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FRIDAY, JUNE 26th, 2009

Joseph Wilson


The wall separating church and state
in the U.S. military has collapsed.

Joseph Wilson

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Joseph Wilson

Fault Lines - Religion in the Military

June 25, 2009

The United States is a deeply religious country, over 90% believe in god and 80% believe in miracles. For the US military, dealing with its own religious identity has become an internal battle. Growing evidence points towards a rising influence of evangelical Christianity, and with two wars still raging in Muslim countries with significant religious overtones, there could be serious consequences for the US mission. Pentagon officials say incidents are isolated, aberrations occur, but others closely tied to the military and its religious leadership say a transformation is taking place with dire costs. On this weeks episode of Fault Lines, we look at the battle over the religious soul of the US military.

Also, we sit down with Brent Scowcroft, the National Security Advisor under Presidents Ford and George H.W. Bush. He gives Fault Lines a fresh take on the issue of religion in the military and how it is impacting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Part 1:
Joseph Wilson

Part 2:
Joseph Wilson

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Newsweek Web Exclusive
Homepage Story

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Newsweek.com article also carried on msnbc.com
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Christian Soldiers
The growing controversy over military chaplains
using the armed forces to spread the Word.

Friday, June 19, 2009

By: Kathryn Joyce

Holy Bible Photo
Samuel Aranda/AFP-Getty Images

Ever since former president George W. Bush referred to the war on terror as a “crusade” in the days after the September 11 attacks, many have charged that the United States was conducting a holy war, pitting a Christian America against the Muslim world. That perception grew as prominent military leaders such as Lt. Gen. William Boykin described the wars in evangelical terms, casting the U.S. military as the "army of God." Although President Obama addressed the Muslim world this month in an attempt to undo the Bush administration's legacy of militant Christian rhetoric that often antagonized Muslim countries, several recent stories have framed the issue as a wider problem of an evangelical military culture that sees spreading Christianity as part of its mission.

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Defense Department-Certified
Agency Newsletter Suggests
Killing Democrats

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

By: Bruce Wilson

"In 2008, Ammerman implied that four presidential candidates should be "arrested, quickly tried and hanged" for not voting to designate English America's official language, and speculated that Barack Obama would be assassinated as a secret Muslim." - Newsweek, June 20, 2009

As noted in the Newsweek story, last fall -- as the presidential election was heating up, retired Colonel E.H. "Jim" Ammerman, in the official September 2008 newsletter [PDF of newsletter] of his Department of Defense approved chaplain endorsing agency, published a letter which suggested, per the advice of a fabricated Abraham Lincoln quote, that four US Senators should be be "arrested, quickly tried and hanged!!!"

The alleged crime? Voting against a Senate bill that would have established English as the official language of the United States. Newsweek did not reveal the names of the four senators. But a May 20, 2009 Huffington Post story by Military Religious Freedom Foundation Senior Researcher Chris Rodda does: Democratic Party senators Dodd, Biden, Clinton, and Obama.

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Jim Ammerman's Lunacy

Monday, June 22, 2009

By: Ed Brayton


You probably don't know who Jim Ammerman is. You should. He is the founder of an organization called the Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches (CFGC), which provides the official endorsements for 270 chaplains and chaplain candidates in the U.S. military (including the disgraced Gordon Klingenschmitt, who retains his endorsement from the group despite having been discharged from the military). Ammerman was himself an Army Colonel.

Kathryn Joyce has an article in Newsweek that contained a good deal of information about Ammerman. Chris Rodda also had an article about him at the Huffington Post that revealed just how much of an utter lunatic the man is. For example, the September 2006 CFGC newsletter claims that Muslims cannot be good Americans and should all be considered suspect:

"Because he cannot accept the American Constitution since it is based on Biblical principles and he believes the Bible to be corrupt." and "Because when we declare 'one nation under God,' the Christian's God is loving and kind, while Allah is never referred to as heavenly father, nor is he ever called love in the Quran's 99 excellent names."...

"Therefore after much study and deliberation, perhaps we should be very suspicious of all muslims in this country. They obviously cannot be both 'good' Muslims and good Americans."

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Col. Jim Ammerman, Apostle & New World Order Conspiracy Theorist

Monday, June 22, 2009

By: Ruth

Part Two - Conspiracy as Prophecy

New World Order Conspiracy is not disseminated by white supremacist groups alone.

