Sunday, 31 May 2009
Why was this done? And why would senior military and intelligence officials go along with this? Couldn't they see what would happen if this should get out? It appears that quite a few of these senior officers and government officials sympathized with the religious sentiments expressed in the slides. That is not surprising considering the Christian Embassy scandal at the Pentagon and the reports of all types of religious meetings and proselytizing happening at the Pentagon. Senior Pentagon officers also seemed to be as credulous as former Pres. Bush when it came to being manipulated by Donald Rumsfeld.
Monday, 25 May 2009
The other was to post a very strange disclaimer on his website, in which he called Lynn and Weinstein "bone-heads," and defended his right to call himself "Chaplain," stating that he has a current endorsement as a "Chaplain and Evangelist to America" from the Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches (CFGC). It was this statement that led MRFF to take a closer look at the CFGC, a chaplain endorsing agency headed by retired Army colonel and chaplain Jim Ammerman, and authorized by the Department of Defense to provide the ecclesiastical endorsement required by the military for all military chaplains, with several hundred of its chaplains currently serving in all branches of the military.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.
Right off the bat, MRFF found the expected stuff -- which alone provides ample reason to demand that the DoD to revoke the chaplain endorsing authority of Jim Ammerman and the CFGC.
CFGC should be disqualified as an endorsing agency because of its repeated denigration of all other religions and Christian denominations that aren't Charismatic or Pentecostal, which is completely contrary to Department of Defense Instruction Number 1304.28.
Maj. Linzey has made several videos in the past for the Prophecy Club and Jim Ammerman, his endorser. One video is called "Imminent Military Takeover of the U.S.A." showed by militia groups in the 1990's, and another is a radio interview for a show called The Edge.
The Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches should be removed as an endorser for the United Stated military forces. How can an association which advocates sedition and crazy conspiracy theories and associates with the militia groups associated with violence be allowed to place chaplains within the US military? These chaplains obviously support these ideas since they are endorsed by this agency.
Maj. Linzey also went into all the conspiracy theory stuff about the "masonic, Illuminati wackos" who have gotten into government office by deception, and the 9-11 conspiracy theory stuff, but it's his statements inciting the taking up of arms against the government that are most disturbing.
Linzey first talked about his "friend, Jim Gilcrest, who's heading up the Minuteman Project," promoting the group with statements like this:
"I'm trying to avoid saying we need to take up arms and go take care of it ourselves, but it appears that we might be needing to head this way."
He also promoted militias in general because there will be "blood bath" when the "invasion from the south" and battle with foreign U.N. forces and the Chinese in the U.S. commences.
"I suggest that Americans get their arms to be ready to defend themselves and their own homes when they come knocking on your door, demanding your food, demanding your money, and raping your wives. The U.N. troops will be here to start patrolling the cities, the streets, the highways, and we will be under, basically, European rule."
Among his other fear-mongering claims are that there are detention camps already set up by the U.S. government for "patriots" who won't go along with the government's agenda, that these detention camps are equipped with facilities to kill the detainees by gassing the "patriots," and that the government already has a list of the "patriots."
This radio show is also one where Maj. Linzey directly stated that his military chaplain endorser Jim Ammerman knows exactly what he's out there doing.
When the interviewer asked Linzey:
"If what you are saying is true, wouldn't the government -- if the government is any way culpable to some of these events -- wouldn't they want to not have you, say go on a speaking tour or anywhere else, or even be on this show?
"Would they not want me to? Well, you know, probably not. Now -- but that doesn't matter. As long as I'm abiding within the law, I can say that I'm speaking as Jim Linzey, not in my official capacity as an officer or military chaplain, then I prefaced it right, and I can proceed. And Col. Jim Ammerman -- he's my endorser -- and he knows exactly what I'm doing, and, so, that's it."
But, of course, Jim Ammerman would approve of what Maj. Linzey is spewing. Ammerman's own "Imminent Military Takeover of the U.S.A." video contains the same kind of seditious incitement, which, no doubt, accounts for its popularity among militia groups.
I'm not surprised by the link between fundamentalist, usually Pentecostal churches and militia groups. I grew up in Louisiana, in the Deep South, where these links have historically been much more overt. Growing up in a small town, I learned which families were usually members of the Klan and milita groups. Not surprisingly, these families were usually involved in very fundamentalist, Christian churches, usually Baptist and Pentecostal (usually all-white Assemblies of God churches). Nowadays, non-denominational churches have joined the fun. I don't think that his has changed much in the 25 years I have been away.
Not surprisingly Ammerman is a part of the New Apostolic Reformation.
