Posts Tagged “military”

Vintage RCA International 7 Transistor Radio, Model AH-271-S, Holiday Series Radio, 2 Bands, Made In Japan / Joe Haput, via FlickrFormer judge Roy Moore, perhaps the best-known Christofascist in Alabama, is an agnostic blogger’s dream. The man literally cannot stop shooting his mouth off like the militant Christianist he is, and he repeatedly demonstrates everything that’s wrong with religionism — and by extension, religion. He’s running for US Senate, and in a primary runoff for the GOP nomination, which gives him every incentive to spew the most ridiculous Christofascist tripe imaginable. As the Friendly Atheist explains, during last night’s debate, he didn’t disappoint (Archive.Is cached article):

As a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and a Vietnam veteran, I want to work our military strong again. I want it freed from political correctness and social experimentation, like transistor troops in our bathrooms and inclusiveness.

Now, if anyone can explain to me what a “transistor troop” is, I’d love to know … because I haven’t the first fucking clue what that is. Best I can figure is, it’s a vaguely-sinister-sounding expression that Moore conjured up. As the Friendly Atheist put it, he tossed that in along with a reference to bathrooms (which the Religious Right has pitched fits over for more than a year) to create a little R.R. “word salad” that will appeal to Alabama’s Christianists (and there are many).

What makes Moore such a marvelous example of what’s wrong with religion, is that he upends the common trope of militant Christianists like him being merely “the lunatic fringe” and not representative of the wider Christian population. He’s a Decalogue champion who was removed from office as Chief Justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court back in 2003 after defying a federal court’s order to remove a Ten Commandments monument (cached). Despite the shame of that, however, the good Christianist folk of Alabama re-elected him to that office in 2012 (cached). That he won a statewide race for an office he’d been thrown out of over his dour Christofascism nearly a decade earlier, tells me he absolutely is not just a “fringe” crank, and that his Christianism definitely is representative of — and approved by — the majority of Alabamans. It’s undeniable!

Of course, Moore proved too extreme a Christianist to stay in his new office (a second time) for long, and was suspended for yet more Jesus-inspired judicial misconduct, then formally resigned in order to run for Senate (cached). If the people of Alabama elect him to the US Senate — which appears very possible — they’ll have proven themselves dour Christofascists twice over. Which will mean it’ll be even harder for them to disown him than it already is.

Photo credit: Joe Haupt, via Flickr.

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Gustave Doré (1832-1883), The Crusaders war machinery, via Wikimedia CommonsThis issue isn’t really new. Wired magazine has been reporting on this particular issue for quite some time (cached). It seems anti-terror instruction in the US military has been taken over by Neocrusaders who’ve made any number of outrageous claims about Islam as a whole and are trying to inculcate hatred of Muslims generally among the ranks. I blogged about this particular influence within the FBI when Wired reported on it last year. But the influence of the Neocrusade in the military seems to be worse, more pervasive, and more extensive.

Last year the Pentagon began a review of its anti-terror training materials, and the results of that review are starting to emerge. MSNBC elaborates on an Al Jazeera report on aspects that have come to light already (WebCite cached article):

As the Pentagon reviews all military classes following the disclosure of one that advocated “total war” against Muslims, the news website Al-Jazeera reported Saturday that it had received materials from a similar course and that both were put together by the same group, a nonprofit that offers classes and workshops to military and government officials.

Al-Jazeera said [cached] it received course slides from an unnamed military officer who said “this bigoted conspiracy cabal is both disgusting and so deeply un-American.”

The slides leave the impression that Hamas extremists have infiltrated the U.S. government, media and education via U.S. Islamic groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Al-Jazeera said. …

The documents indicated the two courses were prepared by the consulting firm Strategic Engagement Group, Inc., Al-Jazeera said. The website for Strategic Engagement [cached] does include statements similar to those in the materials cited by Al-Jazeera, msnbc.com found.

I decided to nose around in Strategic Engagement’s Web site to see what they offer. The first link I clicked on was this PDF version of a Powerpoint presentation entitled “CAIR Is Hamas” (cached). It didn’t take long for me to discover that these people are spewing factual errors. For instance, slide 3 of the presentation says:

In the 1920’s, after WWI and the Turkish Revolution, Mustafa Kemal “Ataturk” became the leader of the new nation-state Turkey. He dissolved the nearly 700 old Islamic State (Caliphate) known as the “Ottoman Empire,” outlawed the wearing of hijab, the growing of Islamic beards, the call to prayer, replaced Arabic with Latin, did away with Shariah (Islamic Law) and replaced it with secular law, and built an army to protect secular Turkey.

