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Sunday, 22 March 2009

Fundamentalist Christian "Chaplain" Exposed as a Fraud



So, dear reader, which one of these officers is the real soldier and which is the fake soldier? You can't easily tell unless you look very closely at their uniforms. The man on the right is First Sergeant Rivera of the Los Angeles MEPS, and the wannabe "Major" on the left is Tim Sherman of the In PURSUIT Ministries. He has never been in the military, much less obtained an officer rank. Holy shit! Why isn't this asshole in jail where he belongs? It's a federal crime to impersonate a military officer.

The above is one of the stories contained in MRFF's March newsletter. They should call this the March Madness edition. There was an earlier story about the fake chaplains by MRFF in June 2008. I covered it here as well as asking for photographs to be sent in if anyone had them. No need for this, the assholes posted one of themselves violating Title 10 of the US Code. I'm not surprised this is in the news again. These fuckers don't quit until they are slapped down hard.

From the article:

The Gideons weren't the only non-federal entity using the MEPS as a forum to proselytize. Back in June, MRFF exposed another, far more problematic organization operating at these facilities -- a civilian ministry with the very military sounding name of United States Operational Support Command (USOSC). USOSC evangelists were not only given access to the MEPS, but were wearing military uniforms so close in appearance to U.S. Army uniforms that the new recruits, completely unfamiliar with military uniforms and insignia, would never guess that they weren't real military officers.

Apparently, in addition to seeing no problem at all with the proselytizing of recruits by these officer impersonators, the MEPS commanders and Inspector General, who not only sanctioned, but praised, the USOSC were completely oblivious to the fact that Title 10 of the U.S. Code strictly prohibits any person who isn't a member of the armed forces from wearing "the uniform, or a distinctive part of the uniform, of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps" or "a uniform any part of which is similar to a distinctive part of the uniform of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps."

The original article from June about MRFF's investigation can be found at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-rodda/rapture-ready-evangelical_b_106739.html

As you can tell, I'm extremely pissed at all of this. In fact it took me over an hour to calm down enough to write this, so you will have to excuse the obscenities in this post. As I said earlier:
And even scarier, members of this ministry are putting on military uniforms and giving themselves superior officer rank that they did not even earn. This is not only illegal, IT'S A FEDERAL CRIME.

What part of this do they not understand? It looks like another case of right-wing religious kooks pretending they have qualifications they did not earn. Just like fake college degrees in the Homeland Security Dept. It's bad enough that some of the non-denominational or Pentecostal chaplains have very little or no college education. Now we have wannabe chaplains who don't even even want to get accreditation and sponsorship of a religious organization, even one with little or no educational requirements.

Who the hell is even checking up on these people? What is wrong with the current military leadership these days? So anyone calling themselves Christian can do anything they want to young recruits these days? Is this the start of right-wing Christians just putting on military officer uniforms and waltzing in and taking command? WTF?

I worked very hard for my rank as an officer in the US Air Force. I graduated with a degree in Applied Math and passed Officer Training School. I made all of my promotions and held the rank of Captain when I left the service. I worked my ass off and earned a regular commission as a First Lieutenant instead of having to wait until the rank of Major. I'm extremely pissed that these assholes think that all they have to do is simply put on the uniform, walk in and get treated like an officer.
So these wannabe posers with military uniform fetishes show up and get treated as actual military officers. What has happened to pride in the uniform? So, anyone who gets a hard-on at the thought of putting on a military uniform with officer rank can now waltz in and start commanding enlisted service members on a whim? I guess they can, if they are "Christian" enough.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Air Force Investigating "Inspirational" Email

Previously, I've covered the story of Air Force Col Toney who sent out an email linking to an extreme right-wing hate site. Now, according to the New York Times, The Air Force is starting an investigation into the sending of this email through official channels.

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a nonprofit watchdog group that monitors possible religious bias in the military, said it had received about 60 complaints from military personnel about the colonel’s e-mail message.

Among them was one from Master Sgt. Jeffrey L. Thompson, who works under Colonel Toney at the Royal Air Force Alconbury base in England and objected to military officials at the base about the e-mail message.

“A commander shouldn’t send out any type of e-mail that’s perceived as endorsing a particular faith system,” Sergeant Thompson, who is Catholic, said in a telephone interview. “It crossed a line, I thought. My faith stays in my home life and my church life.”
I'm glad that some Christians are stepping up and agreeing that proselytizing should be prohibited in any official emails. People are starting to get very tired of the constant misbehavior of these "Conservative Christians".

