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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.

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