First, while it’s true that Ataturk did establish a new, and secular, government in Turkey, his new state did not encompass all of what had once been the Ottoman Empire. That dismantled state was succeeded, in those other regions, by other less secular states, or they became colonies of western powers and only later became independent states. So it’s factually incorrect to state that “the Ottoman Empire” was succeeded uniformly by the “secular” state of Turkey.

Second, the Ottoman Empire was not really a “Caliphate.” While some of its rulers did use that title, sporadically, even when they did, it was not universally recognized across Islam. Moreover, that they did so, doesn’t really mean a lot: Ottoman rulers sometimes arrogated other titles, such as “Roman Emperor,” and that’s also difficult to take very seriously. The title that best applies to the Ottoman rulers was “sultan,” not “caliph,” making the Ottoman Empire a “sultanate” rather than a “caliphate.”

Third, Ataturk did not “replace Arabic with Latin.” Within Ataturk’s new state of Turkey, the dominant language had been Turkish, not Arabic, and it remains so. While Turkish had long been written mostly using the Arabic alphabet, it was less than ideal; Ataturk did encourage the use of a Latin-based alphabet instead. But it is simply not true that Turkey went from speaking Arabic to speaking Latin.

I hardly need to investigate these Neocrusading wingnuts any further, given their loose command of basic history. Listen, I get it. Really I do. I get that the United States has been attacked by Islamic terrorists who feel compelled to kill others — and themselves — out of a violent religiofascistic impulse. I also get that there are immature, violent Muslims who are prone to explode in insane fury at the slightest provocation. I concede there are still some dangerously fanatical Muslims out there who think their religion orders them to maim and kill. That’s very much in evidence, and only a fool would say otherwise. What concerns me are these two basic premises of the Neocrusade:

  1. Islamofascist terrorists are not the “fringe” of Islam, they are its heart; which means that all Muslims, not just some, are murderous fanatics.
  2. Only Islam has any murderous impulses; other religions, particularly Christianity, do not.

The former premise is just not true, as witnessed by the fact that there are plenty of “moderate,” non-terrorist Muslims around the world, who at this moment are fighting the terrorist element of their religion. And other religions, including Christianity, most certainly also have their own terrorizing, murderous extremists. Eradicating Islam completely — which is the Neocrusade’s ultimate goal — cannot and will never end terrorism. To assume so is not only irrational, it’s delusional. The cold fact is that nearly any religion, anywhere, is capable of inciting violence and even terrorism in its followers. None is immune to it. The sooner we understand this, the better off we’ll all be.

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Ivanov, Alexander - The Appearance of Christ to Mary Magdalene - 1834-1836I’ve never quite understood why it is that so many religions have such a hard time accepting that women — who are half the human population — are human beings, too, just like men. It seems rather obvious to me that both women and men are equally human … but hey, what could a cynical, God-hating agnostic heathen possibly know about such important things as institutional misogyny?

I blogged a while ago about how the Roman Catholic Church teaches that pregnant women’s lives are forfeit, and expect their hospitals to comply with this doctrine. But it’s not just the Catholic hierarchy that believes women are lesser beings whose welfare is secondary to theology. In a lawsuit filed over how the Pentagon mishandled sexual harassment, assault, and rape in the military, one story claims that an Army chaplain said something unconscionable to an Army sergeant who had been raped (WebCite cached article):

In February of 2009 SGT Havrilla reported for four weeks of active duty training. During this training, she saw her rapist in the shopette on Fort Leanard Wood. Upon seeing her rapist, SGT Havrilla went into shock. She immediately sought the assistance of the military chaplain. When SGT Havrilla met with the military chaplain, he told her that “it must have been God’s will for her to be raped” and recommended that she attend church more frequently (#46, page 10).

Definitely, that’s what every victim of rape needs — to bow and scrape and worship the vast cosmic deity whose will it had been for her to be raped. Why, of course! It’s the obvious remedy!

</sarcasm>

Now, I have no idea what the religious affiliation of the chaplain in question is. The military does have non-Christian chaplains. But the odds are, this chaplain was a man, ordained by some Christian denomination. So I’m assuming (at the risk of being wrong, I admit) this denigration of women must be something Jesus taught … right?

Well, I’ve just scoured every Bible I could get my hands on, but have never found “Thou shalt treat women like trash and abuse them as thou wilt” anywhere in it. Maybe one of you Christians out there (I know you read this blog!) can point me in the direction of it.* If you can’t find it, then maybe — just maybe! — it’s time to stop fucking acting as though he did. OK?

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

* In fact … I dare you to point it out! Please post the chapter and verse in the comments. Thank you.