Colonel Toney sent out a second e-mail message to the personnel in her wing last month apologizing for sending out the link “to what I believed was an inspirational message about hope and encouragement.” She said she was unaware when she sent the link that the Web site contained “inappropriate” material.

Although Sergeant Thompson said he was prevented from filing a formal complaint because the Air Force said he had not suffered any personal harm, the Third Air Force Command in Europe has opened a broader investigation into the episode, officials said Friday.

“The purpose of this process is to look at all of the information and make a determination as to whether there’s been any sort of violation of policy and, if so, what action is warranted,” said Darlene Cowsert, a spokeswoman for the Air Force’s European command.

As I've said in the previous article, the MEO is clueless if they cannot see how other Christians can be offended at this type of email addressed to non-Christians. They seem completely unable to understand that a Christian can see the point of view of a non-believer.
Colonel Toney could not be reached for comment.
I guess her lawyer has advised her not to talk to the press.

Officials at the Air Force, which was hit with controversy in 2004 over charges of pro-Christian bias at the Air Force Academy in Colorado, said they had made significant strides to enforce a position of official neutrality on religion.

“We feel that the policy is clear, and we’re consistent with our message, but unfortunately there are isolated cases that come up,” Capt. Thomas Wenz, a spokesman at Air Force headquarters in Northern Virginia, said of the recent episode.
What planet are these people living on? The MRFF has received over 11,000 complaints about this type of behavior in the last four years.

But Mikey Weinstein, who heads the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said the incident represented a “textbook case” of improper religious influence.

“There’s a pervasive pattern of constitutional abuse when you have a wing commander who sends out a direct, proselytizing e-mail with a link to a Web site that slanders the president of the United States,” he said.

Mr. Weinstein’s group is suing the Defense Department in federal court over what it charges is a pattern of religious bias, and the Obama administration is set to respond to the lawsuit later this month. As a result of the Toney episode, Sergeant Thompson said he was considering joining the litigation as a plaintiff.
Good for you SSgt Thompson, but be careful, as some of the others who have complained openly about this behavior have received death threats from these insecure, fearful zealots.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Ignoring Complaints: Business as Usual for MEO

Previously, I posted about Col. Toney who sent an email across several Air Force bases. The email was about a man missing all four limbs who was a dedicated Christian.The letter implored the reader to accept Christ. This email also contained a link to an extreme-right Catholic hate site, which contained various defamatory statements about Pres. Obama.

MSgt. Jeffery Thompson contacted me via email this past week and added a few details that were not mentioned in the Stars and Stripes article. He had contacted the Military Equal Opportunity office not once, but several times to file a complaint. He was ignored. The MEO staff seemed confused why a Christian would file a complaint about the matter. They seemed completely unable to understand that even if someone is not offended personally by the story in the email, they could understand why others might be. In addition to ignoring complaints, the MEO office leaked MSgt Thompson's complaint to the Col. Toney. This is a direct violation of AF regulations and a violation of the trust between the MEO office and the service member who comes to the MEO office with a complaint.

Here MSgt Thompson's original letter to Col.Toney in its entirety, posted here with MSgt Thompson's permission:
2 Feb 2009

MSgt Jeffrey L. Thompson

[Address removed]

Colonel Kimberly K. Toney

501 CSW/CC

APO AE 09470

Col Toney,

Our MEO NCOIC, MSgt XXXXXX, suggested that I write you a letter regarding the inspirational email that you sent out to the wing. I initially approached MSgt XXXXXX to get his opinion on the email because I had a concern that your email about Mr. Vujicic seemed to be wing leadership promoting, advancing or endorsing Christian faith. MSgt XXXXXX invited me to his office to discuss the issue. I had expected anonymity IAW AFI 36-2706 (3.18.1 / 4.3.12.7 / 5.2.12.3) to protect my identity until I decided how to proceed, but MSgt XXXXXX informed me that that he has told you my identity regarding this issue. I appreciate that his intentions were good, but approaching the wing commander on what I perceived as a foul has made me very nervous. No one wants to be on the wrong side on their wing commander.

