Tag Archives: gordon klingenschmitt

Spreading Fear in the Name of Righteousness

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Friends of Padre Steve’s World

I said that my New Year’s resolution was going to be the passionate pursuit of truth and here the the first volley in that. It deals with the very real agenda of some leaders of the Christian Right and their leaders in the Republican Party against the LGBT community.

So I want you to imagine what it was like in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s for gays, and imagine something that is  a core part of your personality, belief system or lifestyle was criminalized. So let’s go back to those days:

Imagine if your activities were monitored, catalogued and reported by local, state and Federal police agencies.

Imagine that police detectives and informants were allowed to spy on your activities.

Imagine that police, acting in the “name of the law” under the merest pretense or spurious accusation could invade your home, business or institution and use physical violence to subdue you, even if you had done nothing wrong.

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The Stonewall Riot 1969

Imagine if a business rival or a spurned lover desired to ruin you with only an accusation.

Imagine if the price of your freedom was to name names and condemn others.

Imagine if even suspicion of your activities was considered as grounds for termination of your employment, or prevent you from receiving a promotion.

Imagine if those same suspicions could brand you as a felon with the results of being forbidden to vote, the loss of property and employment rights. 

Imagine that if you went to a bar that if you looked in any direction but straight ahead that you could be charged with accosting others.

Imagine that anyone, anywhere who had knowledge of your behaviors could use that knowledge to have you kicked out of the military, law enforcement or government employment, usually with a felony conviction. 

Imagine that your behavior, even discrete behavior in your own residence could get you locked in a psychiatric hospital and quite possibly the use of drugs and surgery to “correct your illness” without your consent. 

Imagine if you were a faithful member of your church, were conservative in your theology and politics and supported all the causes of that body, but one aspect of your behavior could lead to your excommunication and banishment from that community. 

I guess if it was your behavior or your beliefs that led to such treatment you would cry foul, you would protest, that you would claim that you were the victim of discrimination; and my friend I say that you would be correct.

That my friends was the America and Great Britain that Gays lived in the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s, portions of which remained enshrined in law until very recently and which a number of high powered and influential politicians, pundits and preachers of the Christian Right would like to go again. One of them, Gordon Klingenschmitt, is a criminal. He was tried and convicted by court-martial for disobedience of a lawful order not to protest outside White House in his uniform  at a political rally, while George W. Bush was President.   After the conviction Klingenschmitt was separated from the the Navy when his denomination, the Evangelical Episcopal Church defrocked him and pulled his endorsement to be a chaplain. On his Pray in Jesus Name radio program Klingenschmitt said that it is his “goal to push gays back in the closet.” Klingenschmitt has made his living since claiming all sorts of things on that program following his conviction and discharge and now is a newly elected State Senator in Colorado.

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Sadly there are those among the Christian Right in a number of states, as well as Conservative Christian politicians at the State and Federal level, to include Senators, members of the House of Representatives and prominent potential Presidential Candidates who advocate bringing all of these measures back. These include Tim Pawlenty and Haley Barbour who when in the run up to the GOP 2012 primaries both told hate-ideologue Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association that they would reinstitute the discriminatory “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy. Fischer, as well as numerous others, including the head of the Heritage Foundation, former Senator Jim DeMint suggest barring Gays from teaching, the judiciary and other forums of public service. Anti-Gay Evangelist Scott Lively worked actively to help pass a “Kill the Gays” bill in Uganda, while many other prominent preachers of the Christian right praise the persecution of Gays in Russia by Vladimir Putin.

Gays have been blamed for the spread of Ebola and other diseases and about every social ill in the world, even if there is no evidence to support the claims of those making  the accusations.

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Bryan Fischer, a failed pastor is not a failed propagandist of anti-Gay zealotry and he attracts a fair number of prominent Republican politicians to his radio program, including:

Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina, Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, Rep. Chris Smith of New Jersey, Rep. Steve King of Iowa, Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia, Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho, of Mississippi and Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas. Among the major conservative activists who have appeared on Focal Point are Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, David Barton of WallBuilders, Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum and Amy Kremer of the Tea Party Express. Fischer, whose group was a co-sponsor of the Value Voters summit back in 2010 was joined by even bigger names including Mike Huckabee, Michelle Bachmann, Mitt Romney, former Virginia Governor and convicted felon Bob McDonnell Indiana Rep. Mike Pence.

Fischer and others claim gays to be terrorists, criminals and compare them to the Nazis which is ironic since the Nazis outlawed homosexuality and sent homosexuals to the Concentration camps. But then truth is not an obstacle for this bunch. In Arizona and Kansas “Jim Crow” measures to legalize religious discrimination against homosexuals nearly became law with their proponents claiming to be protecting the rights of people to discriminate against gays solely based on religious their religious liberty.

There are prominent Evangelical preachers, media personalities and pundits who go to extremes in their description of Gays, Lesbians, and for that matter anyone in the LGBT community. Some of those include Pat Robertson and others have made incredulous statements about Gays.

While I do not think that the truly extreme measures will ever be passed or upheld once they hit the courts, the danger of this anti-Gay propaganda and continued efforts of some will continue to punish gays for nothing more than wanting to live a normal life with people they love. There is a secondary danger, that danger is that the constant drumbeat of hate will motivate some to violence against the LGBT community. Such has happened too many times, one cannot forget the brutal murder of young Matthew Shepard.

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Matthew Shepard

It is something that all of us who truly value liberty must be on constant guard against. I cannot imagine a society that would want any portion of it to have to deal with the legalized hate, persecution and discrimination that gays went through long after it was made illegal to do to others.  There are some who earnestly desire a return to such persecution of Gay people and their supporters, and they wait for the chance to implement their agenda.

There is a scene at the end of the Star Trek the Next Generation episode The Drumhead. In the episode a deranged and paranoid ideologue comes aboard the Enterprise to conduct an investigation of possible sabotage. The investigation becomes a witch hunt in which she accuses Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) of treason. Her case collapses and afterward Lt. Worf, the Klingon Security Officer of the Enterprise, who initially supported her visits Captain Picard. Their dialogue is pertinent to today.

“Am I bothering you, Captain?”
“No, please Mr. Worf, come in.”
“It is over. Admiral Henry has called an end to any more hearings on this matter.”
“That’s good.”
“Admiral Satie has left the Enterprise.”
“We think we’ve come so far. Torture of heretics, burning of witches, it’s all ancient history. And then, before you can blink an eye, suddenly it threatens to start all over again.”
“I believed her. I-I HELPED her! I did not see what she was.”
“Mr. Worf, villains who twirl their mustaches are easy to spot. Those who clothe themselves in good deeds are well camouflaged.”
“I think, after yesterday, people will not be so ready to trust her.”
“Maybe. But she or someone like her will always be with us, waiting for the right climate in which to flourish–spreading fear in the name of righteousness. Vigilance, Mr. Worf. That is the price we have to continually pay.”

Vigilance against those who cloak themselves in the name of righteousness to discriminate against and persecute others. Is that not the same thing we claim to be fighting the Islamic extremists of ISIL, Al Qaeda, the Taliban and others who in the name of their understanding of righteous do to those that they control?

I personally know too many Gays and Lesbians who have endured such perfection, including witch hunts under the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy and anti-gay policies that were once enshrined in military law. These men and women were honorable, and many legitimate heroes in combat.

Thus I will fight for the rights of Gay and Lesbians and the LGBT community, the right to enjoy all the privileges that I have as a married, heterosexual, career military officer and Christian. Likewise I will not hesitate to identify those who promote such discrimination.

Until tomorrow,

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

 

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Election 2016: The Coming Christian Holy War

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My friends, there is a Holy War that is about to overwhelm us, and it is not an Islamic Jihad. No it is a very American and allegedly Christian version of jihad, without the beheadings, at least for now. Pat Buchanan announced it in 1992 during the Republican National Convention:

“There is a religious war going on in our country for the soul of America. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we will one day be as was the Cold War itself.”

For those that do not know me well and just think that I am a run-of-the-mill liberal type, they need to understand that I was at one time a solid Republican who had strong ties to the religious right and though moderate almost always followed the party line on the issues supported by the political preachers of the religious right.

Frank Schaefer, the son of the late Dr. Francis Schaefer was one of the leaders of that movement. Eventually, he left it and has become a stalwart critic of the rabidly political nature of conservative Christianity in the United States, Evangelical and Roman Catholic alike. Schaefer has written and talked about how he and other leaders of the religious right in the 1970s and 1980s worked to build an alliance with the then, relatively secular Republican party. Though conservative, may Republicans, including men like Barry Goldwater, a conservative icon were suspicious of and opposed the goals of religious conservatives. In 1994, Goldwater who was the leader of the conservative takeover of the GOP told John Dean something that made Christian conservatives profoundly different from secular conservatives:

“Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.”

The problem is unlike 1994 when the preachers were on the outside attempting to force the GOP into their ideological mold, they now are the leadership of the GOP. There is not one of the leading potential candidates that the GOP will field for the 2016 Presidential campaign who are not either wholly or in part either a leader, an ally or completely controlled by the religious faction of the GOP. Mike Huckabee, Bobby Jindal, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Rick Santorum, Jeb Bush, Rick Perry and probably Michelle Bachmann and Sarah Palin as well. Some like Huckabee rate not only political leaders, but former pastors and religious leaders as well.

If Barry Goldwater was alive today he would oppose them all. He understood, even as an unabashed conservative that they were a dangerous crowd.

He contrasted them with old line conservatives:

“Well, I’ve spent quite a number of years carrying the flag of the ‘Old Conservatism.’  And I can say with conviction that the religious issues of these groups have little or nothing to do with conservative or liberal politics.  The uncompromising position of these groups is a divisive element that could tear apart the very spirit of our representative system, if they gain sufficient strength.” 

I came to realize that in 2008 when I returned from Iraq after having believed the lies for decades. When I finally began to speak out about what I saw I was kicked out of the very conservative and evangelical Anglo-catholic denomination that I had served as a priest for 14 years. Why? Because I openly stated that I believed that Gays could be Christians, that women should be allowed to be priests and that not all Moslems were bad. Since that time I have been castigated by many in my former denomination, including people who I thought were friends, not to mention of host of other Christian fanatics.

The fact is that to them, anyone who they think deviates from their interoperation of God’s law is the enemy. In fact if the religious conservatives now running the GOP every took all their reigns of government, after quashing all secular or religious dissent that they opposed would turn on each other. The alliance would split along ancient and unresolved theological lines, Catholics against Evangelicals in a struggle to establish the true government of God.

Most Democrats, progressives, secular conservatives or Libertarians cannot understand how such people think and what motivates them, simply because they are much more pragmatic and less motivated by religious ideology. President Obama is a good example. He like many others are willing to defy his liberal base to compromise, even if he does not get all that they want. This was a fatal flaw of what is now know as Obamacare. Instead of simply expanding Medicare for all, Obama used the plan of the Heritage Foundation which Mitt Romney used in Massachusetts. Obamacare is not socialized medicine. Far from it, it is a hand out to insurance companies who now feed at the government tax money feed stalls that they never had access to before.

But you have to understand the mindset, the theology, the history and the sense of destiny motivated by faith that these people bring to the table, even the most cynical and openly hypocritical of them.

Religious conservatives cannot do this, because for them it is not merely about temporal politics, it is about establishing “God’s law ” (as they interpret it) as the norm and are willing to use every means, constitutional or not, fair or unfair, kind or evil to accomplish their goals. Why can’t they compromise? Simply put, because to do so would be to deny God.

Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, who oversaw the prosecution of the major war criminals at Nuremberg noted:

“[I]n our country are evangelists and zealots of many different political, economic and religious persuasions whose fanatical conviction is that all thought is divinely classified into two kinds — that which is their own and that which is false and dangerous.” 

Goldwater stated on the Senate floor in 1981 about the danger of the religious conservatives, of which I was an early convert thanks to the Dominionist theology promoted by the Presbyterian Church that attended in college: Goldwater said:

“There is no position on which people are so immovable as their religious beliefs. There is no more powerful ally one can claim in a debate than Jesus Christ, or God, or Allah, or whatever one calls this supreme being. But like any powerful weapon, the use of God’s name on one’s behalf should be used sparingly. The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent. If you disagree with these religious groups on a particular moral issue, they complain, they threaten you with a loss of money or votes or both. I’m frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in ‘A,’ ‘B,’ ‘C,’ and ‘D.’ Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me? And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of ‘conservatism….

Being a conservative in America traditionally has meant that one holds a deep, abiding respect for the Constitution.  We conservatives believe sincerely in the integrity of the Constitution.  We treasure the freedoms that document protects. . .  “By maintaining the separation of church and state,” he explained, “the United States has avoided the intolerance which has so divided the rest of the world with religious wars . . .  Can any of us refute the wisdom of Madison and the other framers?  Can anyone look at the carnage in Iran, the bloodshed in Northern Ireland, or the bombs bursting in Lebanon and yet question the dangers of injecting religious issues into the affairs of state?’ ”

Well my friends, those religious leaders now own the Republican Party. Those religious leaders are one in the same as the politicians they are influencing, and dare any stray from the reservation, as did Eric Cantor, they will be cast aside and replaced with a Christian religious extremist.Such is only possible where people adopt the theocratic presuppositions of the Christian Dominisionists, as so many have. Gary North, one of the prominent leaders of this movement whose reach goes to the heart of the “Conservative Christian” political movement and who has served as an advisor to both Ron and Rand Paul wrote:

“We must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government. Then they will get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God.”

