Aug 15 2011

The Irony Is Killing Me

“As most 5-year-olds used to be able to tell you, the Ten Commandments are part of the Jewish law. They are found in the Jewish Torah, not just the Christian Bible, though it is politically expedient for critics to ignore that distinction in this context.”  –  Air Force Major Jonathan C. Dowty (a.k.a. JD the Christian Fighter Pilot)

Anyone here who’s been a reader of Ed Brayton’s blog over on ScienceBlogs for any length of time will probably remember a commenter there named “JD,” who always seemed to show up whenever Ed posted something about religion in the military, particularly if the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) or Mikey Weinstein was mentioned. JD, an active duty Air Force major named Jonathan C. Dowty, runs a blog called Christian Fighter Pilot, and was writing such lengthy comments on Ed’s blog that other commenters there started to ask when this guy finds time to fly a plane.

In addition to his prolific commenting on what other people write about MRFF, Maj. Dowty has written well over a hundred posts on his own blog about MRFF and/or Mikey Weinstein. And we’re not talking about short posts here; we’re talking about long, detailed rants with numerous links (mostly to his own previous posts), images, etc.  This guy is so completely obsessed with Mikey that he spends more time writing about MRFF than I do, and it’s my job to write about MRFF.

In his post this morning, titled “Weinstein Complains of ‘Wretched’ Christian Air Force Training,” Maj. Dowty is defending the Air Force’s so-called “Ethics” training, like that “Jesus Loves Nukes” PowerPoint presentation exposed a few weeks ago by Truthout that not only used Christian theology and numerous Bible verses to justify nuclear war, but quoted former Nazi and SS officer Wernher Von Braun as a moral authority, because Von Braun, upon surrendering at the end of WWII, said, “[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.”

As often is the case, once MRFF goes public with something like that PowerPoint presentation, others around the military start coming forward and reporting similar things that they’ve seen going on. So, within days of the news that the Air Force had stopped the “Jesus Loves Nukes” training, MRFF received another PowerPoint, this one from an ROTC instructor. This one was an ROTC “Core Values and the Air Force Member” training presentation. The complaint about this training? Well, let’s start with the “Have no other Gods before me” commandment in the Ten Commandments part of the training.

Here are a few of the slides from the ROTC “Core Values” training.



But Maj. Dowty finds nothing wrong with this. According to this fine Christian Air Force officer, (who is also publicly disagreeing with the decision of his Air Force superiors to pull the “Jesus Loves Nukes” training), there’s nothing wrong with using the Ten Commandments in U.S. military training because, after all, they’re Jewish. It’s the “critics” who try to turn them into a Christian thing because it’s “politically expedient.”

“As most 5-year-olds used to be able to tell you, the Ten Commandments are part of the Jewish law. They are found in the Jewish Torah, not just the Christian Bible, though it is politically expedient for critics to ignore that distinction in this context.”

Right, Maj. Dowty, it’s not all those Christian politicians who want the Ten Commandments in courthouses, and propose things like legislation for Ten Commandments Weekends. That’s not who’s hijacked the Ten Commandments from the Jews! It’s the “critics” of government-sponsored religion!

Another slide in this ROTC presentation, titled “Examples of Personal Values,” lists five examples. Number one is “Grow Spiritually,” which is obviously far more important for future military officers than number five, “Maintain Physical Fitness.”

And, although not nearly as high on the irony meter as Maj. Dowty’s Ten Commandments comment, the ROTC training presentation’s “Checklist for Selecting Values” begins with “Exercise Free Choice.” Sure, that’s certainly the message of this presentation — exercise free choice — anyone can see that! Don’t let all that stuff from the Bible we just showed you let you think that that’s the Air Force’s preferred choice or anything! I mean, we did include that one slide saying that other religions have something like the Christian “Golden Rule” too, right? That should take care of that obligatory diversity crap they make us put in these presentations. Now get out your Bibles and start becoming good Christian Air Force officers as God intended!


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  1. 1

    Dammit Chris, leading me off on tangents at 8:30 in the morning. I am really off topic, since its just a series of thoughts that come from the frustration with the disparity between Judaism and Christianity, despite their claim to share a lineage.

    I am with you, though. The use of “Thou Shalt Not Kill” in a discussion of military ethics is a little ridiculous prima facie. It’s made all the more ridiculous by the apparently jingoistic position of a “Jesus Loves Nukes” powerpoint.

  2. 2
    Data Jack

    Why is it that with very few exceptions, the most dishonest people are always the most religious?

  3. 3

    I feel JD’s pain right about in my ass. It eats JD’s lunch the way Ed Brayton and the MRFF constantly pick on Christians while clamoring for every other religion to dominate society. Why I remember just last week when Ed blogged about allowing Hare Krishnas the exclusive right to operate hair salons and barber shops in the US.

    JD may have a point. Christianity may be the best religion to indoctrinate military personnel in so they obey orders from superiors. Its tough to not follow orders, legal or not, when the angry, psychotic face of a thunder god like Yahweh is looking over your shoulder.

