Writing for the Religion News Service, journalist Daniel Burke's new article Obama's spiritual cabinet: Seven people who shape policy, tend the presidents soul, published in the National Catholic Reporter and elsewhere, indirectly raises some rather troubling questions. One of the seven alleged "spiritual advisers" to Barack Obama Burke's article lists is Lt. Carey Cash, who has openly advocated the use of America's military to impose a Christian theocracy.
For a few hours today it seemed, according to a new Time Magazine story by Amy Sullivan, released Monday morning, that US President Barack Obama had chosen, as his main place of worship, Camp David's Chapel as his church. The chapel is currently headed by a Navy Chaplain who has publicly advocated for a Christian takeover of the United military, then the United States. [note: story first covered by MRFF Senior Research Director Chris Rodda]
The White House has subsequently issued a statement denying that Obama has chosen the Evergreen Chapel, and heated discussion of the affair is currently raging at the leading Democratic activist forum, the Daily Kos.
Carey Cash, a relative of famous country singer Johnny Cash, is a Navy chaplain who survived some of the heaviest fighting during the initial US invasion of Iraq. Cash is now head pastor of Camp David's Evergreen Chapel.
As reported in a July 13, 2005 Minneapolis City Paper story titled Onward Christian Soldiers, on the day before Independence Day in 2005 churchgoers at the Minneapolis Eden Prairie Grace Church, a megachurch with over 4,000 seats, were treated to a speech by Retired Major General Bob Dees, head of Campus Crusade For Christ's Military Ministries. Dees told the church audience,
"We are a ministry to the armed forces of the United States, and to the armed forces of the world, seeking to win the nations of the world and the militaries of the world," begins Dees. "We have several ministries. One is to the enlisted members of all the defense forces of the United States. We touch every recruit that comes through the armed forces of the United States. And then we seek to evangelize and disciple them through their careers, making them ambassadors in uniform.
"We have missionaries all over the world, and it's very powerful when you see the impact, and that you can affect the militaries of those cultures. You can sway the whole culture and the nation towards Jesus Christ....
"We have heard all about weapons of mass destruction. There's been a search for weapons of mass destruction. I'm here today to testify that we have found the weapons of mass destruction. It is Satan's artillery. Satan is a master of deceit: temptation, pride, isolation, deception, self-sufficiency, anger, and malice of all forms. Satan's weapons of mass destruction rage all about us..."
After Dees concluded his speech, a videotaped presentation from chaplain Carey Cash appeared on the huge megachurch projection screen and during his talk Carey told the crowd, "First we get the military, then we get the nation."
Bob Dee's states, in promotional videos made for his Military Ministry, a division of the sprawling, international 1/2 billion dollar per year budget Campus Crusade For Christ, that "The first strategic objective is to evangelize and disciple the enlisted members of the US armed forces."
Campus Crusade also runs a controversial ministry that targets officers in the Pentagon, Christian Embassy, which was the center of a 2006 and 2007 controversy concerning a promotional video which featured footage taken within the Pentagon of top ranking officers in uniform touting the work of the Christian Embassy. Outrage over the video provoked a subsequent Pentagon investigation that largely confirmed accusations of abuse made by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which fights improper and abusive evangelizing, and upholds freedom of worship rights, in the United States Military.
Military Ministries currently sells two books by Carey Cash (1, 2).
In Barack Obama's defense it's worth noting that the evidence Daniel Burke cites, on the alleged importance of Carey Cash's advice to Obama's "spiritual health" is somewhat slender. As Burke details, Obama has visited Carey Cash's Camp David chapel a half dozen times during the course of his Administration and the president has testified that Cash, "delivers as powerful a sermon as I've heard in a while."
On the other side of the equation, however, according to Burke's story, President Obama "may not form the usual pastor-parishioner bond. Former Camp David chaplains say there is often little interaction between president and pastor outside of the services."