My God, in what country could a disgraced, pathological liar, who had been court-martialed and cashiered by the Navy be elected to any office? But Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt, was elected to the Colorado State Senate by a sizable margin and still keeps his extreme radio program. How can that be unless Goldwater was right?

Such people, even supposed faithful Roman Catholics  even condemn Pope Francis when he disagrees with their political ideology. Their hatred and need for control knows no bounds.

I came to realize too late the dangers of these people. I scoffed at Goldwater in the 1980s, and hesitated to believe him in the 1990s. Sadly it took me a tour in Iraq, visits to the Balkans, a lot more study, and getting thrown out of a church that I had faithfully served, to realize that I had been deceived. Sadly, I don’t think that most of my Christian brothers, smothered in the hateful dualistic “us versus them” ideology of the religious right will understand this.

Martin Niemoller, a German War hero of the First World War who became a pastor and hated the secular Weimer Republic. Out of that hate, Niemoller initially supported Hitler realized too late the evil that he had helped put into power. He ended up being jailed and put in a concentration camp for the duration of the war. He wrote:

“I hated the growing atheistic movement, which was fostered and promoted by the Social Democrats and the Communists. Their hostility toward the Church made me pin my hopes on Hitler for a while. I am paying for that mistake now; and not me alone, but thousands of other persons like me.”

Niemoller’s fate will be the fate of the people who elect any of these religious extremists to the Presidency. My advice to any is neither to fall for their promises nor disbelieve their most hateful and incendiary proposals. Those lay at the heart of the movement, and millions of otherwise faithful Christians have already been decided by them. In fact, look around around you. You probably know a few.

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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What Does it Mean? Will Rogers, Padre Steve & Election 2014

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“The trouble with practical jokes is that very often they get elected.” Will Rogers

Last night in battle of the witless, funded by the soulless, and empowered by the clueless the American electorate finally finished the 2014 warm up for the 2016 bloodletting known as the 2016 General election. Why they call it that I don’t know, we haven’t had a general as President since Eisenhower, but I digress…

What does it all mean? Actually I don’t know, I have some ideas but there is one thing I know, it means nothing because people do not change, especially the Trinity of Evil, the politicians, pundits and preachers that work overtime to get power and maintain it for power’s sake so they can use the police power of government to enforce their will by restricting the liberties of those who do not share their views.

But this is a far deeper question than we would want to contemplate. The problem in American life and politics is that we lack any kind of historical perspective, not only about the world, but our own history and that extends across the ideological spectrum of the country, that is why over eighty years ago Rogers noted “The short memories of the American voters is what keeps our politicians in office” and why he noted “The problem ain’t what people know. It’s what people know that ain’t so that’s the problem.” Ignorance is bliss and my God there is a lot of bliss out there today…

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That my friends is why no matter what party they represent we too often elect the worst examples of the human species into office; many times in the case of congressmen, for decades, or until the cows come home. Since cows like to stay out late, play cards, and drink that can be a very long time.

But we as American voters elect them and we collectively are idiots for doing so.

My God, in what civilized country could a man like the disgraced, court-martialed, convicted criminal, serial liar and Talibanesque religious fanatic like Gordon Klingenschmitt win a State Senate office in Colorado with over 70 percent of the vote? But assured that Klingenschmitt, running as a Republican but motivated by the soulless hatred of his Christian Dominionism will be around for a while. He is a megalomanic with delusions of grandeur and feelings of unjust persecution. There is a reason that he was court-martialed and thrown out of the Navy and why anyone should be very afraid that any party, including my former party, the Republicans would ever even allow someone like him to enter a race under their banner.

I guess that is one of the big reasons that I am not a Republican, too many soulless, clueless and heartless religious fanatics just like him are driving that party and the country to the abyss. Like Rogers I can now say “I am not a member of any organized political party — I am a Democrat.” But again I digress…

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But whenever I hear the name Gordon Klingenschmitt; a man who entered the military with a political-religious agenda, dishonored his uniform, made a mockery of faith, family, slandered countless of his commanding officers and fellow chaplains in the Right Wing media; all in the name of Jesus, I get upset, and wish a pox on any political party, or voter who would elect this man or anyone else like him. Klingenschmitt and many like him are quick to label liberals or progressives as Nazis, but they are the people who have said they would, if they ever had the political power to limit the rights or people that they admittedly hate, be it for political, religious or social issues.  Their targets, Democrats, liberals, blacks, gays and lesbians, Moslems, immigrants, and any other group that they want to demonize to mobilize their base depending on their needs.

You see my friends, that is what this election meant. Yes, one can say it is a rejection of Obama and his policies by voters, but it is also, and much more importantly a return to religious fanaticism as a basis and instrument of policy among elected officials. Klingenschmitt may be an outlier right now, but he and others like him are now the face of the GOP. If you are a moderate in the GOP, get ready, you will be either pushed out or forced to adopt their extremism because theirs is a religious crusade that allows no dissent. If you are a secularist, an economic conservative or a “strong on defense” type in the GOP for whom religion is a minor concern, or something best left at home or in the churches, get ready, you too are on their hit list. The problem is that people will do anything to gain power, even make allies of guys like Klingenschmitt and the other American Taliban that are just like him.

I wonder if people will ever learn, but as Rogers said:

“There are three kinds of men. The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.”

I guess there are going to be a lot of people learning by in that manner over the next two years….Let me take a deep breath and then continue…. thank you.

For those that think the election will have the effect that people Klingenschmitt and the religious fanatics like him think  that it will, think again. It has the potential of destroying the Republican party, with consequences as important and perhaps as dire as the collapse of the Whigs in 1854 and the split in the Democrat Party between 1856 and 1861. (For those that don’t know about that split it helped light the fire that became the Civil War, read some of my Civil War articles, I cover it to some degree in them.)

Some Republicans recognize this, they know that the victories last night came mostly in reliably conservative states and districts, or places that depending on the year and the situation can swing between Republican or Democrat control. Neil Newhouse who was Mitt Romney’s pollster noted yesterday that “the image of the Republican Party has actually gotten worse since the end of 2012.”

That my friends is what this election meant. Senator Rand Paul, a man who has his eyes on the white House noted: “The Republican Party brand sucks, and so people don’t want to be a Republican… why?…The problem is the perception … that no one in the Republican Party cares.” The problem is that it is no longer about perception, it is about reality. The fact is that unless one is rich, white, male, or a conservative Christian you don’t matter to those now driving the party. The attitude is “you are either for us or against us.” It is a no-compromise attitude which will be their downfall and may very well split the party if old line Republicans finally grow some balls and say no to it. 

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As far as hope for what the new Republican controlled Congress will do, only one in four Americans think they will do better than the split Congress that we have had the past four years and a full 40% said in that survey said that nothing would change in Washington DC. This is something that Tea Party party pundits Erick Erickson, who I am not a fan of, noted over at Politico.com two days ago:

“So while we are going to see a Republican Congress in name in January, its small-government rhetoric is certainly not going to fool or win over the party base. In 2014, the American public has shown that it hates Washington, D.C., and the Republican leaders in Washington are demonstrating why. They have assembled a team of strategists, consultants, and other political operatives who eat, breathe, and sleep Washington, D.C. Instead of standing for something, they stand for anything they think might get them back into power.

The message from Washington’s Republican elite is no longer that government is the problem, but that Democrats in charge of government are the problem. That might work in 2014, but it’s not going to carry the day in the next presidential election. Republicans cannot make the case that government is the problem when they covet the power of controlling it to the extent they do.” http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/11/midterms-hollow-victory-gop-112463.html#ixzz3IE1eHexj

Be assured the Democrats are no gem right now, like the GOP they too have some wing nuts in the party. Though I am a Democrat there have been times that I wonder if the Democratic leadership have lost their souls and are more intent on maintaining power than solving problems. Based on the massive number of e-mails I received from Democrat and progressive organizations that I support, almost all dealing with fundraising, which ran about twenty a day during the last two months of the campaign have to wonder. Yes, I know that to fight the Koch brothers funding wars brought about by Citizens United that one has to have a lot of money, but those e-mails did not motivate me, they were annoying and disruptive. 
The GOP won yesterday because it won where it was supposed to win, in states where it had the home field advantage, in states where legislatures limited the opportunities of poor, elderly, students living away from home, military personnel serving out of state as well as minority voters to vote by in effect creating a defacto-Poll Tax. But such a strategy goes back to Paul Weyrich, the co-founder of the Heritage Foundation who said in 1980:

“Now many of our Christians have what I call the ‘goo-goo syndrome.’ Good government. They want everybody to vote. I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

But in 2016, it will be a different electorate, an electorate radically different from the one that voted yesterday. The 2016 electorate will be much more favorable to Democrats, one that is not enamored with people like Klingenschmitt. They are young people who want to get ahead in life and are not concerned about someone’s religious beliefs, no fueled by racism, accepting of minorities, women, immigrants and the LGBT community. Those voters typically don’t vote in large numbers in mid-term elections, but do in presidential elections and their influence will be decisive particularly if the new GOP Congressional majority does what I expect to do by focusing on a narrow agenda that is being defined by crackpots, conspiracy theorists and religious fanatics, further driving them, as well as anyone of moderation away from the GOP. If the Democrats can get off their ass, they will keep the White House and will have an excellent chance to take back the Senate in 2016.

I am no expert, but I do know history and I know human nature. I could be try wrong about all of this, but no-matter what I am glad this election is over. The only break I got from it was going to German for the Oktoberfest, with good friends who spanned the political spectrum from left to right. It is almost enough to want to move overseas and be an expat if it means that I don’t have to listen to all of the lies and dirty campaign ads that were a staple of both parties this year. But then we can thank the Supremes and their Citizens United decision for that.

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The campaign wore me out and I look forward to at least a few months of peace, before the next phase of the 2016 campaign begins.

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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Christian Culture Warriors Versus Pope Francis and Boarding the Wrong Train

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“If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer

It has been amazing for me to watch and listen to influential leaders of the Christian Right vilify Pope Francis for “being liberal” and “surrendering in the culture war.” I find it amazing because for the past 30 years I have been watching the culture warriors fight this war.

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It was in 1992 when Pat Buchanan announced at the Republican National Convention that “There is a religious war going on in our country for the soul of America. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we will one day be as was the Cold War itself.”

I had deep ambivalence that speech back then and I was a conservative Republican and moderately conservative Christian. I had already seen how vicious the politically driven Christian conservatism was when I attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary during the early part of the Fundamentalist takeover of that school.

When I was ordained as a Priest in a more conservative Episcopal denomination back in 1996 I became part of a denomination at the time that had fully embraced the ideas of the culture war. When we went to clergy conferences our textbooks were those of Buchanan, Robert Bork, and Thomas Sowell as well as many others which espoused the necessity and rightness of the religious and culture war. Leadership indoctrinated us in this.

However as a military chaplain I had deep qualms about what was going on in this because I was already seeing the practical effects this was having on those who I served. I remember talking to some of the other chaplains in the denomination, a number who had similar concerns.

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So for many years I operated in the nether world of representing a denomination which by the day was growing more deeply aligned with the culture warriors. It began to come to a head in 2006 when Gordon Klingenschmitt, a Navy Chaplain on active duty began a campaign which ended caused a great uproar among religious conservatives and caused chaplains from many conservative denominations great grief as people in our churches looked to Klingenschmitt as a some kind of hero. In fact he was not. He was and is a pathological liar who has been on a Jihad since even before he entered the Navy as a Chaplain in 2003. I saw the unbridled vicious and unethical behavior exhibited by Klingenschmitt and his allies in the extreme Christian right and the right wing political hacks and pundits who use the Christian faith and unwitting but sincere Christians to advance an agenda which is neither Christian nor faithful to the vision of our founding fathers.

It was after that that I deployed to Iraq where what I saw and experienced changed me in profound ways. Suffering from chronic and severe PTSD I suffered a collapse of faith and for two years was for all intents and purposes an agnostic just hoping that God existed. Only my strong sense of vocation and the grace and mercy of God kept me going. But when faith returned it was different and as I began to write about it I realized who much I had changed. In September 2010 I was told by my Bishop that I needed to leave the church because I was “too liberal.”

So now when I see the same right wing political hacks, pundits, preachers and politicians who have been stoking this Christian version of Jihad against a plethora of enemies, Moslems, Gays, women, Liberals, progressives in fact anyone that they want to label as different then them or “enemies” of God or “America” I get my hackles up.

