Christian Ideology in the US MILITARY

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    Apr 27, 2008 2:00 PM GMT
    Christian ideology is finding its way into the US government as well as the military. Will this be the beginning of a new Christian Crusade??

    The Director, Oren Jacoby, offers this statement on the making of the documentary "Constantine's Sword":

    "Our film poses the question: Where did anyone get the idea that it was all right to kill people in the name of God?
    When we started to make this film we were shocked to discover how many Americans didn’t seem concerned about a possible breakdown between the separation of Church and State. Insisting that America was a Christian nation, they had somehow revised history to convince themselves that this was a principle of our Founding Fathers. They never asked themselves about the message this could be sending to the people in the Middle East, where we are entrenched in what’s already one of the longest wars ever fought by our country.
    Whenever the U.S. is involved in an armed conflict and the lives of American men and women are on the line, it’s controversial to question the reasons that we’re in that war or in what direction our country is headed.But at the U. S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, we discovered that the mission to proselytize and convert was widespread and was being endorsed by many members of the faculty and administration. As this information becomes public, I think more and more Americans (people of faith as well as others) will become uncomfortable with the idea of religion and power coming together."

    Has anyone seen or read "Constantine's Sword"? Your thoughts?
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    Apr 27, 2008 3:23 PM GMT
    Thank you for posting this !!!!! Putting religion in the middle of Militarization is a dangerous combination, in my estimation. Look where alegience to the military has us right now!!! Its been used by bushco so effectively that the dems in congress and the senate are scared to death to go against the military. Insert religion into the mix, and it will be that much harder to convince the public just how wrong this warmongering is. I hate to say it, but bringing in religion, brings in with it ignorance, and a willingness to follow blindly whatever the military leaders say, because overall religious people are taught to adhere to "BLIND FAITH", the "FAITH OF A CHILD", "TRUST AND OBEY" !!! This is a dangerous mix to say the least !!!!
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    Apr 27, 2008 3:34 PM GMT
    VineyardHmo said
    "Our film poses the question: Where did anyone get the idea that it was all right to kill people in the name of God?"

    Just a guess, but maybe the Bible? It is pretty chock full of stories of holy conquest and God's instructing his people to go and slaughter other tribes and nations. Look in the books from Deuteronomy through 2 Chronicles and you'll find several hundreds of incidents of violence and death being boastfully written about, justified by God.

    "When we started to make this film we were shocked to discover how many Americans didn’t seem concerned about a possible breakdown between the separation of Church and State. Insisting that America was a Christian nation, they had somehow revised history to convince themselves that this was a principle of our Founding Fathers.

    There's no mystery as to why this is happening. This isn't a spontaneous collective delusion or an accidental development. One author, named David Barton, starting with his book The Myth of Separation started the move toward historical revisionism based on a Christian evangelical perspective. His books give ammunition to credulous fundamentalists who believe, and are desperate to prove to others, that America was founded as a Christian nation.

    This one book is the basis of many hundreds of sermons heard in pulpits around the nation every Sunday. It has also been embraced by talk radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity who have tens of millions of listeners every day.

    The book compiles an astounding list of quotations by the founding fathers supporting the notion that they were Christians and expected America would be governed by Christian principles.

    The problem is, most of the quotations in his book are utter fabrications. They are the product of Barton's divination of second or third hand accounts of what the founders may or may not have said. They are not actual quotes. They are the things Barton wishes the founding fathers had said, and things he believes they would have said.

    But Barton is an evangelical with an agenda, not a historian. After his "quotes" came under scrutiny by historians, he was forced to admit most could not be verified. However, he still refuses to admit they were fabricated, rather his simply calls them "unconfirmed", as if confirmation is merely pending and imminent.

    You've no doubt heard or read some of these alleged quotes recited in letters to the editor.

    Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter wrote about Barton in the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, saying Barton’s “pseudoscholarship would hardly be worth discussing, let alone disproving, were it not for the fact that it is taken so very seriously by so many people.”

    As for what message we send to the middle east, well there is actually a historical record that answers that, and simultaneously answers the question of whether or not America is a Christian nation.

