Skip to comments.Military Entangled in 'Extreme Missionary' Christian Reality TV Show [barf alert]
Posted on 12/17/2008 9:00:08 AM PST by Alex Murphy
The Pentagon has once again come under fire by a military watchdog organization for its involvement in the production of two cable programs, one that featured two so-called extreme missionaries embedded with a U.S. Army unit in Afghanistan trying to convert Muslims to Christianity.
The popular reality series, "Travel the Road," aired on the Trinity Broadcasting Network and featured Will Decker and Tim Scott, two so-called "extreme" missionaries who travel the globe to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth and encourage the church to be active in the Great Commission.
The other cable program green-lit by the Pentagon is Gods Soldier, which aired in September on the Military Channel, and was filmed at Forward Operating Base McHenry in Hawijah, Iraq. It features an Army chaplain openly promoting fundamentalist Christianity to active-duty U.S. soldiers in Iraq in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), a watchdog organization, first disclosed details about the cable programs in the groups weekly newsletter on Friday. The group plans to amend a federal lawsuit it filed against the Department of Defense earlier this year, currently in federal District Court in Kansas City, Kansas to include these despicable unconstitutional promotions of fundamentalist Christianity in the combat zones of Iraq and Afghanistan, said MRFF founder and president Mikey Weinstein.
Part of the second season of Travel the Road was filmed on location in Afghanistan and aired in April 2006, where Decker and Scott were embedded with the Army, and shows numerous scenes of the men accompanying U.S. Army soldiers on patrol. The missionaries are also filmed evangelizing the local Afghans by distributing New Testaments to them in their native Darri language.
In one scene, an Army Chaplain named Capt. Brad Hanna of the Oklahoma National Guard, talks about the possibility of a revival in Afghanistan and says he frequently speaks to Afghans about converting to Christianity. Hanna was made a full-time support chaplain for the Oklahoma National Guard after he returned from Afghanistan.
Additionally, Decker and Scott prominently cite SSgt. Sheldon Hoyt, who was stationed in Afghanistan with the Oklahoma National Guards 45th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment, as playing a hands-on role in helping the missionaries facilitate their proselytizing as opposed to simply being a tour guide of sorts.
In sanctioning Decker and Scotts work, the Pentagon appears to have committed numerous constitutional violations as well as breached military regulations such as United States Central Command's General Order 1-A, which strictly prohibits any proselytization in the Middle Eastern theater of operations.
Earlier this year, U.S. military personnel launched a major initiative to convert thousands of Iraqi citizens to Christianity also by distributing Bibles and other fundamentalist Christian literature translated into Arabic to Iraqi Muslims.
An article published on the website of Mission Network News reported that Bible Pathway Ministries, a fundamentalist Christian organization, disclosed that the organization provided thousands of a special military edition of its Daily Devotional Bible study book to members of the 101st Airborne Division of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, currently stationed in Iraq.
The project "came into being when a chaplain in Iraq (who has since finished his tour) requested some books from Bible Pathway Ministries (BPM).
The resulting product is a 6"x9" 496-page illustrated book with embossed cover containing 366 daily devotional commentaries, maps, charts, and additional helpful information," the Mission Network News report said.
Chief Warrant Officer Rene Llanos of the 101st Airborne told Mission Network News, the soldiers who are patrolling and walking the streets are taking along this copy, and they're using it to minister to the local residents.
"Our division is also getting ready to head toward Afghanistan, so there will be copies heading out with the soldiers," Llanos said. We need to pray for protection for our soldiers as they patrol and pray that God would continue to open doors. The soldiers are being placed in strategic places with a purpose. They're continuing to spread the Word.
Karen Hawkins, a BPM official, said military chaplains "were trying to encourage [soldiers] to be in the Word everyday because they're in a very dangerous situation, and they need that protection."
The distribution of the Bibles and Christian literature came at the same time that U.S. Marines guarding the entrance to the city of Fallujah handed out witnessing coins to Sunni Muslims entering the city that read in Arabic on one side: "Where will you spend eternity? and "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16" on the other.
But its the military chaplains who have been criticized for allegedly force-feeding soldiers a form of fundamentalist Christianity originating from highly controversial, apocalyptic "End Times" evangelists and their mega-churches. Evangelical Christians have become such a dominating presence in the militarys chaplain corps that the Air Force held a four-day Spiritual Fitness Conference at Hilton Hotel in Colorado Springs in 2005 for chaplains and their families.
