Southern Baptists Admit That They Oppose Religious Equality In The Military
Chris Rodda printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Dec 18, 2011 at 09:41:36 AM EST
Well, it doesn't get any clearer than this. In an article from the Baptist Press, the news arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Southern Baptists have finally come right out and admitted what we at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) have known all along -- they oppose religious equality in the U.S. military.

Beyond just getting many of the "facts" wrong, the article, titled "Air Force Academy dogged by anti-Christian pressure," shows the true colors of the Southern Baptist Convention when it comes to religious freedom, stating, as if it's a bad thing, "Not only does the academy now provide worship space for all, it requires all cadets to complete religious respect training." Really? The Air Force Academy accommodating cadets of all religions and teaching religious respect is a problem? Well, maybe if you fancy yourself to be among America's "persecuted" Christians and consider religious pluralism a threat to your religion.

The article uses what has recently become a very popular talking point to shock its readers -- the Air Force Academy spent $80,000 on a pagan worship area. According to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary professor Daniel Heimbach, quoted in the article: "... something is grossly out of proportion when the institution dedicates a $80,000 outdoor worship center to only serve 3 cadets. ... All of which leads me to wonder what in the world can explain dedicating such a large and expensive worship center for only 3 cadets. This is driven by something more than simply equity. It is something powerfully religious that is non-Christian, non-theistic and 'Earth-based' with deep pockets and a lot of political influence."

Well, first of all, the outdoor worship area did not cost taxpayers $80,000. Seriously, have any of these people using this talking point actually stopped to wonder how putting a circle of rocks on a hilltop could possibly cost $80,000? Of course not. They just keep repeating this so-called "fact" to shock their audiences. The truth is that this money was already being spent on a project that had nothing to do with the worship area.

The boulders that now form the outdoor worship area were moved from the hillside to the hilltop as part of an erosion control project that was already underway. Erosion had made these boulders a safety hazard, in danger of falling down the hillside and crashing into the Academy's Visitors Center and Cadet Chapel, so they were moved from the hillside to the top of the hill. When the 10th Civil Engineer Squadron moved the rocks to the top of the hill in spring and early summer of 2009, they arranged them in a circle.

Months later, when the pagan lay leader at the Academy was looking for a suitable site for a worship area, he realized that there already was one -- the circle of boulders that had been moved to the top of the hill during the erosion control project. All that needed to be added to the already existing site to turn it into a worship area was some flagstone to make a floor and a small altar in the center of the circle. So, no, the Academy's outdoor worship area didn't cost anything even close to $80,000. The only other significant expense has been the installation of security cameras, made necessary when some nice Christians decided to send a message by placing a large wooden cross at the site. (Anyone seeing a need for that religious respect training?)

Second, here in the good old U.S. of A., religious equality is not based on the number of adherents to a particular religion, although those "persecuted" Christians seem to think it should be, incessantly citing their large majority as the reason they shouldn't be persecuted (although just how such a large majority can cry about being the persecuted class while at the same time citing their majority status is a bit hard to wrap the brain around).

Unlike most military bases, where the various religions share the same worship facilities, the Air Force Academy's Cadet Chapel has separate chapels for Protestants, Catholics, and Jews. The main floor is an exclusively Protestant chapel, with separate smaller chapels for Catholics and Jews in the basement. In 2007, a Buddhist chapel, paid for by a private donation, was added to the basement. For anybody else, there is a small "all faiths" room, also in the basement. But this "all faiths" room is not suitable for those who follow earth-centered religions and prefer to worship outdoors. Designating the stone circle as a chapel facility simply accommodates a religious group with a worship area that meets their needs, something taken for granted by other religious groups at the Academy. Whether the users of that worship space number in the hundreds or in single digits is completely irrelevant when it comes to providing a place for them to worship according to their beliefs.