    In 1797, the Treaty of Tripoli was unanimously passed by the Senate and signed by President John Adams. Article 11 of that treaty states, "the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion".

    I think it's important to know the facts and confront those who have been mislead into thinking that America is, and must be, a Christian nation.
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    Apr 27, 2008 3:45 PM GMT
    I hope that this is a movement that quickly loses steam. Religion and weapons are a very lethal mix (the Taliban and Al-Qaeda are proof of this).

    Why does fundamentalism seem to be hanging on in the USA when other so-called "civilized" countries continue to secularize? Is it because of the fast changing world around us that causes some people to latch on to a creed that provides very easy and all-encompassing solutions to the world's complexities and contradictions?
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    Apr 27, 2008 4:47 PM GMT
    America was never founded as a Christian Nation and therefore the military should not be used as a Knight for the spread of Christianity.

    Any person with even a small amount of education and a little bit of know-how can easily disprove Barton and his "credulous fundamentalists who believe, and are desperate to prove to others, that America was founded as a Christian nation". His books may give ammunition, but they don't tell of the truth. Your inclusion of the Treaty of Tripoli is only one example and we have a clear admission by the United States in 1797 that our government did not found itself upon Christianity. Unlike the Declaration of Independence, this treaty represented U.S. law as all U.S. Treaties do.

    Many Christian's who think of America as founded upon Christianity usually present the Declaration of Independence as "proof" of a Christian America. The reason appears obvious: the Declaration mentions God. (You may notice that some Christians avoid the Constitution, with its absence of God.)

    However, the Declaration of Independence does not represent any law of the United States. It came before the establishment of our lawful government (the Constitution). The Declaration aimed at announcing the separation of America from Great Britain and it listed the various grievances with them. The Declaration includes the words, "The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America." The grievances against Great Britain no longer hold today, and we have more than thirteen states.

    On the other hand, the United States Constitution serves as the law of the land for America and indicates the intent of our Founding Fathers. It forms a secular document, and nowhere does it appeal to God, Christianity, Jesus, or any supreme being, nor does it state that America was founded as a Christian nation. The U.S. government derives from people (not God), as it clearly states in the preamble: "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union...." The omission of God in the Constitution did not come out of forgetfulness, but rather out of the Founding Fathers purposeful intentions to keep government separate from religion.

    Although the Constitution does not include the phrase "Separation of Church & State," neither does it say "Freedom of religion." However, the Constitution implies both in the 1st Amendment. As to our freedoms, the 1st Amendment provides exclusionary wording:

    Congress shall make NO law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. [bold caps, mine]

    If religionists better understood the concept of separation of Church & State, they would realize that the wall of separation actually protects their religion. Our secular government allows the free expression of religion and non religion but shouldn't be used for the spread of Christianity through military means.


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    Apr 27, 2008 5:12 PM GMT
    VineyardHmo said
    Many Christian's who think of America as founded upon Christianity usually present the Declaration of Independence as "proof" of a Christian America. The reason appears obvious: the Declaration mentions God. (You may notice that some Christians avoid the Constitution, with its absence of God.)

    The Declaration of Independence mentions "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God". I think that's a little too ambiguous to convince anyone it was written in reference to Jehovah God. That's the only instance of the word "God" in the Declaration. It also uses the word "Creator" which many evangelicals argue is an obvious (to them) reference to God.

    But anyone who has really studied history and the founding fathers, without the taint of a religious predisposition, knows that most of the founders were Deist. They appreciated the church for its sense of community and encouraging discipline and morality, but they were too sensible and free-thinking to hold the same blind faith that today's fervent religious adherents want to attribute to them.

    Thomas Jefferson infamously edited the Bible to omit any reference to miracles and others things he found to be just plain silly. Jefferson did not believe Jesus was a divine being and did not believe in the resurrection or second coming.

    Does that sound like his beliefs comport with today's evangelicals?

    David Barton has gained puzzling influence based on his assertion in The Myth of Separation that the words "separation of Church and State" do not appear in either the Constitution or Declaration of Independence.