    I was influenced by a much tougher thundering deity during my military service; the first sergeant.

  4. 4
    Phillip IV

    The colossal perversity of mind necessary to believe that the concepts of “Christian” and “Fighter Pilot” are in any way, shape or form compatible establishes a pretty low threshold for rationality, but I still doubt that Mr. JD really doesn’t realize how weak his argument mentioned above is. More likely, it’s just another lie for Jesus.

    Speaking of dishonesty, the idea to discuss ethics based on an (allegedly) random list of “examples of ethical values” is absurd – it would be about the same as teaching decision-making with a list of “examples of good ideas”. I also can’t fail to notice that the selection of examples of ethical values is a bit one-sided. No “sacrificing your first-born to Moloch”, no “conquering the world for Allah”, no “suppressing the rebellion against our good King George”. So in this case, unlike the “Jesus loves Nukes” example, I think it’s pretty likely that the author of the presentation was fully aware of the church/state separation issue involved, and tried for a token appearance of balance.

    The other thing that strikes me about the presentation is the piss-poor quality on a mere technical level – inconsistent typefaces, poorly selected pictures randomly placed too close to the text. Oh, and they are 3 commandments short. Or, if we really go back to the Jewish roots, up to 8 commandments, even.

  5. 5

    Dear baby Jeezus

    Please watch over our brave fearless drone pilots
    As they selflessly risk their very souls for your glory and honor
    Protect them from carpal tunnel syndrome, hemorrhoids and varicose veins
    And guide their plausible deniability against those who
    would seek to disclose their accidental collateral damage

    Keep them safe from active and passive countermeasures, bird poop and bad weather
    Delay and obstruct all who would cut their budget or slow their holy mission creep
    That they may rain flaming death from the skies on anyone who might
    have conflicting military objectives or unfortunately just happen to be in the way at the time

    In Jeezus name, we pray

  6. 6

    Point of Information :

    Where as Wernher Von Braun was certainly a member of the NAZI party (he had to be) he was not an SS Officer. Also, Von Braun didn’t work on nuclear weapons (Germany had given up on them) but in the rocket program. He was talking about the V2 rocket not the atomic bomb in the quote you cite in your article. He eventually ended up at NASA where he was Directer the Marshal Space Flight Center and was the chief architect of the Saturn V booster that put man on the moon. The Saturn Rockets were the first launch vehicles used by NASA that weren’t modified ICBMs
    and were solely for the Apollo Project.

  7. 7
    Chris Rodda

    Hey alanmac … Von Braun actually was an SS officer. He was a major who received his commission about two years after joining the Nazi Party. As for him not working on nukes, but on rockets, that just shows even more how the Air Force will work quotes endorsing the Bible however they can. Not only don’t they care who this quote come from, they don’t even care if the person being quoted was even talking about the same weapons that the training is about.

  8. 8
    Michael Heath

    Chris Rodda asserts:

    . . . [JD] was writing such lengthy comments on Ed’s blog that other commenters there started to ask when this guy finds time to fly a plane.

    I’m fairly confident I’ve read all or at least nearly all of JD’s comment posts at Ed Brayton’s blog; I don’t recall him publishing inordinately lengthy comment posts there to the point I thought he couldn’t carry out this duties as an officer.

    What does distinguish JD is his utter contempt for the DofI, U.S. Constitution, and the underlying ‘freedom of conscience’ principle.

    The DofI asserts that a just government allow the exercise of and equally protect its citizens’ individual rights while the U.S. Constitution expressly obligates the government to both allow the free exercise of our religious beliefs and equally defend that right. Government is to the protector of our rights, not the instrument which denies the exercise of our rights. JD instead defends leveraging government power to deny military personnel their individual religious freedom rights in order to more effectively promote his version of Christianity, which is the religious-political merging of conservatism and a type of Christian evangelical-fundamentalism. This merging of politics and religion has resulted in an ideology that bears little resemblance to the roots of political conservatism like that promoted by this ideologies’ exemplars such as Edmund Burke, Michael Oakeshott, or even Barry Goldwater. Nor does it resemble the Christianity promoted in the New Testament except on a few narrow mandates (like proselytization). And it certainly bears no resemblance to what the framers sought; in fact JD’s position is in direct opposition to their objectives.

    JD’s advocacy and arguments also have him directly violating the oath he took to defend that Constitution, I assume because his political-religious beliefs demand he do so. Given JD’s antipathy towards the Constitution and its principles and the violation of his oath to promote his antipathy, he’s earned my complete contempt like few others. So many people honorably serve humanity through public service such as serving in the military. Their service makes it particularly repugnant when people like JD attempt to dishonor other public servants and our instituted government by abusing the power we constitutionally delegate to government in order to deny others the very freedoms we attempt to secure by delegating those very powers to government.

  9. 9

    Sheesh, Chris, as you can see, the commenter known for marathon verbosity at Brayton’s place is Michael Heath–no contest.

    It’s one of his charming quirks.

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