December 15, 2006
Former Air Force JAG and Air Force Academy grad Mikey Weinstein is speaking out about evangelical Christians in the US military who are, he says, "trying to turn the Pentagon into a frickin' faith-based initiative". Here are excerpts from what Weinstein told an interviewer at Salon. He refers to a video that was shot inside the Pentagon by a group called Christian Embassy that featured very senior officers, in uniform, talking about the evangelical faith. Weinstein:
You sound like you're too young to remember Robert Redford in "Three Days of the Condor," but the premise of that movie was that there was a CIA within the CIA. We have a virulently dominionist, fundamentalist evangelical Christian element within the Pentagon. They would prefer this to be the "Pentecostalgon," not the Pentagon. That's what they would prefer. They're trying to turn the Pentagon into a frickin' faith-based initiative, and that is not what our military is about.
These are the people who, when I talk to senior members of the military at the flag-level rank [admiral or general]...that have looked at me and said, "Come on, Mikey, what's your problem? We have the cure to cancer. If you had the cure to cancer, wouldn't you want to spread the word?" They don't realize when they say it, they don't have the mental wherewithal to understand that to a person who isn't an evangelical Christian, you're calling our faith a cancer. [...]
This, to me, constitutes as much of a national security threat to this country as al-Qaida. In fact, the video itself, to me, would be the No. 1 recruiting tool...to get angry young Islamic men and women in Iran, Syria and Lebanon to join the insurrection and jihadi terrorist activities. This would be a perfect accelerant to create even further conflagration.
Now, I was a JAG [judge advocate general, the lawyers who act as prosecutors and defense attorneys within the military] in the Air Force. I spent three and a half years as a lawyer for President Ronald Reagan in the West Wing, I've been Ross Perot's general counsel. I know the religious right would love to vilify me as a tree-hugging Northern California Sierra Club membership chardonnay-sipping liberal...but I'm not. I'm a Republican...We have 115 years of combined active-duty military service to this country in my immediate family...
[T]hese people can pray all they want to themselves, like kids in school can pray to themselves, but when you're in the military, and you're coming in like that one person, [Air Force Maj. Gen.] Catton, whom I knew when I was a kid at the [Air Force] Academy, and he goes, "I share my faith, that's who I am, and let me tell you right now, the hierarchy as an old-fashioned American is that your first duty is to the Lord, second to your family and your third is to your country." That is the exact opposite of what is taught, and for anyone who understands anything about the military, it is always the country first. When you're told, "Troopers, we're going to go take that hill," you can't stop, fall to your knees and see what your particular version of Moses, Vishnu, Satan, Jesus, Mohammed, Allah, whatever they're going to say, and then quickly make a cellphone call to your family. So it is beyond-the-pale egregious, it is a national security threat every bit as bad as al-Qaida, and these people should be court-martialed.
...I get calls 24/7 from the soldiers, Marines and airmen...They're being tormented. And 96 percent of those who come flooding in, on fire with torment, are Christians, three-fourths of whom would be traditional Protestants: Lutherans, Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians. The other one-fourth are Roman Catholics. These are Christians being preyed upon by evangelical Christians...and being told that you're not Christian enough, therefore you're going to burn in a hell of fire. [...]
The U.S. military, which I consider a noble and honorable institution, is technologically the most lethal organization ever created by Homo sapiens. When you have the leadership believing that to be a good soldier, good Marine, good airman or sailor you have to be not just a Christian but the right type of Christian, we're no better than al-Qaida. And it's hideous, beyond belief. My kids were called "fucking Jews" and accused of total complicity, they and their people, in the execution of Jesus Christ, by superiors up and down the chain of command at the Air Force Academy.
But like I've said before, most of the people who've come to me are Christians. That's been the big sea change here. Look, Sinclair Lewis said it best, in [the 1930s]. He came back from Germany, he was observing it for a number of months ... and he [said] that he had now seen fascism up close and personal, and he knew that when it came to America it would be wrapped in the American flag, carrying a cross. And you know what? He's right. [...]
I've had nine death threats since about 10 o'clock last night. I usually get about two or three a week. They're very grotesque, everything from wanting to gas all the Jews in America and send the corpses back to Israel to threatening to blow me up, threatening my house will be blown up, raping my wife, blowing up my house. We've had our tires slashed, we've had feces and beer bottles thrown at the house, we've had dead animals placed on the front door of the house.
I was in Topeka, on a book tour, and the local Episcopal priest came out to support me and five hours later his church was burned down. And the local synagogue in Topeka, where I was to speak that night, was desecrated with spray paint saying, "Fuck you, Jews" and "KKK," all that stuff. [...]
My response is I've given the new secretary of defense 20 days to answer the Freedom of Information Act request, which the law gives him, and at the end we intend to get as much information as we can, fashion it into a dagger and then stab at the heart of this unconstitutional, wretched, vile, darkness at the Pentagon. This unconstitutional darkness, we will stab at it with our dagger until we kill it. [Emphasis added]
Somebody should give these people a copy of the Sermon on the Mount. I don't know what Jesus they think they're following, but it's surely not the Jesus of the Gospels.
Scary stuff. Very, very scary.