    Although this assertion is plainly true (one of the few things Barton has written that's beyond question), many conservative evangelicals took this to be some kind of great epiphany. They took to heart Barton's assertion that "liberals" had waged this culture war conspiracy to convince people that "separation of Church and State" was a phrase written in our founding documents.

    Never was this the case though. Barton falsely accords evil intent on a group of people (despised by religious conservatives in the first place) then proceeds to excoriate them for something they've never done. All the while his readers are cheering and feeling that Barton is some great genius for pointing out something so plainly obvious most of them should have known it to begin with.
  • Rowing_Ant

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    Apr 27, 2008 5:13 PM GMT
    How does the commandmant "Thou shalt not kill" fit in with any militaristic ideaology??????

    There's no if, buts, maybes, get out clauses.

    Its pretty simple.
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    Apr 27, 2008 5:25 PM GMT
    Rowing_Ant saidHow does the commandmant "Thou shalt not kill" fit in with any militaristic ideaology??????

    There's no if, buts, maybes, get out clauses.

    Its pretty simple.

    That's an easy one. The true believers will tell you it doesn't really say "Thou shalt not kill." It really says "Thou shalt not commit murder." And they know, because their church leaders have studied the original Hebrew, and you haven't, so there. Once a preacher says it, it's true.

    And when you're killing on God's orders and for the benefit of his will, well that's not murder. It's holy war and God likes it.
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    Apr 27, 2008 5:42 PM GMT
    global_citizen well-said
  • GQjock

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    Apr 27, 2008 5:50 PM GMT
    The American Taliban...

  • Rowing_Ant

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    Apr 27, 2008 7:17 PM GMT
    I am a Church Preacher...and I'm pretty damn sure Jesus said to love your enemies, and in times of strife to turn the other cheek not "take and eye for an eye". He was also comitted to none-violence.

    "Holy War" has to be a contradiction in terms.
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    Apr 27, 2008 7:35 PM GMT
    Rowing-
    Tell that to the rest of the World and all those religious fanatics out there.
    They are the ones that get the attention of the majority. Unless the actions of the minority changes (the religious right and religious freeks) and people stop killing people in the name of religion, you'll never sway those who see religion differently. I mean come on, look at the history of religion, violence, and wars....
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    Apr 27, 2008 8:17 PM GMT
    Atheist soldier claims harassment

    Story Highlights

    Army Spc. Jeremy Hall sues U.S. for religious discrimination

    Hall is known as "the atheist guy," called immoral and a devil worshipper

    He turned to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation for help

    "It's just about time somebody said something" about pressure to believe in God

    http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/04/26/atheist.soldier.ap/index.html
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    Apr 27, 2008 8:29 PM GMT
    My experience in the military has been different. In the almost 13 years that I have been in the service now I have never seen, felt or been told about any sort of coercion, preaching or any other sort of religious bullying that has been brought up in the press. That is not to say it doesn't happen, I am sure it does. Its just my experience that its not as wide spread as you may be lead to believe. I have worked with people who are atheists, agnostic, devout Christian of all denomination, Jewish and even Muslim. Religion is rarely if ever discussed at work and everyone respects each other's faith. Even the guy who is a Muslim was well respected in the division and had anyone made derogatory comments to him about his faith, I have no doubt pretty much everyone would have stood up to defend him.
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    Apr 27, 2008 8:39 PM GMT
    Rowing_Ant saidI am a Church Preacher...and I'm pretty damn sure Jesus said to love your enemies, and in times of strife to turn the other cheek not "take and eye for an eye". He was also comitted to none-violence.

    "Holy War" has to be a contradiction in terms.


    "turn the other cheek" doesnt mean dont strike back EVER. It means dont let your opponent choose the time and place. If you feel that you must strike back at the time you are struck, then you are surrendering to the control of your opponent. He gets to choose the time and place of the conflict.

    But before striking, you are supposed to try to reconcile your differences without violence and without resorting to other powers, like a court. (Because once you turn to a court, you lose control and a court decides by "the law" which often leaves neither party happy. So the resentment still exists.) Instead the parties are to try to resolve their differences themselves.

