Monday, October 3, 2011

The Military Freedom Foundation Drops A Bomb On The Air Force Academy

There is a serious reason this billboard was put up in the middle of downtown Colorado Springs, home of the US Air Force Academy.

I am a believer in a phenomenon called synchronicity.  So Saturday when I'm checking for comments which need moderation, I come across one for a posting I did back in 2009 on a nuclear submarine commander who stated on a national game show that he was an "undersea nuclear Christian warrior".  He was also a submarine commander.  I'm thinking to myself something was prompting me to review this post at this time, and that led me to check out the website Talk2Action.  T2A has a long history of exposing Christian supremacy advocates within the US military.  It is closely aligned with the group Military Religious Freedom Foundation.  Which brings me to the above billboard strategically dropped in downtown Colorado Springs, and the US Air Force Academy.

The billboard contains the entire memorandum issued by Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz on "Maintaining Government Neutrality Regarding Religion."  Readers can probably read the title in the photo of the billboard.  MRFF paid for the billboard.  They took this step because this memo was issued on September 1st to all Air Force commands and units, but the Air Force Academy did not release it to cadets and staff until two days after the billboard went up.  Hmmmm.  How synchronistic is that?  That's what the Academy is essentially claiming, that the presence of the billboard and the tardy issue of a command directive were coincidental.  For the record, I don't believe in that much synchronicity.

Why would the Chief of Staff of the Air Force feel the need to issue this directive, I wondered.  I found out why reading the above linked Chris Rodda article at T2A.  The following excerpts are from a July 27, 2011 article on Truth Wins Out:

UPDATE: Following the publication of this exclusive report, the Air Force suspended its war ethics training for nuclear missile officers. (Interesting update, given the body of the article.)

The United States Air Force has been training young missile officers about the morals and ethics of launching nuclear weapons by citing passages from the New Testament and commentary from a former member of the Nazi Party, according to documents obtained exclusively by Truthout.

The mandatory Nuclear Ethics and Nuclear Warfare session, which includes a discussion on St. Augustine's "Christian Just War Theory," is led by Air Force chaplains and takes place during a missile officer's first week in training at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

St. Augustine's "Qualifications for Just War," according to the way it is cited in a PowerPoint presentation, are: "to avenge or to avert evil; to protect the innocent and restore moral social order (just cause)" and "to restore moral order; not expand power, not for pride or revenge (just intent)."

The Air Force documents were released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and provided to Truthout by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), a civil rights organization. MRFF President Mikey Weinstein said more than 30 Air Force officers, a majority of whom describe themselves as practicing Protestants and Roman Catholics, have contacted his group over the past week in hopes of enlisting him to work with the Air Force to have the Christian-themed teachings removed from the nuclear weapons ethics training session. [Full disclosure: Weinstein is a member of Truthout's Board of Advisers.]......

 ......One of the slides quotes Wernher Von Braun, a former member of the Nazi Party and SS officer. Von Braun, regarded as the father of the US space program, is not being cited as a scientific expert, rather he's specifically being referenced as a moral authority, which is remarkable considering that the Nazi scientist used Jews imprisoned in concentration camps and captured French anti-Nazi partisans and civilians to help build the V-2 rocket, a weapon responsible for the death of thousands of British civilians.

"We knew that we had created a new means of warfare and the question as to what nation, to what victorious nation we were willing to entrust this brainchild of ours was a moral decision [emphasis in document] more than anything else," Von Braun said upon surrendering to American forces in May 1945. "We wanted to see the world spared another conflict such as Germany had just been through and we felt that only by surrendering such a weapon to people who are guided by the Bible could such an assurance to the world be best secured." [emphasis in document] (The alternative for Von Braun and others was a scientific gulag in the Soviet Union, a most likely much bigger reason than working for 'those who are guided by the Bible'.)

