Religious fundamentalism in the US armed forces

This January 2014 video from the USA is about the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

Jason Leopold, Truthout: “An experimental, Army mental-health, fitness initiative designed by the same psychologist whose work heavily influenced the psychological aspects of the Bush administration’s torture program is under fire by civil rights groups and hundreds of active-duty soldiers. They say it unconstitutionally requires enlistees to believe in God or a ‘higher power’ in order to be deemed ‘spiritually fit’ to serve in the Army”: here.

Stephen Glain, The Nation: “Late last summer, Mikey Weinstein broke up a fight between Crystal and Ginger, the guard dogs trained to protect him and his family from a violent reckoning with Christian zealots. For the 55-year-old civil rights activist committed to ridding the US military of religious intolerance, it was a refreshingly secular and evenly matched bout. Weinstein is, after all, famously combative, both pugnacious and profane, with the bearing and sensibility of a mastiff. In the end he prevailed and peace was restored, though at the price of some bad scratches on his arms and a hole in his right hand where a well-aimed canine had struck”: here.

Truthout’s reporting on the Army’s so–called “spiritual fitness” test was featured on Thursday by MSNBC host Keith Olbermann on Countdown. Mikey Weinstein, president and founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, discussed Jason Leopold’s report detailing the forced spiritual testing of over 800,000 uniformed soldiers as part of the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program: here.

3 thoughts on “Religious fundamentalism in the US armed forces


    Under the Bush administration, there was a creeping evangelical influence over the armed forces – much of it officially sanctioned.

    One of the key public flashpoints of efforts to turn the military into a Christian crusade came through the statements of Lieutenant General William G. Boykin, who also served as deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence under Bush. Boykin was open in asserting that the “war on terror” was a battle against infidels, even declaring – in swaggering fundamentalist style – that his God was “bigger” than the Islamic God.

    It was clear throughout the Bush administration that religious freedom was under siege in the armed forces.

    According to Truthout’s Jason Leopold, a religious influence remains in the military under Obama. One of the places it can be found – and this element is far from the only remnant of the Bush-era military religious outreach – is in an expensive GI “Comprehensive Soldier Fitness” (CSF) testing program that includes a “spiritual” component.

    The problem is that it is a challenge to separate the spiritual from the religious in psychological evaluation questioning, so a GI who is not a cheerleader for God is considered spiritually lacking.

    As Leopold notes:

    Last week, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) sent a letter to Secretary of the Army John McHugh and General George W. Casey Jr., the Army’s chief of staff, demanding that the Army immediately cease and desist administering the “spiritual” portion of the CSF test. (Full disclosure: MRFF founder and president Mikey Weinstein is a member of Truthout’s board of advisers.)

    On January 6, a Keith Olbermann “Countdown” segment – in which the Truthout investigative article was prominently featured – revealed how the spiritual “testing” could be used as a recruiting tool for the evangelical movement in the military.

    America just passed a major milestone by allowing gays to openly serve in the armed forces. Isn’t it time that we also dropped religious coercion?

    Mark Karlin
    Editor, BuzzFlash at Truthout



    Sex, lies and the “C Street” family; how quickly we forget.

    In the wake of the resignation of Sen. John Ensign – followed by a scathing Senate ethics report that referred its findings to the Department of Justice for possible prosecution – there has been rather understated corporate media discussion of the role of the “C Street” family in the infamous sexual activities of Ensign.

    “C Street,” to which Ensign belonged, is a residential Christian fellowship. The senators and Congressmen who live at the controversial house were revealed as believing that they were chosen by God to lead America, as described in “C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy” by journalist Jeff Sharlet.

    It would be a challenge to describe how grossly tawdry Ensign’s adulterous affair – with the wife of his top aide – was. But as information emerged awhile back about the ongoing sexual relationship – amid charges of payoffs and other ethical violations and illegalities – evidence also strongly suggested the role of Ensign’s “C Street” “Christian colleagues” in helping him cover up the affair.

    Most notably, arch-conservative and “family values” “C Street” resident Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn is alleged to have advised Ensign on paying off his mistress’s husband to keep him quiet. And then Rick Santorum, the fundamentalist former senator from Pennsylvania exploring a presidential run, is said to have tipped off Ensign that his mistress might start telling the press about the affair.

    Other members of the “C Street” house that is part of the cult known as “The Family” also played roles in covering up the Ensign sexual scandal. Included in this group were the sons of Douglas Coe, the guru founder of “The Family.”

    When those in power who belong to “The Family” believe that they have a divine mandate to lead the masses, it apparently gives them a license to participate in a cover-up of what appears to be, according to the Senate Ethics Committee, both illegal and unethical behavior of the most “disturbing” kind. According to Politico:

    John Ensign, a one-time rising GOP star and potential presidential aspirant, violated federal law and Senate rules by a series of brazen actions meant to cover up a nine-month extra-marital affair with a campaign aide, Senate investigators charged Thursday.

    In an explosive 68-page report presented to the Senate, the Select Committee on Ethics revealed new details about a sex scandal that torpedoed Ensign’s career and brought a federal criminal indictment against a former top aide, Doug Hampton, the husband of the senator’s mistress and campaign aide, Cindy.

    Along with Ensign’s hideous actions, we should not forget the sex, lies and alleged accomplices in the “C Street” family.

    Mark Karlin
    Editor, BuzzFlash at Truthout


  3. Pingback: Nationalism and wars | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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