When I heard Pat Buchanan and Sarah Palin condemning Pope Francis for his alleged liberalism I realized that no Christian leader was safe from their foolish and shortsighted agenda. Pope Francis has chosen the way of Jesus, he is embracing people that conservative Christians have not only marginalized, but have persecuted for years and are still attempting to do so in the United States and elsewhere. There are times that I fear for the life of Pope Francis because there are people who believe so strongly that they would kill him if they believed that God wanted them to, and when people like Buchanan accuse Francis of surrendering in the culture war they help justify people wo will kill in the name of God.

What seems to me that most of these people lack is a real sense of historical context, not only of the importance that the founders of the United States placed on the freedom of religion and freedom from religion as well as the history of other countries.

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One of my special areas of study is the Weimar Republic and the Nazi period of German history. Religious conservatives were often willing partners with Hitler and the Nazi movement because of their opposition to socialism and what they saw as an atheistic movement in Germany, which many lamed on the Jews. Martin Niemöller was a prominent pastor in that era. His writings reflected the feelings of many. He wrote:

“I hated the growing atheistic movement, which was fostered and promoted by the Social Democrats and the Communists. Their hostility toward the Church made me pin my hopes on Hitler for a while. I am paying for that mistake now; and not me alone, but thousands of other persons like me.”

Niemöller was a war hero.  He had served on U-Boats during the First World War and commanded a U-Boat in 1918 sinking a number of ships.  After the war he resigned his commission in the Navy in opposition to the Weimar Republic and briefly was a commander in a local Freikorps unit. His book Vom U-Boot zur Kanzel (From U-boat to Pulpit) traced his journey from the Navy to the pastorate. He became a Pastor and as a Christian opposed what he believed to be the evils of Godless Communism and Socialism.  This placed him in the very conservative camp in the years of the Weimar Republic and he rose in the ranks of the United Evangelical Church of the Old Prussian Union.  Active in conservative politics, Niemöller initially support the appointment of Adolf Hitler as Chancellor.

However, he quickly soured on Hitler due to his insistence on the state taking precedence over the Church.  Niemöller was typical of many Germans of his era and harbored ant-Semitic sentiments that he only completely abandoned his anti-Semitic views until after he was imprisoned.  He would spend 8 years as a prisoner of the Nazis a period hat he said changed him including his views about Jews, Communists and Socialists.  Niemöller was one of the founding members of the Pfarrernotbund (Pastor’s Emergency Federation) and later the Confessing Church. He was tried and imprisoned in concentration camps due to his now outspoken criticism of the Hitler regime.

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Herman Maas was another Evangelical Pastor.  Unlike Niemöller, Maas was a active participant in the ecumenical movement, built bridges to the Jewish community and defended the rights of Jews as German citizens.  He received a fair amount of criticism for his attendance of Reichspräsident Friedrich Ebert’s funeral.  Ebert was both a Socialist and avowed atheist.  Maas too was active in the Pfarrernotbund and the Confessing church, and unlike Niemöller maintained his opposition to anti-Semitism and the Nazi policies against the Jews. He would help draft the Barmen declaration.  He too would be imprisoned and survive the war.  Maas was the first non-Jewish German to be officially invited to the newly formed state of Israel in 1950. In July 1964 Yad Vashem recognized the Maas as one of the Righteous Among the Nations.

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer a young Pastor and theologian would also step up to oppose the Nazis and offer support for the Jews.  He helped draft the Bethel Confession which among other things rejected “every attempt to establish a visible theocracy on earth by the church as a infraction in the order of secular authority. This makes the gospel into a law. The church cannot protect or sustain life on earth. This remains the office of secular authority.”  He also helped draft the Barmen declaration which opposed and condemned Nazi Christianity.  Bonhoeffer would eventually along with members of his family take an active role in the anti-Nazi resistance as a double agent for Admiral Canaris’ Abwehr.  For this he would be executed after his final sermon in the concentration camp at Flossenburg just a month prior to the end of the war.

Another opponent of the Nazis in the Confessing Church was Swiss-German theologian Karl Barth.  Barth went into exile as a Swiss citizen but remained active in the criticism of the Nazi regime.

Bishop Galen of Münster and others including Father Rupert Meyer in Munich who opposed Hitler in the early 1920s would also oppose the Nazi policies toward the Church and the Jews.  They would also end up in concentrations camps with some dying at the hands of the Nazis.

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All these men took risks to defend the Jews who were religious minority group that had been traditionally discriminated against inGermany.  They opposed the Nazi policies which were widely supported by much of the German populace making them unpopular in their own churches as among the traditionally conservative supporters of the Evangelical and Catholic Churches.  The Jews were not simply discriminated against as a racial or religious group but also identified with the political left, especially the Social Democrats, Independent Socialists, Communists and the Spartacists. Since the Independent Socialists, Communists and Spartacists were all involved in attempts to create a Soviet state during the early tumultuous years of Weimar and been involved in many acts of violence against traditional German institutions and the state, they were viewed by Hitler and others as part of the Bolshevik-Jewish threat toGermany.  Karl Liebnicht and Rosa Luxembourg were among the high profile leaders of this movement in Germany and both were Jewish.  The fact that many in the leadership of the Bolshevik movement in theSoviet Union were Jewish added fuel to the fire that the Nazis stoked inGermany.  Hitler and the Nazis played on the historic, but muted prejudice against German Jews who in many cases were more secular and German than religious and had assimilated well inGermany.  Hitler’s rhetoric as well as that of other Nazis and Nazi publications helped identify the Jews as part of the “Stab in the back” myth that was commonly used by the German right to explain the defeat in the First World War.  Thus they were painted as a political and social threat to Germany.

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When Hitler took power persecution of the Jews began in earnest. Jews were along with Communists, Trade Unions and Socialists enemies of the state.  They were banned from the military, civil service and other government employment, professional associations and forced to wear a gold Star of David on their clothing.  Their property was seized, many were abused by SA men acting as deputized auxiliary police and many times their businesses, Synagogues and homes were vandalized, burned or seized by the state.  Many would be forced to flee in order not to be sent to ghettos and concentration camps.  Even those leaving only escaped with the minimum of their possessions as the Nazi regime extorted anything of value from them as they leftGermany.  This was all done because Hitler and those like him portrayed the Jews as not only an inferior race, but enemies of the state and the German people.

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Today we face a similar movement in conservative circles in the United States.  This time it is not the Jews but Moslems, Homosexuals, and “Liberals” who are the targets of the xenophobic and ideological rage vocalized by many influential members of the “conservative” media including Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and numerous others.

Their support for “Christian morale values” such as being against abortion has ingratiated them with conservative Christians.  It is so bad that that many “conservative” Christians cannot differentiate between their vitriolic and un-Christian rage against Moslems, Gays and Lesbians, trade unionists, Democrats or anyone else portrayed by the big media talkers and the Gospel.

It is if they have become an appendage to Republican or “conservative” politicians rather than a Christian church.  It is not uncommon to see Christians on the web or on the call in talk radio programs identify lock stock and barrel with Limbaugh and others identifying the crass materialism and social Darwinism of “pure” Capitalism and the anti-Christian policy of pre-emptive war.   That may seem harsh, but many of these people in the “Conservative Bible Project” seek to re-translate the Bible into their own political, social and economic policies even seeking to change or minimize any Scripture that might be equated with the “Social Gospel.”  Unfortunately many Christians and others have jumped in on the anti-Moslem and anti-immigrant crusades launched by those on the far right.

There are those on the far right that advocate eliminating all Moslems from the military, government, security intelligence and police forces and even universities as did Timothy Rollins of “The American Partisan.”

“this can best be done by enacting the Great Muslim Purge from our military and other national security apparatuses. These people need to be removed from every security post, even to be completely removed from all levels of government employment, be it federal, state, county, city or other municipality. This applies especially to universities….”

Glenn Beck made this comment about a people reacting against Moslems:

“When things—when people become hungry, when people see that their way of life is on the edge of being over, they will put razor wire up and just based on the way you look or just based on your religion, they will round you up. Is that wrong? Oh my gosh, it is Nazi, World War II wrong, but society has proved it time and time again: It will happen.”

Doug Giles a seminary educated columnist for Townhall.com a leading conservative opinion site made this comment

“Please note: If Christ wasn’t cool with irrigating irate Islamicists for facts, I must admit, I would still have to green light our boys getting data from enemy combatants 007 style. Stick a fire hose up their tailpipe and turn it on full blast. I don’t care. I’m not as holy as most of you super saints or as evolved as some of you progressive atheists purport to be. Security beats spirituality in this scenario, as far as I’m concerned.”

Similar threats are made against non-European immigrants especially those from Mexico or Latin America.  I have a friend; a Navy Officer who served a year in Iraq that was confronted by a member of the “Minutemen” in Texas to show his Green Card and threatened simply because he is Mexican.   Others especially conservative Christians suggest criminalizing homosexuality, jailing homosexuals and even deporting them. Some Christian political action groups are going overseas to Russia and Africa to help enact laws against homosexuals and recently the same people have been hosted by members of Congress to promote their ideology.

These actions and proposed laws are so similar to the Nuremberg Laws and the Aryan Paragraph issued by the Nazis that it is scary.  Likewise the threats to American Moslems of placing them “behind razor wire” as we did to American Japanese citizens in World War II are chilling.  I wonder how Christians would react if an atheist or someone on the political left suggested all conservative Christians or members of pro-Life groups be imprisoned for the actions of Christians or pro-Life movement members like Scott Roeder or Eric Rudolph who killed to stop abortion or Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church?

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This new found militancy has swept up the “Christian right” and others since 9-11 and has reached proportions that I could never have imagined. After my tour in Iraq I realized that much of what these people were saying was not Christian at all and when taken to their logical conclusion would be a police state in which anyone who opposed them would be persecuted.  I question the motivations of the leaders of the movement but believe that most of the Christian conservatives have been caught up in the anger and the emotion of the times versus being true believers in what these men say.  That being said, you don’t have to be a true believer to be a willing accomplice in actions that first are not Christian and second trample on the Constitutional rights of American citizens.

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I could keep citing examples but if someone can show me where this is condoned in the Gospels I would like to know. The fact is that Christians are to place God first and defend the rights of others, even non-believers.  This is found not only in Scripture but runs through the Christian tradition across the denominational spectrum.

What the good people who suggesting these “collective guilt” actions against American Moslems do is dangerous, not just for Moslems and other minorities but ultimately for them.  American and English law is based on legal precedence.  Once something has been determined to be legal, or constitutional it is considered by the law to be settled law.  This is a point made by Chief Justice Roberts regarding Roe v. Wade at his confirmation hearings.  If Christians want to use the law against Moslems or for that matter any other minority be it religious or political they tread on very dangerous ground.  Not only do they make a mockery of the Gospel command to love our neighbors, care for the foreigners among us and to be a witness to non-Christians support policies or laws that if enacted could and very well would be used against them by their opponents.

Law is all about precedent and if such laws were enacted and upheld by the courts they would be settled law that could be used against anyone.   What these dear brothers and sisters fail to realize is that such laws can be turned against them if the state should ever decided based on the statements of actions of some that the Christian community is a threat to state security of the public welfare.  With the actions of some radical Christians who have committed murder and violence against political, social and religious opponents it would not be hard for the government to label whole churches as enemies of the state.  The law is a two edged sword and those who want to use it to have the state enforce their religious, social, ideological or political beliefs on others need to remember what comes around goes around.

The Confessing church understood this and many were imprisoned, exiled or killed for this belief.  The founding fathers of this country understood this too, that is why there is the Constitution protection of Religion in the First Amendment.  This was put in because Virginia Baptists who had been persecuted by Anglicans lobbied James Madison for the amendment in the Bill of Rights threatening to withdraw their support for his candidacy if he did not.  Niemöller would discover the depths of his earlier folly in prison telling one interviewer after the war:

“I find myself wondering about that too. I wonder about it as much as I regret it. Still, it is true that Hitler betrayed me. I had an audience with him, as a representative of the Protestant Church, shortly before he became Chancellor, in 1932. Hitler promised me on his word of honor, to protect the Church, and not to issue any anti-Church laws. He also agreed not to allow pogroms against the Jews, assuring me as follows: ‘There will be restrictions against the Jews, but there will be no ghettos, no pogroms, in Germany. I really believed given the widespread anti-Semitism in Germany, at that time—that Jews should avoid aspiring to Government positions or seats in the Reichstag. There were many Jews, especially among the Zionists, who took a similar stand. Hitler’s assurance satisfied me at the time. On the other hand, I hated the growing atheistic movement, which was fostered and promoted by the Social Democrats and the Communists. Their hostility toward the Church made me pin my hopes on Hitler for a while. I am paying for that mistake now; and not me alone, but thousands of other persons like me.”

It is easy for well meaning people Niemöller to be bought with promises of support by politicians and media types who speak the words they want to hear in difficult times.

