Rightwing Christians Free to Leave America
Written by MAL Contends
Dominionist, evangelical Christians regaling in only-through-christ craziness, fighting against liberty in secular America, are always free to leave and form their own Christian colony where they can wage war and try to convert the unbelievers.
We know the religions right has veto power in today’s Republican party, bringing us the intellectual heft of Sarah Palin and the Bush-Cheney stewardship of the U.S. Constitution.
We know the GOP religious operative James Dobson’s charming Focus on the Family (‘hey, beat your children, parents!’) and rightwingers’ escalation of misogynistic rhetoric in the sporting world, as documented in Tom Krattenmaker’s Onward Christan Athletes (Rowman & Littlefield).
But most disturbing and dangerous is control in the U.S. military by the evangelical Christians. We’re not there yet, but too goddamn close for comfort. Mikey Weinstein and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) and millions of Americans certainly object. [I told Weinstein in an aside recently that religious whacks genuinely “frighten me.” Weinstein’s curt, somewhat scolding response: “Scare ’em back. Make them frightened.”]
Weinstein and MRFF just broke a major story that the military contractor, Trijicon, inscribed with secret Bible references 1,000s of gun sights used by the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan. Brilliant move, that will assure Islam of American commitment to pluralism and democracy, no crusades here.
As ABC News reported Monday, the sights are used by U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the training of Iraqi and Afghan soldiers. The maker of the sights, Trijicon, has a $660 million multi-year contract to provide up to 800,000 sights to the Marine Corps, and additional contracts to provide sights to the U.S. Army.
As rightwing groups like the Family and myriad theocrats in the armed forces continue their quest for a Christian U.S. military, these stories take on a heightened significance.
Here’s a letter that was sent to Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation by an active duty American soldier about those Bible verses on rifle scopes that demonstrates why the issue matters — and how far the pentagon has to go to rid the military of this scourge of officers who view themselves as soldiers for (the Christian) God rather than as representatives of the United States.
To: Mikey Wienstein and MRFF:
I am a U.S. Army infantry soldier with the rank of (rank withheld). I am married with children. I am stationed at Fort (installation name withheld). I have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan multiple times. I have been awarded medals for direct combat engagement as well as for injuries and wounds received in hand-to-hand combat. I am a Muslim American. My family converted when I was very young. I am caucasian and have a last name that does not sound ethnic.
Therefore, few of my fellow soldiers know that I am a Muslim. My wife comes from a Christian tradition but rarely practices or attends church. I have witnessed terrible religious persecution in the my (number withheld) years in the Army. Most of it comes from angry conservative Christians in my unit chains of command and occasionally from my fellow infantry soldiers. I am very familiar with the Trijicon ACOG gunsights and have often had them as part of my personal weapons; both my M-4 and my M-16.
In my first 2 deployments I saw and experienced no incidents regarding the New Testament bible quotes that are written on the metal casing of the gun sights. Many soldiers know of them and are very confused as to why they are there and what it is supposed to mean. Everyone is worried that if they were captured in combat that the enemy would use the bible quotes against them in captivity or some other form of propaganda. As an American soldier I am ashamed that those bible quotes are on our primary weapons. As a Muslim American I am horrified. As one who swore his oath to the Constitution, I am driven to fight this Christian insanity but I know if I try to do so in a visible way that I will suffer at the hands of my military superiors.
I am of low enlisted rank and can be crushed easily. I am prepared to suffer, but I am not prepared for my wife and children to suffer. So I have reached out to MRFF because there is nowhere else safe to go to try to fight this thing of disgrace. There are many other soldiers who feel as I do. Many are Protestant and Catholic and they fear reprisal just as much as I do for trying to stand up to the Christian bullies in uniform who outrank us. But if you try to fight back, you are not asking for trouble, YOU ARE IN TROUBLE from the start. And if you are a Muslim American, the hatred is always just below the surface and ready to explode at a moment’s notice. After the Fort Hood shootings, it was so bad, even for a low profile Muslim like me, that I had to ask MRFF for help.
Nothing in my first 2 deployments prepared me for what happened with the Trijicon ACOG gun sights during my 3rd deployment to Afghanistan. I will never forget the day it occurred. It was morning and there was a mandatory formation of several companies. A very senior NCO was yelling at us which is not that unusual. He asked a private what it was that he (the private) was holding in his hand and the private said it was his weapon several times to which the senior NCO replied and what ELSE is it?
Finally, the senior NCO said that the private’s rifle was also something else; that because of the biblical quote on the ACOG gunsight it had been spiritually transformed into the Fire Arm of Jesus Christ and that we would be expected to kill every haji we could find with it. He said that if we were to run out of ammo, then the rifle would become the spiritually transformed club of Jesus Christ and that we should bust open the head of every haji we find with it. He said that Uncle Sam had seen fit not to give us a pussy ‘Jewzzi’ (combination of the word ‘Jew’ and Israeli made weapon ‘Uzi’) but the fire arm of Jesus Christ and made specific mention of the biblical quotes on our gun sights. He said that the enemy no doubt had quotes from the Koran on their guns but that our Lord is bigger than theirs because theirs is a fraud and an idol.
As a Muslim and an American soldier I was fit to be tied but I kept it in. There were many Afghans, both civilian and military, on base within earshot of what was being yelled at us and I can only wonder in shock what they must have thought. This senior NCO was apparently also the head person of a conservative, crazy Christian group called the Christian Military Fellowship and made a big deal about the importance of joining to everyone. He told us all that we MUST read a book called Under Orders in order to make it through this combat deployment and said he had many copies for everyone. Some of my friends went and got their copies. I refused. Finally, this senior NCO ended his yelling by warning us that if we did not get right with Jesus then our rifles would not provide spiritual strength despite the bible quotes on our ACOG gunsights and that we would be considered spiritual cripples to our fellow units and soldiers. He didn’t say it in so many words, but the message was clear; if anything bad happened in a combat situation, it would be the fault of anyone who had not accepted Jesus Chris in the right way. I have never felt so ashamed and scared in my life.
I have never hated myself so much for not speaking out. So I thought of my wife and children and endured. Every time I looked at my rifle with that Trijicon ACOG gunsight/scope with the biblical quote from the book of John (8:12), it would make me sick. If I had tried to protest, it would have made me dead. And if I’m dead I’m of no use to my wife and children.
MAL Contends – Michael Leon is a writer living in Madison, Wisconsin. His writing has appeared nationally in The Progressive, The Advocate, In These Times and CounterPunch.,Leon works as a staff writer at http://www.veteranstoday.com/author/mikeleon/