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Monday, 4 March 2013

For God and Country

James Parco LtCol, USAF Ret, has written a position paper, God and Country: Religious Fundamentalism in the U.S. Military, for the Center for Inquiry. This paper is an excellent summary of problems caused by overzealous Christian fundamentalist adherents in the US military. Here is the rather depressing summary at the end of the paper:
 The inappropriate behavior of fundamentalist Christian military leaders will not likely change on its own. Ample rules and regulations remain in place to appropriately separate the religious beliefs of military leaders from their official duties and responsibilities. Most lacking, however, is the social and political will to enforce the existing rules and hold military commanders accountable for breaches of conduct.

The cases outlined in this paper raise the fundamental question captured by the classic Latin dictum, quis custodiet ipsos custodes – who will guard the guards themselves? Based on the evidence presented herein, the status quo remains resilient. Military institutions have shown significant reticence to discipline any of their own who use the power of their official positions to run rampant through the senior ranks of the military simply because it is allowed to do so. After all, every system is perfectly designed to yield the behaviors observed.

The answer to this dictum is that the American people, both elected officials and ordinary citizens, are tasked with guarding the guards. As the previous pages make clear, there is a serious problem with religious endorsement in the U.S. Armed Forces which needs to be immediately addressed and changed. It is up to those with social and political power to demand this action. If this problem persists, members of the military will continue to face hostility and indoctrination, and the U.S. government will continue to experience public relations problems in future military missions. If it is addressed, the U.S. military could become a neutral and safe space for members of all religious backgrounds, and none at all, and the image of the America, as seen through its military forces abroad, could change from one of Christianity to one of a diverse people united for liberty and justice for all.
 Until some group with the political power to challenge the entrenched Christian fundamentalists in the military takes action, there will be not change. This problem will persist until either mainline Christians in the US Military get tired of being treated like non-Christians or the non-Christians become more numerous in the military. And this report also does not cover other troubling developments like the links between the more extreme Christian fundamentalists and religious and racial supremacists in and outside of the military.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Anti-Semitism and the Military Bible Association

There have been several articles and posts online lately about antisemitism in the US military. Most of these incidents have involved the chaplain corps. Last month Justin Griffith posted about finding one of  the antisemitic Manga Passion comics placed on his bunk while deployed. He didn't think much about it at the time. He posted about it online and someone at MRFF found out about it. Later it came out that the comics were being distributed across various bases.

Here are is an image from Bruce Wilson over at Talk2Action which shows Jesus as a sweet white man, his fellow Jews as evil looking, and Judas rather effeminate looking. He also compared Nazi propaganda against the Jews with the Manga comics and the similarities are obvious. Here is an image of the comic where all of this exists in one frame of the story. Look at the top right side of the image, Jesus in the middle, an effeminate red-haired Judas, and in the lower left hand side of the drawing, look at the drawing of the rabbi representing the Jews drawn in the comic. In addition to the rather biased appearance of the characters, they draw Jews as in league with the devil just like they think us atheists are.

Manga Comic

Additionally, there have been incidents of Marines posting Nazi SS flags openly.


Has this always been going on? I was in the US Air Force in the 1980s and early 1990s and never saw anything like this. This simply would not have been tolerated at all. Well it seems that certain military chaplain accrediting agencies may have aggravated this problem. In 2009, I wrote this about the Chaplancy of Full Gospel Churches and their website at the time.
The CFGC is the endorser for approximately two hundred chaplains. This endorser openly denigrates other Christians, Jews, Muslims, and the non-religious. The CFGC also advocates crazy conspiracy theories and the armed overthrow of the United States government. There is even a current chaplain, Army Major James F. Linzey, who is a member of something called the Prophecy Club. This website seems to be some sort of money making site, consisting mainly of ads for videos and their magazine.
COL Jim Ammerman, a retired Army chaplain who ran the CFGC died. But later checking on the CFGC's website finds all mention of the various conspiracy videos gone and no mention of MAJ Linzey. Interesting, only COL Ammerman who died in 2009 is listed as the founder, or was, as I just checked again and it seems that he is not listed any more on the website. I wonder why.