So today I suggest the formation of an ecumenical Pastor’s Emergency League which will not be bought by the empty and godless promises of hate mongers on the right or the left.  Such a group of men and women spanning the breadth of the Christian tradition and others that see the danger of extremism of all types is becoming necessary.  Such a step is becoming necessary due to the militancy of the Christian right as well as the militancy of atheist groups who lobby against all public religious expression by any religion.  Such a League would respect the various creeds and statements of faith of each member’s denomination.  The movement of the right has set a dangerous course fraught with perils that they do not comprehend. Just allow those that they believe are oppressing or persecuting them now to be empowered with the precedent of laws discriminating against specific religious groups against the Christians that supported them in the first place.  It will be a bitter poison indeed when that happens to them later if American Moslems were to be targets by such laws.

We have entered a dangerous phase of American history.  These movements have the potential not only to oppress law-abiding and patriotic American Moslems, Gays, Secularists and others and to crush the religious freedoms of all in this county. Suggesting that American citizens, including those who serve the county in the military or government of entire religious, ethnic, political or religious affiliation, sexual preference be jailed, banned from office or fired is totalitarian and dare I say Nazi like.

Christian culture warriors have become so enamored with political power and using the state to enforce their beliefs. They  have forgotten that the people are not converted by religious laws enforced by the police power of the state but on the love shown by God’s people to others. They have forgotten that the sword that they desire to use against those that they despise can easily be turned against them. Many German Christians found this out far too late.

Niemöller would say it well in this poem:

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.

If Christians would only learn that lesson.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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The Poisoning of American Politics by Radical Christian Dominionists

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Religious Liberty in the Massachusetts Bay Colony…the hanging of the Quakers…a model for the Dominionists

“When the pretended friends of religion lead infidel lives; when they carry religion to market and offer it in exchange for luxuries and honors; when they place it familiarly and constantly in the columns of newspapers, manifestly connected with electioneering purposes, and when they are offering it up as a morning and evening sacrifice of the altar of political party- these men are placing a firebrand to every meeting house and applying a torch to every Bible” Abraham Bishop in an oration at Wallingford CT on 11 March 1801

“See, the problem is, is that Satan has had too much of his way in our society because he has a government! And the only way to overthrow a government is with a government. It won’t happen otherwise.” C. Peter Wagner

Every time that I hear a politician of any party invoke God or quote scripture my stomach turns.  In our modern era this really began with Jimmy Carter. For better or worse the man wore his faith proudly. The Southern Baptist Sunday School teacher from Plains Georgia let it all out when he talked about his faith, sin, lust and adultery in a Playboy Magazine interview in 1976.

There was actually nothing wrong with what he said or that he identified himself as a “Born Again Christian.”  But Carter set a precedent and brought a previously apolitical part of the population into the political process in a way never seen before.

Urged on by politically motivated preachers like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, John Hagee and James Robison Evangelicals like the young Michelle Bachmann rushed to the polls like flies to a honey trap.  Before long posturing political preachers were in the became a staple of conservative politics and the core of the Republican Party base.

Now 35 years later we have radical preachers openly clamoring for a Christian theocracy and brazenly advocating the complete dominion of Christians over all areas of life. The theory is called “Dominionism” or “Seven Mountains” theology.  Many of these preachers are openly allied with a number of high profile Republican Presidential candidates in a take no prisoners campaign to destroy their opposition within the Republican party and nationwide.

C. Peter Wagner a Professor of Evangelism at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena California is one of the most prominent proponents of this political theology and he wrote:

“Our theological bedrock is what has been known as Dominion Theology. This means that our divine mandate is to do whatever is necessary, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to retake the dominion of God’s creation which Adam forfeited to Satan in the Garden of Eden. It is nothing less than seeing God’s kingdom coming and His will being done here on earth as it is in heaven.” Letter dated 31 May 2007

Of course by 1980 Carter was tossed aside by his Evangelical supporters like cup of boiled peanuts gone bad. The preachers who once supported him disappointed with him over the Panama Canal treaty and the economy ditched him and whipped up Evangelical  support for Ronald Reagan.  Reagan wiped Carter off of the electoral map like Sherman marching to the sea.

With Reagan’s victory the now emboldened preachers pressed for more power.  Groups like Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority and Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition became major supporters and contributors to conservative candidates and politicians as did James Dobson’s Focus on the Family and the American Family Association.

Now Reagan to his credit talked a lot about faith and God but he certainly could not be considered one of the real Evangelical Christian faithful.  He was divorced and a sparse attendee of the mainline Presbyterian Church USA.  He was married to a woman who brought mediums into the White House to conduct séances.  He cut taxes but raised taxes when he needed to. He withdrew U.S.Forces from Beirut after the Marine barracks was destroyed with the loss of 241 American lives and he became Soviet Premier Gorbachev’s buddy.  Before he was President he raised the sales tax in California and signed one of the most liberal and permissive abortion laws in the nation. That was well before the Roe v. Wade decision.  In short if he was running now for any office he would already be out of the race as a Republican.

Since Reagan departed the Presidency the preachers and politicians are aided in their struggle for control by the third member of the Unholy Trinity the pundits such as serial divorcee Rush Limbaugh, the Talibanesque team lead by Joseph Farah at World Net Daily and a host of others.

Now to be fair Democrats were and are not above using preachers and scripture for their own purposes.  Some seeking to capitalize on the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other early civil rights pioneers not only used their pulpits to further civil rights which I have no issue with but to promote themselves and a place at the table in the Democratic Party and its policies. Others minsters mainly from liberal denominations used their pulpits to promote all sorts of other agendas that were called liberal, socialist or left wing, even though most had decent scriptural support and in some cases were supported by the social teachings of both the Roman Catholic and some Protestant denominations. However Liberal politicians have never used these preachers over the years as brazenly as conservative politicians use Evangelicals, Charismatics and other conservative Christians including Roman Catholics.

Bill Clinton was a master of using scripture in his campaign as well as in enunciating his policies.  He got everyone going with his “New Covenant” acceptance speech at the 1992 Democratic Convention which was a masterful speech though it brazenly co-opted a Christian theme as its own.  Initially some of the current radical preachers we Clinton backers as the felt that President George H.W. Bush was leading the United States into the New World Order. 

What tickles me is that one of the leading Seven Mountain’s “prophets named Paul Cain spoke at my church after the election and said that “God told him that Bill Clinton would be elected and that it was because of Clinton’s “humility.” Joyner wrote in Rick Joyner’s Morningstar Prophetic Bulletin in 1993 “The Lord said that He was giving us a new president who is better than we deserve. He represents a reprieve from a New WorldOrder that the Church is not prepared to face at this time…” 

I love it when self appointed prophets catch themselves on their own tangled web of lies.  Of course the real reason had nothing to due with the Christian faith but the fact that Cain and his ilk didn’t like George Bush and believed that he was ushering in a “New World Order.  This was shameless, but then that is nothing new.  

Now as a disclaimer as a 16 year old I worked for Gerald Ford’s campaign and voted for Reagan twice.  Since I became a Republican because of the radicalism espoused by George McGovern in 1972 when my dad was in Vietnam surrounded by the North Vietnamese.  This made me a very pro-military and anti-Communist.  It was  because of Carters foreign policy flubs and weakness that  I supported Reagan. I was and still am a  Christian, but I didn’t vote for Reagan or any other Republican because of their faith or the faith of their opponent.  Now I do like it when men and women that I vote for represent the best of their faith and don’t lord it over those that are not of their faith. When I vote I vote the vote for a candidate based on what I see as their qualifications for the office and not their religious views.

Unfortunately there are a number of prominent candidates and their supporters that seem to want Theologian in Chief.  Politicians can see that and that pander shamelessly to their religious supporters often to the exclusion of all others.  If I want a theocracy I’ll go to Iran or Saudi Arabia thank you, but I don’t and you shouldn’t either unless you are planning to convert. But that is the plan of the Dominionists.

However those pursuing the radical Seven Mountains Dominionism actually want a theocracy will use any party or any President to establish it. Clinton didn’t give it to them so they went to the Republicans.  Their rhetoric is scary. Rick Joyner who is one of the big supporters of this movement within the Tea Party and Republican Party said something  that should give anyone that has a hankering for religious liberty and liberty of conscious chills.  Perry is not simply a ranting nut but a nut that has the ear of viable Presidential candidates.  Back in 1996 Joyner wrote about what was going to happen to Christians that didn’t agree with his understanding of his prophecy threatening to change “the very definition of Christianity….for the better….”

“On February 23rd of this year I was shown for the third time that the church was headed for a spiritual civil war … the definition of a complete victory in this war would be the complete overthrow of the accuser of the brethens’ strongholds in the church … this will in fact be one of the most cruel battles the church has ever faced. Like every civil war brother will turn against brother like we have never witnessed in the church before … this battle must be fought. It is an opportunity to drive the accuser out of the church and for the church then to come into unity that would otherwise be impossible … what is coming will be dark. At times Christians almost universally will be loath to even call themselves Christians.Believers and unbelievers alike will think it is the end of Christianity as we know it and it will be through this the very definition of Christianity will be changed for the better.”  Morning Star Prophetic Bulletin May 1996

Cindy Jacobs another one of these politically connected prophets made this claim on the internet back in 2000:

“For there is a radical sound that I have issued – there is a sound that has come from heaven, and it even now has come to earth. And the Lord says, these are going to be days where I am going to trouble the enemy through you. These are going to be different days than you have ever known, and I am going to require sacrifice of you that you cannot imagine. I am going to require a sacrifice of your children, says the Lord. And the Lord says, I’m going to shake everything that can be shaken…” and that “There are churches that will be command posts for revolution, and to these command posts I would say, I am going to bring a revolution. Look and see; I am calling radical revolutionaries to the church.”  http://www.elijahlist.com/words/display_word/85

If you ask me that is a threat to all Americans. One of Joyner’s friends the late John Wimber who founded the Vineyard Churches said of his neighbors at Calvary Chapel “Calvaryites are sometimes a little too heavily oriented to the written Word.”  That is something Wimber criticized Christians that he saw as too heavily oriented to the Bible.  Simply being a Bible Christian is not good enough for the Dominionists, theirs is an all or nothing take no prisoners approach that discounts 2000 years of Christian history, theology and tradition in favor of their alleged “words from God.” 

This is not about theology or faith at all.  It is about power and money. Leading Dominionist C.Peter Wagner wrote: “nine of the components of GAN {Global Apostolic Network} are on my heart, but especially those related to wealth and wealth transfer. I am in touch with 17 potential wealth transfer brokers, some of them expecting release momentarily. It is hard to comprehend, but some of them go to multiple millions, billions, and more. My task is to prepare a high integrity infrastructure for distributing these funds when they begin to flow. Zion Apostolic Network and The Hamilton Group are in place as agencies to carry this out. Our motto is “Sophisticated Philanthropy for Apostolic Distribution.” Letter from Global Harvest Ministries dated August 20, 2007

The original Dominionist was R. J. Rushdoony who was very open in what he believed:

“One faith, one law and one standard of justice did not mean democracy. The heresy of democracy has since then worked havoc in church and state . . . Christianity and democracy are inevitably enemies.” R.J. Rushdoony, The Institutes of Biblical Law p.100

Rushdoony’s son-in-law Gary North was even more blunt about the ultimate goal of Christian Reconstructionism:

“We must use the doctrine of religious liberty to gain independence for Christian schools until we train up a generation of people who know that there is no religious neutrality, no neutral law, no neutral education, and no neutral civil government. Then they will get busy in constructing a Bible-based social, political and religious order which finally denies the religious liberty of the enemies of God.”

This is the real goal of Rick Perry’s The Response prayer meeting of 2011 and the perverted gospel that these preachers use to get politicians to fulfill their agenda and Perry obliged them well. If it was simply a day of prayer then others that were not Christians would have been welcome. It has been made manifest in now countless examples of political brinksmanship motivated by uncompromising politicians, pundits and preachers who have adopted an almost “Talibanesque” view of life, faith and politics.

Some of these preachers are not above advocating or praying for death of their political opponents. There was a whole campaign of prayer against President Obama led by the discredited and court-martialed Chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt. He and others advocated praying the imprecatory prayers of the Psalms including Psalm 109:8 which says: ‘Let his days be few; and let another take his office.’ Massachusetts based preacher Scott Lively advocates killing gays overseas and supports laws in places like Uganda to legalize that. Unfortunately the list can go on and on.

Old Abraham Bishop was right; these people are setting fire to every meeting house and putting the torch to every Bible.  Unfortunately most of their supporters will either ignore or quash what I and others write about these people. Truth doesn’t matter to them.

