“The Weaponized Gospel of Jesus Christ”: Mikey Weinstein of the Military
Religious Freedom Foundation on
fascists in the US military

Monday, January 18, 2010

By Nick Holt

The Huffington Post Logo

“How do you see the balance between the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause?” I asked.

There was a long pause. Civilians might reasonably plead ignorance, but not a general who has sworn on his life to defend these words: “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

“I have to write those things down,” Regni finally answered. “What did you say those constitutional things were again?”

Journalist Jeff Sharlet, speaking with US Air Force Academy Commander Lieutenant General John Regni, “Jesus killed Mohammed: The crusade for a Christian military”, Harper’s Magazine, May 2009

“For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather, life is lived for struggle.

“Thus pacifism is trafficking with the enemy. It is bad because life is permanent warfare. This, however, brings about an Armageddon complex. Since enemies have to be defeated, there must be a final battle, after which the movement will have control of the world…

“In every mythology the hero is an exceptional being, but in Ur-Fascist ideology heroism is the norm. This cult of heroism is strictly linked with the cult of death. …the Ur-Fascist hero craves heroic death, advertised as the best reward for a heroic life. The Ur-Fascist hero is impatient to die. In his impatience, he more frequently sends other people to death.”

From “Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt” by Umberto Eco, New York Review of Books, June 22, 1995

In the mainstream news media, there is much talk about the terrifying possibility of religious fundamentalists acquiring a weapon of mass destruction. Largely unreported is the fact that this has already occurred, not by the Taliban or al-Qaeda, but by Fundamentalist Christians in the US military, with control and access to incomprehensibly deadly weapons and a devotion to a homicidal and fascistic “End Times” theology.

Former Air Force Judge Advocate General Mikey Weinstein is the founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an organization that battles the Fundamentalist Christians in the Federal Courts and the news media. He took time to speak with me on December 28, 2009. The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Mikey Weinstein: I’m a civil rights activist. Our foundation is a very militant organization and our militancy is in support of the Constitution. Right now, we have a Fundamentalist Christian tsunami that has swept through the technologically most lethal organization ever created by humankind, which is our US military.

We represent just under 16, 000, now, active duty United States Marines, sailors, soldiers, airmen, cadets, midshipmen in the three major service academies, reservists, National Guards, veterans and about 96% of our clients are actually Christian, about three-fourths of that number traditional Protestants, the remaining one-fourth to be Roman Catholic. Only four-percent of our clients are Jewish, like I am, or Hindu, Buddhist, Wiccan, atheist, agnostic, Native American spiritualist, what have you.

G&R: What brings a soldier or a Marine or a sailor to you? What’s your typical client?

MW: People who come to us are not claimants. We view them as they’ve basically been spiritually raped by Fundamentalist Christian predators. Most of our clients are Christians who are being told they aren’t Christian enough. That’s only one-half of what we do.

The other half is we’re dealing with the merciless proselytizing of the Afghans, the Iraqis, and the Pakistanis by our military, its contractors, KBR (Kellogg Brown Root), Xe—or whatever they used to call Blackwater—and others.

Generally, it’s a member of the military that has felt coerced into accepting this one particular Biblical world view of Fundamentalist Christianity.

G&R: Describe to me the folks who are doing this coercion. Are they Fundamentalists? Are they Dominionists?

MW: We have Evangelical Christians who are contributors, supporters, and clients. But, there’s a difference between a Fundamentalist and an Evangelical Christian. They both have this deal to proselytize, pursuant to Mark 16:15 and Matthew 28:19, the so-called “Great Commission”, which is one of the last things Jesus is supposed to have said to his disciples, “Go and make disciples of all nations.”

The difference is, an Evangelical Christian will say, “I’ve got to comport my desire to convert you in accordance with the time, place, and manner as outlined by the Constitution and construing Federal case law.”

A Fundamentalist Christian will say, “Well, fuck that. I’ll do whatever the fuck I wanna do.”

There are four particular stenches to Fundamentalist Christians:

The first is virulent anti-Semitism and virulent Islamaphobia.

Then you’ve got virulent misogyny, the belief that women should be consigned to preparing food, selecting food, serving food, cleaning up after a meals, spreading their legs, getting pregnant. That’s pretty much it.

Then there’s this virulent homophobia.