The U.S. Constitution says the federal government is prohibited from using the machinery of the state to promote any single religion. But, disturbingly, Gods Soldier, produced with the full co-operation of the 2-27 Infantry Battalion "Wolfhounds, and Travel the Road comes off more like an advertisement for fundamentalist Christianity and a promotional tool for the faith.
Gods Soldier was co-produced by Jerusalem Productions, a British production company whose "primary aim is to increase understanding and knowledge of the Christian religion and to promote Christian values, via the broadcast media, to as wide an audience as possible."
Before Gods Soldier aired on Sept. 10, the Discovery Channel, which owns the Military Channel, advertised the program by stating that it would feature several Army Chaplains from a wide variety of denominations discussing their work in the military.
Follow a group of U.S. Army Chaplains from different faiths on a tour of duty in Iraq as they comfort wounded and dying soldiers, reassure panicked and depressed soldiers, as well debriefing those soldiers that return from their tours of duty," the marketing literature for Gods Soldier said.
Instead, Gods Soldier, zeroed in on one chaplain, Capt.. Charles Popov, who appears in the first scene of the program in a godlike pose looking down upon the military base and urging soldier to attend Christian Bible study.
"Hey this is God, Chaplain Popov says. Come to Bible study tonight at 1900. Purpose Driven Life. You only have 25,000 days in your life, and probably half of it's gone.
The author of the book, Purpose Driven Life, that Popov referenced is Rick Warren, the leader of a fundamentalist mega-church in Southern California. In a recent interview with Fox News pundit Sean Hannity, Warren said, "the Bible says that evil cannot be negotiated with. It has to just be stopped.... In fact, that is the legitimate role of government. The Bible says that God puts government on earth to punish evildoers. Not good-doers. Evildoers."
MRFFs research has found that The Purpose Driven Life is second only to the Bible itself as the most widely promoted religious book to our military.
In another scene from Gods Soldier, Popov is featured blessing a group of soldiers about to go out on a patrol.
"I pray that you would give them the ability to exterminate the enemy and to accomplish the task that they're been sent forth by God and country to do. In Christ's name I pray. Amen, Popov says as he leads the group of soldiers in prayer. Every soldier should know Romans 13, that the government is set up by God, and the magistrate, or the one who wields the sword -- you have not swords but 50 cals and [unintelligible] like that -- does not yield it in vain because the magistrate has been called, as you, to execute wrath upon those who do evil."
Popov is studying toward a Brigade Chaplain supervisory position and the rank of Major at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina's US Army Chaplain School in the Army C-4 class.
Another clip from Gods Soldier contains what appears to be a violation of strict regulations governing Army chapels: a large cross-shaped window covering about a third of the height of the door.
"The actions of Army chaplain Popov are abominable beyond measure even when slightly judged by constitutional standards, said Mikey Weinstein, founder and president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. Look, damn it, lets call it what it is. [Popov] and his approving Army superiors are the quintessential poster-child for the treason; yes treason, of aiding and abetting our enemies.
Indeed, they are creating the most prolific recruiting weapon ever imagined for the fundamentalist Islamic terrorists comprising al-Qaeda, the Taliban, the insurrectionists and the Jihadists. Chaplain Popov and his lickspittle Army lapdogs have tragically painted the wretched perception that this conflict is between the righteous armies of Jesus against the evildoers of all Islam. This conflict of religious extermination has happened before. They called it The Crusades.
Since he launched his watchdog organization four years ago, Weinstein said he and MRFF have been contacted by more than 10,000 active duty and retired members of the U.S. Armed Forces, many of who served or serve in Iraq and Afghanistan, and who identify themselves as Christians. They told Weinstein that they were severely pressured by their military chain of command to convert to Christianity.
Weinstein, the author of "With God on Our Side: One Man's War Against an Evangelical Coup in America's Military." and a former White House attorney under Ronald Reagan, general counsel H. Ross Perot and an Air Force Judge Advocate (JAG), has exposed scores of cases in which the Department of Defense has promoted and sanctioned fundamentalist Christian proselytizing among U.S. soldiers in violation of the U.S. Constitution, established federal case law and military regulations.
The most egregious case of the Pentagons close ties with Christian fundamentalist groups was formally investigated by the Pentagons inspector general, as a result of a highly publicized complaint lodged by Weinsteins group, in 2007 in which high-ranking Defense Department officials appeared in a promotional video in uniform promoting the fundamentalist organization Christian Embassy.
