I mentioned the growing entanglement of fundamentalist religion in the military the other day, and here’s another example: proselytization in the military by evangelical freaks like Stephen Baldwin.
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
arm of 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.
Hang on there … maybe we shouldn’t worry too much. If the evangelical arsenal consists of the dumbest of the Baldwin brothers and an exceptionally lame video game, all it’s going to succeed in doing is recruiting the dregs and dullards…
…who will then be lofted into positions of leadership in the most powerful military force in the world.
Hmmm. Maybe we should be concerned.
How about Billy Baldwin? He was always criminally underrated, in my opinion.
I don’t know: if these sorts of holier-than-thou idiots plan to run my country’s military, I’m sorely tempted to run away to Bahrain and hide out in that indoor ski lodge for the rest of my life.
Mike Saelim says
Am I the only one concerned about giving a video game where you can kill heathens as god’s work to our military?
NC Paul says
“We feel the forces of heaven have encouraged us to perform multiple crusades that will sweep through this war torn region”
Because that really worked out well for all concerned the last time we tried multiple crusades in the Middle East.
Stanton (#3): “I’m sorely tempted to run away to Bahrain and hide out in that indoor ski lodge for the rest of my life.”
Bahrain, Dubhai, I’ll just go hide in the freezer at the local 7-Eleven, instead.
Cheaper that way.
Trouble is, these holier than thou idiots also run the American government and like to bomb places like Bahrain for being insufficiently Christian or insufficiently compliant with American demands.
Just ask any Iraqi…
#8: Hence my decision to hide in 7-Eleven, instead.
The Iraqi’s are so enthusiastic about having a Christian army control their country, I’m sure this will lead to more flowers and chocolates being given to the U.S armed forces from grateful Iraqi Muslims.
Talk about hurting morale.
Wouldn’t be surprised if soldiers we more prone to depression after seeing that git and trying to play that lousy game.
NC Paul says
Actually, come to think of it – these guys are undermining the troops and empowering the terrorists.
I mean what brave combat soldier wouldn’t be utterly demoralised to open a long awaited care package only to find a sucky fourth rate video game, a pair of white socks (classy) and a box of baby wipes (gee, thanks, convicted felon Oliver North)?
Or be forced to sit across a breakfast table across from a sucky fourth rate movie star (whose appearance in the excellent ‘Usual Suspects’ looks more and more like a freak event that may in fact count as divine intervention, since it seems to defy rational explanation)?
The best army in the world deserves better. Send them Halo II and Scarlett Johansen.
Do the Christians want the terrorists to win?
Stephen Baldwin’s christian act must be a ruse, a la Ed Wood and plan 9 from outer Space, to get ‘Harpies’ funded. That is my only explanation for ‘Harpies’.
They already do. That’s how we got into Iraq.
The really disturbing part of this isn’t what they’re doing. It’s that “an evangelical entertainment troupe that actively proselytizes among active-duty members of the US military” is also an official arm of the Defense Department’s America Supports You program.
This isn’t just stupid, dangerous, or insensitive action done by some church with too much money. This is stupid, dangerous, insensitive action done by the United States government with taxpayer money. Our money.
Because, after all, vulnerable, scared people separated from family and friends are the MOST receptive to accepting Christianity. Which of course is further evidence that it must be true, since desperately grasping at anything that will comfort you with promises of love and immortality when you’re traumatized is the best way to weigh options and make a rational decision on facts.
Tom @Thoughtsic.com says
This will give terrorists even more of a reason to be so passionately against westernization. The more white Christians we put over there, and especially now if they’re planning to be evangelical about it, the worse it is for stabilizing the region. Ridiculous.
Christophe Thill says
Operation Straight Up ! Gotta love that name. Doesn’t sound very Christian, does it ? Or do I just have a twisted mind ?
All is not lost PZ, there are atheists in the military who are fighting the good fight – although we’re greatly outnumbered. The Air Force used to publish it’s religious demographics and by far the majority of members list themselves as “No Religious Preference” which, of course, simply means they are unafiliated with a religion but could also be atheist/agnostic. That’s how I listed myself for years until I finally changed my religous preference, and my dog tags, to “atheist” which makes me one of only 60-something officers who openly declare themselves as such. There are probably many more atheists in the military but, like in civilian world, they are reticent to come-out for fear of damaging their careers.
I dunno…. I’m more concerned about *anything* evangelical being considered to be at all *official* – in a government department.
The program itself does not *appear* to be anything other than a media channel for connecting ‘grassroots’ organizations to serving troops. This is, in itself, laudable (I for one couldn’t handle the privations that soldiers take for granted).
