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Nov 18 2012

Petraeus and ‘Spiritual Fitness’

In all the hullabaloo over Gen. David Petraeus’ dramatic fall from grace by having an affair (or affairs), I’d forgotten about his fundamentalist Christian leanings and his connection to the Pentagon’s spiritual fitness program. Chris Rodda, of course, did not forget.

And what’s one of the big goals of all this “spiritual fitness” stuff? Strong marriages, of course! And who was a big proponent of this “spiritual fitness” stuff? Yeah, you got it – General David Petraeus…

Gen. Petraeus first came on MRFF’s radar back in 2007, when we were looking into the completely unconstitutional practice of soldiers being forced to attend mandatory Christian concerts during basic training at several of the Army’s largest training installations. That’s when we found Petraeus’s photo and endorsement of these concerts on the Eric Horner Ministries website, praising Horner’s military base concerts.

Then, in August 2008, Mikey Weinstein, the founder and president of MRFF, noticed a half-page ad in the Air Force Times for a book by Army chaplain Lt. Col. William McCoy. Chaplain McCoy’s book, Under Orders: A Spiritual Handbook for Military Personnel, a manual promoting Christianity and asserting that non-religious service members had no defense against sin and could therefore cause the failure of their units, was endorsed by none other than Gen. Petraeus, whose blurb on the book’s cover read:“Under Orders should be in every rucksack for those moments when Soldiers need spiritual energy.” This completely inappropriate endorsement of a book that denigrated the 21% of our military who don’t happen to be religious led Keith Olbermann to name Petraeus one of his “Worst Persons.”

Yet another religious right hypocrite. How entirely unsurprising.

15 comments

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  1. 1
    Michael Heath

    Ed writes:

    Yet another religious right hypocrite. How entirely unsurprising.

    I’m not sure it’s possible to not be a hypocrite if someone is a conservative Christian. I’ve yet to meet one. Practically impossible simply because the Bible provides no way out of hypocrisy when it claims to reveal objective truth and yet testing those truths results in a large set of false assertions. Either one authentically commits oneself to objective truth or submitting to holy dogma, both are not possible.

  2. 2
    Michael Heath

    BTW, I’m not sure David Petraeus is a conservative Christian. He may be a cynical social dominator who merely thought pandering to these Christians helped his political ambitions.

    For example, his mistress sought career advice about some NC Republicans soliciting her interest in running fo the U.S. Senate, where Mr. Petraeus’ advice was to stay true to her understanding of reality. That she’d have to concede falsified beliefs in order to succeed politically. His Wikipedia page doesn’t have anything. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was affiliated with a protestant religion, especially a mainline one, but that alone doesn’t validate he’s a conservative Christian.

  3. 3
    northstar

    I agree. I have never met a conservative Christian hypocrite either; if anything, they get to be *more* holy through their abject repentance of their sins. Even better than if they had never done anything wrong in the first place, really!

  4. 4
    dysomniak "They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred!"

    #2 Can we please stop with the “maybe it’s all part of his diabolical scheme” bit? Speculating about the pigfucker’s “real” beliefs seems pretty fucking useless.

  5. 5
    Michael Heath

    Here’s a great graph on voter results in the last presidential election by religious affiliation: http://dailydish.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83451c45669e2017ee51259c3970d-pi

    It also graphs those same affiliations by age group noting how the now dominant religious right is dying out, unless they can get younger voters to change denominations and political ideology. I’m sure the latter is natural to some degree though they’ll probably take on different ‘others’ to hate than the current set. Pew is the source.

  6. 6
    democommie

    “He may be a cynical social dominator who merely thought pandering to these Christians helped his political ambitions.”

    I think that’s prolly an apt descriptor for many if not most of the fundagelitycoons. If they weren’t workin’ the religious bunco it would be somethin’ else.

  7. 7
    TGAP Dad

    I’m of the opinion now that the phrase “religious right hypocrite” is redundant.

  8. 8
    raven

    BTW, I’m not sure David Petraeus is a conservative Christian. He may be a cynical social dominator who merely thought pandering to these Christians helped his political ambitions.

    True.

    I’m not sure too many fundies believe much of anything about their god babble.

    1. AFAICT, fundie xianity is just right wing extremist politics with a few crosses stuck on it for show.

    2. Hypocrisy is a mandatory religious duty, a sacrament.

    3. They rarely walk their talk. In fact, fundie xianity correlates highly with any social problem you care to name, it’s objectively a good way to live in a sick society.

    4. We’ve all seen it countless times. The fundies claim the bible is a magic book written by god. The vast majority have never read it and have no idea what is in it. On bible trivia surveys the atheists score higher than the xians.

    5. They also have little idea of their core doctrines and dogmas. Which is OK, because those evolve rapidly in real time. All those eternal, unchanging beliefs can get tossed in a heartbeat and never missed. They have always been at war with eastasia.

  9. 9
    raven

    Scott DesJarlais Abortion Scandal: Congressman’s Wife Had 2 abortions…
    www. huffingtonpost. com/…/scott-desjarlais-abortion_n_2139110.ht…

    2 days ago – Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee testified during divorce proceedings that he and his former wife made a “mutual” decision for her to have two abortions, … to be conflict of interest laws regarding what Legislators can vote

    Another example of fundie xian values, i.e. hypocrisy.