The Baptist Press, like a number of other Christian news outlets, is currently reviving the nearly year old story about Air Force Academy's outdoor worship area in response to recent events at the Academy, particularly the recent change made by the Academy regarding cadet participation in Franklin Graham's Operation Christmas Child. Hey, they have to have some other juicy, if not quite true, examples of Christian persecution to generate some good outrage, right? And they also need someone to target as the big, bad anti-Christian boogeyman -- and that would be Mikey Weinstein, the founder and president of MRFF. In fact, the main gist of Baptist Press article is that none of this horrible Christian persecution at the Air Force Academy is the Academy's fault; it's all the work of Weinstein.

In reality, neither Mikey Weinstein nor MRFF are anti-Christian. Of MRFF's 351 clients at the Air Force Academy, 316 are Christians themselves, both Protestants and Catholics.

And nobody stopped the cadets from participating in Operation Christmas Child. All MRFF did was get the Academy to place this clearly religious program under the auspices of the Academy chaplains rather than the command structure, in accordance with the Air Force Chief of Staff's recent memorandum on "Maintaining Government Neutrality Regarding Religion." But, oddly, while criticizing MRFF for getting the Academy to put Operation Christmas Child under the chaplains, the article also cites that same Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary professor quoted above about the outdoor worship area actually agreeing with MRFF that this was the right thing to do: "Daniel Heimbach ... told Baptist Press that the Operation Christmas Child reversal is understandable because the program genuinely does promote Christianity and should be handled by the chaplains." So, what is the problem? MRFF, the Academy, and this Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary professor have all said that the right thing was done!

But wait, there's more. The Baptist Press brings up another story from a while back to further demonize Weinstein -- the one about MRFF getting the Air Force to remove what some Air Force officers had nicknamed the "Jesus Loves Nukes" portion of the ethics training for its nuclear missile officers.

From the article:

"What is most concerning is criticism of the just war class, said Heimbach, who has worked in defense- and domestic-policy positions in Washington in both the executive and legislative branches.

"'That the western tradition of just war ethics has included biblical as well as classical influences is simply a matter of history,' Heimbach said. 'Although academy courses are no place for religious indoctrination, neither should they deconstruct what actually has occurred as though religion does not exist.

"'Teaching of the history and development of just war history should be fair and objective whether at a military academy or at a religious seminary.'"

Well, we're a little off on the facts here, too. First of all, this wasn't a course at the Air Force Academy. It was the nuclear missile officer training at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. And, second, this wasn't a matter of teaching about the history of both biblical and classical influences on Just War Theory. This was slide after slide of Bible verses, with the big heading of "Christian Just War Theory" on every slide, ending with Revelation 19:11 -- "Jesus Christ is the mighty warrior." Is it any wonder that this presentation was nicknamed the "Jesus Loves Nukes" speech?

The presentation also included a slide of former Nazi and SS officer Werhner Von Braun, not as a scientist but as a moral authority promoting the Bible, quoting Von Braun, upon surrendering to American forces in 1945, saying: "We wanted to see the world spared another conflict such as Germany had just been through and we felt that only by surrendering such a weapon to people who are guided by the Bible could such an assurance to the world be best secured."

Twenty-nine of the thirty-one Air Force nuclear missile officers who initially came to MRFF for help in getting this training stopped were Christians -- both Catholics and Protestants. These thirty-one officers were soon joined by thirty-eight more, thirty-two of whom were also Christians.

(For more details on the contents of the "Jesus Loves Nukes" training, see my post from September.)

The Baptist Press article also includes some outrageous things said by Mikey Weinstein. It quotes a local pastor saying that Weinstein "even says the Constitution is to guarantee both freedom of religion and freedom from religion." Yikes!

Then there's this crazy stuff they found on MRFF's website:

"The Military Religious Freedom Foundation believes religious freedom 'takes on an additional importance in the current international environment, where religious motivations are an increasing rationale for waging conflict.

"'At a time when the United States is encouraging greater religious freedom in Muslim nations, it is imperative upon America to show by example that religious pluralism is a viable and preferred option,' the website says. 'Any sign of hypocrisy in United States policy, official or otherwise, toward the free exercise of religion within the military makes it more difficult to convince others to follow our nation's chosen path.'"