New World Order conspiracy is a narrative claiming that a coordinated and international satanic cabal, usually defined as Illuminati, Jews, and Freemasons, is attempting to destroy Christian society. Belief in this paranoid conspiracy is a growing phenomenon in our nation and globally. As pointed out in my last article, the mass dissemination of New World Order conspiracy, in both religious and secular frames, is not limited to white supremacist groups or militias. And it is not just right wing broadcast pundits who are inciting people to act upon their beliefs in these paranoid conspiracies. Another layer or link exists which is getting little coverage. Many years of dissemination of end times prophecy with elaborate narratives of a coming one-world government has laid a foundation for a more widespread acceptance in the existence of a New World Order conspiracy. The "prophets" of these detailed narratives go much further than television pundits would dare, and have surprisingly large audiences.

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The FundamentaList

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

By: Sarah Posner

Army Secretary Nominee Has Questionable
Record on Church-State Separation.

Rep. John McHugh, a Republican from New York who is President Barack Obama's nominee to be secretary of the Army, is drawing scrutiny from church-state separation advocates the Secular Coalition for America and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation because of his congressional voting record on church-state separation issues. Opposition, or even indifference, to church-state separation is no minor matter in the military, given repeated revelations of violations of constitutional protections at the Pentagon, Air Force Academy, and in the field.

McHugh's voting record in the House shows a disrespect for church-state separation generally, as well as a disregard for the ongoing infringement of service members' constitutional rights from aggressive proselytization in the armed forces. In 2005, in the wake of the exposure of egregious constitutional violations at the U.S. Air Force Academy, McHugh voted against an amendment to a bill that would have required the secretary of defense to report to Congress on progress made in addressing proselytization of cadets. The amendment would have made "clear that coercive and abusive religious proselytizing at the Air Force Academy is inconsistent with the professionalism and standards required by those who serve at the Academy."

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The Huffington Post

DoD-Certified Agency's 9/08 Newsletter Suggested Killing Democrats

Sunday, June 21, 2009

By Troutfishing

"In 2008, Ammerman implied that four presidential candidates should be "arrested, quickly tried and hanged" for not voting to designate English America's official language, and speculated that Barack Obama would be assassinated as a secret Muslim." - Newsweek, June 20, 2009

Last Friday's June 20, 2009 Newsweek story by journalist Kathryn Joyce, "Christian Soldiers: The growing controversy over military chaplains using the armed forces to spread the Word", explores the role of a highly connected, retired US Colonel and military chaplain endorser at the center of a recently exposed scheme to distribute native-language Bibles in Afghanistan: chaplain endorsement agency head Jim Ammerman, who claims friends in the US Congress and Senate and states that his agency works with three and four star generals in the Pentagon. As Founder and President of the Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches,  Ammerman presides over more than 270 active duty military chaplains, perhaps 7-8 percent of military chaplains.

The Newsweek story also noted that in 2008 Jim Ammerman "implied that four presidential candidates should be "arrested, quickly tried and hanged" though Newsweek  did not reveal the names of those senators or when the newsletter was published.  But a May 20, 2009 story Huffington Post story by Military Religious Freedom Foundation Senior Researcher Chris Rodda does: Dodd, Biden, Clinton, and Obama. The newsletter was published in September, just as the 2008 presidential election was heating up [PDF file of  September 2008 Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches newsletter].

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The Huffington Post Logo

Newsweek: Military Chaplains Using Armed Forces to Spread Christianity

Friday, June 19, 2009

By: Bruce Wilson

A breaking Newsweek story by journalist Kathryn Joyce, "Christian Soldiers: The growing controversy over military chaplains using the armed forces to spread the Word", explores the role of a highly connected, retired US Colonel and military chaplain endorser at the center of a recently exposed scheme to distribute Arabic language Bibles in Afghanistan: chaplain endorsement agency head Jim Ammerman, who claims friends in the US Congress and Senate and states that his agency works with three and four star generals in the Pentagon.

Joyce's story expertly covers the foreign policy dimensions of the story as well as the religious freedom issues defended by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which defends freedom of worship, and fights improper evangelizing, in the United States Military.

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The American Pro

Full Harper's article now available online!

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R

Joseph Wilson

In an article reflecting on the meaning of Memorial Day in an article titled "Remember Me," Navy chaplain Lt. Joel Degraeve gave the Marines at Camp Lejeune a little dose of revisionist history. To support his pronouncements that "we must never forget how God spoke to Americans through great pioneers of our country," and that we need to be "one nation, under God" for "God to free us from economic and social decay," Chaplain Degraeve used a fabricated George Washington quote commonly seen on the Christian nationalist websites and in the books of Christian nationalist history revisionists, claiming that Washington said: "It is impossible to govern the world without God and the Bible." George Washington never said this!