    1. DesJarlais’s wife had two abortion. He also had affairs with patients, and tried to pressure one into another abortion.

    2. After all that, DesJarlais didn’t even bother to campaign in his Tennessee district. He won anyway.

    DesJarlais has his problems. It didn’t bother the fundie xians who voted for him.

    These same people demonize a xian politician who seems to be a straight arrow. AFA we know, Obama is a sincere xian who has never done anything like Walsh, DesJarlais, Patreus, and a lot of fundie xian leaders. Yet, they lie and call him a Kenyan born, Moslem terrorist commie.

    When you mix religion with politics, you get politics. And that is what it looks like.

    Without being able to read minds, this is hard to prove. But I can say that everything I’ve seen about the fundies screams Fake Religion. I certainly don’t respect their faith. No one can even find it.

  10. 10
    JD

    Ed said:

    I’d forgotten about his fundamentalist Christian leanings…

    A conclusion drawn upon what? His statements to that effect? His support for DADT repeal? Your sixth sense? The fact he “endorsed” a decidedly un-fundamentalist book written by a liberal chaplain?

    It is also interesting that Rodda managed to write an entire piece on Petraeus and “spiritual fitness” and yet provide no evidence whatsoever of any connection between the two, except for her unsupported accusation he was a “big proponent” of it.

    Rodda even managed to lift a quotation to make it seem Petraeus advocated Christianity, when the article she cited explicitly stated he did no such thing. Of course, in order to be a “hypocrite,” Petraeus has to advocate for his morality, not merely ascribe to it. So Rodda has to present him that way, even when that wasn’t the case. Apparently, when the truth isn’t good enough, you can just make stuff up.

    Rodda’s retelling comes across as a nothing more than a point-and-laugh, which she is certainly free to do. But its petty nature does nothing (good) for the credibility of her organization.

    Petraeus’ conduct was reprehensible. That has nothing to do with personal grudges some people have with him or the US military.

  11. 11
    raven

    A conclusion drawn upon what? His statements to that effect?

    Well yes, Patreaus says so himself.

    He is also a Republican and he doesn’t hide that either.

    Petraeus’ conduct was reprehensible. That has nothing to do with personal grudges some people have with him or the US military.

    Oooh, JD is a serial killer. Must be a xian or something. A murderer of strawpeople.

    There is nothing in Ed’s post or the comments about a “personal grudge” against Petraeus. We’ve never met him or even seen him except in the news.

    There is also nothing about a grudge against the US military. You just made that up.

    There is a lot about personal grudges against fundie xians and their lies and hypocrisy. Which you just demonstrated again.

    Enlighten us. Do you really believing lying is a sacred mandatory xian duty? If not, why do they all do it constantly?

  12. 12
    F [is for failure to emerge]

    Bwahahaha! The No True Christian card is played.

  13. 13
    slc1

    The difficulty with attempting to determine what the general’s political and religious beliefs are is, IMHO, due to his decidedly secular and liberally laced education, which included a PhD in political science from Princeton. According to a recent article in the Washington Post, he also encouraged his subordinates during his military career to study and obtain advanced degrees at prestigious Ivy League schools.

    Considering the contempt that the religious nutcases and tea party advocates who currently run the Rethuglican Party have for these institutions, he would not seem to be a good ideological fit for that party as it now exists. Of course, he might, prior to the exposure of his sexual exploits, have seen himself as an Eisenhower type figure that would bring the party into the 21th Century, just as the latter saw himself in 1952 (Eisenhower Rethuglicans anyone?”.

  14. 14
    Nick Gotts

    JD@10,

    It’s not true that Rodda provides no evidence of Petraeus’ links to “spiritual fitness” campaigns:

    Gen. Petraeus first came on MRFF’s radar back in 2007, when we were looking into the completely unconstitutional practice of soldiers being forced to attend mandatory Christian concerts during basic training at several of the Army’s largest training installations. That’s when we found Petraeus’s photo and endorsement of these concerts on the Eric Horner Ministries website, praising Horner’s military base concerts.

    Then, in August 2008, Mikey Weinstein, the founder and president of MRFF, noticed a half-page ad in the Air Force Times for a book by Army chaplain Lt. Col. William McCoy. Chaplain McCoy’s book, Under Orders: A Spiritual Handbook for Military Personnel, a manual promoting Christianity and asserting that non-religious service members had no defense against sin and could therefore cause the failure of their units, was endorsed by none other than Gen. Petraeus, whose blurb on the book’s cover read: “Under Orders should be in every rucksack for those moments when Soldiers need spiritual energy.”

    Just because one bunch of fundamentalists dislike McCoy’s book doesn’t make that book “un-fundamentalist”, but even supposing it is “un-fundamentalist”, Petraeus had no business endorsing it. But I agree evidence that Petraeus himself is a fundamentalist seems to be pretty sparse. Raven@11, do you have a link to Petraeus expressing fundamentalist views or identifying himself as a fundie?

  15. 15
    Chris Rodda

    Yep, JD … Chaplain McCoy is a liberal chaplain alright … VERY liberal …

    http://undergroundunbeliever.blogspot.com/2010/10/real-mccoy.html

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