|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.