Just How Christian is Fort Hood? (VIDEO)
Chris Rodda printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed May 19, 2010 at 06:31:08 PM EST
Many of you may have heard about Army SPC Zachari Klawonn, the Muslim soldier serving at Fort Hood who, despite an exemplary service record, has faced repeated and unconscionable discrimination and threats because of his religion, eventually being moved off-post for his own safety. To add insult to injury, the Army has yet to provide this soldier with the standard housing allowance given to soldiers who live off-post, forcing him to have to take out personal loans and pawn his possessions to pay his bills.

Zachari Klawonn is now a client of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), and appeared on CNN's Campbell Brown the other night, along with MRFF founder and president Mikey Weinstein and Texas attorney Randy Mathis, who is representing Zachari pro bono. (A portion of the interview with Zachari is available on Campbell Brown's blog.)

As Zachari explained during the interview, he had told his superiors that he was uncomfortable attending the Muslim services available off-post because he found the Imam to be too radical. He was then told that a room in the post's Spiritual Fitness Center would be reserved for Fort Hood's Muslim soldiers to have an on-post place to hold prayers on Friday afternoons. But, as Zachari told the Washington Post, when he arrived at the designated room on a Friday afternoon, he found that the room was already being used for a Christian financial planning class. (According to DoD contracts, the Army has purchased thousands of training kits from Financial Peace University to teach biblically based financial planning to our soldiers.)

As I wrote back in August of last year, as part of some research I was doing for Jeff Sharlet last summer regarding the members of Congress involved in the C-Street scandal, I was looking at the recent earmarks requested by these members of Congress. Although the work I was doing with Jeff was unrelated to my job at MRFF, something that naturally jumped out at me was the enormous amounts of money being approved to build large chapel complexes on military bases. The largest of these earmarks was requested by "Family" member Rep. John Carter (R-TX), who represents the district in which Fort Hood is located. To date, the Fort Hood "mega-church" project has received over $28 million in earmark funding, $17,500,000 for its chapel complex and religious education center, and an additional $10,800,000 for its "Family Life Center."

In addition to this extravagant new chapel complex, which is currently under construction, Fort Hood also recently opened its new "Spiritual Fitness Center," a facility created by extensively renovating one of the post's existing eleven chapels. While the military insists that this Spiritual Fitness Center is not religious, but merely spiritual, the renovations of the existing chapel resulted in a building that is indistinguishable from a chapel, complete with its Christian themed stained glass windows.

Although all I had seen of this new Spiritual Fitness Center at the time I wrote my previous post were a few photos released by by Fort Hood, I wasn't buying the claim that this facility, which looks like a church, is set up to hold worship services, and had a Christian rock concert as one of its kick-off events, was not religious. But even I was shocked (and it takes a lot to shock me after three years of working for MRFF) by just how religious -- and overtly Christian -- this facility actually is.

As part of my job with MRFF, I often ask service members to send me photos documenting their claims, so I asked Zachari, who had described the Spiritual Fitness Center to me on the phone, to take some photos. He not only sent me the requested photos, but a video walkthrough of the facility that made my jaw drop. Words would not do this justice, so I've decided to post the video here so everyone can just see it for themselves.

In addition to the video, Zachari also sent me the photos I requested, which included additional images of Christian artwork not seen in the video, and photos of the books available in the facility's lending library. In this facility, where even the room that was supposed to be reserved for Muslim prayers was taken over by a Christian financial planning class, the only book available for Muslims is a book on how Muslims can become Christians, and how Christians can help Muslims become Christians.

The book, titled Unshackled & Growing, is published by the Navigators, one of the largest and most influential of the fundamentalist Christian para-church military ministries currently ingrained in and operating unrestricted throughout the military.

Here's how the Navigators describe their military ministry:

"We envision a movement of thousands of courageous men and women passionately following Christ, representing Him in advancing the Gospel through relationships where they live, work, train for war, and deploy. This movement includes men and women of all races and ranks, and permeates the military community on and around every U.S. installation and foreign military around the world."

The description of Unshackled & Growing on the Navigators website begins:

"Do you know Muslims who are not attracted to Christianity yet are intrigued by Christ? As you attempt to win these Muslim friends to Christ, you may be tempted to dump the entire Gospel message on them in the wrong way at the wrong time. Musims [sic] can easily sniff out an agenda, but truthful, culturally-sensitive answers and a genuine friendship can change their lives."