Here is why I perceived the email as proselytizing: Your email to the wing asked us to look to Mr. Vujicic as an opportunity to think about our lives and how we handle our personal and professional challenges. Mr. Vujicic, in the article written just above the video, is described as someone whom the Lord has given an unquenchable passion to share his testimony and hope in Jesus with the world as he introduces Jesus to others and tells of His great desire to know them personally by allowing Him to become their Lord and Savior. By this language, this was Mr. Vujicic's intent and basis of his inspirational message.

MSgt XXXXXX told me that any endorsement of faith by your email was unintentional. My own impression of your email was an organizational endorsement of Christian faith because the email, article and video compelled us to witness an exercise in religious-specific faith that I felt was in conflict with DoD neutrality on religion. Although I am of Roman Catholic faith, I have always felt passionately about keeping religious events out of our mandatory military functions because faith is such an intensely personal, private and emotive issue. A basic tenant of some fundamentalist Christian faiths is their mission to convert others to their faith. When practiced openly or aggressively, this creates an exclusionist atmosphere for those of other faiths and those who reject religion entirely. Perhaps I am especially sensitive to this issue because I have been persistently pursued by fundamentalist Christians throughout my 23-yr career to convert; from supervisors, to subordinates, to the once agenda-covert Military Marriage Seminar, and more recently strong anti-Muslim sentiment and characterization of our current operations in Southwest Asia as a mission from God by the then deputy undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence Lt General Boykin. For me, some of the pieces of the puzzle fell into place when the Air Force academy scandal was uncovered in the media. Our top Air Force leaders were being "character-shaped" into a fundamentalist Christian mindset with the help of organizations the Campus Crusade for Christ and The Military Ministry who has run Military Marriage Seminars in order to proselytize.

MSgt XXXXXX disagrees with my perception that your email was proselytizing. He made the point, if I understood him correctly, that because the wing chaplain programs belong to you, that you are able to publicize religious programs. He made the point that the Air Force has legitimate concern in its members' spirituality (not necessarily in a religious sense, but which can include faith). He made the point that after his own thorough review of DoD guidance, AFIs, and chaplain program guidance, he cannot see a direct MEO violation by the email. He made the point that you were unaware that the video and website had a religious association; again if I understand him correctly it was a simple oversight. Despite those clarifications and the context put forth by MSgt XXXXXX, I still cannot set aside my own impression that, even if unintentional, the email promoted and endorsed Christian faith, which creates an environment of exclusion of others that do not share that faith.

I am a deeply reflective person and I thoroughly considered MSgt XXXXXX's reasoning against my own perception of this event. In an attempt to grasp some additional perspective on this issue, I reviewed the MEO AFI and researched other resources such as the Military Religious Freedom Foundation website [www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org] and contacted Mr. Mikey Weintstein, the foundation's president and founder. He is an AF Academy Honor Graduate, served as Judge Advocate General for 10 years, served as the Whitehouse legal counsel to President Reagan for 3 years, and was General Counsel to Mr. H. Ross Perot. He is an attorney and has extensive expertise in MEO religious issues. I requested his perspective and discussed the issue in depth. The act of sending out an email with religious affiliation may not necessarily constitute an MEO institutional barrier. But there are indeed AFI's other DoD regulations that control such distribution, especially from chaplains. In contrast, such messages coming from the commander, as in this situation, almost certainly raises serious issues of Constitutionality. In any event, important legal issue aside, it certainly creates the likely potential to negatively impact the human relations climate of the wing by sending a message of exclusion to those who do not share that faith. Also, by AFI, commanders' support of religious beliefs and practices must be in a manner that is consistent and fair to all. The Official Air Force Core Values Handbook (The Little Blue Book) specifically addresses Religious Toleration under part 2, Service Before Self: "Religious toleration. Military professionals must remember that religious choice is a matter of individual conscience. Professionals, and especially commanders, must not take it upon themselves to change or coercively influence the religious views of subordinates."

There is an additional issue. The 4Marks.com website that you linked to in your email explicitly promotes an atmosphere that is hostile to our commander-in-chief, which is potentially detrimental to the good order and discipline of our unit. This website prominently host political extremist media directly linking religion to citizen's voting obligations for and against specific political candidates, such as arguing on religious grounds that "voting for Obama would be wrong," that Catholics were "morally obligated" to vote for McCain-Palin, and that Catholics could not have voted for Obama "without endangering their immortal soul." That Obama "is not fit to our commander-in-chief." That our former President Clinton and our Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are "career criminals." That one of the videos pushes that to vote for Obama "would be to assist in his evil," and, "cooperating with evil," and that President Obama is "soft on terrorist." [http://www.4marks.com/videos/details.html?video_id=699]

