FORBES – “Mikey Weinstein, the avenging angel of MRFF,” fights proselytizing Army training game

Selected Article Excerpts:

  • May God have mercy on the Pentagon’s soul, for the lawyers may not. A computer game to train Army chaplains may draw a lawsuit from a civil liberties group who fear the game will become a tool for fundamentalist Christian coercion in the U.S. military.
  • Spiritual Triage is a tool to allow chaplains to train for a situation where there are mass casualties, including ministering to dying soldiers. The theory is that chaplains will get more practice in coping with highly stressful situations if they can supplement their face-to-face classroom training with a computer game.
  • Except that there are a couple of obstacles between the Army and eternal bliss. The first is that the Army’s Chaplain School says it never asked for the game and doesn’t want it. The second is Mikey Weinstein, the avenging angel of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, who says he may file a federal lawsuit to stop the development of the Spiritual Triage game. Though he won’t disclose his legal strategy, presumably it will focus on whether the game violates the separation of church and state.
  • Weinstein, himself a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, has long fought against what he and others see as a pervasive effort by fundamentalist Christians to impose their values on the U.S. military, which has been plagued for years with accusations of coercion and proselytizing by fundamentalist Christians among U.S. military personnel, as well as incendiary actions such as proselytizing among Afghans. Weinstein particularly points to the nfluence of dominionist theology, a militant, nationalistic belief which holds that the U.S. is a Christian nation that should be governed by Christian rather than secular law.
  • Yet I suspect the real question over Spiritual Triage won’t be the game itself, but rather who decides what goes into the game. As would be expected, the Army says it will be designed with input from military chaplains. But if Weinstein’s fears come true, the content will be more likely to reflect the values of a specific religious denomination. That may or may not happen, but Weinstein is correct to point out that there are so many religious denominations among the major religions that they can’t possibly all be included.

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1 Comment

  1. SJ

    Don’t chaplains support wounded dying soldiers in that soldiers stated religious preference including nonfaith? Seems like training simulation to further that training would enhance that. Is Mr. Weinstein just grabbing headlines on something that isn’t finshed yet and doesn’t have finalized content or training plan. Wouldn’t having simulation that follows regulatory guidance and creates random demographically accurate scenarios be useful to ensuring chaplains in training understand correct methods? Mr. Weinstein is vowing to prevent training from happening. Isn’t an untrained chaplain more likely to make the mistakes MRFF is concerned with? MRFF position on this doesn’t make sense, unless for publicity.

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