I had that happen to me.  Sometimes even from people that know me or have served with me at the altar.  Facts didn’t matter, all that mattered were the talking points and the agenda.  The founders of this country did not as these people say desire anything like this.  In fact Thomas Jefferson said “History I believe furnishes no example of a priest-ridden people maintaining a free civil government. This marks the lowest grade of ignorance, of which their political as well as religious leaders will always avail themselves for their own purpose.” (letter to Baron von Humboldt, 1813)

God help us all.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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A War Crime Denier, an American Terrorist in Karachi, a Christian Bully and thoughts on Grace and Reconciliation on a Lenten Sunday

Molly Checking My Facts

Well sports fans I sit up with my little Papillion-Dachshund mix Molly musing tonight after watch a replay of a pre-season baseball game.  Today of course I have been dealing with the pain caused by Adolf my large and well dug in kidney stone who evidently will resist until the end and have to be blasted by a laser on Tuesday.  I didn’t sleep well last night and woke up in pain this morning and look to be doing the same tonight, hopefully the pain and sleep meds will kick in and I will get some sleep.  As I wait I shall write as Bucky Katt once said “you can wordify anything if you just verb it.” So tonight I shall spend some time with a war crime denier, an American traitor, an allegedly “Christian” political pundit and muse on grace and reconciliation, which are key themes in my Lenten journey this year.

So anyway….today was a weird day.  I had an irate Japanese “Rape of Nanking” denier comment on my article about that subject.  Sorry, the truth hurts war crimes and atrocities committed against civilians by any nation are immoral and to defend the indefensible or try to deflect criticism by referring to other nations that have done similar acts is simply being an accomplice to evil.  That goes for any nation including the United States and unfortunately our history is not always as pristine as some would make it out to be.

Moving on… there are conflicting reports that one of the great traitors in modern United States history, Adam Gadahn the chief spokesman for Al Qaeda was apprehended by Pakistani security forces in Karachi yesterday. A day after Gadahn urged Moslems in the US to emulate the Fort Hood terrorist Major Malik Hasan and attack high value targets in the United States Pakistani officials announced that he had been captured. However later reports that the Al Qaeda member captured may not be him after all.  This guy is a slime bag of the biggest order and I hope that if we didn’t get him this time that he will catch a Hellfire missile between his eyes so he can be the martyr that he urges others to be.  Lead by example Adam, its called leadership but then it is always easier to urge people that you don’t know or care about to do the dying for you.  Don’t worry someday you will get your 70 Virginians and they will kick your sorry ass for eternity.  If the Hellfire doesn’t get you Adam I hope that you get captured and sent to prison here in the US with the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN or the Terrible Blond Network) piped into your jail cell 24/7, an unending supply of Chick tracts and Gordon Klingenschmitt as your Chaplain, a fate worse than a fate worse than death.

While the aforementioned idiots are simply idiotic at least they don’t attempt to rationalize illegal or dishonorable activity by citing scripture and invoking Jesus like Townhall.com columnist Doug Giles did on Sunday.  Giles likes to fancy himself a defender of American and Christian values but is simply a bully whose imbecilic theological rants are about as Christian as those of Adam Gadahn, the American born Al Qaeda spokesman.  Giles prostitutes the Christian faith and wraps it around the flag so that the Gospel is indistinguishable from right wing politics.  The fact that he uses Jesus and says that Jesus would approve of such behavior is blasphemous and the fact that he has a degree from a seminary puts him on the same level as religious leaders of Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard clerics in camouflage.  I do believe that Christians should not divorce their faith from politics and that faith can inform and guide a Christian in life and even in politics but Giles and his radicalized followers are dangerous and will be the death of the Evangelical church.  His justification of the use of methods including deception and violence that in times past would have been denounced by the church are simply heretical and not a part of the Christian faith, even if he can “proof text” by citing disjointed and unrelated scriptural texts and by drawing false analogies to justify or prove his point.  While he as a conservative pundit may well oppose and even rightly criticize his political opponents it is wrong to use God or Scripture to justify unseemly and dirty politics even if one is tackling equally unseemly opponents.  I think this is why so many theologians, pastors and church leaders throughout history going back the Apostles and early Church Fathers distained politics and felt that Christians and their faith could only be corrupted by involvement in political movements.  The actions and words of Giles and his fellow travelers may make them feel better but only undermine their witness as Christians as they prostitute the faith for short term political advantage.

Though I did not get to Church today because of not sleeping and being in pain I was able to celebrate Eucharist at home with the Abbess.  If you have read my Lenten meditations you might notice the theme of reconciliation.  Such was the case in the lectionary readings for today, the Gospel being the parable of the Prodigal Son out of Luke Chapter 15 and the New Testament lesson being 2 Corinthians 5: 17-21, the latter which has been a major part of my theological journey since my return from Iraq.  I post the passage below because it speaks volumes about the ontological change that should be part of the Christian life imparted in the waters of Baptism and how that change should be a major part of how we relate to others in the world.  I think it stands in stark contrast to those of any political party who use Scripture and the faith for political gain and power.

“17So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 18All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; 19that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself,* not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. 20So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (NRSV)

As Karl Barth said “Grace must find expression in life, otherwise it is not grace.” I dare say that Giles and other “Christian” radicals have forgotten the grace of God or somehow do not think that applies to their opponents.  In their zeal they misuse Scripture and justify hatred forgetting the great commandments to love God and love our neighbor and the witness of Christians who lived in truly evil times like Dietrich Bonhoeffer who said Our enemies are those who harbor hostility against us, not those against whom we cherish hostility… As a Christian I am called to treat my enemy as a brother and to meet hostility with love. My behavior is thus determined not by the way others treat me, but by the treatment I receive from Jesus.”

And so to you my friends I wish you a good night.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Gordon Klingenschmitt Calls Admiral Mullen a “Liar”

How do you know when Gordon Klingenschmitt is lying?

When his lips are moving.

Well Gordon James “Chaps” Klingenschmitt a former Navy Chaplain convicted by a Special Court Martial for disobeying a lawful order not to wear his uniform to participate in a partisan political rally back in 2006 is at it again.  The defrocked Priest, former chaplain, convicted criminal, compulsive liar, and theological thug has called the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen a “liar” in an e-mail sent out through the Washington Times Marketing Showcase in which he was calling for Christians to join his petition “DEFENDING OUR TROOPS AGAINST OPEN HOMOSEXUAL AGGRESSION.” Since I received this unsolicited and poisonous e-mail I figured that thousands of others had it well. The fact that the conservative bastion Washington Times allows a man of Klingenschmitt’s low ethical and moral character to send out poison like this to collect money for his particular political-religious crusade shows me that this paper is nothing more than a shill for the extreme right wing fringe of American political and religious life.

Klingenschmitt who has little regard for truth as was evidenced during his relentless campaign against the Navy while serving as an active duty Navy Chaplain as per his standard operating procedure has one again engaged in the character assassination of yet another military officer, this time Admiral Mullen.  Klingenschmitt who has a palpable propensity to spin the truth in such a manner that it is no longer recognizable as truth; has launched this gratuitous attack against Admiral Mullen using the venomous invective that is his specialty.  The title of his e-mail reads: “Top Admiral Lies to Senate about Homosexuality.”  If I recall lying to Congress is like a felony, so not only has Klingenschmitt accused Admiral Mullen of being a liar but committing a Federal Crime.  Well I guess that Klingenschmitt knows what that is about having done it himself and then using it afterward to make a decent living off of gullible Klingenschmitt believing Christians who I sometimes refer to as the Klingenban who eager eat up his fabricated tails of being persecuted for “praying in Jesus Name.”

Since lying to congress is a pretty stiff charge to level at anyone let’s see the Klingenfraud’s leap of legal logic which allows him to make such a claim about the nation’s top military officer.  Klingenschmitt is his e-mail makes the following explanation of his case in his e-mail:

CHAIRMAN OF JOINT CHIEFS DEMANDS HOMOSEXUALS LIE TO MILITARY

Tuesday the Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen deceived the Senate Armed Services Committee, repeating President Obama’s demand to repeal the “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) prohibition against open homosexual aggression within the ranks of the military.  “We have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens,” Admiral Mullen fibbed, revealing his personal belief that “allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do.”

First he claims that Admiral Mullen “deceived the Senate Armed Services Committee” by “repeating President Obama’s demand to repeal “the don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) prohibition against open homosexual aggression within the ranks of the military.”  If don’t ask, don’t tell was a “prohibition against homosexual aggression in the military” then the charge might have merit, but alas Gordon is serving up his own lie.  “Don’t ask don’t tell” was designed to protect homosexuals and allow them to serve in the military with the restriction that they could not openly admit that they are homosexual and to prevent commanders or others from asking if they are homosexual which then could be used against them in judicial, non-judicial and administrative procedures which leave them with a criminal record like Mr. Klingenschmitt and end their career.  It was never designed to protect the military from “homosexual aggression” as is charged by Mr. Klingenschmitt.  The fact that the nation’s top military officer supports allowing homosexuals to serve openly is lying by saying that don’t ask, don’t tell is a “policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they areis frankly insulting to any rational human being.  The policy indeed forces these men and women to daily hide a major part of who they are in order to serve.

Now here is where Mr. Klingenschmitt’s argument gets a little bit, oh well a lot loopy.  Instead of perusing any actual point of law in regard to the crime of lying to congress he goes into an anti-homosexual screed built around his theology which is taken loosely out of Romans Chapter One but even so incoherently argued that it makes your head spin.  It as if that he believes that his interpretation of scripture places him as the judge of Admiral Mullen or anyone, especially homosexuals who dare to disagree with him.  He then makes this incredibly ignorant statement of circular logic that says in short that homosexual man are trying to be women and homosexual women are trying to be men. You have to read this to believe it:

“Here’s a simple proof:  Men who were created by God with male body parts are not women, and they lie to themselves, the world, and their commanders when they pretend to be, and act like, women.  Women who were created by God with female parts are not men, and they lie to themselves, the world, and their commanders when they pretend to be, and act like, men.” So in other words if a gay person admits to being gay they are lying about who they are because they are pretending to be the opposite sex.

He then goes on:

“Mullen’s confused argument would permit men to deceptively act like women, and women to deceptively act like men, openly deceiving themselves, the world, and their military commanders, and boldface lying against God’s very truth, that He created men to be men, and women to be women.   But today’s confusing homosexual propaganda equates “honesty” with men openly flaunting their femininity, and “truthfulness” with women openly flaunting masculinity.   Who’s really telling God’s truth?”

Gordon states that: “Admiral Mullen’s confused argument…”  You have got to be kidding.  I don’t know any homosexual men on active duty who deceptively act like women and some of the homosexual men and women who are lesbians would surprise you, manly men and feminine women.  You see Gordon Klingenschmitt attempts to impose his beliefs on others and uses the basest of stereotypes to paint homosexual men as effeminate, when only some are and homosexual women as the classic “dyke” which again pandering to the basest of prejudice which seeks to all lesbians as the crudest stereotype imaginable.  He continues on in this vein for some time and it is not worth regurgitating here.

He then launches his attack loosely paraphrasing Romans One interspersed with his own commentary to buttress his charge that Admiral Mullen lied to Congress and that homosexuals are liars and that we need to help Senator McCain to “fight this open perversion, and protect our troops from open homosexual aggression…”  The attack is disingenuous and dishonorable, but then I would expect nothing less out of a man who has made a career out of defaming others and using bully tactics to attempt to force the Navy to let him do whatever he wants.

He then makes a vicious and yet nonsensical attack at Army Lieutenant Daniel Choi a West Point Graduate.

“CBS news interviewed homosexual Army Lt. Dan Choi, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point who currently faces discharge for publicly announcing he’s gay.

“I think it’s a very healthy thing for people to be able to tell the truth and to come to terms with who they are. I think it’s a sign of maturity,” Choi said, “At my very first day at West Point, I learned that the honor code says a cadet will not lie, will not tolerate those who lie,” said Choi. “They didn’t say that a cadet who was gay could lie whereas straight cadets didn’t have to lie.”

As a USAF Academy graduate knowing the honor code, I now personally confront Choi as a liar, who now openly violates his honor oath, since he deceives himself and the world, by claiming to be feminine, when God created him masculine, with a male body.  LIAR. Choi should immediately be thrown out of the Army, not merely for sexual perversion, but for DISHONESTY AND LYING.  The only reason he graduated West Point is that he never lied by openly claiming to be feminine while a cadet, when God created him to be masculine.  THIS PROVES DON’T ASK DON’T TELL IS THE MOST HONEST POLICY, because it encourages people with sexual perversions not to openly lie about their sexual identity.  But if DADT is repealed by Congress, men will claim to be women, and women will claim to be men, and the open season of dishonesty and lying will begin.”

Klingenschmitt once again uses the argument that Choi like other homosexuals is a liar because they are honest about their sexual identity.  Whether Klingenschmitt and the Klingenban agree with this or not we live in a free country.  We don’t live in Afghanistan or Iran where guys just like Klingenschmitt, only Moslem versions, preach the same hatred and use their religion as the law of the land.  Klingenschmitt though “Christian” is no different than the Taliban and if people like him were ever to assume control of the country we would discover what fun it is to live in a country where religious fanatics have the power of the gun to enforce their law.  Lieutenant Choi in my view whether one agrees with his sexual preference has demonstrated integrity, honor and devotion to his country and never in his protest against don’t ask, don’t tell slandered his superiors.  However I digress. Klingenschmitt who did not lie about being on a combat tour on USS Anzio his combat record pales in comparison to Choi a Military Academy graduate, son of a Korean Baptist minister, Arabic and Farsi translator and interpreter who served two combat tours as an infantry officer in Iraq before returning to the National Guard was discharged under don’t ask, don’t tell when he revealed his homosexuality.  Since then he has become an advocate for ending don’t ask, don’t tell.  Both are advocates for their cause but Choi has never offered public prayers for the death of his opponents or smeared the reputations of honorable men who were his superiors either before his discharge or after.

