Does the Army Officially Declare Atheists Scapegoats for Mission Failure?

Keith Olbermann on MSNBC gives a good smack down on Gen. Petraeus’s remarks in the book Under Orders: A Spiritual Handbook for Military Personnel by Chaplain McCoy. Here are the some choice bits from the book highlighted by Chris Rodda in her article:

“Belief in God is a foundational factor. Once you do away with God as a given truth, all other things are immediately affected by that. For instance, once God does not exist you suddenly have no reference to greatness outside of yourself, and no ‘revelation’ outside of yourself. The greatest thing in life suddenly becomes something or someone else, like yourself perhaps. …”

Chaplain McCoy insinuates that those who are not Christians are somehow not moral or second class citizens.

“Only my good naturedness can help me contribute to the betterment of my unit or team. When I realize that sin is an agent, I can more quickly identify my own tendency to corrupt a group and bring havoc to what needs cohesion and team confidence. My sin can also make my agenda more important than my unit’s agenda and thus lead to unit failure.”

And finally, blaming the person who is not accepting Chaplain’s theology for problems that the unit may encounter:

“I’ve seen individuals from all economic levels and situations fail to get situated philosophically and religiously, ending up wandering in institutions like our military. Just when you need that inner source of clarity and direction, it fails to surface, and when you could have made a difference for your team, you fail.”

You know, I thought that conservative Christians taught personal responsibility. I guess not. This author almost sounds like a white supremacist, just replace non-theist with non-white.

It seems Christian supremacy is endemic to the nation’s Generals. Here’s yet another quote from, this time from a Maj. Gen.Richardson:

“Say a Christian chaplain is visited by a troubled airman who isn’t interested in hearing about religion. Do you trust your chaplains to advise that airman without steering him toward Jesus?,” Maj. Gen. Richardson began, “Well, you know, sometimes Jesus is what they need. They’re asking for it. …”

What the fuck? If this asshole wants to be a preacher, then he should resign his commission and start up his own church. This is absolutely disgraceful. What really amuses me is that the military has a much higher percentage of atheists than the general population. I think that all of this Christian supremacist talk is driving members away from Christianity.

When I was in the Air Force, we made fun of service members who wore their religion on their sleeves. Officers such as these generals were held in contempt, even if no one said it out loud. Once a senior officer I worked for, a evangelical Christian, actually apologized to some of us junior officers when another senior officer started with this crap. I think he was embarrassed for the overtly religious officer. It seems that the times have changed and these guys have no checks on their behavior.

Chris Rodda’s followup article shows these officers scattering when their activities are exposed to the light of day. I use this phrase each time I cover this type of story on this blog, because of the same pattern. Bigotry and proselytizing is first discovered on official US government documents, websites, videos, etc. Then the senior staff denies knowledge, regardless of their official endorsements of the material. Then a subordinate steps up to take the blame. Then the materials are quietly removed and they pretend it never happened. The same pattern occurs over and over.

As a result of the exposure by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) of endorsements by Gen. Petraeus and Maj. Gen. Mark Hertling on the cover of Under Orders: A Spiritual Handbook for Military Personnel — a book promoting Christianity and denigrating non-theists — it appears that these endorsements are going to be removed from the book, and that the book’s author, Army chaplain Lt. Col. William McCoy, is going to take the fall for the constitutionally impermissible conduct of the two generals.

It’s yet another instance of inappropriate proselytizing by the senior staff. And each time its exposed, these “fine, upstanding Christians” lie and blame their subordinates. It’s pretty sad, when two generals of the US Armed Forces are too cowardly to admit that they inappropriately endorsed this book as an official endorsement of the Pentagon and senior staff.

Here is a bald faced lie from Chaplain McCoy:

“I am the author of ‘Under Orders: A Spiritual Handbook for Military Personnel.’ During its second printing, I requested recommendations from respected military leaders for whom I worked. I received comments from General Petraeus and General Hertling. In the process of securing their comments for recommending the book I believe there was a basic misunderstanding on my part that the comments were publishable. This was my mistake. Their comments were intended for me personally rather than for the general public.

I guess he expects everyone to believe that he interviewed these generals for no reason at all? You know, I thought Christians were supposed to follow the ten commandments. Isn’t there one about not telling the truth?

Patraeus spokesman Col. Steven Boylan eventually responded to, sticking to Chaplain McCoy’s claim that Petraeus didn’t know that his endorsement was on the book or being used to advertise the book. Col. Boylan’s flimsy excuse for Gen. Petraeus not being aware of the book’s regular advertisements in the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Times was, “We don’t get the stateside papers in Baghdad.” Col. Boylan is going to have to come up with something better than that because MRFF has confirmed that these “stateside” military newspapers are distributed to U.S. military installations worldwide — including all U.S. military bases in Iraq.

In addition to the “correction” on his blog and his statement, Chaplain McCoy quickly made changes to his Under Orders website, removing from it the endorsements of Petraeus, Hertling, and Col. Leinwand, as well as the official U.S. Army logo, which had appeared on the site as a link to the page about a career in the Army Chaplain Corps — a page that starts with an exclusively Christian video consisting of a series of images of Christian chaplains, crucifixes, and soldiers with Bibles, ending with an image of a group of chaplains running with a Christian flag. Of course, even though the link to this official U.S. Army website has been removed from Chaplain McCoy’s website, this crap is still on the official U.S. Army website he was linking to.

Chris has a lot more in the article as well as a link to a video and audio. Check it out. These officers are cowards who hide behind their skirts of their subordinates. A new low.


4 Replies to “Does the Army Officially Declare Atheists Scapegoats for Mission Failure?”

  1. Great article. I don't know you guys can put up with so much religious crap in your military. I would have gone insane. Keep up the good work of exposing the hypocrites.

    D MacDougall
    Major (Retd)
    Canadian Armed Forces


  2. So the generals basically say that they agree with the book but just didn't want this opinion to be made public, I think that make it even worse.


  3. Thanks Dale. The US Airforce seems to have lost it's collective mind in the last several years. I left the service in the 1990s and none of this craziness was going on. There were rumors that the fundamentalists had tried something similar in the 1970s with SAC missile officers like the have targeted the AF Academy. It ended when one of the officers stated in a class that he would do what he felt God wanted him to do instead of his orders. This woke up senior leadership. The problem this time is that the senior leadership is part of the problem.


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