Sunday, November 25, 2007
Pushing the Envelope of Christianity
Nothing like getting back into a little controversy, or big controversy, after the holiday buzz wears off. I am sure that this is going to probably piss-off a few people, but when I read stuff like this it makes my blood boil. I do not see why groups constantly feel that they have to impress their ideals upon others. Why they can not just say, "Hey, we're here if you need us." Why do they have to go to such great lengths to alienate others while getting their message out.
The two articles I read were at Mother Jones News. Now, I am aware that the military is made up of many, many different kinds of people with many differing religious backgrounds. If I respect that, then why do others have such a hard time? Why do they seem to want to make this a crusading military of 100% christian combatants? According to Mikey Weinstein, a former Air Force JAG and White House attorney for Ronald Reagan, the Officers Christian Fellowship has their mission statement that reads,"....a spiritually transformed military, with ambassadors for Christ in uniform, empowered by the Holy Spirit." So, my first question is, who makes us the deliverers of Christ? Who are we that we think we must represent Christ to all the world? Why does that have to be the center of our military program? Sounds like the beginning to a Holy War to me.
This summer Mr. Weinstein found out about a plan to send packages , by the Pentagon, to soldiers in Iraq. They were nicknamed "Freedom Packages". They were to contain Bibles, proselytizing materials in both English and Arabic and Left Behind:Eternal Forces, a video game inspired by the Left Behind post-Rapture books in which "soldiers for Christ" hunt enemies who look suspiciously like U.N. peacekeepers. Partly due to Weinstein's efforts the packages were never sent. Weinstein cautions," Whenever you have a virulent form of any faith engaged in the machinery of the state, in the words of the U.S. Supreme Court, we have ended up with tidal waves of blood."
Weinstein says that he has fielded more than 6,000 complaints from soldiers who claim to have been persecuted by Christian Evangelicals, 95 percent of the complaints have come from mainstream Christians. Tipsters have helped him catch uniformed military officers publicly endorsing an evangelical group and ferret out an anti-Semitic Bible study guide on an army base web site. In September, he shunted many of the complaints into a massive lawsuit against the Department of Defense. His lead plaintiff, U.S. Army Specialist Jeremy Hall, alleges that a major at Iraq's Speicher base threatened to block his reenlistment in the Army in retaliation for organizing a meeting of atheists. If they want to meet why should it be a problem for anyone? If everyone else has a group and a meeting why can this group not have their own time? What's good for the goose should also be good for the gander, don't you think? Fair is fair.
A then Democrat and now Republican, Weinstein represented Regan during the Iran-Contra affair, criticizes the former president of creating the opening that lead to Evangelicals in the military, but says that George W. Bush dropped the floodgates. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation group counts among its supporters; refugees of the Bush years such as David Iglesias ( one of the U.S. Attorneys that was dismissed this year), Ambassador Joe Wilson (husband of outed CIA operative Valerie Plame) .
In 2002 General Jerry Boykin told a congregation of Baptists, in Oklahoma, that "America's enemies will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus." These are the kind of people that really frighten me. These are the remarks that give other countries the notion that we ARE on a religious crusade. There is nothing wrong with soldiers having their faith, going to their particular services, but when it becomes fanatical, like anything else, is when it becomes scary.