Thursday, June 19, 2008

Evangelicals at the Pentagon -- scary thoughts...

Just in case anyone forgot about it, since the Bush regime took over, the Pentagon and armed forces have been harboring a growing evangelical-dominionist movement which not only has been harrassing non-Evangelicals in the military, but they have been using the military, and thus, your tax dollars, to openly promote Evangelical Biblical- literalist dominionist Christianity.

For those not in the know, Dominionists are people who believe in actively working towards making the country one that is governed and controlled exclusively by Christians who would impose Biblical Law over all sectors of society, according to Fundamentalist Christian Reconstructionist views. This is a dangerous idea, because dominionism is specifically anti-democratic. These people would not subject any power they get to a popular vote. They believe that they are mandated by God to take control of America and the world, and that America should be ruled over by a king who is specifically Christian.

In other words, these people are Freaking WHACK-JOBS!

Since 2004, reports had been coming from West Point, the Air Force Academy, and other military schools, from atheist, Jewish, Islamic, and non-Christian soldiers, that there was a growing intolerant community that was responsible for creating an atmosphere of antisemitism, religious harrassment, and blatant sexism within the military. This is nothing like the Tail-hook scandal, but it's worse for different reasons. Basically, Jewish people in the military, especially at the academies, were harrassed on a daily basis by Evangelical Christian officers and command. The Pentagon has become increasingly Evangelical over the last few years, and complaints from Jewish and atheist military personnel who claimed they were being harrassed by Evangelical officers and groups, were being ignored.

Soldiers have complained that they were forced to attend exclusively Evangelical services, and subjected to disceplinary threats if they refused to go or did not participate in prayer-related activities. Jewish soldiers complained that fellow soldiers and officers subjected them antisemitic verbal abuse as well as social ostracism. When they went to superior officers, to complain about it, they either received further abuse from those superiors, were told that the complaint was not serious enough to investigate further, or that nothing was done.

Eventually, Michael Weinstein, a former JAG (Judge Advocate General) who is now a civilian Lawyer, got wind of this, and founded The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which lobbied for an investigation. There was an investigation, and the results confirmed a lot of what Weinstein has said.

Currently, there is still a Prayer breakfast held at the Pentagon each week, and various Christian Evangelical extremists, such as Ken Ham, have been guest speakers at them. This is kind of scary, because if there is enough support for Evangelical whack-job Christian beliefs in our military, these beliefs of dominionism and prophecy fullfillment could shape our foreign policy -- our soldiers could be asked to go to war and risk their lives to support the crazy religious beliefs of fundamentalist whackos.

See these articles for more expansion on this issue...

As early as December, 2006, there were issues with Evangelicals in the Pentagon

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation's report on an internal Military conspiract of Evangelicals:

US Air Force Academy investigated over allegations of Antisemitism:

Kill or Convert, Brought to you by the Pentagon:

"These people should be Court Martialed:

Pentagon Sued Over Mandatory Christianity:

Soldier sues Defense Department over Religious Discrimination:


GamingAsshole said...

It's scary that a secular country has a religious military. Why do they try to use the military to convert people anyhow?

David W. Irish said...

Because the military culture in our country is one of authority and obedience. You do not have free speech within the military -- they own your ass while you're serving.

In the military, personal harrassment by your peers to conform has always been part of that culture. When there are a couple of people in a platoon that are "different", in a significant way from the rest, they get harrassed, sometimes beat up, and treated like shit until they either comply and join the pack, or they transfer.

This kind of juvenile bullying is commonplace in the military, and they should have got rid of it long ago when more college-educated officers were pouring in from ROTC programs.

GamingAsshole said...

>>>Because the military culture in our country is one of authority and obedience. You do not have free speech within the military -- they own your ass while you're serving.<<<

That's horrible, but isn't that true in every nations military? Not that they are religious, I mean that they own your ass? Since most militaries are voluntary (in the West) anyway, so you kind of choose to have your ass owned. Then again, if I'm wrong, correct me.