Shortly after MAJ Linze's retirement from the Army, he founded a non-profit called the Military Bible Association. A rather benign name. Somehow my email address ended up being included in his mailing list, The Leader's Bible mailing list. I think after the articles I wrote in 2009, he challenged me to a debate or something, but I did not have time for it and ignored the request. So in June of 2010, somehow I ended up on his mailing list. The email traffic on this list was very low, I thought of requesting to be removed, as I was tired of seeing the God glurge in my email. Luckily, I put off asking to be removed from the mailing list, as you will soon see.

I normally do not post emails that I receive from individuals, but this is different, as the Leader's Bible mailing list is a very large email list with hundreds of entries in it.  Sometime in late 2010, emails sent on the mailing list started to change. I started seeing requests for members to attend rabid  anti-Islamic speakers. Then on July 15, 2011 I received the following email:

Click to Enlarge.
Here is the text for easier reading:
Friends,
The Protocols of Zion is a book written in the late 1800s. I have heard about it for several years. You can probably find a copy of it somehow. Recently, however, I stumbled across a rather strange PDF file which contains The Protocols of Zion. I have attached the PDF file which contains it. I have reviewed The Protocols of Zion in this PDF file and believe it is a document which every American and Christian and human being must read. If you thumb through this PDF file you will find The Protocols of Zion.
In short, I believe you will be thankful that you have read it; but you might be extremely anxious about what you might find in it. I highly recommend reading it.
When you read it, it might be helpful to keep in mind that some theologians differentiate between "Jews" of today and "Jews" in the Bible, though I have no comment on that, except to say that in the Bible "Jew" is considered by many to be an abbreviation for "Judean"--an inhabitant of Judea.
You may forward this file to everyone you know.
Sincerely,
Jim
 HOLY SHIT! Attached to this letter was a copy of a bizarre hate manual (warning hate site link), Subverted Nation's Basic training for Revolutionaries by Adam Austin, a strange combination of an Army training motivational manual with the Protocols of the Elders of Zion embedded within it, along with massive amounts of hate quotes. I did some checking of the origin of this manual and found it located here, at a website called (warning neoNazi antisemitic hate site Subverted Nation.  Author Adam Austin claims that vanity press Lulu declined to publish his little screed. That's probably the only true statement on his little hate site.

You can see in the email that Linzey subscribes to the theory that white northern Europeans are the "true Jews". This is what the Christian Identity movement advocates. Highlighted in red, he seems to think that you have to be an American Christian to be human (probably white as well according to what he has written and said publicly before). Previously I had speculated if he was linked with Christian Identity, and it seems that I was right. I passed this email on to the MRFF as something interesting for them to see. But as of that time, there was no direct link to the military in the email, other than a suspicion that active duty military chaplains were on his mailing list. I wanted him to make a mistake and actually send out emails individually to the list, instead of to the whole list. This way each email would have embedded within it the contents of the Leader's Bible mailing list. 

In August 2012, I received an email from the Military Bible Association mailing list to sign an affidavit stating that his mother was sound of mind and Jim Linzey was  the best person to handle her affairs. WTF? He was asking people to say to a legal court to say that they personally knew that he was the right person to handle his mother's affairs whether they knew her or not. His siblings replied to all the mailing list to say that Jim Linzey was trying to manipulate their mother into giving up all of her assets to Jim. Jim Linzey replied back to his sister and in doing so, replied back with all of the emails on the mailing list sent to everyone who happened to be on the email list. So now I had a copy of the list.

What a treasure trove that was. The email list contained a few hundred active duty chaplains and chaplain staff, paramilitary church organizations, and dominionist Assemblies of God and nondenominational churches. Active duty military personnel are receiving racist and hate material in their official in-boxes (.mil addresses). So this is apparently one source of antisemitic literature entering the military, there should be an investigation about active duty military personnel using their official email to receive and send hate material. Something needs to be done and fast, perhaps naming and shaming. But not everyone on the list may appreciate receiving the hate mail.

