“Militarized Christianity is a Lie”

Posted: May 19, 2009 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Good news (I guess) from the Pentagon!

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon said Monday it no longer includes a Bible quote on the cover page of daily intelligence briefings it sends to the White House as was practice during the Bush administration.

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand,” read the cover quote two weeks earlier, on March 31, above a picture of a U.S. tank driving through the desert, according to the magazine, which obtained copies of the documents.

Not that Air Force Maj. Gen. Glen Shaffer’s use of these passages was anything other than rank idolatry and a willful distortion of the message of the Gospels and of scripture in general, but just so that we are clear, the rest of the Ephesians passage reads thus, emphasis mine:

Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 15As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. 16With all of these,* take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Truth, righteousness, proclamation of the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, the word of God–note the distance between these beautiful intangibles and a mechanized killing machine.  Again, I’ll quote Father Zabelka:

There is no way to follow Christ, to love as Christ loved, and simultaneously to kill other people. It is a lie to say that the spirit that moves the trigger of a flamethrower is the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ. It is a lie to say that learning to kill is learning to be Christ-like. It is a lie to say that learning to drive a bayonet into the heart of another is motivated from having put on the mind of Christ. Militarized Christianity is a lie.

Jesus Christ taught and lived nonviolent, self-sacrificing love for everyone, including enemies who wanted (and succeeded, for a few days) to kill him. He expects those of us who claim his name to do the same.

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Comments
  1. Why is it good news? Soldiers and commanders alike are sustained by their faith in times of war. Sending American Soldiers in harm’s way no doubt took its toll on the President; if the PDB was the first thing he read every morning, perhaps he wanted to read a bible passage first. Who knows?

    I do not doubt the veracity of this report. But I’ve worked in the Pentagon for over a year and NEVER seen anything on a briefing or a wall depicting anything remotely religious, save for a few electronic bulletin boards announcing services in the chapel (for all denominations). If there is an underlying unhealthy religious culture prevalent in the building I am oblivious to it, and I spend too much time in there as it is (ask my wife!).

    While you may disagree with the inclusion of prayers on moral grounds, many on the secular left will once again portray the military as religiously enthralled fanatics, which is far from the reality.

    The real story should have been the reports themselves; reporters thirty years ago would have been more concerned with the (presumably faulty) information in the intel reports, not the tacky prayer on the cover sheet. . .

  2. dcrowe says:

    Hi wilsonrofishing:

    The real story should have been the reports themselves; reporters thirty years ago would have been more concerned with the (presumably faulty) information in the intel reports, not the tacky prayer on the cover sheet. . .

    I totally agree. I suppose I’ve exhausted my ability to get worked up over this particular set of faulty intelligence, given that I’ve been angry about it for years.

    I hoped to convey a bit of ambivalence about how good the news was with my opening line–I think it’s a good decision, but honestly, damage done. Most of my unhappiness about this story can be summed up in three points:

    1) I think this kind of thing is incredibly short-sighted and plays right into the radicalization narrative of folks like al-Qaida.

    2) I get offended to some degree anytime anyone feels like they can treat sacred scripture like a compendium of ready-made slogans to be slapped onto any remotely applicable situation once stripped of context. The example above is a good illustration of this. The use to which the words are put and Paul’s intent are miles apart. Both parties and folks of every ideological stripe do this, and no matter who does it, it’s offensive and, I think, idolatrous.

    3) Their use, I believe (and I may be wrong; it’s just my impression), was intended to convey a sense of righteousness and holy endorsement for an exercise that cannot in any way be made to conform with the teachings and example of Christ. Soldiers can be sustained by whatever spirituality they want, but the fact that it is transcendent and comforting in no way identifies it as a Christian spirituality. There are plenty of spiritualities in the world that would bless the activity depicted in those slides, but the Way taught by Christ and his earliest disciples is not one of them.

  3. DC Crowe,

    Good commentary as always! I agree 100% with 1 and 2 of your points above; #3 (for my slow processing speed), will need a little more thought before I responfd to it).

    I thought a little bit more about those intel reports that someone tricked out with some scripture. . .It would be interesting to see what exactly the President was being briefed from ’03-05, and a good gauge of how effective our government (the buraeucracy that remains in place as administrations come and go) is. Everyone who writes about this era largely focuses on the intel on WMDs in Iraq; what would be worth looking at would be the intel post invasion (and the same thing in Afghanistan); was the President given accurate intelligence on the rapidly developing insurgencies in either country? If so, the government’s response was abysmal; if not, well, it’s further indication of the lack of intel capacity this nation has.

    Intelligence is obviously important in war, but more importantly, a good intelligence apparatus can help a nation avoid war as well. . .

    Cheers!

  4. Ignore my brutalized spellings above, my fat fingers are working a tiny kiosk keyboard today. . .

  5. dcrowe says:

    Intelligence is obviously important in war, but more importantly, a good intelligence apparatus can help a nation avoid war as well. . .

    Absolutely…see Soviet Union and our spy satellites.

    I always ignore the typos. I also have 10 thumbs and rarely enjoy using a keyboard lol (although my mac…I love it)

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