And then, last is a great desire to subordinate what they view as flawed man’s law to this pristine, weaponized gospel of Jesus Christ that they propagate.

The long term we use for them is Premellennial Dispensational Reconstructionist Dominionist Fundamentalist Evangelical Christians. It’s about 12.6 percent of the American public.

Even Army Times, a couple of months ago came out with the story about (how) there are1.4 million, approximately, members of the military in the four services, the Marines of course being part of the Navy, in uniform, and 500,000 are self-professed Evangelicals. But Evangelicals alone, that’s not a problem for us. It’s the Fundamentalists.

And they are the exact mirror-image of what we’re facing with Wahhabist Fundamentalist Islam in the body-corporate, if you will, of al-Quaeda , the Taliban, the insurrectionists, and the jihadists. And what (the Fundamentalist Christians are) doing makes it that much easier for their propaganda machine. And al-Qaeda’s like a floating cloud on the internet. They aren’t even in Afghanistan in any numbers whatsoever. Maybe 80 of them are, something like that.

We had members in the Bush administration reach out to us and say “You know, you’re right, and this is stupid, what we’re doing, because we’re serving as an accelerant and lubricant for already angry and pissed off Islamic young men and women in Libya, Morocco, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, and now they want to come and join the cause.”…

We’re not talking on this phone call this Monday night about a problem, challenge, or issue. Not at all. We’re talking about a national security threat to this country…

Let me give you an example that’s hardly had any light of day. About ten or eleven days ago, an amazing thing happened. In Homer and Marge Simpson America, the country that is docile and supine (where) most Americans could tell you who the finalists are for American idol but could tell you very little else about how the country works, an amazing thing happened on one of its favorite TV shows, the show called Wheel of Fortune. Have you ever heard of it?

G&R: I’m familiar.

MW: It was “Heroes Week” and they had members of the military on competing for the show. And they are wearing their uniforms and before they get going, the host asks each of the military members, “Hey, what do you do? What’s your job?”

There’s this guy in his Naval uniform, and he responds when he’s asked that question, on national if not international TV, accordingly, as follows: “I am an undersea nuclear warrior for Jesus Christ . Submarine commander.”

Do you understand how that could play out?

G&R: That’s very frightening.

MW: Oh, it’s unbelievable. Now, do you understand what kind of weaponry he has on his machine, on his submarine? He has nuclear weapons, right?

We found out who this guy is. We took this directly to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They’re not doing shit…And you think how that guy knew he could say that with impunity.

So what we’ve got is this Taliban within out military. Here’s the alchemy, if you will, of the national security threat. You’ve got fanatical religiosity, that is embodied by this Dominionist Christianity, add in real weapons of mass destruction we have and the other side doesn’t yet, thank God, mix in misguided patriotism, a total abrogation of the oath that everyone in the military takes to preserve, protect, support, and defend the Constitution, throw in a dash of unfettered access due to the draconian specter of military command influence, and then top it off with the icing of a complete dearth of any restraint, oversight, or supervision, and you have a national security threat. And that’s what we’re talking about.

It’s not that I don’t care about global warming, or HIV-positive/AIDS problems. But none of that shit’s gonna matter if the people were fighting want to end the earth. They don’t want it to keep going on. They’ll say “Yes, I currently live on planet Earth, but I’m not of this Earth. I’m of the next world. And we have to end it.”

It’s beyond frightening. We stopped a multi-star general several years ago who commanded 70,000 troops and many weapons of mass destruction. He ordered his battle staff, not his chaplains, to put together a Power Point presentation showing the direct parallel between the Book of Revelations and all of our combat movements in (Iraq and Afghanistan). We stopped it after it got out to 2500 people.

And who’s involved? (US Central Command Commander General David) Petraeus! He’s one of the worst!

G&R: Tell me about General Petraeus.

MW: He unilaterally endorsed, on the cover of the book, the book Under Orders (A Spiritual Handbook for Military Personnel by William McCoy), a book that talks about how ridiculous the separation of church and state is, if you’re not the right type of religious faith you’re going to be a weak element for members of your military team. He suggests every member of the military while he was in command in Iraq carry a copy of that in their rucksack.

We caught him and his public affairs people said, “Well, he thought that was like a private endorsement.” In other words, he was only sorry that we caught him, he wasn’t sorry that he said it.

G&R: I think it was pretty well understood, the friendly relationship between the George W. Bush administration and religious fundamentalists. How does the treatment of these Dominionist military compare under the Obama administration?

