Attention Unchurched Military Personnel: They're Coming For Your Children
Chris Rodda printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 09:19:11 AM EST
Given the current brouhaha over where the government should be making budget cuts, I decided that now would be a good time to get back to a project we began last fall at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation -- finding out just how much money the Department of Defense is spending to evangelize the U.S. military. The DoD could easily save tens of millions of dollars a year if it stopped trying to save souls.

We're not talking about chaplains here. We're talking about the steady stream of DoD contracts for things like religious retreats, Christian concerts, "Spiritual Fitness" programs, construction of extravagant mega-churches and religious centers on military bases, top-notch musicians and music directors for worship services, and all the other civilian employees, contractors, and ministries hired by the DoD to run these often unconstitutional religious enterprises. It's abundantly clear from DoD contracts and other sources that no expense is spared when it comes to evangelizing the military -- and that includes evangelizing the children of our service members.


The amount of money spent by the DoD on Christian youth programs, trips, events, and religious education directors is staggering. But, more egregious than all the money being spent to bring military kids to Christ are the tactics that the DoD is not only allowing, but requiring in its contracts for religious education directors and military youth ministries.

Some of the contracts I've come across while working on the project of finding out how much the DoD is spending on evangelism have prompted me to revisit a post I wrote about two years ago, titled "Military Youth Ministry Stalks Students on Public School Buses for Jesus." In that post, I wrote about some of the tactics employed by the youth ministries on our military bases, which range from luring teenagers with irresistible activities and trips to infiltrating the public middle and high schools in the communities surrounding military bases, where most children of military personnel attend school. One organization in particular, Youth For Christ Military Youth Ministry, even goes as far as stalking military children by following their school buses to find out where they live and what schools they go to.

Hunting down the "unchurched" children on our military bases to lead them to Jesus is not just the job of military ministries. It's also the job of DoD contractors hired as religious education directors. I wrote in my previous post about one contract for a position on an Army base that actually required the contractor to target "locations and activities where youth live and spend time, such as neighborhood community centers, school and sports and recreational activities, etc." to draw in "youth that are not regularly affiliated with established chapel congregational youth programs."

These DoD contracted religious education directors and military youth ministries, many of which are also funded by the DoD, are clearly not just hired to provide programs for kids who are already churchgoers. They are blatantly instructed to go after the non-churchgoing kids at non-religious events and locations and bring them into the fold.

In going through all the DoD contracts that I've been going through for the project I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I've been finding others like the one I wrote about in my previous post.

The "Requirements The Contractor shall perform" for one contract that's currently up for grabs at Fort Riley, Kansas include coordinating "activities that are designed to reach out to Middle School and/or High School youth who do not normally attend a chapel."

This contract also requires that the contractor: "Make 70 student contacts per year during normal activities to strengthen or make new relationships. These are causal contacts at school or community events and activities with the intention of making contact with students but will generally not be to meet a particular student," and "Make 10 student contacts per year during normal activities to strengthen or make new relationships. These contacts are relational in nature in that the intention is for the Contractor to plan on meeting a particular student and spending at least 30 minutes with that student." The contractor will also be taking names while pursuing children during their "normal activities." For both types of student contacts, "The Contractor will provide a by name list of contacts made in the monthly report."

And, who is in the running to get this contract? The same folks who stalk kids on school buses. One of the "Interested Vendors" listed for the contract is Military Community Youth Ministries (MCYM), a ministry that "seeks to celebrate life with military kids and introduce them to the Life-giver, Jesus Christ." MCYM has already received millions of dollars in DoD contracts, and operates on dozens of U.S. military bases, both overseas and in the United States. As I wrote in my previous post, MCYM and the school bus stalking Youth For Christ Military Youth Ministry (YCF) are one and the same. MCYM describes YCF as its "partner," but YFC and MCYM both have the same address and phone number, and YFC's mission statement states only one mission -- to partner with MCYM.

just how much more blatant the violations against our Constitution by our Department of Defense can get before there are major lawsuits.  HOW do they get away with contracting out religious proselytizing in a federal taxpayer funded institution?  

Where do I sign up as a plaintiff?

by monarchmom on Tue Mar 01, 2011 at 05:28:25 PM EST

I am somewhat jaded on this issue. I doubt there will be any major lawsuits, except as the MRFF files them... and so far, they have all been thrown out, I think. The fact is, the courts are like the rest of the institutions of the U.S.; they have been 'loaded' with Dominionists and Evangelicals for the very purpose of forwarding the Dominionist agenda.

They get away with contracting out religious proselytizing because that's what the DOD WANTS them to do. The DOD wants to fill its ranks with gung-ho Christian Warriors... but they don't want the 'secular' segment of the U.S. to know until it is too late.

by COinMS on Tue Mar 08, 2011 at 04:40:44 PM EST

After my parents had me, they never attended chapel programs on-base. We attended churches in the communities around the bases we lived on, along with most of my cohorts whose fathers (and a very few mothers at the time) were in the service. These civilian churches gave us strong ties to denominations (in my case, the United Methodist Church) and helped us to live outside the fishbowl of base life.

It was also a place where the rank/rate of one's father didn't matter: at one church we attended, the chairman of the Council on Ministries was a tech sergeant in the Air Force leading a committee full of Army and Air Force officers. Kids of both commissioned and enlisted personnel could hang out together in church where we couldn't on base (except at school, but even there the hierarchy presented itself). Our mothers had friends outside the wives' clubs who could be trusted to share the burdens of everyday life without it reflecting poorly on our fathers. I don't remember any real religious programming for children and youth at any of the bases where we lived other than CCD for our Catholic friends. Nor did I miss it.

The DoD needs to do away with these services and allow civilian ministries from off-base to serve the military community. It's a healthy partnership and allows for religious diversity in a way that high-intensity chaplaincy-led base programming won't.

by RevRuthUCC on Sun Mar 06, 2011 at 01:25:30 PM EST

As long as we spend so much money promoting and paying for wars in Afghanistan in Iraq, and possibly other countries that are not named, we will be denying our own people of their rightful benefits fromtheir taxes.  Thirty Trillion dollars for israel over the next ten years, to pay for their suppression of their Palestinian neighbors is an abomination!  

by rdrjames on Sun Mar 06, 2011 at 08:14:14 PM EST

I live near Ft. Lewis/McChord Joint Base, near Olympia/Tacoma, WA. I'm sure that the militant Christian/Fundies are swarming near here, although I have not seen evidence of this.  I am a conservative Eastern Orthodox Christian, and I deplore this invasion into our life here in western Wahsington.

by rdrjames on Sun Mar 06, 2011 at 08:19:53 PM EST

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