I’m currently reading a copy of With God on our Sides: One Man’s War Against an Evangelical Coup in America’s Military by Mikey Weinstein and Davin Seay. Being a former military officer, I am quite dismayed at the changes that have occurred since I left a decade ago. See the Military Religious Freedom Foundation for more information.
It now seems that the Chaplain program has been throughly taken over by fundamentalist Dominionist Christian ministers. See Theocracy Watch and the Yurica Report for more details on Dominionism. Very, Very scary. Especially when America’s military is involved. I spoke to Mikey Weinstein at a book signing last week and I asked him if these Dominionist chaplains were connected with the growth of hate groups that have appeared in the military in the last 5 years. He quickly answered “Yes.” He did not give any more details. I had the feeling that he really did not want to say anything at the current time. This may have to do with the fact that he and his family are getting death threats.
When I went through Officer Training School in the early 80’s, the only overt religious problems I encountered were that Christians would get an extra 5 merits a week for church attendance. I thought this was quite unfair to all of us non-Christians. My roommate asked if I wanted to to to church with her. I said why not, its an easy 5 merits. I could snooze or read during the service. After the service, it was announced that another 5 merits would be awarded for bible study.
Merits and demerits were totaled each week, and those having less than 5 demerits could go off base or over to Lackland Air Force base for the weekend. Merits and demerits canceled each other out. It was a lot better than staying stuck at OTS for the weekend.
I went to the bible study. When topics for the study were asked for, I volunteered the story of Lot and his daughters. Heh Heh Heh. The chaplain was not amused. But what could he say? The story was in the Bible after all and I was “searching for a moral to the story”. The moral seemed to be Incest is Best? He did not really want to pursue the story at all and changed the topic. I asked again for another discussion, this one about the all of genocide in the Old Testament. The chaplain asked me why I was there. I mentioned that I could earn 10 merits for church and bible study and that was why I was there.
It was funny to see the look on his face when I said that. And it was obvious that I knew the Old Testament a bit more than a lot of the Christians there. After the bible study class, we talked a bit and I let him know that I had lots more “questions” about the bible and would bring them up in the next bible study. He then said that I did not have to attend either church or the bible study and would get my merits as well. My roommate was really surprised when I told her later. And I was able to sleep in on Sundays.
I think that the chaplain was probably a nice guy who really did not like the fact that merits were given for church attendance. He was a Methodist minister, not fundy like a lot of the current chaplains. I think in the current situation with all of the evangelical chaplains now, I would probably have not even gone at all. No matter how many merits I could earn.