Colonel "Jim" Ammerman was listed as being an apostle in C. Peter Wagner's International Coalition of Apostles [see ICA prospectus] from the organization's inception in 2001 through to December 2008. The ICA is one of the main entities in Wagner's New Apostolic Reformation, a movement rapidly coalescing out of the Apostolic networks that have arisen in Third Wave Christianity.This type of Christianity is highly emotional and irrational.
Monday, 18 May 2009
Her first and only point that I'm going to address is this:
I can't stand atheists -- but it's not because they don't believe in God. It's because they're crashing bores.Then why did she even bother writing the article at all? What was the point other than a sorry excuse of pathetic bigotry? Her points did not even make any sense and contradicted each other, as in these examples on a few scant paragraphs apart.
My problem with atheists is their tiresome -- and way old -- insistence that they are being oppressed and their fixation with the fine points of Christianity.and
The problem with atheists -- and what makes them such excruciating snoozes -- is that few of them are interested in making serious metaphysical or epistemological arguments against God's existence, or in taking on the serious arguments that theologians have made attempting to reconcile, say, God's omniscience with free will or God's goodness with human suffering.So Ms. Allen which is it? Are atheists too interested in debating the finer points of religion, or not interested in it at all? You can't have it both ways. If this is what passes for writing in the LA Times, I'm thankful that I have not wasted any money on a subscription.
My favorite takedown from the Young Australian Skeptics:
Charlotte’s opinion is noted, and stupid. Presumably she won’t spend the entire article talking about how boring we are then - after all, that wouldn’t be particularly interesting, would it?
Saturday, 16 May 2009
Cardinal Murphy-O'Conner's own words:
"...there is, in fact, in my view, something not totally human if they (atheists) leave out the transcendent. If they leave out an aspect of what I believe everyone is made for, which is a search for transcendent meaning, we call it God, if you're saying that has no place, then I feel that it's a diminishment (sic) of what is being human...I think that if you leave that out then you are not fully human."And exactly what does he think we are? According to this arrogant windbag, we are less than human because we don't blindly accept a supernatural god without evidence. Transcendence does not only mean a belief in a god. The word has many meanings, one of which means a sense of awe or wonder at the world around us, another is that flash of insight where we feel at one with our surroundings. But because our thoughts and words are different than his, and because we don't submit to his church authority, how dare we expect to be seen as "fully human". Yes, how dare we have the audacity to even exist and have happy productive lives.
But you know what he really wants. And yes, no one expects the Spanish Inquisition.
I wonder what comes next. The Catholics that think just like him join with the NAR fundies and in addition to thinking us less than human, they also confiscate our belongings and kill us? Hmmm, this is starting to sound awfully familiar.
Checkout Jesus and Mo.
Tuesday, 12 May 2009
This example tells it all:
But, topping the stupidity list, we have a Lt. Col. who was being so stupid that a missionary had to tell him that he was putting his troops and other people in danger. The missionary was from Liberty Baptist Tabernacle, which had already shipped 20,000 Arabic "Soul-Winning Booklets" into Iraq, with more on the way. This Lt. Col., who knew the missionary from the states, went to his hotel and offered to use his troops to protect the people who were converting the Muslims. This is from the insane story of what this genius of an officer did to meet with the missionary, copied from the ministry's website:
"On another note, a dear Christian friend, that I had met some ten years prior, who was a deacon of an independent Baptist church in Missouri was also in Iraq. I was totally unaware of this. He was in the Missouri National Guard and holds the rank of Lieutenant Colonial. Col. Koontze immediately contacted me when he found out I was in country. He was made aware of my being in Baghdad by a pastor friend of his that he had spoken with in the states.
"Through his command intelligence office, he located the hotel I was staying at. When he came to the hotel, I was sitting outside with the other pastors on the hotel's terrace, waiting for Robert Lewis [Global Resource Group-Director], who was going to meet with us that afternoon. Col. Koontze must have had 15-20 soldiers with him; they literally blocked off the entire city block with tanks and humvees to secure the area. He then walked into the lobby asking if anyone could tell him where Pastor Furse was. As he was saying those words, he spotted me and immediately said, "It's good to see you again Bro. Furse." At first, I did not recognize him, until he took his helmet off. We spoke for about 20 minutes at one of the tables on the terrace of the hotel; all the while the tanks and humvees were being lined up and down the main street in front of the hotel. After renewing acquaintances, I had to tell him that it would probably be best if he and his unit left as soon as possible.
"The Iraqi people in the hotel and those on the street were to say the least, very concerned. I did not want to bring that much attention to the hotel; for fear that terrorists would target the area as well [over the previous four or five days, we had heard sporadic AK-47 gunfire going off just blocks away from the hotel]. Col. Koontze agreed fully with me on that assessment and ordered his unit to leave quietly and as quickly as possible."