Even David Barton, (www.wallbuilders.com) the noted historical revisionist who popularized this fake quote, has admitted he had no source for it and has advised his followers to not to use it. Chaplain Degraeve's regurgitation of this fake Washington quote is but one of many, many examples found by MRFF of the growing problem of Christian nationalist historical revisionism being spread through the U.S. military through its publications and websites.

Chaplain's Newsletter - 2nd Quarter
By LT DeGraeve

REMEMBER ME?

Memorial Day just passed by calling young and old to remember those who sacrificed their lives for the spoils of our lives today. Upcoming two months from now is another holiday marking the seed planted by our nation’s patriarchs passed, Independence Day. With these honoring events, we must never forget how God spoke to Americans through great pioneers of our country. We must listen.

From our nation’s beginning, President George Washington said, "It is impossible to govern the world without God and the Bible. Of all dispositions and habits that lead to political prosperity, our religion and morality are indispensable supporters." During the US civil war Abraham Lincoln met with a group of ministers for a prayer breakfast. Lincoln was a man of deep, if at times unorthodox, faith. At one point one of the ministers said, "Mr. President, let us pray that God is on our side". Lincoln’s response showed far greater insight, "No, gentlemen, let us pray that we are on God’s side."

That’s what Memorial Day and Independence Day is all about—remembering the ones who left directions calling all Americans to preserve the unity of this nation under God. All Americans need to listen and truly live in accordance to this pledge of allegiance, sacrificing our lives through words and deeds for our nation. We need to pledge this allegiance to our nation through words and deeds for our children, for the future leaders of our state. In the end, if we want God to free us from economic and social decay, then we must first strive to live a life of conformity to being one nation, under God, indivisible.


MRFF In Box
MRFF's Inbox

June 20, 2009

Thanks for sending these very important articles. People are under the misconception that things are changing with Obama, but his faith-based initiatives, and faith office in HHS, indicate otherwise. Onwards!

[name withheld]


June 20, 2009

Dear Mr. Weinstein,

I just read the Harpers article and would like to say that I fully support what you are doing. I had three sons in the military with one still in the [military branch withheld]. My advice to him has been not to let the proselytizers browbeat him into practicing their religion (we are Catholic) and to avoid officers who act as such.

My parents had and I have strong memories of when Catholics were mistreated by Evangelicals. It distresses me to see many Catholics in league with them on so many activities, for should the Evangelicals achieve their ultimate end - to make their religion into the Church of America, my own denomination would be stomped out. I am under no illusions here.

This southern WASP pushiness we know all too well and I have learned to push back. I work for a defense contractor to the [military branch withheld], where there an [military branch withheld] employee came into my area with a cart stacked with copies of "The Purpose Driven Life." After distributing copies to those who wanted them, the remainder were stacked on the area secretary's desk for whoever wanted one. I immediately went to the top manager for my area and insisted that they all be removed and that they guy who brought them in not be allowed to proselytize in the area. I told him that the archbishop for the city would not be please to know that my company acted in preference to a group of religions. The manager accommodated me on this, where we agreed that they could post an 8&1/2 x 11" notice on the bulletin board, offering copies, but nothing more. I could supply particulars, but I would want my name or my role not to ever be associated with this incident should it become publicly visible.

I also purchased "A Catholic Perspective on the Purpose Driven Life" to see what my church's take on it was. I turned out that while the author was sympathetic to most of its contents, being generally Christian or even Judeo-Christian, there were several passages which pushed Calvinist ideas like predestination and the elect. Catholicism also differs from Evangelical Christianity in that the latter emphasizes faith alone, while the former also emphasizes what we actually do to others in this life.

Politically, I see the rise of such pushiness of Evangelical Christianity as a perennial southern WASP trait combined with an ethnocentric attitude that they should dominate America. During the last two elections, they came out in force as usual for their candidates and lost because their numbers are declining relative to the overall population. This is the time when they are at their most dangerous, for they are still large in number, know they are losing, and would be tempted to employ non-democratic means. At bottom, this is all about ethnicity as well as religion with a large chunk of the WASP community in this country seeing themselves as "those who made America great." Watching "Blazing Saddles" I can laugh about it, but it is no laughing matter.