I don't think any further comment is necessary.

When the military wants its members to be 'spiritually fit', that means it wants them to be christian. They have no intention of religious pluralism, or of being considerate of others beliefs, or of no belief. As long as the non-religious or wrong-religious go with the flow, they can probably exist without too much trouble.
The work of the MRFF has probably slowed the dominionists down a little bit, but I personally don't think they have any intention of stopping until the U.S. Military is 'born again' as a body of 'spiritually fit christian warriors' where religious (christian) and political (republican) beliefs are the norm and the standard. At that point, (if it happens) we can kiss what is left of our anemic democracy goodbye.

I greatly respect Chris and Mikey and all of those fighting to hold back this tide, but look at the numbers. How few are standing up for religious diversity in the military, and how many are foaming at the mouth to make it into an army for the LORD?

As I have said before, when the history of this period is written, someday, this site, the MRFF, Chris, etc. will be seen as noble defenders of democracy against the christian fascists. It may be a rough patch before we get there, though.

by COinMS on Fri May 21, 2010 at 08:50:56 AM EST

WWW Talk To Action

The Catholic Right Star and the Porn Star -- Revised and Updated
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 (6 comments)
Banned In Boston (And Elsewhere): The American Tragedy Of Censorship
When I was kid, the phrase "Banned in Boston" confused me. I thought of Boston as a liberal, cosmopolitan city. Surely they didn't censor......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Bill Donohue Mum While Andrew Napolitano Calls Pope Francis "A False Prophet"
Catholic League president Bill Donohue goes after anyone he believes is engaging in anti-Catholic behavior, real or imagined. But as we have come to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (2 comments)
A Decade Of Disgrace: Marking Ten Years Of The `Values Voter Summit'
The annual Values Voter Summit (VVS), the nation's largest gathering of the Religious Right, begins today. The event, sponsored by the Family Research Council......
By Rob Boston (2 comments)
Looking Beyond the Francis Frenzy
Much has been and will be written about the Pope regarding his historic visit to the U.S.  But it will be important to try......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Barton Bounces Back: Religious Right Purveyor Of Ersatz History Still Going Strong
Three years ago, Religious Right phony historian David Barton published a ridiculous book called The Jefferson Lies that argued, in part, that Thomas Jefferson......
By Rob Boston (4 comments)
The Papal Visit Brings Forth Ugliness From the Right
In a recent press release, Catholic League president Bill Donohue warned, "Pope Visits To U.S. Occasion Ugliness." Donohue then went on to describe the......
By Frank Cocozzelli (3 comments)
Coercion In Kansas?: State Worker Claims She Was Fired For Non-Attendance At Christian Service
Let's say some people at a company want to get together during lunch hour and hold a Bible study. It's totally voluntary, and they......
By Rob Boston (4 comments)
Kim Davis and Southern Civil Disobedience
Kim Davis, the county official who refused to grant marriage licenses, fits the profile of a long line of civil disobedience from the South.......
By wilkyjr (2 comments)
An Anti-Theocratic, Progressive Christian Leader
I recently posted a short excerpt here, from an interview I published with Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer, the new General Minister and President of......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Litany Of Lies: FRC's Perkins Packs An Email With Copious Falsehoods
I realize that people may be tired of reading about the saga of Kim Davis, the Rowan County, Ky., clerk who is in jail......
By Rob Boston (6 comments)
Kim Davis is No Jack Kennedy
Kim Davis, the embattled Kentucky county clerk who sits in jail for defying a Federal Court order to issue marriage licenses to everyone who......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Book Report: Yes, Politicians, We Know You Love The Bible. What Else Have You Read?
Real estate magnate Donald Trump says lots of outrageous stuff, but none of it seems to slow him down. His latest gaffe, however, ought......
By Rob Boston (3 comments)
American Renewal Project
On my journey to the American Renewal Project in Austin, Texas, I listened to hard right talk radio out of Houston.  There was an......
By wilkyjr (7 comments)
`Just Go Somewhere Else!': A Cavalier Dismissal Of A Serious Concern
A few years ago, I took part in a panel discussion on church-state issues at a Seventh-day Adventist church in Takoma Park, Md. During......
By Rob Boston (2 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 (1 comment)
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 (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 (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 (2 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 (3 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.