Skip to comments.The Atheist Foxhole (Rumsfeld "marginalized" religion in military)
Posted on 02/24/2006 9:39:55 PM PST by churchillbuff
-----Editor's note: As reported in the Washington Times, the U.S. Air Force last Wednesday "released revised guidelines on religious observance that say chaplains need not recite prayers incompatible with their beliefs... The move won tepid praise from evangelicals, who see the move as progress but not close to a guarantee that they can pray 'in Jesus' name.'" This action follows in the wake of strong critical reaction to guidelines issued by the Pentagon last summer, as described in this article from our February issue.----
THE ATHEIST FOXHOLE by Angelo Codevilla
Arguably the worst, most gratuitous, most ominous act inflicted on America in living memory was Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's August 29, 2005 promulgation of guidelines for religious expression in the U.S. Air Force -- intended as a model for the rest of the armed forces. Their essence is to forbid anyone in uniform from giving "the reasonable perception that [the Armed Forces, and hence the U.S. government] support any religion over other religions or the idea of religion over the choice of no religious affiliation." However, they place no restriction on anyone who might advocate atheism, or mock, or restrict, or cause discomfort to, the religiously observant in any setting. Indeed they are all about placing the U.S. government's weight against talking about the presence, or praying for the guidance or protection, of God. Meanwhile, the Air Force and other services require their members to take instruction in "sensitive" thought and behavior amounting to a secular religion.
Marginalizing religion among people likely to be shot at is always a bad idea. But discouraging religion in forces once headed by George Washington, whose current members come from the most devout sectors of the modern world's most devout country, at the behest of people scarcely present in those forces, shows incompetence more than evil. Stalin's rules for the Red Army in World War II were more God-friendly than Rumsfeld's.
Until recently, traditions and the habits of servicemen combined with common sense to exempt the Armed Forces from the U.S. government's longstanding Kulturkampf against religion in America. Anyone going up to the Secretary of the Air Force's Pentagon office would pass by a huge mural of an Air Force family going to church, with the words, "Here I am Lord, send me." Cadets at the Naval Academy still pray collectively before common meals. Young men away from home for the first time -- at least those who do not simply drink and whore -- find religious practice a lifeline that keeps them connected to normal human life. The advent of the "All Volunteer Force" in the 1970s increased the proportion of practicing Christians among both officers and enlisted. Since 9/11, the "foxhole factor" has come into play: The number of atheists is inversely proportional to that of bullets flying. In short, there have been the very opposite of popular pressures for secularization.
THE EXCUSE THAT THE MOST recent restrictions on religion are being forced by the courts is insincere. Yes, one Mikey Weinstein filed a suit alleging that the longstanding patterns of behavior at the Air Force Academy amounted to "severe, systemic and pervasive" religious discrimination. But no ruling of the Supreme Court has invalidated them. Nor has any law done so. Yet a few officers wanted to have less Christianity there, and key officials in the Rumsfeld Pentagon agreed. Nor does the excuse wash that the restrictions are necessary for the maintenance of good military order. The pragmatic way to ensure unit cohesion is surely not to displease the many for the sake of the few.
The guidelines are more radical than they seem. "Public prayer," they direct, "should not normally be included" -- read, is banned -- except in "extraordinary circumstances." The only ones they cite are "mass casualties, preparation for imminent combat, and natural disasters" (emphasis mine). In essence, the Bush Pentagon lets the name of God be invoked only when absolutely necessary to provide the equivalent of a shot of booze, or of a mood-altering drug. Practically, it treats religion as Marx described it: "the opiate of the masses." Prima faciae, even opening a routine meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance flouts the guidelines, because it affirms that America is anything but indifferent to God.
Worse, the guidelines also permit prayer where, "consistent with longstanding military tradition," there are "change of command, promotion ceremonies, or significant celebrations..." -- but only if such "prayer" is emptied of "specific beliefs" and intended "to add a heightened sense of seriousness or solemnity." How patent unseriousness may add seriousness is part of the Bush White House's closely guarded formula for success. It may not have realized that it outdid the judges who had tried to outlaw the Pledge of Allegiance.
THE GUIDELINES PLACE special restrictions and responsibilities on chaplains. Heretofore they had been allowed, even encouraged, to shepherd men of their own denomination, urge members of other denominations to be faithful to them, and to try to bring the godless to God. Now they are to help restrict their flock's own urges to proselytize, to restrict their own and their flock's religious practices to the guidelines, and above all to give no one the impression that God exists and that it matters. To chaplains who wear the uniform, these are orders. But these orders raise the most fundamental questions of all: What is the chaplain doing in uniform? For whom is he working? To what end?