Especially offensive content include: That President Obama is "a veritable forerunner of the Antichrist." That suicide-cult leader Jim Jones "would be proud of these Democrat pied pipers leading their sheep to slaughter." That Obama wants to "kill babies." That our commander-in-chief is "anti-American," influenced by Satanism and inspired by domestic terrorists. That "a good Christian in his right state of mind could [not] vote for such a monster like Obama." That President Obama's mind is "twisted," that his voting record is "sick" and that Vice President Biden is an "American Judas." That in an article titled "America's Dead," President Obama's "election to the presidency, free speech and freedom to practice and freely worship our God may be denied." That, "Given the election of Obama, I fear that the days of the Third Reich are being revisited." That one article is preceded with a photo of President Obama depicted as Hitler, wearing a Nazi uniform and holding a Nazi flag [http://www.4marks.com/articles/details.html?article_id=2451]. These are not forum discussions, but are posted articles and videos that make up the message of the 4Marks.com website, just as the video and article of Mr. Vujicic do. One video I saw on the 4Marks website was sponsored by "www.NoHussein.org " who sell anti-Obama merchandise such as a bumper sticker that reads "Obama=666." The 4Marks.com website that your email linked to, seems to part of a network that is contemptuous and disparaging toward our president. These issues are perhaps more relevant to Dissident and Protest Activities, but the organization actively uses religion to discriminate between candidates aggressively uses religion to persuade those who view the website to vote for or against a specific candidate or political party. I believe that MSgt XXXXXX has referred the organization's website to AFOSI to determine if it falls under Dissident and Protest Activity. Additionally, because of 4Marks.com's open and extreme contempt toward President Obama and our other elected officials, and with all respect to you, I am especially troubled that wing leadership linking to, or promoting, the website may violate UCMJ article 88-Contempt Toward Officials.

I do not know what resolution is needed to put right this situation. As a commander you wield a tremendous amount of power over the four Air Base Groups and the 8 installations in the U.K. and Norway that make up our wing. What you say, write, or send out sets our direction and instructs us how to get there. I feel passionately that our job as military members is to defend, among other Constitutional concepts and rights, religious freedom which is understood and consistently defined by our courts as the secularity of government balanced by each individual's freedom of religious faith. We also defend the very core of democracy; individuals voting their conscience, free from coercion and well-informed by our Constitutionally protected press. With all of this said, I will respectfully meet with at your convenience to discuss this issue if you desire for me to so. However, because of my very strong feelings on this subject and the seriousness by which I believe this issue needs to be addressed, I am proceeding with a formal complaint.

            Very respectfully,

JEFFREY L. THOMPSON, MSgt, USAF
Thank you MSgt Thompson for speaking out. It looks like it is business as usual for the MEO, who have previously ignored cases of rape, sexual harassment, and the rising number of suicides. The latest stylish trend for the MEO is ignoring senior officers who abuse their position of authority by shoving their religion in everyone's faces.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

A Blast From the Past

In the process of removing spam from my blog, I came across some old and bitter comments from our old friend, JW Horne, in comments from this post and in this post. JW Horne setup a series of failed blogs as replies to the Keiffe & Son's obnoxious advertising last year. Someone by the name of JW Horne showed up here claiming to be the person who did the ad. He set up and deleted a series of blogs, showed himself to be a total ass in both posts at his temporary blogs and in comments here. His words were angry and filled with empty threats.

In the process of cleaning up my blog I had planned to take down the link to the ad, but I think I'll leave it up for sometime, perhaps move it to the bottom of the page eventually.

If it is JW Horne who is still doing the ads, from what I hear on the radio, he is no longer doing those obnoxious Christian supremacist ads. It appears the posts and the wonderful people who emailed and called Keiffe & Sons had an effect. Take a look at his current blog, Sit Down and Shut Up, there are no posts, comments, or friends listed. It's merely just a reply to my posting about his ad. How sad, with a blog set up he doesn't have anything to say.

Blogger Spam Infestation

Wow, Blogger really has been infested with spam comments lately. I'm having to go in and get rid of spam comments.

New Skeptic Site and Podcast

I received an email from Jason Ball of the Young Australian Skeptics highlighting their blog and podcast. I decided to go over and take a look at it and I'm very impressed with what they have done. Keep up the good work, you guys and gals down under.