Then we have this further along in the article:

 ....One Air Force officer currently on active duty, who spoke to Truthout on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with the media, said he was trained as a missile officer in 2001 and vividly recalls how the chaplain leading the training session on the ethics of launching nuclear weapons said, "the American Catholic Church and their leadership says it's ok in their eyes to launch nukes."....

No, that's not the American Catholic position, much less the Roman Catholic position, but what's a little exaggeration and confusion for the Evangelical Christian right?  Finally there is this quote:

....Former Air Force Capt. Damon Bosetti, 27, who attended missile officer training in 2006 and was stationed at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, Montana, said he and his colleagues used to call the religious section of the ethics training the "Jesus loves nukes speech."

"What I went through in 2006 didn't have that level of inappropriateness in it, but it was still strongly religious," he said of the PowerPoint presentation the Air Force now uses for training missile officers.
Bosetti, who is represented by MRFF, said he believes the intent of quoting Bible passages was to make officers feel "comfortable" about launching nuclear weapons and signing a legal document stating they had "no moral qualms" about "turning the key" if ordered to do so."

I have actually been down in one of the Malmstrom Command centers shepherded by young officers like Captain Bosetti.  I was in college at the time, but I remember vividly seeing the two good looking young officers with sidearms strapped to their waists.  As we were coming back up my mother commented on this seemingly weird fact. "Why would they need guns down here?"  I replied I thought it was to shoot each other if one failed to turn his key.  "Ohhhh, that's really sad." said my mother.  I have a very strong feeling the "Jesus loves nukes" speech has more than one justification in mind.

Now back to the Air Force Academy, whose commander did not see fit to release the directive on religious neutrality until September 21st.  The MRFF has had an ongoing battle with the Academy and it's overtly evangelical Christian religiosity for years.  One should never over look the fact that Colorado Springs is also the central clearing house for New Apostolic Reformation outlets and publishing houses.  The most prominent of the outlets is Focus On The Family.  Colorado Springs is frequently referred to as the Vatican of the NAR.

That this Christian supremacy movement has made strong and disturbing inroads into the academy is a very disturbing fact and that this is mirrored throughout our military should cause grave concern to all Americans.  It seems some of our military are being given a rational to shoot on any population and this is being fostered through the command structure--to the point the Commander of the Air Force Academy saw fit not to release this critical memorandum from his Supreme headquarters until he was forced to by a billboard.

My concern is not just with the corruption of our military, it is also for the well being of our own Catholic kids. Kids who are feeling seriously threatened.  I will end this with a quote from an email sent to Mikey Weinstien, head of the MRFF:

Mr. Weinstein, my cadet roommate (cadet name and rank withheld) told me last night that one of his friends and classmates was in a class yesterday afternoon in Fairchild when another cadet in the class by the name of (cadet name and rank withheld) was telling people in the class that the only reason that Military Religious Foundation put up the billboard was to attack Christianity at the Academy. Another cadet challenged that statement and the cadet who said it responded by saying that you only put the billboard up because "It's a Jewish thing, a money thing. He's just crucifying Christ again for the same 20 pieces of silver." I'm sorry to pass this on. I am not Jewish. I am Catholic and face the same pressure to convert to being a "complete Christian" all the time. All I can say is that none of us knew anything about General Schwartz's letter until sometime on Wednesday morning which is the day after you put the sign up in the Springs. Thanks for all you do for all of us here at the Academy. If you want to hear more my class schedule is very tough today and I have alot of GR's and some papers due but my cell number is (cadet's cell number withheld). What the leadership has done with General Schwartz's letter is real messed up. We see the lies. They hate you guys here. But many of us don't.

Thank God for Mikey Weinstein and the MRFF.




  1. Mikey Weinstein came to speak at a temple in my town, and he gave an excellent presentation. He is absolutely right about the dangers the dominionists in the military pose to their fellow service members and the democratic governance of the U.S..