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000362 Transformation 2008-canopy of prayerWhile wildlife officials are looking into the causes of some bird die-offs (in Arkansas and Lousiana, among other places), and are not yet sure why they happened, an evangelical preacher has decided she knows why, and is happily trumpeting their cause. According to the Raw Story, it’s because Congress repealed the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” rule in the US military (WebCite cached article):

The deaths of thousands of blackbirds in Arkansas may have been caused by the recent repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” according to a self-described “prophet” who once claimed the ability to banish “gay demons.”

Evangelist Cindy Jacobs said on a video posted over the weekend that the strange phenomenon, that has now occurred in various places across the world, was an “answer” from God for violating his principles concerning homosexuality.

“According to biblical principles, marriage is between a man and a woman, so we have to say ‘what happens when a nation makes a decision that’s against God’s principles?'” she said. “Well, often what happens is that nature itself will begin to talk to us – for instance, violent storms, flooding.”

Jacobs’s credentials as a fundamentalist preacher, prophet, and anti-gay crusader are impeccable, so we know she must be right:

Jacobs founded Generals International (GI), an international evangelical Christian group, along with her husband in 1985. She is also a member of the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders, a group of prophets who claim to have foreseen Islamic terrorism in 1999.

During an evangelical conference [cached] in 2008, Jacobs conducted a mass exorcism of the audience to cast out the spirits of pornography, addiction, lust, bisexuality, homosexuality, and perversion. In another event in Texas in November, she claimed that if Latinos voted for candidates who opposed gay marriage, then God would reward them [cached] with immigration reform.

Here’s the video of Jacobs’s ignorant, juvenile, hateful, and simple-minded diatribe, courtesy of Youtube:

Note the semantic and logical failing of her so-called “argument” right at its start: She begins with the claim that Gods principle is marriage should between a man and a woman, then says that the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” goes against “God’s principles.” The failure here is over the little matter of “marriage.” The “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” rule is not — and never was — about “marriage.” All its repeal does is to permit openly-gay people to serve in the military. That’s the limit of its effect. I suppose that its repeal would allow gay military personnel to marry, but am not sure if the federal Defense of Marriage Act — which remains in effect — still would prevent it.

Of course, neither logic nor correct semantics ever matter much to ferocious fundamentalists, so I’m not sure why I expected them to come from her. Silly me … expecting that grown adults can actually think rationally now and again!

Of course, the idea that God can’t seem to think of any better way to express his displeasure over the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is by roaming the world killing off flocks of birds, also makes little sense and is extremely illogical.

Photo credit: Harvest Evangelism.

Hat tip: Lordrag at iReligion Forum on Delphi Forums.

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Good, Bad. I'm the Jesus with the Gun.Texas authorities may not care much about the Christian militia that’s running amok in Amarillo, TX as I blogged already. But federal authorities today went after a Christian militia group operating in multiple states, as ABC News reports:

The FBI said Sunday that agents conducted weekend raids in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio and arrested at least three people, and a militia leader in Michigan said the target of at least one of the raids was a Christian militia group.

Federal warrants were sealed, but a federal law enforcement official speaking on condition of anonymity said some of those arrested face gun charges and officials are pursuing other suspects.

This other, unrelated militia leader in Michigan offered some additional information:

Michael Lackomar, a spokesman for the Southeast Michigan Volunteer Militia, said one of his team leaders got a frantic phone call Saturday evening from members of Hutaree, a Christian militia group, who said their property in southwest Michigan was being raided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

“They said they were under attack by the ATF and wanted a place to hide,” Lackomar said. “My team leader said, ‘no thanks.'”

The team leader was cooperating with the FBI on Sunday, Lackomar said. He said SMVM wasn’t affiliated with Hutaree, which states on its Web site to be “prepared to defend all those who belong to Christ and save those who aren’t.”

It’s not clear to me who or what this “Hutaree Militia” is. According to their own Web site — which I will not link here — the name “hutaree” means “Christian warrior.” I’m not sure what language that is. As made famous by a John Wayne film by that title, “hatari” means “danger” in Swahili. But that particular movie doesn’t seem to have any connection with this Christian militia, so I suspect it’s a word they made up for themselves. In any event, they use scripture to justify their warlike posture, such as:

Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. (Mt 10:34)

They also cite a different scripture as support for their movement:

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. (Jn 15:13)

But that particular message is a pacifist one, intended to presage Jesus’ own sacrifice of himself (which happened later in that gospel), and is not warlike at all.

Another odd thing about them is that their avowed list of “information sources” includes mainstream and not-very-unusual outlets such as the Jerusalem Post and the Financial Times; yet it also includes avowedly and coercively religious sites such as World Net Daily, CNS News, and Jack Van Impe Ministries. It’s safe to say these guys are more likely to act on what they read from their co-religionists at WND than they are to act on anything they read in the FT.