Mikey Weinstein over at MRFF wonders if the antisemitism is coming from the chaplain corps or the senior officers. He wrote this in a letter to Defense Secretary Panetta:
It is quite clear, for a plethora of incontrovertible reasons, that these comic books are blatantly anti-Semitic. For instance, one of the main themes of these horrible books is the wretched, age old libel that Jews are directly responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and, further still, that Jews have conspiratorially consorted with the devil in that crucifixion "plot" and other nefarious anti-Christian endeavors. Our MRFF clients do not know whether it is DoD chaplains or our clients’ chains of command who are behind the distribution of these bigoted materials. What MRFF does know is that these "Manga Messiah" comic books have been distributed liberally across all the service branches and on military bases and naval vessels all over the world including the combat zones of Afghanistan, Iraq, and at many other U.S. armed forces bases in the Area of Responsibility (AOR).
 I think we have found only part of the problem, chaplains and retired chaplains. The problem may also be both the chaplain corps and an officer corps that looks the other way as long as it is not themselves that are being denigrated. I don't know what will happen if this problem is allowed to fester. I I have a feeling that the situation will continue to get worse and very ugly in the future.

 I've passed the email list to a friend who is very keen to check out the names for links to hate groups. This story is to be continued ...

 Update:

I've been unable to verify that Maj Linzey was running the CFGC after Ammermann's death, so I have update the post.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Alfred Hitchcock's Death Camp Documentary


Over 11 million were murdered in the Nazi death camps during WW2.For no logical reason at all. I had to stop this video about every 5 minutes. That was the only way I could get through it. Alfred Hitchcock made this partial documentary shortly after the end of the war. The suffering and death in this film is beyond imaging. All of those poor people who suffered and died horrible deaths. The film was deemed too graphic for viewing and never finished.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Dipshit Thinks Women Can't Handle Combat

Ryan Smith over at the Wall Street Journal thinks that women can't handle combat. He seems to be preoccupied with women's bodily functions during combat.
The invasion was a blitzkrieg. The goal was to move as fast to Baghdad as possible. The column would not stop for a lance corporal, sergeant, lieutenant, or even a company commander to go to the restroom. Sometimes we spent over 48 hours on the move without exiting the vehicles. We were forced to urinate in empty water bottles inches from our comrades.



See Mr. Smith, women don't need to stop at a restroom to take a leak. So there. News flash bozo, women and men take a shit in the same way. I've been in situations where it has been a couple of weeks between baths and was no worse for wear. Perhaps a little smelly, as was everyone else. It sure does feel nice to have a long hot shower after spending a couple of weeks in the woods with no shower facilities, only a rag and a container with about a half gallon of water. You can get fairly clean with this. But somehow, I don't think pissing or shitting is really on his mind. I think the thought of women having periods absolutely scares the living shit out of him. Poor delicate flower.
Yes, a woman is as capable as a man of pulling a trigger. But the goal of our nation's military is to fight and win wars. Before taking the drastic step of allowing women to serve in combat units, has the government considered whether introducing women into the above-described situation would have made my unit more or less combat effective?
 You know women have fought in practically every war that has been waged throughout history. And have performed just as good as the men. When your village or town is getting overrun, no one has time to worry about who is holding and shooting the guns. And why would women automatically be ineffective during combat? You know who I think would be ineffective during combat? A man who is traumatized at the sight of a woman taking a leak, possibly even standing up to do so.
Despite the professionalism of Marines, it would be distracting and potentially traumatizing to be forced to be naked in front of the opposite sex, particularly when your body has been ravaged by lack of hygiene. In the reverse, it would be painful to witness a member of the opposite sex in such an uncomfortable and awkward position. Combat effectiveness is based in large part on unit cohesion. The relationships among members of a unit can be irreparably harmed by forcing them to violate societal norms. 
 Women have been taking care of the injured and sick for centuries and have not freaked out at bodily functions. Poor Mr. Smith, is he saying that he will have a case of the vapours at the sight of naked people, especially those of the opposite sex? Grow up.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Land of the Free