Pretty radical stuff, huh? All that crazy talk about America setting an example of religious freedom for the world.

The Southern Baptist Convention aren't the only folks to have recently shown their true colors when it comes to their opinions on religious equality in the military. As I wrote a few weeks ago, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which continually calls MRFF an atheist and anti-Christian organization (despite the fact that 96% of MRFF's clients are actually Christians), finally came out and admitted what they really mean by anti-Christian. They mean anti-what the ACLJ and other fundamentalists like the Southern Baptists consider to be the "right kind" of Christians, which doesn't include all those "mainliners" -- you know, all those Protestants who are apparently anti-Christian.

In a very telling moment during the ACLJ's November 8 radio show, Jordan Sekulow said of Mikey Weinstein: "This is a guy who goes after anyone who is an evangelical. He's fine with, you know, the mainliners, the denom... -- but it's the evangelical Christianity -- the dominionists that he thinks are trying to take over the U.S. military." That's right, Sekulow came right out and confirmed what MRFF has been saying for years -- that the reason the overwhelming majority of MRFF's clients are Christians, both mainline Protestants and Catholics, is that they are not the "right kind" of Christians for their dominionist and fundamentalist military superiors -- or for the ACLJ and the Southern Baptists.

My brother in law spent a long time in the AF, and became evangelical in the process. The whole situation eventually created a lot of tension between my sister and I, who for years pleaded with me to be "saved" because she wants to "see me in heaven". The hate that spews out of them towards people they don't find "right" is astounding, and seems that they have as selective a reading of the Bible as the do the US Constitution. From what I've heard and observed, there is a fair amount of pressure put on AF members to become evangelical. Not surprising that a hate group like the Southern Baptists at least support that - it would not surprise me if they were behind it.

by Edski on Mon Dec 19, 2011 at 07:07:51 PM EST

WWW Talk To Action

Cognitive Dissonance & Dominionism Denial
There is new research on why people are averse to hearing or learning about the views of ideological opponents. Based on evaluation of five......
By Frederick Clarkson (311 comments)
Will the Air Force Do Anything To Rein In Its Dynamic Duo of Gay-Bashing, Misogynistic Bloggers?
"I always get nervous when I see female pastors/chaplains. Here is why everyone should as well: "First, women are not called to be pastors,......
By Chris Rodda (110 comments)
The Legacy of Big Oil
The media is ablaze with the upcoming publication of David Grann's book, Killers of the Flower Moon. The shocking non fiction account of the......
By wilkyjr (66 comments)
Gimme That Old Time Dominionism Denial
Over the years, I have written a great deal here and in other venues about the explicitly theocratic movement called dominionism -- which has......
By Frederick Clarkson (68 comments)
History Advisor to Members of Congress Completely Twists Jefferson's Words to Support Muslim Ban
Pseudo-historian David Barton, best known for his misquoting of our country's founders to promote the notion that America was founded as a Christian nation,......
By Chris Rodda (68 comments)
"Christian Fighter Pilot" Calls First Lesbian Air Force Academy Commandant a Liar
In a new post on his "Christian Fighter Pilot" blog titled "BGen Kristin Goodwin and the USAFA Honor Code," Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan......
By Chris Rodda (99 comments)
Catholic Right Leader Unapologetic about Call for 'Death to Liberal Professors' -- UPDATED
Today, Donald Trump appointed C-FAM Executive Vice President Lisa Correnti to the US Delegation To UN Commission On Status Of Women. (C-FAM is a......
By Frederick Clarkson (83 comments)
Controlling Information
     Yesterday I listened to Russ Limbaugh.  Rush advised listeners it would be best that they not listen to CNN,MSNBC, ABC, CBS and......
By wilkyjr (62 comments)
Is Bannon Fifth-Columning the Pope?
In December 2016 I wrote about how White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who likes to flash his Catholic credentials when it comes to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (179 comments)
Ross Douthat's Hackery on the Seemingly Incongruous Alliance of Bannon & Burke
Conservative Catholic writer Ross Douthat has dissembled again. This time, in a February 15, 2017 New York Times op-ed titled The Trump Era's Catholic......
By Frank Cocozzelli (47 comments)
`So-Called Patriots' Attack The Rule Of Law
Every so often, right-wing commentator Pat Buchanan lurches out of the far-right fever swamp where he has resided for the past 50 years to......
By Rob Boston (63 comments)
Bad Faith from Focus on the Family
Here is one from the archives, Feb 12, 2011, that serves as a reminder of how deeply disingenuous people can be. Appeals to seek......
By Frederick Clarkson (134 comments)
The Legacy of George Wallace
"One need not accept any of those views to agree that they had appealed to real concerns of real people, not to mindless, unreasoning......
By wilkyjr (24 comments)
Betsy DeVos's Mudsill View of Public Education
My Talk to Action colleague Rachel Tabachnick has been doing yeoman's work in explaining Betsy DeVos's long-term strategy for decimating universal public education. If......
By Frank Cocozzelli (40 comments)
Prince and DeVos Families at Intersection of Radical Free Market Privatizers and Religious Right
This post from 2011 surfaces important information about President-Elect Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. -- FC Erik Prince, Brother of Betsy......
By Rachel Tabachnick (138 comments)