Klingenschmitt then recites a litany of reasons of why don’t ask don’t tell should not be ended.  His e-mail makes the following points:

“Four reasons: 1) Allowing open homosexuality especially hurts unit cohesion and would cost American lives in war, damaging the trust shared in close proximity, common sleeping quarters and showering facilities that are unavoidable in close combat.  2) Men and women do not share the same showers for obvious reasons, so why force men to share showers with openly homosexual men?  This fact alone would hurt recruiting.  3) The rampant spread of the HIV-AIDS virus contaminates the blood often shared by necessity on the battlefield.  Soldiers requiring blood-transfusions and medics would be immediately endangered.  4) “Gay promotion quotas” would soon be forced upon presently impartial promotion boards, causing a burdensome rise in sexually-charged “equal opportunity” complaints against commanders, especially those who offend gays by inadvertently speaking of their traditional Judeo-Christian faith.”

First he makes the charge of decreased unit cohesion and trust but most recent polls of military personnel do not bear this out. Yes some will not be comfortable with open homosexuals in the ranks. However as I have said it is about conduct, if the standards of how one conducts themselves toward other service members are enforced uniformly there will be few problems.  Shower facilities are an issue often thrown up by people like Klingenschmitt but there is no actual facts to back it up.  His misuse of AIDs and HIV being blood donors either in combat zones or outside of them is spurious. No one with AIDS or HIV is allowed to donate blood and military personnel regulations which I helped to draft in 1987-88 forbid the deployment of HIV positive people to areas that they cannot be treated or that could endanger their medical condition.  Since HIV and AIDS is not confined to the homosexual population and is not being spread rampantly as Klingenschmitt alleges the argument is a straw man.  Finally the charge that there would be homosexual quotas for promotion is also disingenuous.

Plainly speaking Klingenschmitt has no honor. He is an expert at distortion of the facts, misusing scripture and character assassination. He has since his first days in the Navy sought to enforce his brand of Christianity on his shipmates, peers and superiors. He lodged complaints against every commanding office that he served under and with his accomplices at World Net Daily engaged in every form of malicious conduct imaginable to include clandestine recording of the his superiors informing him of his court-martial charges.  His shipmates from USS Anzio have told me in person and in comments to this site of his intimidation tactics and bullying on that ship.  Following his discharge from the Navy he has engaged in a tactic called “imprecatory prayer” against a number of adversaries, praying for God’s judgment on them and that their days be few, a comment that he says is not a prayer for their early death but in the context of the entire scriptural passage (Psalm 109: 7-11) can only be read as such.

Klingenschmitt also quoted Elaine Donnelly of the “Center for Military Readiness” a right-wing organization that features Phylliss Schafly as a member of its board of advisors, that “it is unconvincing to hold up the small, dissimilar of foreign nations…as models for America’s forces.” Well since 25 nations including our closest allies, Britain, Canada, Australia, Israel, Germany and France as well of most of NATO whose soldiers both straight and gay serve alongside of ours in Afghanistan have allowed homosexuals to serve with little or no disruption in operations or efficiency I wonder what she is getting at.  Maybe its that she feels that American military personnel are less professional than our allies and would not behave professionally if we end don’t ask, don’t tell.  It is curious that I don’t see too many elected Republicans getting on the Klingenban bandwagon…huh… perhaps they know that a large majority of voters would find their support of Klingenschmitt’s crusade unpalatable and might react negatively to them if they oppose the change. 

I have posted a myriad of links to other things that this dangerous man has done here:

http://shamefulchaplain.blogspot.com/

http://pubrecord.org/religion/3355/ex-chaplain-offered-sacrifice-jesus/

http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org/press-releases/audio_recordings.html

http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2009/04/klingenschmitt_prays_for_death.php

http://blog.au.org/2007/04/05/a-matter-of-honor-the-truth-comes-out-about-former-chaplain-klingenschmitt/

http://undergroundunbeliever.blogspot.com/2009/04/continuing-tale-of-court-martialed-navy.html

http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=33868

http://faithfulprogressive.blogspot.com/2009/08/scaring-naive-christians-and-elderly.html

http://www.benedictionblogson.com/2009/04/28/the-imprecatory-prayer-of-gordon-james-klingenschmitt/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-rodda/conspiracy-theorist-milit_b_204948.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/09/AR2006010901812.html

http://scienceblogs.com/dispatches/2008/07/the_continued_absurdity_of_gor.php

http://bypi.blogspot.com/

http://hamptonroads.com/node/153451

http://www.britannica.com/bps/additionalcontent/18/25635760/ExChaplains-Boss-Says-Religious-Right-Tales-Inaccurate

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=389×6708951

http://www.religionnews.com/index.php?/rnstext/does_god_answer_prayers_to_do_someone_ill1/

The list can go on and on, these are but a few reports about Klingenschmitt so here are my own tributes to “Chaps” which are linked below:

https://padresteve.wordpress.com/2009/05/30/gordon-klingenschmitt-and-his-followers-the-klingenfraud-and-the-klingenban/

https://padresteve.wordpress.com/2009/08/08/oh-lord-stuck-in-lodi-again%E2%80%A6-gordon-klingenschmitt-does-lodi/

So with Klingenschmitt in the news it is right that his theological cousins in the Taliban, Iran’s President Ahamadinejad and the Mullahs seek to enforce the same standards of belief on their people as Klingenschmitt and the Klingenban seek to do here. He may be a “D-lister” but he serves an evil purpose and masquerades as a minister of light.  Klingenschmitt’s cause is not the redemption and reconciliation paramount in the Christian Gospel, but rather a twisted and hateful campaign of self promotion as he exalts not Jesus but himself and his political cause which he baptizes with Scripture verses.  This is not Waziristan and the Taliban and Al Qaeda are not in charge. Our founding fathers fought to prevent the United States from becoming a theocracy. While we cherish the role of religion in particular the Judeo-Christian tradition of this country we recognize that this is a pluralistic nation where no religion can impose its views simply because they believe that they are more correct than others and no-one including Gordon Klingenschmitt can issue a Fatwah stating otherwise.

Have fun with the links and spread the news that Gordon Klingenschmitt is coming to town.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Filed under faith, Lies of World Net Daily, Military, Political Commentary, Religion, US Navy

The Caine Mutiny: A Lesson in Leadership

“Now you’re learning, Willie. You don’t support your captain because you like him; you support because he’s got the job or you’re no good!” Jose Ferrer as Lieutenant Barney Greenwald

I write this after seeing a number of officers do some really dumb things in my 28 year career in the manner in which they supported their commanders or chain of command in trying times.  While none of these incidents could be described as mutiny they were certainly acts which undermined the chain of command, endangered the mission and had they occurred in a combat zone or in emergent conditions could have gotten soldiers or sailors killed.  The Caine Mutiny is a classic on leadership either in book or movie form.  I prefer the book but I am captivated by the performances of Humphrey Bogart and Jose Ferrer. In this essay I go through the movie and book and illustrate my point with quotations from it.

There has never been a mutiny on a United States Navy ship yet the book and later the movie The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk is one of the most poignant books on leadership in existence. The book gained popular success and was made into a movie in 1954 starring Humphrey Bogart, Van Johnson and Fred MacMurray, Jose Ferrer and Robert Francis.

The story centers around the officers or the wardroom of the USS Caine, an elderly Destroyer Minesweeper which had been in continuous combat in the South Pacific.  In the book she is a First World War One 1250 ton Wickes or Clemson class four piper.  In the movie she is played by the USS Thompson DD-627/DMS-38 a 2500 ton Gleaves class destroyer converted into a Destroyer Minesweeper since by the time the movie was made no “four pipers” were left in existence.  It took the film’s producers many months to convince the Navy to endorse the film because of the subject matter with the Navy only relenting when the producers agreed to place a disclaimer at the beginning of the film that there has never been a mutiny aboard a US Navy ship.

In the book and film the ship has returned to Pearl Harbor and in the process picked up a couple of newly assigned Ensigns fresh out of Officer Candidate School, what back in World War II were known as “90 Day Wonders.”  The young and impressionable Ensign Willis Seward Keith a Princeton grad and scion of old money and political contacts is one of those officers and while the story focuses on “Willie” Keith the true drama comes with the assignment of a new Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Phillip Francis Queeg, a career officer and Naval Academy graduate.  The Executive officer, Lieutenant Steve Maryk, another OCS officer from humble means is played by Van Johnson while Fred MacMurray plays the ship’s communications officer, Lieutenant Tom Keefer another reservist and a writer by trade who remarks early in the story: “There is no escape from the Caine, save death. We’re all doing penance, sentenced to an outcast ship, manned by outcasts, and named after the greatest outcast of them all.”


Keith is disappointed in his new assignment and his mother and uncle try to pull strings to have him assigned to an Admiral’s staff.  The initial commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander DeVriess questions the new officer on his feelings about being assigned to the Caine:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTt5iVP8-GM

DeVriess: Disappointed they assigned you to a minesweeper, Keith?
Keith: Well, sir, to be honest, yes, sir.
DeVriess: You saw yourself on a carrier, or a battleship, no doubt.
Keith: Yes, sir, I had hoped…
DeVriess: Well, I only “hope” that you’re good enough for the Caine.
Keith: I shall try to be worthy of this assignment, sir.
DeVriess: She’s not a battleship or a carrier; the Caine is a beaten-up tub. After 18 months of combat it takes 24 hours a day just to keep her in one piece.

Queeg on his arrival insists on strict military discipline on a ship that has little outward appearance of such qualities. He remarks to his officers: “Aboard my ship, excellent performance is standard, standard performance is sub-standard, and sub-standard performance is not permitted to exist – that, I warn you.” Keefer a malcontent with a cynical attitude about the Navy takes an immediate dislike of Queeg and goes out of his way to poison the wardroom against the new Captain and is aided by various quirky and even neurotic actions of the new commander.  In the next few months he creates an air of disrespect, distrust toward Queeg even to plant questions about Queeg’s sanity and emotional stability among his fellow officers, including the Executive Officer who begins a “medical log” on the Captain.  One remark when pushing the Executive Officer demonstrates how far he was willing to go in trying to plant the idea that the Captain is mentally ill: “Will you look at the man? He’s a Freudian delight; he crawls with clues!”


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TiGVMshkwrY&feature=PlayList&p=6E5FDB52D2DC4238&index=6

After a number of incidents Queeg attempts to reconcile with his officers who reject him but his words are true: “As I always say, a command is a lonely job. It isn’t easy to make decisions. Sometimes the captain of a ship needs help. And by help, I mean constructive loyalty. What I’m trying to say is, uh, a ship is like a family. We all have our ideas of right and wrong but we have to pitch in for the good of the family. If there was only some way we could help each other.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtqf0CCVUek

When the ship is caught in the great typhoon, sometimes known as “Halsey’s typhoon” which in actuality caused the loss of three destroyers and heavy damage to numerous ships, Queeg freezes on the bridge in a dispute with his officers over the action that needs to be taken.  Queeg wants to maintain the fleet course and speed while the bridge watch including the Executive Officer and Ensign Keith want him to steer an opposite course.  In the exchange Queeg apparently frozen by fear insists on following fleet course and when Queeg freezes relieve him under Article 184 of Naval Regulations.  The ship survives the storm and upon the ship’s return to San Francisco a Court Martial is convened charging Maryk and Keith with mutiny.

In the trial they are defended by Lieutenant Barney Greenwald, a lawyer in civilian life and Naval Aviator on convalescent leave. While the prosecution breaks Maryk and makes Keith look foolish Keefer aids the prosecution’s case to keep his reputation untarnished and after pushing his shipmates into mutiny leaves them to hang.  Greenwald then gets to work.  He pushes the psychiatrist who certified Queeg as sane and fit for duty hard planting doubts about the diagnosis:

“Doctor. You have testified that the following symptoms exist in Lieutenant-Commander Queeg’s behavior. Rigidity of personality, feelings of persecution, unreasonable suspicion, a mania for perfection, and a neurotic certainty that he is always in the right. Doctor isn’t there one psychiatric term for this illness?”