Recent history is replete with such examples of a minority dominating a country, from South Africa prior to FW DeKlerk to Saddam's Iraq. But the best analogy with Evangelical whites is the role the Russians played in the Soviet Union. There are many parallels between the American Southerner and the Great Russian, and should the South ever become its own country, I predict it would be much like Russia. Back in the 1980s, a point was made in Soviet Military Power, published by the government during the Reagan years, that the Soviet armed forces were dominated by Great Russians, much like the US military is dominated by Evangelicals. The implication, which I believe was the correct interpretation, was that the Soviet Union was in actuality a Russian empire.

I myself don't want to live in an Evangelical WASP empire.

What I would like to see is Obama to act decisively to purge the military of officers who proselytize religion, starting with the Air Force Academy. To allow the current situation is to offer Evangelical clerics the opportunity of a Kapp putcsh or other means to threaten our form of government. A government dominated by Evangelical whites would at best suffer religious violence like Northern Ireland. I know of a loading dock worker when I worked for Raytheon in Massachusetts, from the Irish-American community there, who would run guns to the IRA. I could easily see him and others like him starting an IRA-like group here to fight Evangelicals. The last revolution started in Boston.

Good luck with what you are doing. I will donate money later. Let me know what I can do.

Regards,

[name withheld]


June 24, 2009

YOU PEOPLE GET A LIFE - GO BACK TO RUSSIA WHERE YOU BELONG

[name withheld]


June 24, 2009

To whom it might concern,

This is the first time I have ever seen a organization dedicated to religious freedom in the military and am very happy to see it. Too bad I did not know about your organization eight years back when I needed it. However, better late then never. Hopefully in the future I will be able to share my personal experiences, research and donate time and money into your worth while cause; but unfortunately I do not have the time nor the resources right now. So the best of luck with your future endeavours.

Sincerely,

[name withheld]


June 25, 2009

Dear Mr. Weinstein and MRFF:

I am absolutely worried about writing this to you, as I am terrified of the (military service branch withheld), but feel I have no choice. My husband is an honorable man, who I believe has been persecuted in the United States (military service branch withheld) for his refusal to cave in to the Evangelical agenda.

He is a (rank withheld), waiting for his retirement, that he won as a part of his Court Martial proceeding in (time frame withheld). Mikey, I have never seen anything like this. My husband has a (educational degree and discipline withheld), taught at (university name withheld) where we often bucked the system regarding the proselytising and has had an honorable career (in the top 4% of rank withheld) in (military command name withheld) until a new command came in to (military installation name withheld) in (month and year withheld). Up until then he was considered to be an excellent candidate for (rank withheld) but we refused as he only wanted to retire and get away from the bible thumping.
This command is evangelical in nature-and they harassed me all the way through my husband's court proceeding. When the new command came in, my husband (raised Catholic and an agnostic now) found himself under investigation for (infraction withheld) and then they finally dug until they found (minor infraction name withheld) that were present and could not be denied. My husband, scared for his pension and his family, plead guilty to some of the charges leveled against him. Ultimately, (husband's name withheld) was given an honorable discharge and his pension.

Anyways, this commander of his called me often, telling me that "if you accept Jesus Christ as your savior, then things will go better for (husband's name withheld)." He went to the brig yes-the judge sent a (rank withheld) to the brig for 45 days)and then asked to pray over my husband, telling him if he just confessed his "sins" to "Jesus Christ" then he would find things getting better for him. Of course (husband's name withheld) gave his commander permission to pray over him as he was terrified to say no-because we believe all of this stemmed from my husband's stance on the illegality of evangelical proselytising in the (service branch name withheld).

So, now he was due to retire on (date withheld), but the (military branch name withheld) "cannot get his paperwork." I complained about this pressure put on us several times to the JAG, who has done nothing to my knowledge on our behalf. I believe they are being passive aggressive with the retirement because I complained about the harassment from my husband's commander who told me "call me even in the middle of the night, (wife's name withheld). I will pray with you, anywhere anytime. Jesus is your Lord, and we all soldier forth in his service."

I shudder to think of what they could do when they find out I wrote to you. I am a professional woman, an educated woman, and I know they could try to ruin me for speaking to you.

I am crying writing this. I am scared of these people, and I know that they will try to do something else. I was told by my husband's commander that I should attend his church. I wonder if because we did not they are "punishing" my husband now by slow leaking his retirement. What does it mean "things will get better for your husband"?

I appreciate your time sir.
With best regards,
(name and location withheld)


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