  2. This could never happen in the UK - we are far too secular for that. And a good thing too, IMO.

  3. This is the sort of thing that should get all Americans to wake up and maybe the UN to get involved, get this exposed to end this dangerous and Satanic justification for wiping people off the face of the earth. This is the sort of story that gets my heart thumpin' real fast, as if on a roller coaster ride. I've got to take deep breaths to just read on.

    Nuclear weapons need to be dismantled everywhere. There really is no Christian justification for nuclear weapons. period. imho


  4. Problem is using 'satanic' language plays into their game. It's not about Satan, It's about people actually eating the fruit. We keep eating the fruit of knowledge without admitting we don't have the wisdom to know what to do with the knowledge. We humans do it all the time in all scientific disciplines. Unfortunately our religions do not in general add to the wisdom pool.

  5. FWIW: In my Air Force career [I retired in 2010], I never saw anything overtly religious on the job. Of course I also did not run into many academy grads; and I was enlisted, not commissioned. IMHO, while the dominionists are making the Air Force Academy look bad, it really doesn't show a terribly full picture of what the religious make-up of the Air Force is. The Air Force does encourage its members to follow some sort of religious/spiritual path. But I never felt they were trying to direct anyone down a particular path. The academy is a training environment - not real-world blue suit Air Force. I'd imagine that once some of those dominionist-type academy grads get into the real Air Force, they will learn more real-world pragmatism on the matter.

  6. Well, I wasn't using "satanic' language. Nor do I desire to play into their game. Your comment does not help colkoch. I would suggest some more clarification on your part as to the concept of "satan" or satanic" or the one who tempted Jesus.

    I do agree with you that our religions do not in general add to the wisdom pool. There are many within those religions who have contributed to the wisdom pool.

  7. colkoch, your method of communication sometimes is abusive. Perhaps you need to be aware of that. And speaking of people as "we humans" seems pompous. You are also not specific but speak in generalities. If you are used to speaking to only groups of us "humans" and cannot recognize that one size does not fit all, that seems like not knowing how to use the wisdom you have with the knowledge you have.

  8. I, if anyone, I have been the one to use Satanic-like language in that I have mentioned many times the darkness of the leadership of the RCC. I believe that darkness stemming from authoritarian opinion emanating from religious leaders has at times lead civil leadership toward wrong mindedness, and toward a lack of factually based action. The example of the RCC Episcopacy if anything leads toward a civil darkness that could include some of the political policies involving nuclear devices, weapons and electric plants as well as of decent social justice policy. It has lead to a boarder line mentality of authoritarian stupidity toward the ethics of scientific and medical discovery. (In particular the medical exploration of stem cells in the United States.) So I very much agree that most western religions are not adding much to wisdom and/or ethical standards. I believe that civil society has produced by far more ethical advances than have the churches and that western religion particularly at this stage of evolution of knowledge are particularly not helpful to scientists, philosophers, ethicists, historians or mothers and fathers.

    I do not agree that man lacks wisdom in what to do with knowledge but I do believe that the lack of understanding the harmful effects of greed, avarice and envy are much more the problem. I can not understand why religions have not attempted to delineate and explain the harmful nature of these capital sins. The RCC in the U.S. has many bishops that even support the greedy parts of capitalism instead of attempting to explain these sins to their people, they have encouraged grave amoral behaviors.
    It doesn't take much to see a dark side in the Vatican. Reading Hans Kung or Yallum's book concerning JP 1 adds much evidence and are good places to begin.
    (cont to next page)

  9. I have not, however, seen Colleen as abusive as I have disagreed with her frequently and always received respectful replies. I do not however see Satanic language in Butterfly's recent note. If anyone is guilty of finding a dark side it is me. I neither define it as the devil or evil. However, the dark side I am referring to is every bit as dark as the Emperor Palpatine. It is in fact the darkside of authoritarianism that I view all too prevalent in both religious and civil leaders. If out religious leaders were truly Christ-like, much more could be expected of them. In many ways these religious leaders can not even be defined as Christian. The dark side seems to me to be a more appropriate metaphor as they claim to have moral authority as they currently live with a very large degree amorality.