He then causes Queeg to have a breakdown on the witness stand.  The scene is dramatic as Queeg begins to fall apart:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9esAr7gLapE&feature=PlayList&p=6E5FDB52D2DC4238&index=12

“They were all disloyal. I tried to run the ship properly by the book, but they fought me at every turn. If the crew wanted to walk around with their shirttails hanging out, that’s all right, let them! Take the towline – defective equipment, no more, no less. But they encouraged the crew to go around, scoffing at me and spreading wild rumors about steaming in circles and then ‘Old Yellowstain.’ I was to blame for Lieutenant Maryk’s incompetence and poor seamanship. Lieutenant Maryk was the perfect officer, but not Captain Queeg. Ah, but the strawberries! That’s, that’s where I had them. They laughed at me and made jokes, but I proved beyond the shadow of a doubt, and with, with geometric logic, that, that a duplicate key to the wardroom icebox did exist. And I would have produced that key if they hadn’t pulled the Caine out of action. I, I know now they were only trying to protect some fellow officer. (He pauses – looks at all the questioning faces that stare back at him, and realizes that he has been ranting and raving.) Naturally, I can only cover these things from memory…”

The scene ends with everyone knowing that Maryk and Keith will be acquitted. Greenwald’s clients are exonerated but the story does not end there.  While the officers celebrate the acquittal a drunken Greenwald arrives announces that he feels guilty for “torpedoing Queeg” and excoriates the wardroom and brutally identifies Kiefer as the “author of the Caine mutiny” and makes very pointed comments that any officer would be wise to heed.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKeISsYKROI

Greenwald: When I was studying law, and Mr. Keefer here was writing his stories, and you, Willie, were tearing up the playing fields of dear old Princeton, who was standing guard over this fat, dumb, happy country of ours, eh? Not us. Oh, no! We knew you couldn’t make any money in the service. So who did the dirty work for us? Queeg did! And a lot of other guys, tough, sharp guys who didn’t crack up like Queeg.
Keith: But no matter what, Captain Queeg endangered the ship and the lives of the men.
Greenwald: He didn’t endanger anybody’s life! You did! All of you! You’re a fine bunch of officers.

Greenwald: Tell me, Steve, after the Yellowstain business, Queeg came to you guys for help and you turned him down, didn’t you?
Maryk: Yes, we did.
Greenwald: You didn’t approve of his conduct as an officer. He wasn’t worthy of your loyalty. So you turned on him. You ragged him. You made up songs about him. If you’d given Queeg the loyalty he needed, do you suppose the whole issue would have come up in the typhoon?

Greenwald: And now we come to the man who should have stood trial. The Caine’s favorite author. The Shakespeare whose testimony nearly sunk us all. Tell ’em, Keefer.
Keefer: No, you go ahead. You’re telling it better.
Greenwald: You ought to read his testimony. He never even HEARD of Captain Queeg!
Maryk: Let’s forget it, Barney.
Greenwald: Queeg was sick, he couldn’t help himself. But you, you’re real healthy. Only you didn’t have one-tenth the guts that he had.
Keefer: Except I never fooled myself, Mr. Greenwald.
Greenwald: I wanna drink a toast to you, Mr. Keefer. From the beginning you hated the Navy. And then you thought up this whole idea and you managed to keep your skirts nice and starched and clean, even in the court martial. Steve Maryk will always be remembered as a mutineer. But you, you’ll publish your novel, you’ll make a million bucks, you’ll marry a big movie star, and for the rest of your life you’ll live with your conscience, if you have any. Here’s to the real author of the Caine mutiny. Here’s to you, Mr. Keefer.
[Splashes wine in Keefer’s face]
Greenwald: If you wanna do anything about it, I’ll be outside. I’m a lot drunker than you are – so it’ll be a fair fight.

The movie ends with Keefer alone as his fellow officer leave the party and Keith receiving orders to a new destroyer commanded by Captain DeVriess.  However the book has another ending.  In it Keefer becomes the commanding officer of the Caine and Keith the XO. The ship is hit by a Kamikaze and Keefer loses his nerve and in a truly cowardly fashion abandons the ship and his crew leaving Keith to save the Caine which he does.

As a leader it is important to support the commanding officer, especially if he or she is going through a difficult time.  While this does not mean that subordinates should ignore illegal actions of a commander as the XO of a ship did recently resulting in his and the CO’s relief for cause, but officers from any service do not have the luxury of subverting their commander or chain of command based on any personal like, dislike or any ideological, political or religious agenda.  A prime example of the latter was former Chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt who waged a vicious campaign against every Commanding Officer that he worked for and the Navy in order to push his own political-religious views on his sailors and in the media.  There are certainly other examples but no to belabor the point I will end here.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Filed under History, leadership, world war two in the pacific

More Lies and Distortions from WorldNet Daily’s Bob Unruh

Note: It has been a good number of months since I have addressed the Lies of WorldNet Daily and it’s leadership Joe Farah and his designated hit man Bob Unruh. I stumbled across an article yesterday evening when my curser hit the Worldnet Daily link on my “favorites.” I seldom go there unless I think that they might be getting crazy, but this was accidental, or if I was a Calvinist possibly God’s will. Unfortunately late last night I saw an attack on a fellow officer by this influential “Conservative Christian” website.  The attack was gratuitous and directed at an officer currently serving in Afghanistan Major Brian Stuckert who as part of a military education course published a monograph which is in the public domain entitled “Strategic Implications of American Millennialism.” As I mentioned the last time that I wrote against something that Unruh and WND published that I would limit myself to military issues as I do in this article.  I try to ignore the folks at WND but feel in this case that that are again in the process of attempting to stir up opinion against an officer who has done nothing wrong but to disagree with their political-religious ideology. While the folks at WND and those like them have every right to their opinions an beliefs, which are defended by those of us in uniform, they are way out of line in this article and owe Major Stuckert an apology. Unfortunately the WND leadership doesn’t do this as is evidenced in their past treatment of the Commanding Officers of Gordon Klingenschmitt. These men have no honor and stoop to the basest means to attack those that disagree with their narrow point of view. Some will not like what I write. That is fair, I do not claim to be infallible not do I practice censoring those that disagree with me. But I will not let a fellow officer who is serving in a combat zone be the subject of an egregious attack by the folks at WND. If it were an attack by a “liberal” website I would feel the same way. The fact that it is a “conservative” website which claims to “support the troops” that attacks Major Stuckert and other military officers who disagree with their point of view only makes me angry.  Now to my response:

Just when you think it is safe to go in the water and just enjoy the Christmas season Joe Farah and the good folks at Worldnet Daily come out with another whopper to attempt to whip people up against those in the military with differing opinions than that of their own.  Written by noted propagandist Bob Unruh who helped spin the lies of former Navy Chaplain, defrocked Evangelical Episcopal Priest Gordon Klingenschmitt into a frenzy that had many Christians believe that the Navy was attempting to muzzle Klingenschmitt’s religious rights, the article takes aim at an monograph written by Army Major Brian Stuckert ( the link to Stuckert’s monograph is here: http://www.wnd.com/files/Millennial.pdf ) for the Advanced Military Studies program. Officers who attend courses such as this are often required to produce a research paper on a subject that deals with political, military and foreign policy topics to include how social, ideological or religious can impact military operations at the strategic and operational levels including effects on foreign policy and diplomacy.  The Worldnet Daily article is linked here:   http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=119315

Unruh in his usual manner has manipulated the facts to make it appear that Stuckert and the Army is attempting to silence what Unruh calls “Evangelical beliefs.”  In fact the title of the article U.S. Army Major: Lose evangelical Christian beliefs” is a straw man intentional thrown out by Unruh to chum the waters so to speak.  Unruh takes a research paper which he does not agree with and demonizes the writer.  These papers are akin to any research paper done for a graduate level academic program. They reflect the opinion of the author and not the institution.  Like all papers of this type they have to be evidenced based, in other words the author has to have data to show that his hypothesis and conclusions actually are not simply whims but have impact in the world in which the writer serves and for the topic that he or she addresses.  One does not have to agree with them and in fact in the future other officers might actually write articles to refute what Stuckert says.  This is an academic program and as such differing points of view are sought.

Instead of just leaving this be both Unruh and undoubtedly Joe Farah is using this article to again whip up the faithful against any idea that might contradict their political-religious views.  Stuckert has criticized the foundational philosophy of the Worldnet Daily leadership that of Pre-millennial Dispensationalist theology which does have very real foreign policy implications for the United States.   As such Stuckert’s article is important because it draws attention to how Pre-Millennial Dispensationalist effects how many Americans view the world and international relations to include how such beliefs can influence policy making.  Stuckert’s premise is found in his abstract:

“Since the beginning of the Republic, various forms of millennial religious doctrines, of which dispensational pre-millennialism is the most recent, have shaped U.S. national security strategy. As the dominant form of millennialism in the U.S. evolves, it drives changes in U.S. security policy and subsequent commitment of the instruments of national power. Millennial ideas contribute to a common American understanding of international relations that guide our thinking irrespective of individual religious or political affiliation. Millennialism has great explanatory value, significant policy implications, and creates potential vulnerabilities that adversaries may exploit.”

This is a fair characterization of the effect of pre-millennial dispensational theology on American national thought.  Thus it is fair to examine its effect on current policy both foreign and domestic.

Instead of taking Stuckert’s observations and critiques for what they are Unruh and his co-conspirators turn this into a conspiracy of people in the Army and government against true Christians. In the usual manner Unruh quotes someone that he agrees with on the article: Unruh quotes John McTernan a writer on Biblical Prophecy who says that Stuckert’s article is “the most dangerous document to believers that I have ever read in my entire life” and “After reading this document, it is easy to see the next step would be to eliminate our Constitutional rights and herd us into concentration camps.”

I am sorry, this is beyond reason: “eliminate our Constitutional rights and herd us into concentration camps?  That is nothing more than propaganda. In fact it is delusional paranoia designed implicitly to scare people and move them further into WorldNet Daily’s orbit turning good people against honest and decent military officers.  Unruh did this with Klingenschmitt in grand fashion through character assassination of Captain Carr, Klingenschmitt’s Commanding Officer on USS Anzio and Captain Pyle, the Commanding Officer of Naval Station Norfolk.  This got so bad regarding Captain Pyle, a conservative evangelical Christian of the Assemblies of God denomination that he was ostracized by his own church and demonized by the Christians who were the closest to his theological views.  It was shameful; people still believe the lies about Klingenschmitt spewed by the WorldNet Daily crowd.  Now they attack an Army Major who is serving in combat in Afghanistan.  Such conduct is beyond crude and unseemly, it is dishonest, disingenuous and dishonorable.

Unruh, no stranger to such behavior ends his article with a totally unrelated reference to the terrorist who killed 13 and wounded many others at Fort Hood just a month ago.  Major Stuckert’s article was published in 2008 and has nothing to do with the actions of Major Hasan.  The implication is that Stuckert supports the traitorous terrorist Hasan. This is another disingenuous attempt to link someone who disagrees with them with terrorists or other extremists.  Such behavior by alleged “journalists” is simply dishonest and to use a term from American history is “Yellow Journalism.”

The conduct of WorldNet Daily and in particular Bob Unruh is shameful and shows none of the graces associated with true Christian faith. Lying and mischaracterizing what others say and demonizing them in apocalyptic terms is not Christian behavior. It is crass cynical propaganda and WorldNet Daily is one of the worst offenders around.  Unfortunately these people are vicious in their attacks.  The article talks of “losing evangelical beliefs” however many evangelicals either oppose or have out rightly condemned pre-Millennial Dispensationalist as heresy. Yet many pre-millennial dispensationalists, especially the type found at WorldNet Daily effectively write off all evangelicals who do not hold to one of their several Rapture theories: “All people who believe the Bible believe in a Rapture” Mark Hitchcock “What Jesus Says About Earth’s Final Days” (p. 96).  This is just one example of how this camp views other Christians. If you do not believe in the Rapture as they define it you do not believe the Bible. The deduction is that Christians believe the Bible, you disagree with the Rapture, and you don’t believe the Bible and are thus not a Christian.

Even Prominent Evangelicals such as A. W. Pink (1886-1952) have disagreed with the tenants of Dispensationalism:

“Dispensationalism is a device of the enemy, designed to rob the children of no small part of that bread which their heavenly Father has provided for their souls; a device wherein the wily serpent appears as an angel of light, feigning to “make the Bible a new book” by simplifying much in it which perplexes the spiritually unlearned. It is sad to see how widely successful the devil has been by means of this subtle innovation.”

Many conservative Christian churches and individuals do not hold this position; in fact to take the view of Unruh is to assume that Stuckert is attacking Evangelical Christianity.  Stuckert is not doing so, he is simply critiquing one of several competing Christian Eschatological theories and how its influence helps shape US foreign policy and the worldview of many Americans.  He asserts that such beliefs when not recognized by those that propagate them can leave the United States vulnerable to our enemies, nothing more, nothing less. In fact Stuckert is careful to differentiate the various factions in what is considered by some radical secularists to be a monolithic “Evangelical” movement.