A chaplain's job has always been inherently problematic. On the one hand he must do nothing to impair his flock's ability to do their military jobs. On the other, he cannot simply be yet another voice urging people to do what they're told regardless of what they might think. His authority comes from God, on whose behalf he cares for the things that are most important to each individual. For Christian chaplains, Jesus' words "render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's" have offered a practical solution to this conflict. In America, a nation explicitly "under God," the chaplains could counsel people to follow the faith's dictates fully, while obeying orders wholeheartedly because the two did not conflict.
But what can a Christian chaplain under the guidelines say when he reads, or someone asks him about, the Gospel's charge to "go out among all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father..."? Or what can a Jewish one say when several of his flock are disciplined for gathering together in prayer at the times prescribed by the Law? The free exercise of religion involves speaking and acting in public. Clergymen's stock in trade must be to urge religious practice in everyday life. What can they say, what can serious Christians or Jews think, about an organization in which they risk their lives while demanding that they behave in ways that they believe endanger their immortal souls? It becomes difficult for them to say, I belong here.
It is inherently difficult to believe that one is serving God by working in an organization that will penalize you for speaking his name. But does not one serve God by serving His America? Not if America insists that those who love God shut up about it while those who mock him may do so at will. Whose America is it anyway? It cannot belong equally to people whose views of it are incompatible with one another. The Air Force cadets who charged that a critical mass of evangelicals at the Academy had created an environment they could not stand, and the captain featured in the New York Times article that supported them, had every right to tell themselves and the world something like "this isn't me, and this is not my idea of America." And, because their views of America coincided with those of powerful people in Washington, the Bush administration promulgated guidelines congenial to them. But, by the very same token, these guidelines frame an environment unacceptable to serious Christians and Jews.
THE ALL VOLUNTEER FORCE lives by attracting people. Its character, and its size, depend on who finds military service attractive. There may exist a pool of young people big enough to fill America's military who combine appetite for physical challenges, tolerance for danger, a spirit of self- sacrifice, discipline, and patriotism, but who don't really care whether America is "under God" or not, who get along just fine without the Ten Commandments, are more bothered by piety than by homosexuality, and are inspired by "sensitivity" training. And perhaps the social changes forced upon the U.S. military in recent years will bring such people out of the woodwork and into uniform. Maybe America will end up with atheist foxholes. But surely these changes tell the families who now actually fill the Armed Forces that maybe the kinds of people who are making the rules should also be doing the fighting.
Angelo M. Codevilla is professor of international relations at Boston University, a Claremont Institute fellow, and a senior editor of The American Spectator. His intellectual history of U.S. foreign relations will be published by Yale University Press.
Thats life :)
Bedtime now, If you respond, I will catch in the morning.
Sounds more like the job description of a recreation officer. Of course, many judges have forgotten the meaning of the term" free exercise of religion."
"78 percent Christian"
"As people become more educated, they tend to be less religious."
So under 20% are not religious because they have become 'more educated'.
They refer to some Viking mythology the Nazis appropriated:
Drei kleine Kittens,
verloren sie ihre Handschuhe,
und sie fingen an zu schreien,
die liebe OH- Mutter,
wir sich fürchten traurig,
denen wir unsere Handschuhe verloren haben.
The text on the buckle is a shortended version of "I have my mittens"/"Gott Mituns" as the original "Ich habe meine Handschuhe" was too long to fit on the buckle and entitle the Viking kitten stormtrooper bearing it to any pie.
Is theism among the ranks necessary for a lean mean principled killing machine? I ask, you decide. The smart answer is that the answer is complex and opaque and depends on a lot of other factors. Just a little hint at the right road on this one. :)
How in the world do you get that from what I said?
Your perspective is all wrong. You cannot name Jesus the son of God or a prophet and that is the point that I was trying to make. As far as God being accepting and/or fickle, this is another issue of perspective. God is was and will always be. We as humans tend to give him human traights and characteristics (as I just did) in an attempt to make God more familiar to us. Even assigning a gender to God is an example of this. In my opinion it is blasphemous to assign human traights to the creator because it diminishes the perfection that is our God. I think religions are mans' attempts to interpret and pass on his perfect word as well as a way to control the masses in the absence of government or rule through strength. I think you might find out that you have the capacity to believe in a higher being albeit maybe not in the traditional form. I would suggest that the relationship is important regardless of what form it takes.
