Also posted at Invictus
Troutfishing has a very good article over at Daily Kos on the near-takeover by right-wing Christian evangelicals of the U.S. Air Force Academy. Religious ideology and imagery has long mingled with military rhetoric, as my article yesterday on General Matthew Ridgway and the Korean War demonstrates. But as recent investigations make clear, there is an organizational effort to maximize religious influence in the U.S. military, something beyond the chiliastic comments of a 1950s Cold War general.
In a July 12, 2005 interview with the New York Times, Brig. Gen. Cecil Richardson, Air Force deputy chief of chaplains, stated, "…we reserve the right to evangelize the unchurched." For over a decade, the official [US Air Force] academy newspaper ran ads stating: "We believe that Jesus Christ is the only real hope for the World. If you would like to discuss Jesus, feel free to contact one of us! There is salvation in no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved." The ads were signed by 16 department heads, nine permanent professors, both the incoming and outgoing deans of faculty, the athletic director and more than 200 academy senior officers and their spouses.
U.S. Air Force Academy Chaplain, Captain Melinda Morton, who was removed from her post for complaining about Christian proselytizing among recruits, explained what happened to her when she complained about undue influence at the Academy by evangelicals in a Washington Post article:
"They fired me," said Capt. Melinda Morton, a Lutheran minister who was removed as executive officer of the chaplain unit on May 4. "They said I should be angry about these outside groups who reported on the strident evangelicalism at the academy. The problem is, I agreed with those reports"…. "
The evangelicals want to subvert the system," Morton said. "They have a very clear social and political agenda. The evangelical tone is pervasive at the academy, and it's aimed at converting these young people who are under intense pressure anyway."
In his Daily Kos piece, Troutfishing summed up the situation:
In short, US Basic training facilities of the United States military are being co-opted, by fundamentalist organizations, such as Campus Crusade For Christ, to indoctrinate military personnel and basic training recruits in a form of Christianity that is almost certainly heavily politicized, if quietly so. This should concern all Americans; as I've recently described, the Founder Of Campus Crusade For Christ rejected the Theory Of Evolution (and even co-authored a book in "Intelligent Design" and held that American public education had been co-opted as part of a vast "anti-God" conspiracy that went back to the Renaissance and included communist and socialist ideology, atheism, and the ACLU.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation released a report last October 31 on Government Paid Missionaries for Christ. The report details the activities of the Military Ministry of the Campus Crusade for Christ, which reportedly seeks to "Evangelise and Disciple All Enlisted Members of the U.S. Military":
Describing their ministries at Lackland Air Force Base and Fort Sam Houston, the Military Ministry website states:
Responsibilities include working with Chaplains and Military personnel to bring lost soldiers closer to Christ, build them in their faith and send them out into the world as GOVERNMENT PAID MISSIONARIES."
I looked, and couldn't find this quote at the website itself, though I have no reason to doubt MRFF's truthfulness. Here's a few quotes from MilitaryMinistry.org that were there when I looked today:
Picture yourself as a new recruit in Basic Training, or in Advanced Training, or in a Senior Service School for further training. What are your needs? Basic Training and Advanced Training are tough, rigorous, demanding experiences. You’ll come out of it knowing you can be and do much more than you ever dreamed. You’ll be ready for more than you ever imagined. But what about spiritual readiness–will you gain that, too? Spiritual readiness means having the inner resources to face all that life has to throw at you, and even all that death could throw at you besides. It means being connected with the God of the universe in such a way that you know, whatever happens, you are ready.
Military Ministry has staff at many of the basic and advanced training locations in the Armed Forces, and we want to help you be ready.
For more on this right wing group, go look at their video online, "Global War on Terror, Winning the Long War", with Bob Dees, U.S. Major General, Retired, and Executive Director of Military Ministry. Notably, Dees was, up until a few years ago, Executive Director of Defense Strategies at Microsoft Corporation. The blog, The Blue Voice, reviews the video, explaining:
[Dees] presents a highly ideological version of the "global war on terror" with generous snippets from some FOX News propaganda film. It's very clear in this talk that Dees' right wing view of the "war on terror" as a religious war against Islam is an integral part of his version of the Christian message. It's a highly, explicitly political message, political as in a very narrow, conservative ideological view of foreign and military policy. Dees says, "These troops that are gathering before a patrol in Baghdad, they're not worried about being politically correct, they are worried about being God-correct." And, "Our mission is to transform the nations of the world through the militaries of the world starting with the United States armed forces."
I encourage all my readers to pursue in some detail the links herein. The mixture of apocalyptic religious evangelism and militarist imperialism, both in the hands of a government that has thousands of nuclear weapons, constitutes a force that threatens the entire planet.