…and Donald Rumsfeld? From the AP:
“He [Rumsfeld] leads in a way that the good Lord tells him is best for our country,” said Marine General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Ordinarily, I would simply think that this is more Republican cynicism about religion, but I’m not so sure.
Why? Because crazy-ass religiosity has been observed elsewhere:
1) At the Air Force Academy, cadets were subject to illegal prosleytizing by USAF chaplains (for more updates, check out the Military Religious Freedom Foundation blog).
2) The idiocy about atheism uttered by Pat Tillman’s commanding officer. This is particularly galling, since the officer seems to be using this argument to cover up his own mistakes (Hiding personal mistakes behind religion? Who woulda thunk it?).
3) General Boykin:
Boykin made headlines last fall when it was revealed he had made numerous statements suggesting that America, as a Christian nation, is engaged in a battle against idolatrous Muslims. Enemies like Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein “will only be defeated if we come against them in the name of Jesus,” Boykin said during an Oregon church gathering last year.
Appearing in uniform during a speech at the Oregon church, Boykin said: “Why do they [radical Muslims] hate us? Why do they hate us so much? Ladies and gentlemen, the answer to that is because we’re a Christian nation.” In another speech he recounted the time he chased down a Muslim Somali warlord who was bragging that the Americans would not capture him because Allah would protect him. “My God is bigger than his God. I knew my God was a real God, and his was an idol,” Boykin said.
In 2002, at a church in Oklahoma, he showed slides he took in Somalia just after 18 Americans were killed in the “Black Hawk Down” debacle. Pointing to a dark shadow of Mogadishu’s skyline, Boykin said it was “a demonic presence in that city that God revealed to me as the enemy.”
Boykin could be dismissed as a ‘bad apple’, but given the Air Force Academy and Tillman’s commanding officer, this phenomenon seems to permeate the military. It’s not just that they’re crazy, but you have to wonder about their capabilities to understand and relate to people culturally different from them–and in Boykin’s case, reality itself. An essential part of ‘fourth-generation warfare’ is the winning of hearts and minds. Can a zealot do that? In a different context, Shakespeare’s Sister wrote:
This culture of victimhood among conservative Christians is ridiculous in the extreme. It is–yet again–predicated on the flawed assertions that their version of Christianity is the only version, and that it is the exclusive source from which morality can be derived. The morality of all the other Christians, all the people of other religions, and all the non-religious people who don’t have these personal issues on the job don’t figure a whit. Of course they don’t–because if they did, the barking lunatics who equate oppression with a requirement of compliance with one’s basic job description might have to face the reality that there’s not some insidious siege upon religious freedom, but instead just a minority group whose religious beliefs make them intrinsically unfit to hold positions as healthcare providers.
Something to think about as the casualities mount in Iraq. Also, let me make something clear: I am not questioning these officers dedication or patriotism. I am, however, questioning their judgement. Would you want your life or the life of a friend or loved one dependent on a commander who thinks that Rumsfeld “leads in a way that the good Lord tells him is best for our country” or that smudges on a intel photo are signs of the Devil. I wouldn’t.