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18 May 2008

Holy warriors in the US armed forces, The Real News Network

Yes, this is a healthy development: Christian fascists in the armed forces, evangelizing everyone else, as well as our Muslim "enemies." Very nice.



More here:
Update: For anyone coming by from Prison Fellowship...

First, this primer:


Second, my correspondence with my good friend Allen T. on this issue, stemming from the first video above, "Holy Warriors":
I don't doubt Mikey Weinstein's (sp?) sincerity, but this is ... [I'm trying to find something nice to replace "crazy" but I'm struggling].
Through 1:38, I already think: Mikey, you've GOT to be bloody kidding me.
First of all, if you put all these theological categories in here ... "dominionist", "premillenial", "dispensational", "fundamentalist," and so on (I don't even KNOW what "reconstructionist" means!!) ... you've already whittled down to maybe 5% of the people who actually and accurately describe themselves as Christians. Most Christians haven't a clue what all of this hoo-hah is. Well, except "fundamentalist" of course; they get that. But only some of the Baptists and some non-denominationals even fit that description.
The thought that these are 12% of the population in America is high-larious!! Seriously, it's crazy!! No. Way. Uh uh. Maybe half a percent. Maybe.
And then this notion that The Great Commission is seen as "trumping" the Constitution?? By whom?? And in what context?? Good grief - yes, as a Christian, I believe that the call of Christ upon my life is of greater importance than that of man, including the government. Hence Augustin's City of God. But that doesn't mean that I can break laws or trample other people's constitutional rights in some bizarre pursuit of The Great Commission. Who believes that, even generally speaking, let alone the military?? I can't imagine.
Now, are there a large number of Christians in the military? Absolutely. Many of these are men and women who simply desire to live out their worldview in a selfless manner, very similar to how you do. Now, you'd never set foot in the military, and I understand why. But just as your motivation is to live simply, eschew materialism and help others through your own chosen lifestyle and employment, that's their motivation.
These are simply patriotic Americans, that's it. Sometimes TOO patriotic? YES. Nationalism in the Church as a problem is one of the things that Greg Boyd has written about, been hailed by NYT about, and been criticized by some in the American Church about. But I'm with Boyd there. It's not a problem for the military, it's a problem for the purity of the Church.
But that's more because these are Americans who are proud of their country. They err on the side of "my country right or wrong," but they aren't animated in their war-making policy convictions by The Great Commission.
Oh, I'm sure you can find the occasional Christian soldier who believes some weird stuff, of course, but nothing worth reporting as a trend, much less a disturbing one.
These Christian fellowship groups. There are groups like this in, I swear, pretty much every occupational sector in the U.S. Of course they want godly leadership. Of course they want a godly army. In Christian terms, this is to say "righteous," "good", "moral" etc. Not 21st Century Knights Templar marching east to recapture Jerusalem.
"Reclaiming territory" ... I could see how this could be misconstrued. But this is simply Weinstein's lack of familiarity with Christian vernacular and ... ironically ... seeing demons around every corner. This is referencing what the Christian understands to be the unseen spiritual war. By obedience, and by seeing others turn to Christ, the Christian understands Christ to be "reclaiming territory" from the Enemy, yes, Satan. To those who believe there to be no metaphysical dimension, this sounds like utter rubbish of course. And silly at that. And that's fine by me. So long as they don't misunderstand it to be talking about physically claiming physical territory!! Yikes!
OK, that's my review through 3:19. Gotta go wash the dishes. I'm just saying Weinstein is way, way off. Just crazy off. I trust him to mean well, i guess, but he doesn't understand the target of his "research" at all - I mean, he couldn't be more errant in his understanding - and I suspect he has a bent for conspiracy theories which is helping to lead him astray.
Gotta go man. All the best,
Allen
My response:
Hey, Allen:

Well, (1) this isn't about Christians, or Protestants. I also didn't like that they misspelled Dominionist. :) Wait -- they changed it! I e-mailed them about it; as I'm sure others did. That was embarrassing for them.

I agree these folks, however defined, are a relatively small group. All the same caveats we should all have when talking about different sects of Islam -- or any other religion or grouping of any kind. Granted, happily! Listen again: he clearly notes how small a group he's talking about -- 12.6 percent seems rather small, and, yes, I'd like to see how that number was arrived at, too -- relative to Christians as a whole, and notes that 96% of his org are Christian themselves. So, ya gotta get beyond that!

This is not the only report on this issue: there are a whole load of rightwing, nominally Christian (you know what I mean: Jesus would throw up if he saw what these people are preaching in his name) yahoos out and about, and apparently in the army at a higher percentage than among the population. You can learn more about it here at this Cornell-run website. (Latte-sippers, I know!) Plenty of articles all over the media about these issues that Mikey's talking about, as you can see in my post.

There are those out there who are not as sane as you on church and state. This isn't aimed at you (by Mikey or by me!); it's aimed at these people, however many, who are acting in this fashion in the military. And elsewhere, like the Justice Dept -- he's dead right about that.

Also, this is not aimed at the military as a matter of criticism of the military. It's meant to make the military react to this group within it whose evangelizing is simply out-of-bounds, or should be.

I agree with you about nationalism and religion -- very dangerous mix. Nationalism in general, all by itself, is at best a quality of dubious value; easily manipulated.

I understand your point about "territory" being meant metaphysically or spiritually -- basically, not literally. But literalists abound in all ideologies/religions; apparently, there are those who take this stuff literally. I'm sure you know that "jihad" in mainstream Islam refers to exactly the same thing: a struggle in the mind, not on the ground! But there are those wackos who literalize it.

So, I think we probably mostly agree on church and state: this is really an empirical matter. Is it 12.6%? Show me the data. What's exactly happening in the military? Follow the court case; check it out.

But it's not Christian-bashing, as far as I can tell. I'm not a fan of that -- remember, all I care about (well not "all") is actions, not reasons for...

Best,

Dug

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