Shuck and Jive

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Hunt them down for Jesus

I am going to post a review later today on a book I read over the last couple of days, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power by Jeff Sharlet. Check this interview with Sharlet in the Rolling Stone and his 2003 article in Harper's.

His book may help make sense of the following video produced by a U.S. soldier and broadcast on Al Jazeera showing what some American troops are really up to in Afghanistan. Read the post in the Quaker Agitator.

"The special forces guys, they hunt men, basically. We do the same thing as Christians. We hunt people for Jesus. Hunt 'em down. Get the hound of heaven after them. So we can get them in the kingdom! Right? That's what we do! That's our business!" --Lt. Col. Gary Hensley, Army Command Chaplain
General Order Number One forbids "proselytizing of any religion, faith, or practice." Afghanistan has an overwhelmingly Muslim population.

In The Family, Jeff Sharlet reports on his visit to New Life Church (Ted Haggard's Church) in Colorado Springs, CO. On the big screens (The WorldPrayerCenter) are prayer requests. Sharlet writes:

The Iraqis come up often, particularly with regard to their conversion: Despite the efforts of the news media, believing soldiers and others testify to the effective preaching of the Gospel, and the openness of so many hear of Jesus. Pray for continued success!

Another prayer request puts numbers to that news: 900,000 Bibles in the Arabic language distributed by Christians in Iraq. And one explicitly aligns the quest for democracy in Iraq with the quest for more Christians in Iraq: May the people stand for their rights and open to the idea of making choices, such as studying the Bible. p. 303.
American evangelicals think their prime directive is to convert Muslims and others to "Jesus." They feel it is perfectly legitimate to have our soldiers and military be the vessels for this conversion whether in Iraq or Afghanistan.

On one hand we can excuse popular evangelicals. They don't know any better. They don't know or don't care that the military specifically prohibits proselytizing. The real issue is with the military personnel and chaplains as well as government officials who look the other way or even encourage this behavior.

As Sharlet uncovers in The Family it is bigger than that. He is not talking about any kind of conspiracy. He is writing about his research regarding fundamentalist elites involved behind the scenes, networking, and through these networks financing activities all over the world. To what end? The kingdom. A kingdom ruled by Jesus and those who are intimately connected with Jesus, godly men. Jesus is power. America is the city on the hill calling all soldiers of the cross to submit to his authority through his command structure.

By the way, Jesus really likes free market capitalism unhindered by the inconveniences of any government interference including democracy. It is a kingdom.


  1. Al Jazeera posted a followup story regarding the U.S. military's response to the video story above:

    The US's highest ranking military officer has said it is not the US military's position to promote any specific religion, after Al Jazeera revealed footage of troops apparently preparing to convert Afghans to their Christian faith.

    "From the United States' military's perspective, it is not our position to ever push any specific kind of religion, period," said Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on Monday.

    The US military has also confiscated Bibles that Christian US soldiers in Afghanistan had apparently intended to give to local Muslims, a military spokesman told Al Jazeera.

    In addition, some of the soldiers who appeared in the video have also been reprimanded, US government and military officials told Al Jazeera's James Bays.

  2. And Talk to Action's reply to the military's denial that US troops are proselytizing a word, Bullshit!As for the military's claim that the Al Jazeera video was taken out of context, well, Al Jazeera has released the raw footage to prove that it wasn't.

  3. What bothers me is that there may be a backlash of violence against the US military because of this group's proselytizing, and Al Jazeera will likely be blamed.

  4. The current copy of Freethought Today has the transcript of a speech given by Sharlet about his book and The Family. What I've read so far is unnerving, and the book is now on my "to buy" list.

    I've been aware of, and have blogged several times about, the ongoing issue of evangelism in the military. It's a problem both for other US soldiers and for opposing forces. The GWB administration, of course, not only allowed but encouraged such behavior. Whether things will change under Obama remains to be seen.

  5. Well, guys...that "separation of church and state" notion is tough for some folks. I guess it takes some imagination to think what it would be like if a powerful, heavily armed Afghan army invaded Elizabethton with soldiers who tried to coax the children into converting to Islam...

  6. Rastus - it doesn't take much imagination at all! That army would be met with everything that could be made into a weapon. Ferguson thought he got it handed to him on King's Mountain...Ha!

    So, why should we be surprised if our soldiers are met the same way over there?

  7. I was wondering about how you would get a Bible in Dari or Pashtu. Then I found the website, blue and green, just like those in the video:

    Truth for Muslims

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  9. Just in case you want another language to round out your collections: Klingon Bible Translation Project.As an aside, Mr. Dewey used to work with a programmer who was a part of this project. But he split off into another group when there was a schism over whether the Bible should be translated into Klingon word for word or whether it should be adapted to Klingon culture. He went with the absolutist group, I think.