This Lt.Col is quite possibly the stupidest person in Iraq. He reminds me of the Air Force Colonel in the Christian Embassy video gushing on and on about Jesus with the goofiest, most credulous expression on his face. I, for one, would be embarrassed to have such a doofus as a commanding officer.
These Christian websites brag about the influence they have in the military and discuss how many hundreds of thousands of bibles and tracts they have sent to Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army commanding officers seem to live in their own reality when they claim that only personal copies of religious materials are being sent. These missionary-soldiers seem to be completely oblivious to the harm they are causing to their mission and their fellow soldiers. Or perhaps they don't care. After all, one more convert for Christ, no matter the cost.
Sunday, 10 May 2009
We are writing to ask for your help in an important research project jointly sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the Pew Research Center. We are conducting a national survey of scientists to learn more about the experiences and concerns of scientists today. We are also surveying the general public about their views and attitudes regarding science.So I decided to login and take the online survey. The survey contained various questions about global warming, evolution, stem cell research, and belief in a higher being. This is a strange combination for a survey, as it seems to pertain to topics discussed regularly on atheist and science sites. Perhaps we are having an effect on the national discourse after all, no matter how much some of the believers try to tell us to sit down and shut up.
You are among a small number of scientists whose views we are seeking. Survey topics include the motivations and goals of scientists in the United States today, challenges and barriers to the conduct of science, and opinions about scientific issues. Your answers will be kept completely confidential and used only as summaries in which no individual answers can be identified.
The Pew Research Center is an independent, non profit public opinion research organization, and AAAS is a nonprofit membership organization. Results of the survey will be released this summer and will be posted on the websites of both the Pew Research Center and AAAS.
Here are some example screen shots of the survey. The resolution was not very good, so if you can't clearly see the question, double click to get a larger image. You can see that the questions don't really have a variety of selections, most of them only allow a couple of selections only.
The two choices are special creation or evolution. At first I wondered about old earth and theistic evolution as choices for those who believe in a god who created life that evolved. But when I reached the other questions, they were about whether or not a god existed. So it looks like they are separating out the combinations of answers about yes views on the origin of the diversity of life.
As you can see, there are only two choices here. I guess the young earth creationists are out of luck here as both choices assume the evolution of life whether or not you believe a god guided it or not.
They leave out the option I would have wanted: All people should be vaccinated unless a medical condition precludes it.
I was a little confused, because the last option, Nothing in particular, can also mean atheist or agnostic. A lot of times I answer the religion selection on forms with None.
This one is fairly straight forward, but what about atheists who attend services to support a spouse or family?
Well, this one they mucked up in my opinion. They make a difference in spirituality and a belief in a god. But what definition of God are they using? Don't a lot of people define a universal spirit or higher power as being God for them?
Well, it was interesting participating in a Pew Survey. They made it easy to login and take the survey. The results are supposed to be tabulated later on this summer.
Saturday, 9 May 2009
Seth McFarlane replies "It's about fucking time." to Bill Maher's question about the popularity of atheism in the past couple of years. And the audience cheers like mad. Maher tries to says that his movie is the reason, but I don't think so. It's the internet that is largely responsible. I remember reading discussions about atheism on the early internet in the late 1980's and early 1990's on alt.atheism and alt.atheism.moderated.
Then Internet Infidels and IIDB (now FRDB) started up in the mid-1990's and I was happy posting and meeting other atheists online. Now it seems atheist blogs are popular and the number seems to be expanding every day. Now, there are more dynamic sites like Atheist Nexus and Atheist Nation. Also people are meeting in real life and using Atheist Meetups. Local groups are becoming more common and I participate in most of these types of social interactions.
The Texas Board of Education apparently thinks that the age of the universe is something that can be voted on. Barbara Cargill apparently has been teaching science for over 20 years in Texas and is acting like her position on the Texas BOE allows her to decide the age of the universe. She comes across in the video as not accepting the current scientific consensus of the age of the universe and the expanding universe. It seems this science teacher fancies herself more knowledgeable than astronomers, geologists, physicists, etc.
You think that she would have learned a little bit about the scientific method in her 20 years of teaching science. But I guess not. Sorry dear, you're entitled to your own opinions but not your own facts. What is it about the South? My home state of Louisiana seems to have more than its share of fantasy prone individuals like this. They act like all they have to do is wish for something to be true in order for it to be a reality.
And here's the video:
Pam mentions the legislating teaching of Pi as three instead of 3.14159... (Actually, Indiana tried this in the late 1800's). Here's one of my favorite cartoons:
NOTE - If the embedded video does not load or is too slow, visit the link at Democracy Now to view it.
The maker of the documentary, Brian Hughes, gives an update to the story on his blog. He also gives a link to the latest CENTCOM order 1B.