Eric Lack over at TPM Muckraker has an interesting story about a group wanting to create an armed survivalist compound in Idaho. Apparently, a group called "The Citadel" (no relation to the military school) wants to build a prepper's utopia on an Idaho mountaintop.
The Citadel, as envisioned and advertised by its creators, is to be a walled community of 3,500 to 7,000 “patriotic American families” who are ready for when The Shit Hits The Fan (TSHTF), i.e. the myriad potential society-collapsing disasters, either natural or man made, anticipated by preppers, survivalists, along with other fringe and breakaway strands of -ers and -ists. The Citadel is to be a place for people who want to be “removed and protected from peril in order to preserve ourselves, our posterity, and Liberty in the event of a national economic implosion.” And in whatever time is to be had before grid-down, economic collapse, The Citadel will provide a place to live “a free/freer life in Idaho (or elsewhere in the American Redoubt) amongst the current strong, self-reliant and Liberty-loving residents of the region.”
 Well, so far it seems that the group has only purchased 20 acres on an Idaho hilltop. I don't see 3,000 to 7,000 people fitting into 20 acres. But they say that they plan to buy more land in the area. The plans at the website look like a cartoon or Disney version of a walled fortress. There is a farmer's market, but no farm. And as for the cost, it cost $208 just to get an application looked at. According to the website:
We plan to purchase land for the Citadel in 2013 and break ground soon after. Even before unveiling our national advertising campaign, more than 200 families reserved space within our community!
 If living in an affordable, safe, well-prepared, patriotic community where your children will be educated in school rather than indoctrinated, consider the Citadel.
Approved applicants receive a Lifetime Lease (paid off in only 30 years). No credit check. No background check. Zero down payment. Zero interest. Zero property taxes.
Click to enlarge

 I love the bit about no property taxes. Of course not, since everyone is only leasing the land, they don't actually own any land at all. The only industry in the area will be the gun factory at the compound, and all residents will be required to train with weapons. Ohhhh, I really love the reflecting pool next to the firearms museum.
Per the project’s Patriot Agreement, which every would-be resident of the community must agree with in writing, an armed citizenry and a trained militia will also be important parts of life at The Citadel. All residents over 13 must be proficient with both rifle and pistol, and each household will have to provide one “able-bodied Patriot” for once-a-month militia training and support. (In its branding and literature, The Citadel refers often to the idea of the three percent or “the III,” an allusion to the idea that only three percent of the Colonial population participated in the Revolutionary War, a statistic the Anti-Defamation League has called “not particularly accurate.”) Every “able-bodied Patriot of age” within the Citadel will also be required to maintain one AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle, five magazines, and 1,000 rounds of ammunition. 
So let me paraphrase, all land is owned by a central group and leased to the people, all work is controlled by the same central group, everyone is required to be drafted into their militia (any mental illness exceptions?) and all persons are required to have the same political beliefs. Land of the free indeed. 
Marxists, Socialists, Liberals and Establishment Republicans will likely find that life in our community is incompatible with their existing ideology and preferred lifestyles.
Protesting a bit too much, methinks. So a group of "rugged individualists" thinks this is a good idea. I wonder what will happen the first winter everyone gets trapped in together. In addition, one of the founders of this idea has served time in the past for fraud and extortion. He seems to be a brave fellow, conning a bunch of armed survivalists. The local sheriff and Benewah County official say that they have never even heard of the group. Perhaps they should call the project Griftwood Estates.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Spam Cleanup

I've been too busy lately to spend much time on this blog, and now that I'm back, the spam has sure piled up in the comments. Took some time to clean it all out. Next task is to update my links and post the several stories I am ready to write.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Chaplains Gone Wild

The last two days has seen a couple of interesting emails arrive in my email account for this blog. They concern a couple of military chaplains who have completely sold out to either rampant commercialism or a possible attempt to run for office. One of these chaplains, however has had problems with this for a long time. The other has succumbed to greed. I will cover the greedy chaplain now. The other chaplain will be in a separate post.