“Millennialism, and especially dispensational pre-millennialism, derives in large part from extraordinary literalism of even the most figurative passages of the Bible. In America, literalism in biblical interpretation is most closely associated with fundamentalism. Theologically, it is best to begin a discussion of American millennialism with a brief review of fundamentalism as the term applies to the contemporary American religious tradition. Fundamentalism is a frequently misunderstood term in America. Although it has connections to each, fundamentalism is distinct from evangelicalism, the charismatic movement or conservative Christianity in general. Fundamentalism is also poorly understood when we attempt to define it as a personality style, a form of militancy, or a particular worldview.” (Stuckert pp. 6-7)

Stuckert is fair in this; to not admit that religious, ideological or philosophical views do not serve is “filters” as McTernan and Unruh seem loathe doing is simply wrong. To understand the prism of how religious, ideological and other beliefs can influence worldview and decision making is important. This is what Stuckert does as pre-millennial dispensationalism is one of the major shapers of American thought; not only for Fundamentalist Christians but anyone who follows the popular fictional writings of Tim LaHaye’s Left Behind series.

Stuckert continues his monograph by discussing the importance of how Christian Fundamentalists view the Bible and the influence of pre-millennial eschatology on American political thought and foreign policy.   Since the popularized version of this eschatology influences the way that many Americans view the world it is appropriate that the effects of it be analyzed by those who study foreign and domestic policy. In his summery and conclusions Stuckert makes an erudite observation that is lost on many people:

“Because religion in America directly impacts policy, military leaders and planners must learn to recognize the tenets and implications of American millennial thought. Millennialism has always been a feature of the American culture and has shaped not only the objectives of U.S. government policy, but also the way in which we interpret the words and actions of other actors on the international stage. Millennial ideas contribute to a common American understanding of international relations that guide our thinking regardless of individual religious or political affiliation. Millennialism has great explanatory value, significant policy implications, and creates potential vulnerabilities that adversaries may exploit. By gaining insight into and embracing intellectual honesty where our own prejudices and proclivities are concerned, we can greatly improve the quality and clarity of our decision-making.” (Stuckert pp. 58-59)

Unruh “cherry picks” what he wants from Stuckert’s monograph in order to paint Stuckert as some kind of anti-Christian officer.  The use of McTernan’s claims to buttress his article shows how biased that Unruh as since McTernan’s livelihood is based on writing books and speaking about Bible prophecy from a pre-millennial dispensational point of view.  He claims to be a “student of American history” but has no academic credentials save a BA from Virginia Commonwealth University in an unnamed field. He has no military experience, no education in military or political theory other than what he may have learned on his own “study” and is in no position to be a legitimate critic of Major Stuckert’s work.  McTernan claims that the “last third (of Stuckert’s work) is an interpretation of Bible belief on world events. “This report blames all the world evils on believers! World peace would break out if it were not for Bible believers in America.” In fact it says no such thing.  It is not a “report” as McTernan calls it, but simply the equivalent of a graduate level thesis. This is nothing but a hit piece on a fellow officer who disagrees with McTernan and the crowd at WorldNet Daily.  McTernan talks about an argument that he had with Colonel Stefan Banack of the School for Advanced Military Studies who McTernan attacks:

“The conversation was extremely heated between us, and he hid behind the freedom of speech to produce it. He refused to let me write an article to refute this attack on Bible believers. He refused to tell me what this study was used for and who within the military was sent copies. I believe that it represents an official military view of Bible believers as Col. Banack said there was no study or article refuting this one.”

The fact that these papers are in the public domain and on the center’s website makes no difference to McTernan. He attempts to paint this is a some kind of conspiracy against Evangelical Christians when in fact it is the equivalent of an academic thesis in a Masters Degree program.  The fact that he says that Colonel Banack “hid behind the freedom of speech to produce it” sends a chilling message. Freedom of speech for McTernan goes only for McTernan not for those who disagree with him. Likewise McTernan uses the refusal of Colonel Banack to allow him to “refute this attack on Bible believers” is a red-herring. The School’s academic publications are for students to publish not for people with no standing in the military to use the platform to propagate their beliefs.  Mr. McTernan to my knowledge is not a student at the Advanced Military Studies program and would not be using the forum for actual academic debate but to advance his own cause which he does on his own website without any restriction.

So once again WorldNet Daily drops a whopper on its readers and attacks the character beliefs and academic thought of a military officer. Their conduct in this is much more like the Taliban and the Iranian Ayatollah’s than anyone who claims to value the right to freedom of speech and religion as they do. Like the early Puritans who came to the New World for “religious freedom” the only religious freedom or freedom of speech that Unruh, Farah and other like them value is their own. Those who dissent from their narrow understanding of eschatology stand condemned as do those who ask legitimate questions about the policy implications of their belief system. If they were ever to be in a position to impose their beliefs in this country men like Major Stuckert and probably yours truly would be persecuted.

Although I am but a “pip-squeak” in comparison to the WorldNet Daily behemoth but I cannot let a fellow officer who is serving in harm’s way be the subject of a gratuitous attack by these people. May God keep Major Stuckert and those he serves with in harm’s way safe and may they accomplish the mission that they have been sent to do.  As far as WorldNet Daily goes…I hope that they continue to have the freedom to speak in the manner that they would deny to those who disagree with them, especially those who serve in the uniform of the United States of America in harm’s way.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Filed under Foreign Policy, Lies of World Net Daily, Military, national security

Oh Lord Stuck in Lodi Again….Gordon Klingenschmitt does Lodi

gjkGordon Klingenschmitt after his Court-Martial Conviction (Virgina Pilot Photo)

Just about a year ago, I set out on the road,
Seekin’ my fame and fortune, lookin’ for a pot of gold.
Things got bad, and things got worse, I guess you will know the tune.
Oh ! Lord, Stuck in Lodi again.

“O Lord Stuck in Lodi Again” Credence Clearwater Revival, words and music by John Fogarty

Failed Navy Chaplain defrocked Evangelical Episcopal Priest, Convicted Criminal, Right Wing D-Lister and narcissistic professional protester Gordon James “Chaps” Klingenschmitt pops up in the most unlikely of places.   If it was not pathetic it would be really funny.

The reason that I write this today is irony of  Gordon getting stuck in Lodi and the my relationship to Lodi.  You see Gordon showed up at yet another protest in a small town to battle a city council about people praying “in Jesus Name” as part of official city events such as city council meetings.  The city is Lodi California, just up the road from where I went to junior and senior high school, where I got my one high school football tackle in a real game and where my dad is finishing his days in a nursing home going through the ravages of end-stage Alzheimer’s disease.  Lodi is a small town, with historic German and Italian communities which is famous for wines and sits in the heart of the San Joaquin valley.  It is the home of the very popular Lodi Grape Festival. It was a pretty conservative town; well let’s say it used to be a town that had strong ties to the John Birch Society and other ultra-conservative organizations.  It was not very welcoming to outsiders and minorities.  Well times are changing in Lodi.  It mow has significant Hispanic and Asian populations as well as other minorities including Moslems.  Lately tension has been building and once again a battle is going on about faith in the public square.

nuke the whales

Now I’m an easy guy.  I really don’t get offended by anyone praying in whatever name they choose to do so as long as they are respectful of others and don’t try to use the government to promote or enforce their particular religious views on others.  Unfortunately this happens all of the time and people who do it world-wide to be on the more evangelical and fundamental wings of their religion.  Personally  I wish the climate were such that anyone of any faith could pray in whatever name that they chose to do without everyone  getting their BVD’s in a wad.

opus & krishna

Until the advent of the Moral Majority and other conservative Christian political-social activist groups there was an understanding in the United States of getting along in the public square.  Protestant-Catholic-Jew we were all Americans.  Only groups such as the Ku Klux Klan had problems with this.  Our tolerance extended to others who came to this country as immigrants resulting in what was called the “Melting Pot.”  We were an amazing society and our ability to have people of widely differing religious and political beliefs living together in peace was the envy of the rest of the world.

Our societal demographics have changed.  Minority populations have increased and with them a corresponding increase of religions which were not part of the historical “Protestant-Catholic-Jew” paradigm of American religious and cultural life.  This has brought about a clash between the more conservative and fundamental Christians who see this as a threat to the United States being a “Christian Nation” and undercutting its historical and cultural foundation.  My purpose here is not to argue that at all.  I can see the positive benefits of and want to maintain the underlying western cultural foundation of our country. At the same time I want others to enjoy the right to practice their own religion freely and not have individuals of any religion use the government to enforce their religious or non-religious beliefs on others.  I think what made us such a great country was our ability work through these things peacefully.  The greatest example in my mind of religious people working together were the “Four Chaplains” of the troopship Dorchester when it was torpedoed by a German U-Boat in 1943. There were two Protestants, a Catholic Priest and a Jewish Rabbi on the ship.  At the time most Protestants either did not believe Catholics to be Christians and saw them as an Alien and possibly hostile religion. Catholics had not yet admitted that Protestants were “separated brethren” and Jews where just kind of tolerated.   When the ship was torpedoed and began to sink there were not enough life jackets.  So the chaplains gave theirs to soldiers in need and were last seen praying with arms linked as the ship went down.  Such actions as this are what made our country great.  We need men and women like the Four Chaplains and not Gordon “Chaps” Klingenschmitt.  On a side note to this you can call me a heretic but I doubt that God is sending any one of these men to hell because they did not fit somebody’s theology of how someone is saved when they died doing what Jesus said: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13 NIV)  I think anyone who has served in combat understands this better than people who enjoy the fruit of liberty without ever having paid more than taxes for it.

four chaplainsThe Four Chaplains

I have served in an ecumenical setting with a wide variety of ministers for almost twenty years.  In the setting that I work mutual respect of each other as clergy, respect and toleration of differing views are essential to ensuring that those who serve together in war are not trying to kill each other in peace.  For the most part we do this pretty well and it is a joy to serve with clergy from different faiths and care for God’s people regardless of their faith.  I heard the story of a man who is a bishop in his church who when he was in Navy basic training received a phone call from his mother at the administrative office.  While talking to her she died.  He credits a Jewish Chaplain with caring for him and helping him through that difficult time.  When my dad was deployed to Vietnam and I had a Sunday school teacher tell me that he was a “baby killer” it was a Roman Catholic Navy Chaplain that cared for me and my family and helped me not give up my faith and a Latter Day Saint (Mormon) Chaplain who ensured that I didn’t get thrown out of the Army in Chaplain School due to my big mouth and temper.  In none of these cases did the clergyman attempt to use the opportunity of crisis to convert us or to denigrate our faith.  Unfortunately this is what Gordon did in his Navy career and other like him do in whatever environment the live and serve.

What I see happening today is that the extremes, be they religious fundamentalists or all varieties, strident secularists or aggressive atheists all want the government to enforce their beliefs on everyone else. Such is a recipe for disaster.  One only has to look to Nazi Germany, Theocratic Iran, Saudi Arabia, the former Yugoslavia and the ex-Soviet Union and post invasion Iraq to see what happens when one group or another chooses to use the government or violence to enforce or propagate their religious, political, social or racial beliefs on others.  Having been to the Balkans and Iraq I have seen the results of this.  If you go to the Rhine River Valley in Germany you can still see the ruins of castles destroyed during the 30 years war, a war based on governments using religion or region using government to enforce their will on others.  We are now seeing a rise in private militia groups and others who are arming themselves for conflict.  Likewise there are those stoking the fire by urging secession or even revolt and these include people who call themselves Christians.  A current of discontent kind of like the toxic sludge under New York in Ghostbusters II is bubbling under our feet and is now beginning to burst to the surface as people from the left and right clash at their Congressional representative’s town hall meetings.  The fact that these are turning violent means that we are crossing a line that we may not be able to turn back from.  Voices of moderation and those seeking compromise, accommodation and tolerance are being drowned out, just as they were in Wiemar Germany when Nazis and Communists battled in the streets and attempted to take over the power of government.

Now I do see how people can feel threatened when there is rapid sociological and demographic change in a country.  So in some ways I can understand why people are protesting in Lodi.  My problem is that the leaders of this “movement” are fringe players using fear to fan the flames of their cause.  This is the case with Klingenschmitt who has routinely obfuscated, distorted and spun things to promote a fiction that he has been persecuted for his beliefs when in fact he was constantly using his public office to promote himself, his personal (not even his church’s) beliefs and denigrate those of others while giving lip service to toleration.  Since being convicted by court-martial, not for “praying in Jesus Name” but for disobeying a lawful order not to speak at a partisan political event, Klingenschmitt has constantly painted himself as a victim of persecution and spokesman for a movement. In doing so he has engaged in character assassination of former commanding officers and command chaplains and launched a campaign of “imprecatory prayer” (prayers of harm and judgment) upon his opponents.  I am sure that he has significant financial benefactors who make these possible; benefactors who share his goals of a Christian theocracy among them the Ultra-conservative “News” site World Net Daily.

The irony and sadness of Gordon’s trip to Lodi is that like the character in the song Oh Lord, Stuck in Lodi Again he is stuck and will unfortunately pursue this until he destroys himself, his families and others.  Unfortunately, Gordon and those like him as well as his opposites on the extreme left are leading us to destruction as a society unless the moderate majority that wants to live in peace begins to stand up before it is too late. God help us all and bless our Great Country.

Peace, Steve+

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Filed under History, Lies of World Net Daily, Loose thoughts and musings, philosophy, Religion

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