This has to be among the biggest bone head ideas of the Pentagon. With the Pentagon’s help the apocalyptic evangelists are proselytizing US troops in Iraq. This stunning idea of sending right wing fundamentalist Christians into a Muslim country to convert people looks like “onward Christian soldier.” Is the military freaking kidding me? Are they really trying to get more people killed?
Of course the charge is lead by right wing nut job Stephen Baldwin who is the star of Operation Straight Up (OSU), an evangelical entertainment troupe that actively proselytizes among active-duty members of the US military. Granted they will be proselytizing to US troops but the timing and location is beyond comprehension.
Here are some excerpts from the article:
- Baldwin became a right-wing, born-again Christian after the 9/11 attacks, and now is the star of Operation Straight Up (OSU), an evangelical entertainment troupe that actively proselytizes among active-duty members of the US military. As an official armof the Defense Department’s America Supports You program, OSU plans to mail copies of the controversial apocalyptic video game, Left Behind: Eternal Forces to soldiers serving in Iraq. OSU is also scheduled to embark on a “Military Crusade in Iraq” in the near future.
- “We feel the forces of heaven have encouraged us to perform multiple crusades that will sweep through this war torn region,” OSU declares on its website about its planned trip to Iraq. “We’ll hold the only religious crusade of its size in the dangerous land of Iraq.”
- The Defense Department’s Chaplain’s Office, which oversees OSU’s activities, has not responded to calls seeking comment.
- “The constitution has been assaulted and brutalized,” Mikey Weinstein, former Reagan Administration White House counsel, ex-Air Force judge advocate (JAG), and founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, told me. “Thanks to the influence of extreme Christian fundamentalism, the wall separating church and state is nothing but smoke and debris. And OSU is the IED that exploded the wall separating church and state in the Pentagon and throughout our military.”
- Weinstein continued: “The fact that they would even consider taking their crusade to a Muslim country shows the threat to our national security and to the constitution and everyone that loves it.”
- But behind OSU’s anodyne promises of wholesome fun for military families, the organization promotes an apocalyptic brand of evangelical Christianity to active duty US soldiers serving in Muslim-dominated regions of the Middle East. Displayed prominently on the “What We Believe” section of OSU’s website is a passage from the Book of Revelations (Revelation 19:20; 20:10-15) that has become the bedrock of the Christian right’s End Times theology: “The devil and his angels, the beast and the false prophet, and whosoever is not found written in the Book of Life, shall be consigned to everlasting punishment in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”
- With the endorsement of the Defense Department, OSU is mailing “Freedom Packages” to soldiers serving in Iraq. These are not your grandfather’s care packages, however. Besides pairs of white socks and boxes of baby wipes (included at the apparent suggestion of Iran-Contra felon Oliver North, according to OSU) OSU’s care packages contain the controversial Left Behind: Eternal Forces video game. The game is inspired by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins’ bestselling pulp fiction series about a blood-soaked Battle of Armageddon pitting born-again Christians against anybody who does not adhere to their particular theology. In LaHaye’s and Jenkins’ books, the non-believers are ultimately condemned to “everlasting punishment” while the evangelicals are “raptured” up to heaven.
- This controversy has not deterred OSU from encouraging US troops to play virtual rounds of kill or convert after a hard day of house-to-house searches and counterinsurgency warfare against Iraqi insurgents. What’s more, OSU’s “Freedom Packages” include a copy of evangelical pastor Jonathan McDowell’s More Than A Carpenter -- a book advertised as “one of the most powerful evangelism tools worldwide” — that is double-published in Arabic. Considering that only a handful of American troops speak Arabic, the book is ostensibly intended for proselytizing efforts among Iraqi civilians.