The Trump Effect: religious fervour engulfs armed forces
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), headed by Michael ‘Mikey’ Weinstein, above, is alleging that Donald Trump’s presidency has led to such a steep rise in fundamentalist Christian evangelising and religious bigotry in the US armed forces that the matter is reaching the level of a ‘national security threat’.
According to this Newsweek report, the number of complaints from servicemen and women in the Army, Air Force, Marines and other service branches to the MRFF has doubled in number since November 2016.
Many of the recent charges are coming from members of minority religions, including Roman Catholics, Jews and Muslims, and from atheists. Among the complaints: military family and marital therapy programmes are being infused with Protestant Christianity in violation of theConstitution; open anti-Semitism; anti-LGBT statements, posters, symbols and bullying; openly anti-Muslim rhetoric and Islamophobic attacks; a rise in on-base evangelising; and increased pressure on recruits or lower-level personnel and service members to convert to fundamentalist Christianity.
Said Weinstein, above:
With the advent of Trump as the Commander in Chief of our armed forces, MRFF has experienced a massive influx of new military and civilian personnel complaints of religion-based prejudice and bigotry, most of them coming from non-fundamentalist Christians being persecuted by their military superiors for not being ‘Christian enough’.
The reality of Trump being Commander in Chief has unleashed a raging battle cry along the lines of ‘There’s a new sheriff in town, and he loves white, male, straight, Christian fundamentalists one hell of a lot more than anyone else.
The fundamentalist/Dominionist bullies have been emboldened by Trump’s own bigotry and that of his henchmen to such a profound degree that MRFF considers the dire situation to be nothing less than a full-fledged national security threat to our country.
He says non-commissioned officers at one Air Force base reported that their superiors told them Trump would make it USAF policy that in order for “disbelieving Jews” to be allowed into the USAF or deemed fit for promotions, they would have to show via objectively established behaviour that they were at least honestly:
Considering the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
At another base, the wife of a combat-decorated Muslim US Naval officer, who was wearing a Muslim headscarf, was surrounded in the commissary and spit upon and cursed as not being:
A true American and being a spy and a terrorist.
She was with her children at the time.
In both situations, the targets complained to the MRFF because they feared retaliation if they went through their chain of command. The MRFF then lodged formal complaints with the service branches, and the incidents were addressed, Weinstein says.
The military recently backtracked on an edict requiring thousands of married couples in a marital programme called “Strong Bonds” to participate in Protestant prayer sessions. As of 2014, more than 37,000 Army personnel participated in the Strong Bonds programme. On May 19, Brigadier General Christian Rofrano told the MRFF via email that the complaints had been heard. He wrote:
Presently, the Air National Guard leadership is in the process of rescinding and re-issuing its program guidance.
But numerous other complaints remain unaddressed. For example, 36 Air Force Global Strike Command personnel complained in March about a plan to include prayer among the activities in its “Year of the Family” programme. The AFGSC has approximately 31,000 personnel at Barksdale Air Force Base near Shreveport, Louisiana. It is responsible for the nation’s three intercontinental ballistic nuclear missile wings, the Air Force’s bomber force and operational and maintenance support for organisations within the nuclear enterprise.
More than 100 service members also complained in March when Army Major General Julie Bentz, above, Vice Director of the multi-service Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization, gave a speech at the 56th Annual Kansas Prayer Breakfast, during which she stated:
But my greatest privilege is standing in front of my king and my God, carrying every member of my organization to his throne and asking for his protection, his mercy, his love on each of them and their families and whatever are their concerns and burdens of the day.
One of those who objected to her statement was a senior military officer who wrote to the foundation, saying:
As someone who’s served more than 25 years in uniform, including one assignment at the very organization to which she is now assigned as the deputy, I just can’t imagine a much more inappropriate or disconcerting message.
In February, the American Civil Liberties Union and the MRFF challenged the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego over its annual Christmas crèche, arguing that it must allow Jews and other religions to erect religious symbols on its grounds as well. The staff judge advocate declined to review the complaint, judging it “premature”.
Fundamentalist views are decidedly in the minority in the general population, but they have adherents in some of the US military’s most powerful positions, especially in and around Washington, DC, and in Colorado Springs, home of the US Air Force Academy and the nation’s nuclear command center.
The US military has long been infested with radical Christian fundamentalists – sometimes called Christian Dominionists or Christian Reconstructionists – who believe a “Warrior Jesus” is on their side as they fight against Islam. They believe they are establishing a “Kingdom of God” on earth, starting with the United States, and are predictably anti-LGBT and unfriendly to females among their ranks.
The MRFF was founded in 2005 by Weinstein to counter that spread and advocate for broad religious freedom and freedom from religion within the military. More than 50,000 complaints have been filed with the foundation, the vast majority coming from Protestants offended by being hectored with radical interpretations of their own religion. Since last November, there’s been a spike in anti-Semitism and attacks on minority religious views.
The MRFF estimates that 84 percent of military chaplains are evangelicals, and about a third of them are fundamentalists, defined by the MRFF as Christians who have decided that their evangelising and proselytising need not conform to the US Constitution, case law or any DoD directives restricting their behaviour.
The Christian right’s willingness to see Trump as a saviour for their cause – if not a messianic figure, despite his living as an urban libertine who has had three wives and a history of lewd acts and statements – continues to grow.
His selection of an evangelical as Vice President, plus the appointment of at least nine evangelicals to his Cabinet, has apparently soothed any concerns the religious right had about his personal life.
Last week, defrocked ex-felon Jim Bakker, no stranger to licentious behavior with women himself, said Trump’s critics were channeling the spirit of the Antichrist.
It seems like there is a hatred among peoples and this is satanic. You want to know what the Antichrist spirit looks like? That’s what’s going on in America. These people mocking the President. The words they use. The speech they use. That’s the spirit of Antichrist. That’s the spirit of hatred.
Weinstein also shared with Newsweek dozens of hate-filled emails directed to him from former and current service members, stating that they pray for his death and eternal life in hell. He says small victories like the one involving the Strong Bonds programme last week can’t keep up with the changed tone at the top, and its effect on behavior in the middle and lower ranks among the fundamentalists in the military community.
In 2015, the deranged right-wing Shoebat.com alleged that, under Obama, the US armed forces were systematically purging Christians from their ranks. Michael Snyder wrote:
The US military is being transformed into an overtly anti-Christian institution, and for those of us that are Christians that is a very chilling development.
He went on to describe the MRFF as:
A very insidious organization. It is headed up by a man named Mikey Weinstein. He has called Christians “human monsters” and “enemies of the United States Constitution“. Weinstein is convinced that sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ while in the military is “sedition and treason” and should be punished as such.
With guys like that telling the Pentagon how to treat Christians, no wonder things have gotten so bad. Obama is ‘fundamentally transforming’ the military, and those that aren’t willing to go along are being forced out.
Just how crazy is Shoebat? Very! Just read this post-Manchester rant by Christian militant Theodore Shoebat, above, who said he has no sympathy for the victims of the bombing this week because:
The types of people who go to these concerts are the same types of people who are responsible for the degeneracy that you see in society, the moral decay. They go to these concerts dressed up as whores, dressed up as sluts, they’re pro-sodomite, they’re pro-divorce, they’re pro-infidelity.
They want evil, they want decay, they want sodomy, they want Sodom and Gomorrah.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn (Theodore Batshit report)