According to Justin Griffith at Rock Beyond Belief, Chaplain MAJ Doug Hedrick runs an organisation called Centurion's Watch. This organisation runs some sort of Christian marriage seminars for the military. He of course charges for this. Here is an excerpt from the linked support page (quite a bit pushy with the requests for donations), while it lasts:
Please Help By Giving What You Can We are asking you to please sponsor or help sponsor one or more couples by making a tax deductible donation. The cost is $200 per couple and includes room, meals, materials for the seminar and breakout sessions, and entertainment such as ballroom dancing. Many couples cannot afford the full rate, but have expressed that they are able to pay $59-$69. We would love to have you become a monthly partner. There are several monthly support levels to choose from:
  • $16.36 (Founders Club- sponsors 1 couple per year)
  • $50 (Regiment Club- sponsors 3 couples per year)
  • $100 (Century Club- sponsors 6 couples per year)
  • $200 (Legion Club- sponsors 12 couples per year)
Or, please select one of our three other monthly levels ($300, $400, or $500 to allow military couples the opportunity to attend this life changing seminar, and also help Centurion’s Watch grow and offer more services to military couples and families.
What make this into a serious affair rather than a small case of probable conflict of interest for Chaplain Hedrick, is the involvement of Maj. Gen. Umbarger. Maj Gen Umbarger pushes Centurion's Watch while in uniform. Dustin's post lists all of the DoD regulations he is violating by doing this.
Maj. Gen. Umbarger is the Adjutant General of Indiana. He leads all of the state’s Army and Air National Guard and Guard Reserve units. Commanders have to be careful not to give the appearance of selective treatment. I’m surprised that this wasn’t vetted and then squashed.
With all of the pressure to participate in Centurion's Watch seminars being pushed by Maj. Gen. Umbarger, what are lower ranking officers and enlisted members of the Guard supposed to do? This sure gives the impression that promotions are being tied to participation. What of the money that Chaplain Maj. Hedrick is making on these seminars? Is the general getting a cut as well?

Here is the promotional video Maj Gen Umbarger makes for Centurion's Watch.



Why is pressuring your subordinates with buying Tupperware and other products not allowed, but pressuring them to buy Christian marriage seminars is? Sure the web page says that this is a "donation", but who really believes that?

My next story has evolved over the past year. It involves an Army chaplain who was "retired" a couple of years ago. He has been involved in anti-Semitism, white supremacy, Christian supremacy, conspiracy theories, being removed from the chaplain endorsing agency he co-founded, getting involved with politics, and dragging his family's personal problems through an email list. Quite a busy life since he was officially "retired" from active duty. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Hey, It's Great to be Back

I haven't posted anything here in over 6 months due to a series of family events (the death of a close family member) and a hectic work schedule. Though I haven't posted much, I've been reading a lot of great blogs lately. I'm also taking a graduate level math class which has taken even more of my time. But I have several interesting stories that I will be posting soon.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

The Power of Doubt or Messin with Fundies

In the past two months a couple of events have kept me laughing about the silliness of those who believe without really thinking about their beliefs. A religious coworker and a Jesus door to door sales lady have given me much amusement.

A few months ago I was working in an office where one coworker kept making religious references in almost every conversation. I didn't say anything but he started assuming that I was a Christian that agreed with him. How presumptuous. After a week, it was time to end that assumption.

He started saying some creationist ideas about the Earth being only a few thousand years old. I said that I did not agree with that. The evidence shows a universe and Earth that are billions of years old. He then stated that he believed that every word in his bible was true. I asked him how he knew that it was true.

His reasons were that he believed the supernatural was true and that prophecies from the old testament foretold Jesus. The boss walked in at that moment and asked what we were discussing. I found out later from my boss that my coworker had been in trouble before for bothering people about religion. I replied that my coworker was trying to convince me that the supernatural existed. The boss laughed, letting me know that he was sympathetic to my point of view.

I replied to my coworker that the old testament prophecies were useless because the writers of the new testament had those writings available to them when they wrote the new testament. That was the simplest explaination. He said that he had never thoughtful it that way and would look this up. He never came back with another explaination.

For the next couple of weeks my coworker kept making these strange passive aggressive remarks about me going to hell when I died. I finally got tired of this one day, so it was time to teach this person a lesson, the parable of the abusive husband.

After he made his little remark, about burning in hell, I said that how could that possibly describe a loving god? That this was like a man being thought of as a good husband but he tells his wife that if she does not tell him that she loves him, then he would lock her up in the basement and torture her. How can this possibly be considered "loving"?

He made a little strangled sound, but made no reply. He never made those remarks about hell again. I thought the boss was going to high-five me.