In a 45-page inspector general report, Air Force Maj. Gen. Jack Catton, Army Brig. Gen. Bob Caslen, Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks, Maj. Gen. Peter Sutton, and a colonel and lieutenant colonel whose names were redacted were found to have "improperly endorsed and participated with a non-Federal entity while in uniform."
Caslen was formerly the deputy director for political-military affairs for the war on terrorism, directorate for strategic plans and policy, joint staff. He was reassigned to the prestigious position of West Point Command of Cadets overseeing the 4,200 cadets at the US Military Academy at West Point. Caslen told DOD investigators he agreed to appear in the video upon learning other senior Pentagon officials had been interviewed for the promotional video.
At least one senior military official defended their actions, according to the inspector general's report, saying the "Christian Embassy had become a 'quasi-Federal entity,' since the DOD had endorsed the organization to General Officers for over 25 years."
These unconscionable efforts by the leadership of our American armed forces to portray our United States military as the avenging Army of Jesus must stop here and now, Weinstein said. It is directly leading to the emboldening of our enemy which, in turn, is maiming and killing brave American service men and women.
Way to go Weinsteins!
This reminds me of the Jesus Camp fiasco.
It looks like these atheists have an agenda.
I can’t believe anyone in the military would be dumb enough to think that letting missionaries along on patrols in Afghanistan is a good idea.
I had to check the source to make sure this wasn’t an article from The Onion.
I am sure Kathleen Parker will jump on this band wagon. After all, it smacks of “oogedy boogedy”. Obviously must be rooted out, smashed, and obliterated. \s
Since George Washington on the Potomac until today our armed forces have worshiped the Almighty God. No soldier has ever been forced to worship.
The only thing the constitution says is no government forced religion. Where is the violation?
Anybody crazy enough to embed with a military unit, deployed in a war zone, voluntarily, on their own dime, in order to proselytize the Moslems...is crazy enough to be left to it.
Can someone please give me the EXACT location of that in the Conssitution? I have never been able to find it.
ANd this is only a year after 8 officers (including generals) took part in a fund-raising video for the Christian Embassy, based in Arlington, Virginia.
Story: Generals erred by taking part in Christian video
If they were only endangering themselves, that's one thing. But, they're endangering American soldiers and their mission in Afghanistan. Anyone in the military who approved this is violating orders agains proselytizing to the locals.
Propagating Biblicict Christianity among Muslims in their own land. That’s a very good military tactic since we know that Islam inspires violence, hatered, terrorism and death. The more people who can be converted away from Islam, the better. The fewer Muslims there are, the safer the world is.
Christianity being propaged in the ranks of the military is as old as the American military itself. There are whole huge vilumes available on the early chaplaincies under early presidents.
It's a recipe for disaster in a conflict such as Afghanistan. We need the support of the local government and regional tribes if we are to successfully fight the Taliban an Al-Qaeda. If it starts to look like our military is in the business of spreading Christianity in the country, that support will melt very rapidly, and we're going to find ourselves as occupiers, rather than the people who are seen as having gotten rid of the Taliban.
Christianity being propaged in the ranks of the military is as old as the American military itself.
Putting aside the issue of whether it is legal or appropriate for the US military to force religion onto potentially unwilling servicemen, that's not what we're talking about here. We're talking about members of the US military allowing missionaries to proselytize to Afghanis in contravention to local law and standing orders.
Let us never forget from Whom all blessings flow including during times of battle.
“We’re talking about members of the US military allowing missionaries to proselytize to Afghanis in contravention to local law and standing orders.”
It’s worth all the risks.
That's easy to say when you're not the one getting shot at.
Transcript from the end of the episode. Voice-over of Tim Scott with video of our brave military on patrol in Afghanistan:
“Where did this burden come from?” (Video of plane hitting World Trade Center Tower 1.)
“Do we remember those who protect us?”
“The Father...who leaves his home...
The Friend...who gives his life...
The Husband who becomes a Warrior...”
“Do we remember what they have given?
For our freedom and the freedom of others.
They fight against injustice and guard against terror.
They are the Watchmen.
Let us not forget them.
Let us not forget they fight for us.”
(then blank screen to these words)
DEDICATED TO THE MEN AND WOMEN OF THE UNITED STATES MILITARY
GOD BLESS YOU ALL
Further, if Christians in America don't get off their self-righteous duffs and start winning Muslims to Christ, there will soon come a day when there will be plenty of shooting and bombings on in our own streets.