. Children line up for a chance to sit in helicopter cockpits....

Later, up on stage before thousands, active duty United States military officers in uniform stand at attention while speakers, citing falsified history, declare that America was founded originally as a Christian nation and inveigh about how "secularists" have subverted that purported "Godly" heritage and chased religion from the public square, sending the nation into a moral free fall. Christians, they thunder, must reclaim America for God. Before it is too late.... Here's an excerpt from a sermon given a one such event: http://www.fileden.com/files/2007/7/27/1299298/litany_of_rage.mp3

Then, they warn that America, rather than pull out of Iraq, must wage greater war - in Afghanistan and Iraq, against Iran, and elsewhere - in a battle of absolute good versus absolute evil, against all Islam. In the evening, after the speeches, there are fireworks.

Now, imagine that many events like this have been held across America this summer..... Well, guess what ? There were. ( image, below : a similar event, held in ~2004, within a church in the American South. Blackhawks and Humvees were involved. The image superimposed over the US flag is from Mel Gibson's "The Passion....". Military figures onstage in the image are not representative of what I have just described though - this image only gestures at the scale of what I'm describing, and when I say "active duty United States military officers in uniform" I mean it. The events this summer I've described featured just that. )

What I have described is an amalgam of events, held this summer, that I have researched in the course of working for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which is preparing upcoming legal cases to address such patterns of abuse.

Here is a short promotional movie, ~5 minutes, dramatizing MRFF's cause:

For all the hundreds of books on religion and politics in contemporary America to have proliferated within last few years, none seem to have sought to investigate this simple question ; what if, through religious ideology, the most powerful military force the world has ever seen were to be turned against American civil society ?

In the course of the last three months I have been part of an effort, apparently without precedent, to begin the difficult process of mapping influence of the Christian right within the United States military.

No one, from what I can tell, has thought to do that before Mikey Weinstein began the process, and I'm honored now to find that I have become a specialist in what may be a singularly disturbing realm of American religion and politics.

Material we have uncovered will emerge soon, through upcoming MRFF legal cases and although I am not at liberty to divulge specific details, let me describe in general terms some of what we have found :

We have uncovered an extensive pattern of abuse, extending across numerous US military bases and into the Pentagon and involving the inappropriate use of military resources and attendance of armed forces members (suggesting government sanction), at partisan events that can be fairly described as Christian nationalist, the use of US military resources in the production of Christian promotional videos, the improper promotion of sectarian evangelical Christianity through government funded programs under the military chaplaincy, and even apparent endorsement, by the Defense Department, of apocalyptic theological beliefs.....

Although the history of the influence of the Christian right within the US military traces back at least as far as the Eisenhower Administration the process, by anecdotal accounts from retired career military professionals, dramatically accelerated, in 1980, with the election of President Ronald Reagan, continued through the Clinton Administration, and again accelerated again under the Presidency of George W. Bush. Nor has this process been hindered, it seems, by the recent Democratic Party establishment of majority control in the US House and Senate. The pace of efforts to stamp a partisan Christian ideology on the United States armed forces, through programs within the defense establishment, and via external, private ministries targeting armed forces members, appears to have markedly sped up in the last year or two..... to little attention.

It is late in the game for such abuses to be brought to public attention, and it is late for reining them in. Further, some of the most insidious aspects of growing Christian right, sectarian influence within the US armed forces are inherently difficult or impossible to combat ; any attempts to somehow root out the "wrong" religious views, through McCarthyite witch hunts, would almost certainly trample Constitutional rights and would almost certainly backfire - perhaps disastrously so. Not all efforts to target US armed forces members for conversion to partisan, sectarian religious belief are unconstitutional - many are not and government action to prevent such targeting would almost certainly place dangerous restrictions on the exercise of free speech and religious liberty and for that would not, or should not, withstand challenge in federal court.

Early next week, major news from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation will help illustrate the extent and magnitude of the problem MRFF seeks to address.

That news in itself will also, paradoxically, pose a danger to the extent that those who might otherwise be more alarmed might assume that, with MRFF on the case, the problem is under control.

The work of Mikey Weinstein's Military Religious Freedom Foundation can provide a collective wake up call, that American Democracy itself is at risk from the spread of specific sectarian religious ideologies among the members of the US military; MRFF lawsuits can also help limit the worst sorts of abuses. But the work of one nonprofit foundation alone cannot reverse long term, massive societal shifts. In the end, the only lasting solutions will be collective.

Reimposition of a draft, perhaps augmented by the choice of nonmilitary national service, would bring a wider range of religious and ideological views to the military. The volunteer military system has backfired by concentrating specific religious and political ideologies within the ranks of US armed forces members.

Military culture has slowly drifted away from civilian culture, and the extent of the spread of politically partisan, sectarian religious beliefs in the US military, to shockingly little national notice, is in itself an indictment. Civilian America can no longer afford - to the extent that we value Democracy - to ignore cultural trends in the US military nor can it afford to ignore the narrative, of aggrieved Christian nationalism, which holds that America's "true" Christian heritage has been stolen and subverted by "secularists".

Early last May, I discovered that historical revisionism from the Christian right, claimed that the principle of separation of church and state was originally intended to keep government out of the affairs of church but not vice versa, had been inserted into the US Army's JROTC curriculum taught in Junior ROTC programs across America.

The revisionist, Christian nationalist version of American history has not been successfully rebutted and in fact it has spread, to the extent that is falsifications are cited, extensively, in the the United States Senate and Congress, shouted from pulpits, preached to troops, taught in JROTC curriculum and elective Bible classes in public high schools, and cited in speeches at leading US military academies: America, the real America, has been stolen !