    A christian community, however, is not forbidden from eventually taking action. It may just exclude the offender from the community or it may take more drastic actions, including a violent response to protect itself.
  • kansascityman

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    Apr 27, 2008 8:44 PM GMT
    "Atheist soldier claims harassment"

    One more important part of this story, which I saw this morning on CBS Sunday Morning: The harrassment got so bad that at one point, the army had to assign a bodyguard to this soldier before he was returned to the U.S.

    More than a little frightening!
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    Apr 27, 2008 9:05 PM GMT
    I'm a retired soldier and this is a lot of bunk.
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    Apr 27, 2008 9:10 PM GMT
    VineyardHmo said
    Any person with even a small amount of education and a little bit of know-how can easily disprove Barton

    True enough, but refer once again to the words of Arlen Specter I quoted above. It's true. Barton's agenda is clear and his fabricated quotes easy to disprove. But that doesn't seem to mitigate his influence.

    The battle is in getting people to become skeptics instead of accepting at face value those things they read or hear which affirm those beliefs they already hold to be true.

    It's so easy to accept things that confirm what we already believe. It's often very difficult giving serious consideration to things that challenge our deeply held views.
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    Apr 28, 2008 1:50 AM GMT
    Yes John, because you didn't see it, it's a lot bunk. Gotcha.
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    Apr 30, 2008 8:54 PM GMT
    Why?

    The answer is very simple.

    A holy war takes away the guilt. it 'justifies' killing in the highest form imaginable - killing for the cause of an awesome being who's supposed to know what he's doing.

    It's no wonder that in times of war, religion crops up again and again.

    What they don't see is that American soldiers killing 'terrorists' in the name of God is basically what Osama is already doing.

    A soldier who believes God is on his side can kill, maim, and burn villages without remorse, because it is done for the greater good of his deity. He can cook men, women, and children in a carpet bombing run and then go back to base and sleep soundly.

    A soldier who takes all responsibility into his hands is a better one. He'll weigh everything through himself. He'll actually wonder if the guy he just killed had a wife and kids back home. If he was a good person, etc.

    That said, those kind of soldiers are rare. Soldiers are basically VERY prone to religious justification and anything that actually takes the blame of killing from them. Because they are already subject to the 'chain of command' justification. There's very little difference between a general ordering a squadron of F-18's to raze a village with a bishop encouraging the extermination of muslims or a caliph issuing a fatwah.

    War and Religion are the prime ingredients for mindless slaughter.
  • jarhead5536

    Posts: 1348

    Apr 30, 2008 9:20 PM GMT
    There are conservative fundamentalist Christians in the US military? And they have infiltrated up to the highest ranks? Shocking.

    The military draws its membership overwhelmingly from the urban and rural (read: Southern) underclass of society, and that group is overwhelmingly fundamentalist Christian. I experienced all the "we are the Army of God, Onward Christian Soldiers blah blah blah" personally for ten years.

    Folks that have a serious problem with the overt Christianity involved in wearing the uniform are not usually the type to put one on in the first place. This is why when someone does speak up, it is so disruptive to the well oiled machine that is the US Armed Forces.
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    Apr 30, 2008 10:56 PM GMT
    In every unit I served with the super religious guy was usually at the brunt of criticism. I served for 24 years, it never changed. Every platoon or company has at least one.

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    Apr 30, 2008 11:14 PM GMT
    Well Americas founding Forefathers were Pome, puritans. They founded America on their pseudo conservative beliefs. So Americas foundations are religious.

    Now down in Oz. Our Founding forefathers, were also Pome. But our foundations, were either convicts, or pioneers.

    Yet church and State in the US of A. are not to be One. Yet America is a very religious country. With homegrown religions that seem to feel they have the right to invade the rest of the world.

    Yet down in Oz. Church and state have never been separate. Yet we are not a religious country. Our head of state. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, is the head of the Church of England. So Oz is a protestant island. Yet our Queen does not force her will on us. Yet the Pope seems to think he has this right.

    Not surprised this is becoming an issues in he US of A. As from what I have seen, and know. Separation of church and state is a myth.
  • Koaa2

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    Apr 30, 2008 11:19 PM GMT
    Where are those damn lions when you need them!