Respect for Others? or Political Correctness?
The term "political correctness" as used by Conservatives and Republicans has often puzzled me: what exactly do they mean by it? After reading Chip Berlin's piece here-- I thought about what he explained......
MTOLincoln (153 comments)
What I'm feeling now is fear.  I swear that it seems my nightmares are coming true with this new "president".  I'm also frustrated because so many people are not connecting all the dots! I've......
ArchaeoBob (55 comments)
"America - love it or LEAVE!"
I've been hearing that and similar sentiments fairly frequently in the last few days - far FAR more often than ever before.  Hearing about "consequences for burning the flag (actions) from Trump is chilling!......
ArchaeoBob (81 comments)
"Faked!" Meme
Keep your eyes and ears open for a possible move to try to discredit the people openly opposing Trump and the bigots, especially people who have experienced terrorism from the "Right"  (Christian Terrorism is......
ArchaeoBob (91 comments)
More aggressive proselytizing
My wife told me today of an experience she had this last week, where she was proselytized by a McDonald's employee while in the store. ......
ArchaeoBob (94 comments)
See if you recognize names on this list
This comes from the local newspaper, which was conservative before and took a hard right turn after it was sold. Hint: Sarah Palin's name is on it!  (It's also connected to Trump.) ......
ArchaeoBob (100 comments)
Unions: A Labor Day Discussion
This is a revision of an article which I posted on my personal board and also on Dailykos. I had an interesting discussion on a discussion board concerning Unions. I tried to piece it......
Xulon (100 comments)
Extremely obnoxious protesters at WitchsFest NYC: connected to NAR?
In July of this year, some extremely loud, obnoxious Christian-identified protesters showed up at WitchsFest, an annual Pagan street fair here in NYC.  Here's an account of the protest by Pagan writer Heather Greene......
Diane Vera (54 comments)
Capitalism and the Attack on the Imago Dei
I joined this site today, having been linked here by Crooksandliars' Blog Roundup. I thought I'd put up something I put up previously on my Wordpress blog and also at the DailyKos. As will......
Xulon (74 comments)
History of attitudes towards poverty and the churches.
Jesus is said to have stated that "The Poor will always be with you" and some Christians have used that to refuse to try to help the poor, because "they will always be with......
ArchaeoBob (72 comments)
Alternate economy medical treatment
Dogemperor wrote several times about the alternate economy structure that dominionists have built.  Well, it's actually made the news.  Pretty good article, although it doesn't get into how bad people could be (have been)......
ArchaeoBob (49 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 (92 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 (56 comments)
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 (73 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 (61 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.