Cooked American history is a central component among the beliefs being aggressively promoted among the US armed forces, but fundamentalist assertions on Biblical innerancy, Creationism, and apocalyptic theology are also common elements in the theological package promoted by the welter of ministries targeting the military and especially its officer corps. In the end the propagation of those beliefs, unchecked and even unnoticed, will render American democracy untenable.

American armed forces members are called to fight for, and even die for, the United States. When they return from war wounded, traumatized, and emotionally scarred, some will surely think that the true America, the America they fought for, has been stolen and that the country's Christian heritage has been buried underneath lies, taught as truth in public schools alongside lies taught about Evolution and the true age of the Earth.

The slow but implacable conversion, of the most powerful military in the world, into a Christian nationalist military holding assumptions about basic reality wildly different than the assumptions held by its counterparts in American civil society, has long been easy for that civil society to ignore ; I hope not disastrously so.

"We will not go down without firing a shot !'".

Earlier this year, I heard that call in an address given before the majority of an entire graduating class of a leading United States military academy : a call for resistance, to an alleged cultural subversion of America, that bordered on exhortation to open, armed insurrection.

see: http://www.fileden.com/files/2007/7/27/1299298/not_without_a_shot.mp3

That was mere talk, some would say, and whatever the truth it would be the height of irresponsibility for me to proclaim the immanence of a religiously driven military coup. That would dishonor those in the United States military, of all religious and philosophical beliefs, who believe in and seek to uphold American Constitutional Democracy.

But I will say this - the spread of politically partisan Christian ideology within the US armed forces is driving a progressive cultural alienation, from civilian society, which carries the potential to undermine American Democracy. If we continue to ignore that process, it well may.




Display:

WWW Talk To Action


Why Is Bishop Robert Finn Still In Power?
As I reported in September 2014, Bishop Robert Finn, head of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri has been under Vatican investigation to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (2 comments)
Thus It Was Prophesied in 2012: Ted Cruz Will Be VP, Or a Supreme Court Justice
This is a transcript, of pastor Larry Huch and Rafael Cruz, father of U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, from an appearance Rafael Cruz made at......
By Bruce Wilson (1 comment)
Crusin with Cruz
Ted Cruz threw his hat into the ring, announcing his bid for President in the worship center at Jerry Falwell's University last night.  Mother......
By wilkyjr (2 comments)
Ted Cruz: Born From The Heart of the Dominionist Christian Right
[welcome, Thom Hartmann Show fans, here is a short introduction to my past coverage on Ted Cruz and the dominionist Christian right] Did you......
By Bruce Wilson (1 comment)
Coming Soon to Utah: An International Festival of Bigotry
An international network of some of the world's most vitriolic Religious Right activists and self-proclaimed orthodox religious leaders is holding its ninth global conference......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Bumpy Lane: Religious Right Operative Seeks To Build (Another) Church-Based Political Machine
Here's what the country doesn't need right now: another zealot aiming to mobilize right-wing pastors to become a force in electoral politics.Yet that's what......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
Team Jeb Bush's Liaison to Religious Right Is Hardcore Culture Warrior
In 2008, Senator John McCain's campaign recognized that he needed to shore up his credentials with the Religious Right, which was skeptical about his......
By Bill Berkowitz (2 comments)
American ISIS: Christian Reconstructionists And `Biblical Law' In America
Every now and then, while scanning the day's news, I come across a headline that's hard to believe.Like this one: "California lawyer proposes ballot......
By Rob Boston (3 comments)
Will our Prisons Overflow with Christians this Summer?
Many leaders of the Christian Right, from megachurch pastors like Rick Warren to the top prelates in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, have......
By Frederick Clarkson (3 comments)
Say You Want A Christian Nation?: Let's Try This One
Last week an article began circulating on social media claiming that 57 percent of Republicans in a recent poll said they believe Christianity should......
By Rob Boston (3 comments)
Are The Fundamentalists Winning?
We missed Evolution Weekend, which was held February 13-15 this year.   This worthwhile effort, which began the same year as Talk to Action,......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Mario Cuomo's Memorable Lesson on Challenging the Political Authority of the Church
It is never too late to remember. Here is a reposting of a column I did following the death of former New York Gov.......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
The Legacy of Francis Bellamy
"We assemble here that we, too, may exalt the free school that embodies the American principles of universal enlightenment and equality; the most characteristic......
By wilkyjr (2 comments)
The Inquisitional Urge Gets the Better of Bill Donohue (Again)
Bill Donohue is at it again. The Catholic League president went apoplectic over President Obama’s seemingly innocuous comments at the February 5th National Prayer......
By Frank Cocozzelli (2 comments)
John Dorhauer Recommended to Lead United Church of Christ
I am very pleased to report that John Dorhauer, who joined us early on at Talk to Action has been recommended by a national......
By Frederick Clarkson (3 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 (9 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 (0 comments)
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 (3 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 (1 comment)
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 (1 comment)
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 (5 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)
Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Yes, that's right. We have totally lost our religious freedom in Mississippi and it must be restored by our legislators. ......
COinMS (2 comments)
Bill Gothard accused of harassing women and failing to report child abuse
Surprised no one's mentioned this, but one of the longest-standing leaders of the religious right is in a world of trouble.  Bill Gothard has been active in the fundie movement for over half......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
Eugene Delgaudio may lose his day job as Virginia county supervisor
Surprised no one's noticed this, but one of the nation's most virulent homophobes is in a fight to keep his day job.  Eugene Delgaudio is best known as the head of Public Advocate......
Christian Dem in NC (1 comment)
Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents
This caught me by surprise. I guess times are a changin in Dixieland. ------------------------------------- Cross posted from the HRC blog. Starkville Becomes First City in Mississippi to Pass Resolution Recognizing LGBT Residents January 21,......
COinMS (1 comment)

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.