However, this organization (USO) is using this troop support mechanism for proselytizing. Entertainment is perfectly fine. Evangelizing is not.
But is the message of their entertainment ‘protected speech’?
If protected – they can (and should be able to) say almost anything.
If not protected – then overtly ‘christian’ messages should be rejected – in the same way that overtly racist, or mysoginist, or homophobic messages should also be rejected.
IANAL – so I couldn’t say whether their message should be protected (in general). There does not appear to be anything on the support site to suggest that religious messages or religiously-motivated support are banned, so it may be perfectly acceptable to the program directorate – but not sure it satisfies ‘separation of church and state’.
I’m also worried about their sanity, when they can seriously consider holding actor Stephen Baldwin up as one of those role models
Operation Straight Up?
What is it with right-wing evangelicals and insanely homosexual-sounding references? Quiverfull, Generation of the Upright, and now apparently some kind of Biblical ED remedy.
“Straight” and narrow, my ass.
I hear and read things like this, again and again, and yet many people insist there is no such thing as discrimination against atheists in any aspect of American life. HELLO?
Just what the Middle East needs: Another freakin’ holy war.
In a perfect world, the crazy Christians and the crazy Muslims would have a nice place all their own where they could blow the crap out of one another without killing innocent people.
Let us hope that Stephen Baldwin someday meets Alan Baldwin (or a facsimile thereof, maybe a Marine drill sergeant?) in full-on “Glengarry Glenross” mode :
“What’s my name? F*** you!, that’s my name. You’re fired, that’s my name …”
Rey Fox says
“OSU is also scheduled to embark on a “Military Crusade in Iraq” in the near future. ”
Just what we need to win the hearts and minds of Iraqis.
Thanks for your service and being so open about your beliefs. I have to admit, 10 years ago when I was serving in the Marines I didn’t have the balls to come out as an atheist. Wish I would have, but I just went with the NRP thing. I would do it different today. Good luck to you.
Oh, and when does the WOOT guy get disemvoweled?
Hate to tell you this but the military already consists of the dregs and dullards. The volunteer military has always largely been that way. The few who aren’t dregs carry the rest along. Most are only concerned with getting drunk or stoned…
Never. There’s special dispensation for those with blue feet.
This is a good thing! The game is so buggy (apparently) that it will make an atheist out of any kid. It seems to not have been very intelligently designed. Besides, what fun is a game based on religion where you can’t win as the antichrist?
Jeff: *Hate to tell you this but the military already consists of the dregs and dullards. The volunteer military has always largely been that way. The few who aren’t dregs carry the rest along. Most are only concerned with getting drunk or stoned…*
I suppose I could get really offended by that and come back with some extremely useful response like “F-you…I have a PhD, jackass!” But A, I think we spend too much time here yelling at each other anyway, and B, I am going to presume that I understand the spirit in which he wrote it, which is hinted at in the second to last sentence.
Warren you beat me to it. Operation Straight Up? Can’t be long before there’s something Haggardian involving meth, rent boys and pseudonyms.
Thanks for kind words. I’ve never been given any grief over being an atheist myself but I know many who have. I recently heard about a young soldier in Iraq who set up, through the chaplain’s office, an atheist’s meeting; about four other enlisted soldiers showed up and one major who turned out to be an evangelical A-hole who overstepped his authority and proceeded to chew them all out for being atheists. The soldier filed a complaint against the officer but I haven’t heard the outcome yet.
In my experience the vast majority of the men and women in service aren’t dregs and dullards. They are by far some of the most dedicated, intelligent and good people you could ever meet, regardless of their beliefs. Sure there are some who aren’t but they are in the minority.
There is no explanation for ‘Harpies’.
Or better yet, have him meet Adam Baldwin (no relation) as Jayne from Firefly.
Chris Gruber, FCD says
Don’t mess with WOOT. WOOT has graced the comments of Eschaton for a long time, and has seen fit to stop by here, too.
Baldwin is truly an idiot. I watched him on Rod Parsley’s television program and he made a fool out of himself.
Also the Left Behind video game is disgraceful. I actually got to play it and I think it is much worse than the Grand Theft Auto games. Especially since they don’t claim it to be fictitious fun but gospel truth.
In my opinion it is much less damaging to kids than the Grand Theft Auto
Might as well start up a campaign to send Civilizaion IV to our troops, as well. It’s a good exercise in using religion as a political tool, and lots more fun than anything those Left Behind scrawlers could dream up.
BT Murtagh says
It strikes me as a little odd that people in an actual combat zone would want to play a FPS anyway. As a regular Navy guy I was never in that situation, but I would have thought it’d be like flying a plane all day at work and then going home to relax on a flight simulator.