I listed no religion on my official record despite my being a devout Catholic.
I did it for privacy reasons.
I know many others who do the same.
Gott Mit Uns translates DIRECTLY in German to mean "God With Us". Hitler appropriated it as a "peace offering "of sorts to German Christians, whom he had mostly pissed off previously (much of the resistance within Germany during the buildup to WWII was lead by Christian groups).
The nazis cared only about power - it was their only "principle". They used whatever propaganda they could to increase their standing. Hitler had deep disdain for any organization that threatened the nazi party - from the atheists and Freethinker groups, to devout Christians. Their aim was to break the non-party support structures and then reintegrate. Recall "Kinder, Kirche, Kueche" (Children, Church, Kitchen). He used the Enabling Act to dissolve particularly meddlesome churches and outlawed most atheistic and freethinking groups.
So yes, the nazis held contempt for devout Christians (and everyone else who threatened them, including atheists). And they didn't see themselves as, nor where they, "progressive". The totalitarian mindset only cares about control.
Hey, I coulda just called a Godwin. :)
I should also add that Hitler wasn't the first to reintroduce "Gott Mit Uns" in the 20th Century. They pulled the same stunt in WWI. Give people who would otherwise disagree something to rally around.
Drei kleine Kittens, verloren sie ihre Handschuhe, und sie fingen an zu schreien, die liebe OH- Mutter, wir sich fürchten traurig, denen wir unsere Handschuhe verloren haben.
I does not give any sense. Could you translate it for me please?
"Pure atheistic arrogance and hubris"
Yes, but none-the-less true for some people, especially in the sciences. Their education puffs them up like prideful balloons and they find it gloriously uplifting to worship themselves and their own perceived intelligence.
Yep! This is perfectly correct.
Hitler appropriated it as a "peace offering "of sorts to German Christians, whom he had mostly pissed off previously (much of the resistance within Germany during the buildup to WWII was lead by Christian groups).
He did not need to make a "peace offering" to German christians since he had close contact to both churches from the very beginning of his career as Reichskanzler.
With the Catholic church he fixed a treaty, the so called "Reichskonkordat" which give them the possibility to collect a so called "church tax" in Germany. Until today this is the most important financial basement of the Vatican. Pecunia non olet. Nothing new since Vespasian in Rome. There were many Catholics from the bottom of the church who had the balls to fight Hitler, but its leaders failed to give a adequate answer.
The situation within the Lutheran Church (Evangelische Kirche) was even much more critical. They founded a organisation called "Deutsche Christen" that tried to prove that Jesus was an aryan. Do I have to say more? Like in the Catholic church there were some who understood the true message of Christendom like Bonhoeffer, but they were very few.
It is a sad fact that German churches failed completely to find a answer to such a crude ideology like national socialism. Being devoted to their political "leaders" they followed blind all orders of Hitler. It is a shame that the atheists organized a much broader resistance than the Lutheran churches in particular.
The meaning of the second headline is: "Christ is the deadly enemy of the jews".
This is an excellent article that recognizes that the rules until recently imposed on military chaplains and military Christians amounted to the creation of a new religion....an establishment, if you will.
That is the reason the Air Force and the DoD backed off. If they had felt they were on solid legal ground, they would have stubbornly stuck to their guns.
As with any "establishers," they intended to control the speech of those outside the official church. They told them HOW they could pray. Huge legal mistake.
There is no way that any military leader would invite an expert from any other field and then tell him what he was permitted to say. It would be foolish to ask for the professional input of an expert in nerve gas, but command him ahead of time that he couldn't mention that it is deadly.
I believe (and have faith) that it is entirely possible that your search may not be over. If there is a God [and I believe that there is but I write "if" for your benefit so as to not be off putting], He will be the only One who sits in judgment of you...it will not be members of an Internet message board who are offended by what you write on the subject.
If your [never ending] search ever leads you back to the bible, may I suggest that you just stay with the four canonized gospels. But also read the gnostic gospels that are not found in the bible. Either nine of Christ's followers were full of crap and handed down bogus accounts of what Jesus had done or they passed along the truth. Many of those nine passed along these accounts at tremendous risk and peril to themselves...most people will not do these kinds of things; think about that for a while and it may spark and interest in reading Mark again.
"As people become more educated, they tend to be less religious."
I know quite a few people with doctorates who are very religious. I have found less-educated people are less religious. But I wouldn't expect to hear that from a confused atheist like yourself.
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