Last Friday I was expecting a couple friends to come over. The doorbell rang and I answered it. There were two ladies in their 20s, dressed up and carrying their bibles like magic talismans. One woman started by saying "God is not responsible for natural disasters." She then quoted something from John and from Timothy. Then she started with hinting that "dark forces" caused bad things. I guess she was talking about demons and the devil. Who knows? Perhaps like Voldemart, you can't say it out loud?

I asked her if God created everthing. She answered in the affirmative, that yes he created everything. I asked the obvious "If he created everything, doesn't he also create disasters as well?"

She replied somewhat uncertainly that she had never thought of it that way. I wanted to discuss this further, but she quickly stated that it looked like I was busy with my daughter and that they must be going and they must leave now. Hopefully they won't come back. I shut the door and busted out laughing when I discovered that I had forgotten that I was wearing a set of fuzzy purple antennas that my daughter had put on me earlier.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero

I'm watching a very moving Frontline episode entitled Faith and Doubt at Ground Zero. This episode explores the emotions of the families of the victims and the survivors.

When I lost my daughter as an infant, I was handed a brochure about the stages of grief and how grief is resolved. I remember reading that about 75% of people resolve their grief by feeling that their is a god and there was a resolution for their loved one's death. I recall that the rationalization was that God's ways were mysterious or something along those lines. But 25% of people accepted that the universe is a chaotic place and shit happens, it's no ones fault when these types of things happen. This was what I felt when I lost my daughter.

The images of the falling people shown are horrifying. The couple holding hands as they jump to their deaths is a haunting one. Did they know each other? Were they strangers? Were they comforted by each other as they faced a certain death?

Rabbi Herschfield discussed how it bothered him when survivors claimed that God saved them. "What about those who died, and died a horrible, painful death? Did God cause their deaths as well? It's easy to say that God saved one, it's the easy way out. It's the easy way out for religion as well. But someone says that God saved them from death, then it's hypocrisy to not say that God caused deaths as well. That is just not a god that I can worship."

There was an interesting discussion on evil and its definition. Margot Adler defines evil as when you loose sight of others as people, they are as nothing to you. They are in the way of your goals.

There was general discussion that religion itself is responsible. Both the religious and the non-religious people interviewed recognized that religion can motivate both good and terrible things. Being absolutely sure that you are right and others are wrong can lead to terrible acts. Absolutism can blind someone to the consequences of their actions.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Don't Be a Sucker



This film created at the very end of WWII gives a very simple explaination of how a fascist political party can divide a group of people by splitting them into minorities, then setting the minorities against each other until they are all weakened. Then take a look at the current extreme right and new charasmatic Christian right in this country. You will see them in a new light. I'll give a few examples.

Rachel Tabachnick states that Mary Glazier, a friend and mentor to Sarah Palin stated the following during a conference in 2008:
"There is a tipping point, at which, at which time, because of the sin of the land, the people then have to be displaced. But while this measure of wickedness is rising, the measure of faith in the church is rising. God is preparing a people to displace the ones whose sin is rising so that then they tip over and the church goes in - one is removed and the church moves in and takes the territory. Now, that does not mean that the people are removed, because God removes them from the Kingdom of Darkness into the Kingdom of Light. They are given an opportunity to change allegiances."
Notice that Glacier is speaking of removing those who don't subscribe to either her political or religious ideology. She hedges somewhat about what happens to those who are removed, perhaps on some level she realizes how horrifying this sounds. Rachel concludes with the following discussion of elimationism:
Simply stated, the movement teaches that their spiritual warfare directly impacts the natural world. Whether one believes that these prayer warriors actually achieve these results or not, the NAR has reached millions with the message that elimination of certain people, practices, and beliefs will ultimately result in the eradication of the societal problems which plague humanity. The apostles clearly and repeatedly state that their spiritual warfare is not limited to the cosmic world but is about changing the physical world. Additionally, they teach that God is providing direct and extrabiblical instructions to the apostles and prophets of the movement, something that I will discuss at greater length in the next article in this series on the NAR's brand of "apostolic government of the church."
Rachel gives these zealots a bit more wiggle room than I would.
I plan to update this post with more examples of calls for eliminating anyone who doesn't go along with those who are pushing for government implementation of Dominion Theology.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Curiosity, An Excellent First Episode

I'm sitting here finally getting a chance to do some blogging while watching Curiosity, a new show on The Science Channel. This episode is hosted by Steven Hawking pondering if there is a god while surrounded by headlines where he is declared a heretic and he states that god is a fairytale. You can see the faint hint of a smile as he observes the headlines.