This kind of juvenile bullying is commonplace in the military, and they should have got rid of it long ago when more college-educated officers were pouring in from ROTC programs<<<

Unfortunately, more and more idiots get duped into joining the military without ROTC training (at least here in California), and it kind of creates the juvenile atmosphere you describe.

David W. Irish said...

Military trainign around the world, is similar, in terms of it's training troops to obey officers, and keep discepline in the ranks.

Where the US military differs, though, is that European countries have a higher level of education and courtesy in their ranks. Americans seem to still be stuck in the 19th century, where everything is a power-trip, and humiliation is the popular way to shame soldiers into submission. IN European countries, officers are held to a stricter code of conduct, where certain bad behaviors and methods are banned.

In Europe, officers are more likely to train troops on a peer-to-peer basis, where things are matter-of-factly explained, and done in a polite manner, so as to refine the skills being taught. IN America, fear, intimidation, and high-stress are the tools used, and as a result, we get trigger-happy troops, torturers, and guys who feel a need to "let off steam" by attacking someone, even fellow soldiers.

We still have a terrible problem with racism in the military, and also antisemitism. These things should have been strictly enforced and bred out of the military, but they are usually punished by wrist-slapping. I would dishonorably discharge any soldier who gets involved with that stuff.

I think the big problem is that our recruiting tactics target the lower income people, who may live in gang-infested neighborhoods, or in places where there is a sense of hopelessness, rather than richer communities. If the recruiters focussed on wealthier areas, and tried to recruit college-oriented people, we would have less of the redneck slack-jawed typed in our military.

Nothing is worse than a soldier who is a dumbass.

GamingAsshole said...

You are absolutely right about the low income thing. I live in Southern California, in a moderately nice neighborhood, but I'm just a few cities away from Long Beach, which is a horrible city, and my friends there in High School and College are constantly approached by military recruiters, and they always seem like they are selling a product. They do that because more upstanding and wealthier communities tend not to want military recruiters, I guess because the people there don't want to join the military. I know the recruiters have been run out of the schools in SF, but it hasn't happened down here in Orange County yet.

David W. Irish said...

They ARE selling... They sell hope, just like all those stupid weight-loss products and bogus colon-cleansing scams -- they sell you hope for a better life.

Imagine, you're a rich kid going to college so you can land a high paying job, and your parents are paying all the way -- what hope do you need? You have everything you need.

But look at the poor kids, wondering if they'll be able to get a better job than a burger flipper. They don't know what their future holds, and it worries them. Along comes a recruiter, and he says "How would you like to go through college and land a career doing something great for the whole country?" "How would you like an opportunity to have a better life than your parents?"

The recuiter sells them the dream of a better life, with more money, and a college education. IN order to get that, however, you have to risk losing life and limb, and put up with sometimes absurd behavior from officers, who occaisionally use you like cannon fodder. The recruiters almost never mention anything negative about being in the military. They are specially trained to talk only about the offers and the potential, and talk around death and disfigurement, much like drug advertisers talk around the side effect of their products.

GamingAsshole said...

Thankfully, college is incredibly cheap in California, unlike everything else, and so when recruiters here try to bullshit kids about the college opportunities, it does not work usually since most kids here are already going to college.

trog69 said...

Since 2004, reports had been coming from West Point, the Air Force Academy, and other military schools, from atheist, Jewish, Islamic, and non-Christian soldiers

MRFF reports that the people most likely to complain about the Christian indoctrination tactics are other Christian soldiers. Otherwise, you are spot-on for realizing how seriously fucked up this is.

The US is blatantly taking advantage of the growing divide in wealth. As our economy is tanking, more young men without the benefits that wealthier ones have, are seeing the military as their only hope to get out of their situations. This is why I think that a draft is vital for equality in our military.

One other benefit the Religious Right sees in forcing Christianity on all the recruits is that, once they're believers, it's better than even odds that the soldier will be more amenable to Conservative talking points, thus voting FOR Jesus, rather than against their own economic well-being.