Monday, 4 May 2009
According to the Harper's article:There were rumors about even more explicit pushes for the soldiers to go out and try to convert Muslims. Here is the video shot by Brian Hughes of Lt. Col Hensley.
"Then as if addressing 33 million Muslim Afghans and their belief that Muhammad was a prophet as Jesus before him, he shouts, "There is no one else to come! There is no new religion. Jesus is it!" Amen, says the crowd. "If he ain't it, let's all go home!""
The violations of CENTCOM General Order 1-A are pretty explicit in the video. (from the article by Jeremy Scahill referenced by MRFF)
"The special forces guys - they hunt men basically. We do the same things as Christians, we hunt people for Jesus. We do, we hunt them down," he says.
"Get the hound of heaven after them, so we get them into the kingdom. That's what we do, that's our business."
I keep picturing the movie The Most Dangerous Game, but in this version, the hunted man is a Muslim and the hunters with their dogs are the chaplain and his cult followers.
This makes it very clear the chaplain and his followers know they are deliberately disobeying orders. They are simply rationalizing why they are doing so.
[T]he chaplains appear to have found a way around the regulation known as General Order Number One.
"Do we know what it means to proselytise?" Captain Emmit Furner, a military chaplain, says to the gathering.
"It is General Order Number One," an unidentified soldier replies.
But Watt says "you can't proselytise but you can give gifts."
The Army pretends to be unhappy about the situation.
Reuters News says the Bibles were confiscated and destroyed after Qatar-based Al Jazeer television showed soldiers at a Bible class on a base with a stack of Bibles translated into the local Pashto and Dari languages. The U.S. military forbids its members on active duty -- including those based in places like Afghanistan -- from trying to convert people to another religion.Somehow, I don't really believe this happened as reported unless the bibles have been hanging around for awhile. The video was shot last year, not recently. And of course the Army is denying that any Bibles were distributed. The following is the Army's story according to Reuters:
Reuters quotes Maj. Jennifer Willis at the Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul, who said "I can now confirm that the Bibles shown on Al Jazeera's clip were, in fact, collected by the chaplains and later destroyed. They were never distributed."
A U.S. military spokeswoman, Major Jennifer Willis, said the comments from the sermon were taken out of context and chaplains were told to make clear to soldiers they could not proselytize while serving.Somehow, I just can't believe the Army's version of events in this story. According to Chris Rodda at Talk2Action, this would certainly not be the first time the Army has covered up proselytizing by soldiers.
Willis said the bibles had been mailed to a soldier by a church in the United States and were never distributed. Officials said the incident occurred in May 2008.
"That specific case involved a soldier who brought in a donation of translated bibles that were sent to his personal address by his home church. He showed them to the group and the chaplain explained that he cannot distribute them," she said.
A U.S. defense official in Washington described the soldier as a sergeant who was an evangelical Christian. He presented the bibles to a class attended by officers and chaplains.
Chaplains quickly alerted the chain of command, which ordered the bibles confiscated before they could be distributed, said the defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
They can't even leave alone the hired contractors supporting them. And it seems this was only the tip of the iceberg.
Then, there were the Christian reality TV show missionaries who were allowed to be embedded with U.S. troops as journalists while proselytizing Afghans -- well, the military has lost all records of that.
We also have videos, like the one below of a chaplain admitting that Swahili language Bibles are being sent in to Iraq to evangelize the Ugandan workers employed by the U.S. military, newsletters from a plethora of evangelical ministries boasting of the number of Arabic Bibles and other materials they've been able to get into Iraq and Afghanistan with the help of our military, photos of these evangelizing materials, and many other videos, photos, and statements from military personnel verifying that what is shown in the Al Jazeera video cannot be explained away as an isolated, out of context incident.
Here's another of the many examples from MRFF's stockpile of General Order 1-A violations. The January 2009 newsletter of Worldwide Military Baptist Missions (WMBM) included these images of the English-Arabic proselytizing materials that they've been sending to our troops.I think these numbers give lie to the Army's story that this is an isolated incident. I don't see these huge numbers of books and religious tracts going to just a few soldiers. I mean we're talking about 21,000 bibles and 226,000 religious tracts being sent to soldiers for distribution. Yeah, just a few "free gifts" for a couple of friends. I'm sure their fellow non-evangelical soldiers appreciate the warm feelings engendered in the locals after receiving their "free gifts". And I'm sure the locals are more than willing to exchange a few "free gifts" of their own.
This was the caption:"In 2008, we shipped over 226,000 gospel tracts, 21,000 Bibles, New Testaments and gospels of John (to include English-Arabic ones!) and 404 'discipleship kits' to service members & churches for use in war zones, on ships and near military bases around the world."
As for the military's claim that the Al Jazeera video was taken out of context, well, Al Jazeera has released the raw footage to prove that it wasn't.