MW: I’m really sad to tell you on this Monday evening that there’s like a seamless continuity there. We’re stunned. I mean, I’m a Republican. I spent over three years in the West Wing of the Reagan White House. I’m still a Republican. And I’m absolutely astonished at this amazing continuity.

Are you familiar with (President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s) famous farewell speech?

G&R: Military industrial complex?

MW: I keep telling people, and this is important, what we’re fighting, and we coined the term for it, is a “Fundamentalist Dominionist Christian para-church military corporate proselytizing complex.” It’s in the very air conditioning of the Department of Defense. In the very particulates of the air.

I was asked by a four-star general in the Pentagon how bad it was earlier this year, when I was in a meeting there in the E-ring. And I asked the general, and I’m gonna ask you now: Can you pick up a pen and hold it six and a half inches over your table or your desk there?

G&R: I think I can.

MW: Just drop it.

G&R: (pen drops to table) Alright.

MW: Why did it fall?

G&R: I’d say that was gravity.

MW: That’s how ubiquitous and systemic out of control Dominionist Fundamentalist Evangelical Christianity is where all the nukes, conventional, and laser guided weapons are.

The most amazing thing is that almost no one believes this can be happening unless they’re complicit! That’s what’s the most amazing thing.

G&R: Would you say that’s why it hasn’t been addressed more seriously?

MW: We’re in Federal court with a massive lawsuit, but ultimately we really need 400 court martials. The Romans had it right: you cut off somebody’s head and stick it on a pole, that catches people’s attention.

If you Google “Christian Embassy” and my name or the Foundation’s name, we’ve caught people on video tape, in the Pentagon, during the workday, endorsing one of these right-wing Fundamentalist Christian organizations. Right in the Pentagon. And a lot of these people have been promoted. They’ve been promoted!

G&R: Chris Hedges’s book, American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America, lays out a very frightening, convincing case that these Dominionist folks are fascists. What’s your take on that?

MW: I read the book when it first came out. We absolutely completely agree with him. It is a fascistic movement.

A lot of what Chris talks about is the disenfranchisement of the middleclass in this country. After 9-11, a new mega Fundamentalist Christian church, meaning 2,000 or more members, has been opening up in this country every 48-hours. The concept of this fantastical, magic (worldview is) the certainty of “if you just believe, here’s exactly what you are going to get.” These are not people who are focused on or reveling in tolerance.

And America—gosh, the three words that are woven into Americana are “tolerance for diversity.” Another way you could say it is “e pluribus unum”, you know, “out of many comes one.” What we blame the Dominionist Christians for, as described by Chris Hedges so perfectly—he was the mid-east bureau chief for the New York Times, a Pulitzer Prize winner, and I’m proud to call him a very close friend—what we blame the religious right for, the Dominionist Christians, is really a blood libel, because they take that beautiful concept that is so American, tolerance for diversity, and they rape it, brutalize it, and torture it, so that out of their mouth comes they phrase “intolerance for those of the majority.”

I’m sorry to tell them that the Bill of Rights that was passed in this country, which most American’s aren’t even aware of, was not passed for the convenience of the majority. It was passed to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority. And our founding Constitutional framers looked at Europe and European history very assiduously and saw that most of the tyrannies there had occurred when men of the cloth became men of political power. They looked at Cromwell in England, they looked at the Salem witch trials, and they said “Not here.” And it wasn’t just the separation of church and state, which of course the religious right believes is a myth like things like the Loch Ness Monster. We’re talking about Clause 3, Article VI of the Constitution which states that there will be no religious test for any position in the Federal Government.

And yet…(in 2005), you have the then number-two ranking chaplain in the Air Force Chaplains Corps, Brigadier General Cecil R. Richardson , since promoted by George Bush—he’s the head chaplain for the Air Force now, he’s a two-star—he makes the statement on the front page of the New York Times—which is the newspaper most reviled by the Pentagon, so you know it must be fully vetted—he says that the Air Force’s new policy is that it will now reserve its right to evangelize anyone it determines to be un-churched. Now that’s just fucking unbelievable. Except it’s happened!

This is not a Christian/Jewish issue or Jewish/Islamic issue or a Christian/Islamic issue. It’s not a political spectrum left or right issue. It’s a Constitutional right and wrong issue.


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