Monday, December 11, 2006

Onward Christian Soldiers -Pt. 1

New Battles in the War Against The First Amendment

A couple of stories today about the ongoing efforts by elements in the Republican party and the current administration to turn America into a theocracy. First up is this item from the Washington Post on the subject of high-ranking officers in the Pentagon violating regulations by proselytizing in uniform.
"A military watchdog group is asking the Defense Department to investigate whether seven Army and Air Force officers violated regulations by appearing in uniform in a promotional video for an evangelical Christian organization.

In the video, much of which was filmed inside the Pentagon, four generals and three colonels praise the Christian Embassy, a group that evangelizes among military leaders, politicians and diplomats in Washington. Some of the officers describe their efforts to spread their faith within the military.
"I found a wonderful opportunity as a director on the joint staff, as I meet the people that come into my directorate," Air Force Maj. Gen. Jack J. Catton Jr. says in the video. "And I tell them right up front who Jack Catton is, and I start with the fact that I'm an old-fashioned American, and my first priority is my faith in God, then my family and then country. I share my faith because it describes who I am."
Pete Geren, a former acting secretary of the Air Force who oversaw the service's response in 2005 to accusations that evangelical Christians were pressuring cadets at the Air Force Academy, also appears in the video. The Christian Embassy "has been a rock that I can rely on, been an organization that helped me in my walk with Christ, and I'm just thankful for the service they give," he says.
In 2003, Army Lt. Gen. William G. "Jerry" Boykin drew criticism for appearing in uniform before church groups and saying, in remarks captured on video, that President Bush was "appointed by God," that the United States is "a Christian nation" and that Muslims worship "an idol." The inspector general's office determined that Boykin had not violated any rules, and he remained in a top intelligence post."
The part about Pete Geren I find particularly disturbing, as I blogged on the Air Force Academy issue HERE, and it is obvious that the response to complaints about this blatant violation of the first amendment is to assign someone who is part of the problem to deal with it. That approach seems to be part of White House doctrine these days, the policy of perpetuating every problem.

I myself am an atheist, but I respect other people's right to make up their own minds about things. I don't even see why some people object to such things as having the ten commandments displayed in public buildings, it sounds too much like censorship to me.
Blatant violations of the first amendment are another thing altogether. The protections guaranteed by the Bill of Rights also protect believers and members of faiths not in the majority. See RevPhat's post on this subject HERE.
There is also the issue of being Christian and being a soldier to begin with. Many pacifist faiths require a conscientious abstention from military duty. This post at Lew Rockwell points out why.
"If the U.S. military was engaged in guarding our borders, patrolling our coasts, and genuinely defending the country instead of establishing and guarding a U.S. global empire, then perhaps a soldier would be a noble occupation that one could wholeheartedly perform as a Christian.
But now more than ever, the Christian in the military faces the possibility of having to kill (in the name of freedom and democracy, of course) for the state in some foreign country that we are not at war with (there has been no declaration of war in the United States since World War II) and many Americans can’t even locate on a map.
Blind obedience to the state is not a tenet of New Testament Christianity."
I don't even want to begin on the possibility that the Religious Right is deliberately trying to start a perpetual holy war against Islam. That's just too scary.

Update: The video mentioned above is now available at Crooks & Liars. Thanks, John. Thanks too to Mike for including me in today's Blog Roundup.

Onward Christian Soldiers - Pt. 2
Onward Christian Soldiers - Pt. 3: No War Toys For the Prince of Peace

Related Posts:
Faith-Based Initiatives Abused
Once Upon A Time
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