    I recently heard a right wing radio host discussing a doctor that told a women she must fatten up her Leukemia ridden child with french fries and rice and agree to chemotherapy. This host them referred to a social worker who took the child from the mother of five for endangerment. Well there is darkness in this presentation. I highly doubt that the host was giving enough of the story for anyone to understand many facts and this host’s purpose was probably one of degrading authoritative figures who have pursed lives of learning and attempts to help others. He actually made comments that all doctors and social workers are the big societal problem. This host is also a devout traditional Roman Catholic. His approach is also very Roman Catholic-like in that he uses authoritarian methods in his presentation of ideas. There is indeed a dark side in society and there always has been one. The real question is how to we progress and evolve into something better. If we look back 500 years, I think there has been more progress than harm in the knowledge man has gained. Wisdom will only come to men and women who can come to understand the harm in their own personal narcissistic attitudes. We have come a way forward over the centuries but we are not at this time on a forward push. I hope that for our own growth and development as humans, we can learn the necessity of finding the great gifts of creativity and growth inside more of us than not. This is the struggle with each of us both individually and as a society. Some times we must see the dark side in each of us and try to understand our own failings and wrongmindedness. dennis

  10. I am puzzled by the satanic language reference and the claim of abuse. It is not clear than Anon and Butterfly are the same person.

    Does "satanic" refer to the military's destructive mission? Is it satanic for a fundamental religious group to coopt the military? Is it satanic for the New Apostolic Reformation and Focus on the Family to give its blessing to killing of all sorts? Would it be better to follow the more considered and nuanced position of the Roman Catholic theory of "Just War"?

    This is no idle chatter. The Bush years marked a rejection of traditional ethical thought on war. PJ2 condemned the Iraq war. The American bishops were very weak in their opposition to it. (Their decline in moral authority is not just the result of teachings on sex.) In 2007 the USCCB issued a statement, far too late, on the morality of the US invading forces leaving Iraq. Duped again.

    To me, it appears the military has two reasons to be concerned. First, in their desire to find moral cover for an immoral "preventive" war the military welcomed a tighter relationship with the religious right. They're stuck with all that now.

    Secondly, to pick up on Colleen's "A Bomb" reference, the military must be rethinking their entire approach to war. They've got an enormous investment in obsolete technology, strategy and tactics. Funding for the strategy of asymmetrical military domination is not sustainable.

    Ultimately the Bush wars will be priced about $3 trillion dollars, but they may end up costing America its way of life.


  11. What is satanic language? Was it Jesus saying to Peter "Get Behind Me Satan."?? Was Jesus using Satanic language?

    Is Colleen saying that if Christians (who are brainwashed) in the military are being taught that it's fine and dandy and moral and all to push a nuclear button when their "Christian" handler tells them to-in direct contradiction or the absence of such an order from the REAL leaders in the military.... that in trying to resolve this issue now that using what she referred to as 'satanic' language, would not make a dent in the discussion or in teaching a way to preventing such an event.... ?

    I have never heard of the expression "satanic language." Is this a new concept or something?

    What approach then could one use to dealing with those in the military who are taught by dominionist religious wackos to override the chain of command?

    Perhaps Colleen meant that a "religious" reference to Satan would not work? That a different use of words would open the heart and mind?

    I'd be real concerned if in the military as a commander that orders from the real chain of command were diverted further down the chain and/or there was a branch of pseudo-religious growing separate from the main trunk of command.


  12. I'll contribute some more thoughts on this. Also, the military consists of many branches and it has more branches now than during WWII or even during the Vietnam War. We also have other branches now such as Homeland Security. Is it possible that the military believes it is too big to fail? Homeland Security seems a new branch that might override the other branches because of the way it was formed, from whom it was formed.