This is my first Politico-Economic Commentary that I desire to share with you today. However, the commentary is not on one article but two articles that are related to each other. The First article discusses the fact that Our Troops Will Be [Potentially] Stuck in Afghanistan Until 2024. The second article which is related to the first article discusses Military Expenditures on “Christian” Contractors who are bent on Evangelizing US Soldiers. One article leads into the other, the first article I want to treat War as it relates to the true Christian Doctrine of War and the second article I want to treat as it relates to using ideology and religion as a justification for killing. This politico-economic post has social ramifications and because of its size, I am may break this up into more than one post for the readers convenience.
Commentary on the Second Article
To begin the article discusses how the Department of Defense seeks to, promote religion but in a discriminatory manner toward Christianity. What startled me was the part that Christianity was being given favor in an unfavorable war. This should alert Christians to be on guard, I am one to believe that great evil is afoot in order to destroy the true name of Christianity by tying the popular notions of Christians to an unpopular war. Nonetheless I digress the first except I wanted to comment on reads,
“Although it was clear from the start of MRFF’s [Military Religious Freedom Foundation] investigation that determining the total dollar figure for the DoD’s rampant promotion of religion (which is always evangelical and/or fundamentalist Christianity) would be next to impossible, as this would require FOIA requests to every one of over 700 military installations to find out how much each is spending out of various funds at the installation level, one thing we could look at was DoD contracts, so that’s where we started. What we’ve found so far is astounding.”
This is my concern, the fact that soldiers broken and demoralized from the sights and sounds of war would be swept up and indoctrinated into Religious Fundamentalism of the Christian kind. This to me is the greatest threat to the true image of Christianity and Peace that I have ever known! Why is this my concern? Because Fundamentalism is the watering down of doctrine and tradition into a narrow-minded and spiritual infantile state. So you are essentially giving superficial spiritual teachings divorced from the tradition that contained the deeper teaching over to men and women who are suffering from a slue of psychological disorders and conditions caused by warfare against an enemy that is largely non-Christian. I can only wonder how well this will workout for returning veterans, those active in the service of our Country as well as the notions of peace abroad, quite frankly it scares me. Nonetheless the author surprises us with a figure regarding the MRFF’s findings:
“One of the most direct expenditures of money on religious proselytizing, under the guise of ‘Spiritual Fitness’ spending, is the funding of concerts with the top evangelical Christian performers. These concerts are most prevalent on Army posts, although they also occur on installations of other branches of the military. One concert series that stands out, both because soldiers were punished last year for not attending one of the concerts and because of the cost of hiring the musical acts, is the ‘Commanding Generals’ Spiritual Fitness Concert Series’ at Fort Eustis and Fort Lee in Virginia. This is not a chapel concert series, but a command sponsored ‘Spiritual Fitness’ program, paid for with DoD contracts… All of the performers for these Spiritual Fitness concerts so far (this concert series is ongoing) have been evangelical Christian artists. Not only is the music itself overtly Christian, but during the concerts there are light shows of large crosses beamed all over the stage, and the performers typically give their Christian testimony or read Bible verses between songs. Some of these performers have Blanket Purchase Agreements and Indefinite Delivery Contracts good until 2012 or 2013, indicating that this concert series is planned to continue at least through the next two years.”
To be quite frank I am glad there are no Catholic or Orthodox Christian Bands (if there is such a thing) there because the odds are if any were recruited they would probably find the sights and sounds of many of the Fundamentalist/Evangelical Musicians quite heretical if not insulting of the deeper tradition. This is scary stuff, being swept up not by the Holy Spirit, but rather by the Spirit of Conversational NLP on a Mass-scale and extravagances of a highly emotional behavior. The fact that these bands have contracts with an imperial government alone, is enough to make me feel that these bands are probably not even Christian in the first place, believing that God and Nationalism are two sides of the same coin, what more idolatry [if not straight-up apostasy] could you want then to witness this? But wait there is more,
“While Strong Bonds is specifically an Army program, the rampant promotion of evangelical Christianity under the guise of Spiritual Fitness is going on in all branches of the military. As an example from another branch of the military, over $120,000 in DoD contracts have been awarded to the Williamsburg Christian Retreat Center, one of the facilities used by both the Army and the Navy for retreats. Another popular site in Virginia for the Navy’s Spiritual Fitness and ‘Personal Growth’ retreats is the Peninsula Baptist Association’s Eastover Retreat Center, which has received $75,000 in DoD contracts. For its retreats in Rhode Island, the Navy also uses a Baptist facility, the American Baptist Church’s Canonicus Camping and Conference Center, which has received $53,000 in DoD contracts.”
By now I am starting to ask myself, why isn’t the military interested in really giving the soldiers the true inner Christian teaching? Why is the military concerned with keeping the soldiers in a watered-down and shallow tradition of men that is so superficial and infantile that any “personal growth” is at best minimal and at worst keeping people from growing up spiritually? My answer to my own question of course largely has to do with that fact that, the true Christian Spiritual Tradition is not concerned with the external issues that fundamentalist focus upon, like “fighting the Muslims” or “defending the modern Israeli State.” Think about it since the Israeli Lobby (AIPAC) has grown quiet powerfully, if Israel ever requested our physical presence in their lands, all these fundamentalist and evangelical soldiers who see the Modern Israeli State as God’s Chosen People would defend it to the death and fight more effectively, then if they saw Israel as just another nation. The author goes on to say the following,
“The biggest ministry contracted by the DoD to target children is Military Community Youth Ministries (MCYM), whose mission statement is “Celebrate life with military teens, Introduce them to the Life-Giver, Jesus Christ, And help them become more like Him.” MCYM has received $12,346,333 in DoD contracts since 2000. One of MCYM’s tactics? Stalking “un-churched” military children by following their schools buses.”
