Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood

My good friend Lambert at CorrenteWire brought this to my attention:


A military watchdog group is asking the Defense Department to investigate whether seven Army and Air Force officers violated regulations by appearing in uniform in a promotional video for an evangelical Christian organization.

In the video, much of which was filmed inside the Pentagon, four generals and three colonels praise the Christian Embassy, a group that evangelizes among military leaders, politicians and diplomats in Washington. Some of the officers describe their efforts to spread their faith within the military.

You thought that was the money quote? No, this is the money quote:

“I found a wonderful opportunity as a director on the joint staff, as I meet the people that come into my directorate,” Air Force Maj. Gen. Jack J. Catton Jr. says in the video. “And I tell them right up front who Jack Catton is, and I start with the fact that I’m an old-fashioned American, and my first priority is [1] my faith in God, then [2] my family and then [3] country. I share my faith because it describes who I am.”

Right. But I don’t want to hear you describe yourself, or your faith, General, and you shouldn’t be using my tax dollars, or the uniform I paid for, to impose your beliefs. Moreover, even though I’m aware Christianists are OK with lying as long it leads to religious conversion, I don’t think you should be breaking your officer’s oath.

Here is the oath of office that General Catton took:

“I, _____ (SSAN), having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.” (DA Form 71, 1 August 1959, for officers.)

So, which is it, General Catton? Is supporting the Constitution first one your list, or third?

I believe AA has the right take on “God” (or a higher power, or The God of Your Choice, if any). They always add the qualifier “God, as we understand God.

What if, for example, the God of General Catton’s understanding told him to heave a nuke at the Satanic regime in Iran? Would he do it? By his own confession of faith, yes.

And this is not farfetched scenario: the Air Force academy has been heavily infiltrated by Christianists.

Can a Christianist ever be loyal to the United States?

If we take General Catton’s words seriously—as we’ve learned over and over again, with the right, that we should do—the clear answer can only be:


NOTE Kudos to the military watchdogs who called bullshit on a general. And kudos to the Post for covering the story and putting it, gosh, as up front as A3. But just liike yesterday’s story in the Times, about Christianists forcing their beliefs on prisoners and children, it’s a little late.

NOTE Prairie Weather has a fine description of the video, and its context. “The aroma of Christ.”

UPDATE This story just made it to NPR — Apparently, the Christian[ist] Embassy have access to a dining room in the inner ring of the Pentagon that is about as high status as you can get.

UPDATE Now the story is up on Reuters. Apparently, the Christianists are fucking the careers of non-Christianists. Honestly, it’s like Eye in the Sky!

I just had to spead the good news. Lambert nails this one, as far as I'm concerned.

Lest anyone forget here's what the Constitution says:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Here's what John Stuart Mill says:
"It is not the feeling sure of a doctrine (be it what it may) which I call an assumption of infallibility. It is the undertaking to decide that question for others, without allowing them to hear what can be said on the contrary side. And I denounce and reprobate this pretension not the less, if put forth on the side of my most solemn convictions."
Here's what Jefferson says:
Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man & his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.

The problem with any theocratic trend into the government is that it opens the door for any theocratic trend into the government. What? What the heck do I mean?

I mean, what if an old school Mormon were elected to office (No, not a slam against Romney)? Would we suddenly be hearing about the virtues of polygamy? Proselytize all you want, just don't do it on my time. And when you work for me, you're on my time.

This means you, George:
"Through my Faith-Based and Community Initiative, my Administration continues to encourage the essential work of faith-based and community organizations. Governments can and should support effective social services, including those provided by religious people and organizations. When government gives that support, it is important that faith-based institutions not be forced to change their religious character."