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Aug 03 2011

Air Force Nixes “Jesus Loves Nukes” Missile Training

As people who already know who I am (or have read my little bio blurb over on the side of the page) will know, my day job is working for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). But, since the content of my blog here is naturally going to include political opinions, I want to make something very clear right from the start. This is my personal blog, and when I’m posting here I am not speaking for MRFF, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Any opinions I post here are my personal opinions, and not the opinions of MRFF.

That said, I will absolutely be posting about religion in the military, since the military is a bastion of the same Christian nationalism found in politics, education, and the media. I’ll also be posting about victories over Christian nationalism, and we just had a whopper of a victory in the Air Force! As reported last Friday by Truthout, and yesterday by The Washington Post, the Air Force has pulled the section of its missile launch training that had come to be known among some officers as the “Jesus loves nukes speech.”

How bad was this training? Well, not only did it use Christian theology and numerous Bible verses to justify nuclear war, but it quoted former Nazi and SS officer Wernher Von Braun as a moral authority. That’s right, the U.S. Air Force will do just about anything to work a quote endorsing the Bible into its training, no matter who that quote came from. In this case, they quoted Von Braun as saying upon surrendering at the end of WWII, “[W]e felt that only by surrendering such a weapon to people who are guided by the Bible could such an assurance to the world be best secured.”

This training has been around for about two decades, but it was only when about thirty Air Force officers decided to come to MRFF and do something about it that it was finally stopped. After working for MRFF for over four years, I’m not often shocked by anything that’s reported to us, but when I first saw the PowerPoint presentation used for this training I was speechless (except for a few choice expletives).

Last Wednesday, Truthout exposed the content of this training in an article titled “Air Force Cites New Testament, Ex-Nazi, to Train Officers on Ethics of Launching Nuclear Weapons.” By Friday, the training had been suspended. This is what happens when members of our military, like the thirty officers who decided to take a stand against this unbelievably reprehensible training, report these things to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

For those who want to see the “Jesus Loves Nukes” presentation for themselves, it’s available on the Air Force’s FOIA site, where documents that people have gotten with FOIA requests, which is how this presentation was obtained, are available to the public. There’s no way to post a direct link to the documents, so here’s how to get to it. Go to https://www.efoia.af.mil and click on the “FOIA Reading Room” link on the left side of the page. Select “Miscellaneous” in the drop down menu, and hit “Search.” (Just leave the default asterisk for “Document Name.”) The documents, titled “ICBM Training Material,” will show up on the first page of the list, and you can download them as a PDF. The nearly 40-slide “Ethics” training PowerPoint begins on page 4 of the PDF.

9 comments

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  1. 1
    spruceh0rn

    Well, at least they pulled it without making a fuss (yet).

  2. 2
    Reginald Selkirk

    but it quoted former Nazi and SS officer Wernher Von Braun as a moral authority.

    You can’t expect many comments if you’re going to pre-Godwin your posts.

  3. 3
    Chiroptera

    …but it quoted former Nazi and SS officer Wernher Von Braun as a moral authority.

    I wonder whether this had more to do with ending that particular program rather than concerns about the First Amendment.

  4. 4
    Chris Rodda

    Reginald … I really don’t think Godwin’s rule applies when the post is explaining why the officers were offended by this training, and one of the things that they found offensive and inappropriate was a quote from a Nazi. That makes it a legitimate part of the story, not an irrelevant, comment-stopping Nazi reference.

  5. 5
    Non-Biblical Paul

    It’s sounds to me like Wernher Von Braun was kissing up, trying to appeal to the sympathies of a society he recognized as Christian by majority, and with the trials of Nazi leaders which followed in wake of WWII, sympathy would’ve been advantageous for the likes of Von Braun.

    I suppose that besides violating the separation of church and state, this reinforces how dangerous The Bible really is.

  6. 6
    Pierce R. Butler

    Christians might take some consolation in reflecting that, as a Nazi, von Braun’s endorsement of their morality was almost certainly a calculated lie.

    But only if they stop at that point and refuse to consider who else might have been/be manipulating them by claiming to share their values.

    PS: An estimated 1/3 of the over 60,000 slaves working in von Braun’s underground rocket factory died there, including at least one US POW.

  7. 7
    Phillip IV

    Non-Biblical Paul @ #5:

    It’s sounds to me like Wernher Von Braun was kissing up, trying to appeal to the sympathies of a society he recognized as Christian by majority, and with the trials of Nazi leaders which followed in wake of WWII, sympathy would’ve been advantageous for the likes of Von Braun.

    Understand “guided by the Bible” to mean (or result in) “anti-communist” in von Braun’s statement, and you’ll find that he could quite possibly have been entirely sincere about it without betraying his earlier beliefs in any way.

  8. 8
    slc1

    One has to wonder what non-Christian Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz is doing.

  9. 9
    Konradius

    In the comments it seems as if people think nazis were automatically not christians. While it is true that some had non-mainstream beliefs, the vast majority were christians (insert your no true scotsman argument here).
    Now, this is not to disparage any christian readers here; there’s no absolute causal link between the two groups. However antisemitism clearly has a lot of christian roots. And yes, some corrupted evolutionary thinking helped it as well.
    For some proofs linking christianity and nazis:
    http://nobeliefs.com/mementoes.htm

    As for the morality of the nazis. Obviously they had several incredibly immoral ideas. However I’m sure in their mind they thought of themselves as paragons of morality.

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