Now this is what scares me even more, getting the youth involved in this, means getting the future involved in this as well. I find this an interesting parallel to the previous article, after all didn’t the author of the previous article say that by 2024 Kindergarten children would be graduating from from High School and possibly be ready to serve in these nations abroad if the new dateline for pulling out is not met? These evangelical and fundamentalist churches believe very strongly in fighting against the Muslims, and defending Israel. I suspect AIPAC would be behind this since Israel and Christian Fundamentalist Churches are in very good relationships with each other. If they could brainwash the parents or parents-to-be they can secure their power for generations to come, and all of this while forgetting what the real tradition was all about. I would go so far as to say then that those so-called Christian Churches that support AIPAC are not Christian but Apostates, and would recommend viewing the film “With God On Our Side” in order to better understand why. The author goes on to confirm my own fears when he says:
“As I’ve been sitting here writing this post, an email came in to MRFF from a soldier who is currently in Advanced Individual Training (AIT)… This soldier’s email is a a great example of a common strategy that I call ‘conversion by temptation,’ where the military ministries and the military itself tempt young soldiers and military children with fun or exciting things to lure them into participating in programs and events where they can be ‘saved.'”
I cannot stress it enough, but what concerns me here is the fact that, salvation to the True and Deeper Christian Tradition is much more profound and existential then the Fundamentalist notions of Salvation. To the True Christian, salvation does not come merely by saying “I accept Jesus Christ as My Personal Lord and Savior” and then get baptized or vice versa, next thing you know, eternal life is yours regardless of what you from that point forward. Rather, through Christ salvation is made possible, but in this life you work in cooperation with God’s Grace to attain it. The Orthodox Church makes a great case for this when they say that, the idea that being “born again” is a religious experience disassociated from baptism is a recent one and has no biblical basis whatsoever. Justification is a word used in the Scriptures to mean that in Christ we are forgiven and actually made righteous in our living. Justification is not a once-for-all, instantaneous pronouncement guaranteeing eternal salvation, regardless of how wickedly a person might live from that point on. Neither is it merely a legal declaration that an unrighteous person is righteous. Rather, justification is a living, dynamic, day-to-day reality for the one who follows Christ. The Christian actively pursues a righteous life in the grace and power of God granted to all who continue to believe in Him. My final concern stems from this excerpt from the author:
“Cadence particularly targets soldiers in AIT for a reason — these are the soldiers likely to soon be facing their first deployment. And this ministry, which, as noted above receives DoD contracts for their work, makes no secret of why they’ve chosen AIT as its mission field. One of the reasons given by Cadence for the success of its ‘Strategic Ministry’ is: ‘Deployment and possibly deadly combat are ever-present possibilities. They are shaken. Shaken people are usually more ready to hear about God than those who are at ease, making them more responsive to the gospel.’ Of course, they must first gain access to these ‘shaken’ soldiers, but that’s no problem — the Army helps them out by allowing them to operate on Army posts and granting the soldiers in AIT extra privileges if they attend Cadence’s retreats.”
I have a problem with phrasing of the statement that, “Deployment and possibly deadly combat are ever-present possibilities. They are shaken. Shaken people are usually more ready to hear about God than those who are at ease, making them more responsive to the gospel.” I find this to be a bit hostile to the Gospel and the True Tradition, people throughout the ages have all heard the Gospel and there are conversion stories of people who are not “shaken” but at a relative state of rest, at least in comparison to going to war. Three people who come to mind are St. Augustine, St. Justin Martyr, and St. Mary of Egypt. St. Justin Martyr for example was looking for the one true philosophy and in his search discovered Christianity. St. Augustine encountered the St. Ambrose as he was caught between the tension of His Manichean heresy and Orthodox Christian Tradition. St. Mary of Egypt was startled when she found out she couldn’t walk into a church because something was denying her from entry. These people and I am sure countless other unsung people in history certainly were not “shaken” in the same way soldiers are before going to war, and yet accepted God as well. I guess I feel that, I must argue that being Responsive to the Gospel shouldn’t always be equated with feelings of dread and fear. However, even I said earlier that those who are broken and psychological stressed from wartime experiences coupled with superficial Christianity is certainly going to do more harm then good.
A Side Note: My Greatest Concern however comes from Christians who (Knowingly, or not) kill other Christians in the name of God. With these wars in the Middle East, what you have are Fundamentalist Christians of West, with their watered-down and shallow (mis)understandings and theologies, use political power to force their world view on Muslims and Eastern Christian of the Deeper Tradition who are then turned into victims of war, for the destructive notions of Zionism. This concern is not illusory, but very real, all in the name of a crazy notion of trying to Force the Hand of God to bring Christ down to this earth a second time before He Wills To, there is nothing more Arrogant and Boastful and hence non-Christian then that.
Therefore to wrap this altogether, I would argue that, in fighting an unjust war and tying the unjust war over to the very name that came up with a tradition to address unjust wars is very dangerous and threatens the image of Christianity as a whole. What’s more dangerous is trying to “save” men and women who are suffering from varying degree’s of psychological distress who are either returning from combat or still in combat, using at best superficial understandings of the Bible and at worst misunderstandings of the Bible in order to give them a sense that they are already saved and secured for the rest of their lives. Now am I saying that one cannot be Baptized and Develop a Relationship with Christ while being in or out of the armed forces? No of course not Christ is the Healer of Souls, but what I am saying is the True Religion of Christianity is a form of very deep and penetrating Psychotherapy for Ones Entire Being, and if you sow cheap psychotherapy, then you will reap an ineffective therapy and not be truly healed or worst off then before you began that therapy. To top this my concern with AIPAC being involved in this whole operation is pretty high, further investigation I am sure would do reveal its involvement either directly or closely in-directly.