Yet another aspect of this group that puzzles me is, how — exactly — do they think arming themselves and going on military exercises is a way to obey the Beatitudes, which can easily be found in the same Bibles they’re able to quote:

He opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying,
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Mt 5:2-10)

And turning His gaze toward His disciples, He began to say,
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
“Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
“Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man.
“Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets.
“But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full.
“Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep.
“Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way. (Lk 6:20-26)

I think it’s safe to say they never had any intention of ever obeying the Beatitudes. This makes them hypocritical Christians, who carve up their own Holy Bible to suit their wishes, waving around the snippets that appear to support them, and shredding the parts that condemn them … such as:

Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. (Mt 26:52)

Hat tip: Skeptics & Heretics Forum.

Photo credit: negatendo.

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It looks as though the military’s policy toward gays in its ranks … known popularly as “don’t ask, don’t tell” … will probably be changed to something less medieval (WebCite cached article). How soon is not known, as it’s only just being studied right now. But that doesn’t mean a ferocious culture war won’t be stirred up over it. The latest religious figure agitating against treating gays like equal human beings, is Jewish — Rabbi Yehuda Levin, to be exact (cached article):

Rabbi Yehuda Levin, spokesman for the Rabbinical Alliance of America issued the following statement:

“When Americans are suffering economically and millions need jobs, it’s shocking that the Administration is focused on its ultra-liberal militantly homosexualist agenda forcing the highlighting of homosexuals and homosexuality on an unwilling military. This is the equivalent of the spiritual rape of our military to satisfy the most extreme and selfish cadre of President Obama’s kooky coalition.”

I honestly don’t get how treating gays in the military as regular human beings is “spiritual rape,” but the Rabbi appears adamant about it, even if his claim is irrational and nonsensical. He goes as far as to claim that the 9/11 terror attacks, the 2004 tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and the earthquake in Haiti all happened because the New York City government chose to recognize “domestic partnerships” among city employees:

“Thirteen months before 9/11, on the day New York City passed homosexual domestic partnership regulations, I joined a group of Rabbis at a City Hall prayer service, pleading with G-d not to visit disaster on the city of N.Y. We have seen the underground earthquake, tsunami, Katrina, and now Haiti. All this is in sync with a two thousand year old teaching in the Talmud that the practice of homosexuality is a spiritual cause of earthquakes. Once a disaster is unleashed, innocents are also victims just like in Chernobyl.”

Alluding to the Chernonbyl disaster was also a wonderful touch. And no, I have no idea what “underground earthquake” he’s referring to … but I’m guessing he doesn’t know, either. Levin rages on like a child throwing a tantrum:

“We plead with saner heads in Congress and the Pentagon to stop sodomization of our military and our society. Enough is enough.”

Well, Rabbi, I agree. You are right when you say, “enough is enough.” That is absolutely correct. Enough is, in fact, enough. Sanctimonious and militant religionists like you, Rabbi, have run the show for most of humanity’s c. 6,000 years of known history. And where has it brought us? To the point where childish little twits like yourself stamp and fume and scream and whine, because — God forbid! — some people you personally dislike (in this case, gays) might be treated the same as other human beings.

Again, Rabbi, I agree. You’re right. “Enough is enough.” It is long past time for you and your fellow religionists to finally grow the fuck up — for the first times in your collective little lives — and act like grown adults who are capable of actually living with other human beings — yes, even those you personally dislike. (I don’t personally like religionists such as yourself, Rabbi, but I’m not about to go around screaming for you to be given fewer rights than the rest of the country, just because I dislike your militant religionism!)

I’m also surprised that someone who’s Jewish is not, apparently, aware that it’s generally not a good idea to devalue another class of human beings, just because of who they are.

Hat tip: Religion Dispatches.

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I blogged already about the defense contractor Trijicon and the scripture passage references embedded on the sights they sold to the US military. The (UK) Telegraph reports the company has decided to remove the references (WebCite cached article):

Trijicon, which has used Biblical references for more than 20 years, said today that it had agreed to stop marking equipment for the US military and would make the same offer to military forces abroad.

It is also offering modification kits to forces free of charge to enable the references to be removed from any equipment which is currently deployed.

Of course, this sudden and drastic change of heart conflicts with their previous claim — included in the original ABC News report on the matter (WebCite cached article) — that there had been nothing wrong with what they were doing:

Tom Munson, director of sales and marketing for Trijicon, which is based in Wixom, Michigan, said the inscriptions “have always been there” and said there was nothing wrong or illegal with adding them.

I’m not sure why they would back down, if they were so convinced that there was nothing wrong with it. But they are.

This makes them hypocrites (if, in fact, they genuinely believe this practice to be acceptable, but are stopping it anyway, in violation of their own beliefs) or liars (if they knew it was wrong, but told ABC News that it wasn’t). Either way, the character of this “Christian company” is apparently lacking, if not non-existent.

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