The entire episode is devoted to dispelling the god of the gaps argument. I was amazed that there was such a frank and open discussion about the question "Is there a god?" I highly recommend it. I love the conclusion.

I haven't been blogging much lately or this year. I sincerely hope to change this. There have been developments on my last story about being an atheist in the ultimate foxhole (Cheyenne Mountain), evangelical Christian chaplains and America's nuclear forces. If you think this is an explosive combination, I will be posting about an even more disturbing story. This story about a few military chaplains will be waiting for others to complete some possible legal actions before I can post anything yet.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

An Atheist in the Ultimate Foxhole

Many people like to proclaim rather ignorantly that there are no atheists in foxholes. Most of these people seem to have never done any type of military service. But occasionally you meet religious people, either active duty or former military, who subscribe to this strange notion that an atheist can't exist in a stressful situation such as a foxhole. Even my spell checker on my Evo Android phone replaced foxholes with potholes while writing this post. I had to override and force it to put foxholes in the text. Heh Heh Heh.

I spent over four years stationed at Peterson AFB, near Colorado Springs, Colorado. Colorado Springs is the home to many conservative, evangelical organizations. I was stationed there in the mid to late 80's. At that time, like now, their focus was to grow their organization and gain political power.

There were rumors passed around about previous incidents of these organizations using their power over their members stationed at Cheyenne Mountain and at various launch facilities. Apparently in the late seventies, there were several senior officers making comments about doing what god wanted rather than following their training and orders. These officers were quietly removed from their positions. With the current religiosity in the military, I'm not sure that this would happen now.

Mike Weinstein at MRFF has stated recently that 87 missile officers have complained that their commanding officer has made statements encouraging them to disobey their orders if they feel that god would want them to. This commanding officer should be courts martialled and removed from active duty. He is encouraging is officers to not follow their orders. This is extremely dangerous as we are talking about having our nation's nuclear strike capability in the hands of a mega-church.

I spent much of my time at Cheyenne Mountain AFS, familiarly known as Cheyenne Mountain, or known simply as "The Mountain". I was assigned in the Missile Warning section, where we monitored the world for incoming ballistic missiles. Cheyenne Mountain was built at the height of the cold war to provide shelter against a Soviet first strike, the ultimate foxhole against nuclear missiles.

The first time I walked through the tunnel and through the blast doors was a surreal experience. To my left was a huge stack of boxes of canned meals (before MREs), above me was the netting used to keep rocks from falling on people and equipment, and in front of me were several multistory buildings mounted on gigantic shocks. I went to my duty station which was a very small and cramped space, filled with computer equipment, completely different from the depiction shown in various television shows and movies.

Nowadays, Cheyenne Mountain has been retired from it'd missions of missile warning, space watch, and satellite tracking. I saw on a recent documentary that the facility has been turned into the alternate command center for NORAD/USNORTHCOM and some sort of secure computer facility.

General Herres was SPACECINC during most of the time I was stationed at Cheyenne Mountain. He was a great commander to work for. He was on the board for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation until his untimely death from brain cancer in 2008. Even though was a very religious man, he recognized the dangers of our nuclear capability falling in the hands of zealots. Seeing General Herres on the board encouraged me to support MRFF.

While I was stationed at Cheyenne Mountain, I had no problem as an "out in the open" non-believer. Everyone was strictly professional on the job. I think Gen. Herres had a lot to do with this. He made sure that everyone was taken care of and everyone had a chance to perform at their best. I sincerely hope that the current generation of missile warning and launch officers are as professional as we were before. The 87 officers who have made complaints about their over zealous commander have probably already tried to make official complaints or else it was made clear that doing so would be a career-killer. They are to be commended for trying to keep religious doctrines out of the silo.

Monday, 30 May 2011

For Those Who have Served



A very nice memorial for those who have served their country, no God or Jesus invocations to ruin the somber mood. Thanks Nancy.