Guess who the first leader of the Soviet Union was

The conventional wisdom is that it was Vladimir Lenin, but officers in our military have access to secret knowledge, thanks to Rick Warren: it was actually Charles Darwin. We learn this from one of those ghastly power point presentations the military churns up, this one from Air Force Chaplain Christian Biscotti, who argues that the way to prevent suicide is to throw away the facts. At least, that’s the impression I get from the twisted history he serves up to justify his thesis, that Warren’s vacuous little book provides the way to make troops combat ready. It might even be true, if turning soldiers into misinformed and ignorant morons makes them better warriors.


  1. shonny says

    Unholy crap!
    And those cretins are supposedly there to HELP?
    Suicide seems like a more sensible option.
    Hopefully Obama has enough sense to stop the US military become all holy warriors, because with the present influence of the godfuckers, they are in same league as the Taliban.

  2. BobC says

    Lt Gen Rod Bishop of the United States Air Force thinks he’s a preacher. The Establishment Clause doesn’t get much respect in this country.

  3. clinteas says

    Holy Shit indeed !

    I dont even know where to start with that one,PZ.

    Is this something that is likely going to change or at least be addressed with a new administration,or is this a military thing,and although unconstitutional,not object to any significant outside scrutiny?
    If so,then this is just astonishing.
    Talk about brainwashing soldiers.

  4. says

    Some days I have a great hope that humanity will pull itself away from ignorance and towards a greater level of understanding. Then I see things like this and my optimism is shattered into 1000 shards.

  5. True Bob says

    I anticipate the view from the future, where this is a giant leap backwards. Like those old 50s videos. Amazingly blatant.

  6. Sastra says

    In order to make their views seem more reasonable, people like this are forced to mischaracterize atheism and humanism. Notice all the emphasis they put on self. If there’s no God, then it’s all about self. Somehow, other people just aren’t going to matter; neither are virtues and values. No, it’s got to be selfishness. If the universe wasn’t formed for human beings to love God, then humans are at the center of the universe (?). No idea how they work that one out. How would or could anything be at the “center” of a cosmos which has no inherent meaning? And I’ve no idea how or why they make a huge distinction between the philosophy of “Philanthropy” (?), and the philosophy of Humanism. Humanism = selfishness and cruelty, presumably.

    I read Robert Price’s response to Rick Warren’s The Purpose-Driven Life. He titles it The Reason-Driven Life. In his book, Price points out that, according to Warren, God’s purpose for your life is to volunteer in a church. Price also points out the very happy coincidence that Rick Warren just happens to run a mega-church which requires tons and tons of — hey, guess what — volunteers. All things work for the good under God.

  7. Sherry says

    The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is doing great work “watch dogging” these issues.

    The founder is Mikey Weinstein, a USAFA grad. He has had to get body guards and guard dogs to protect his family and home after threats and vandalism.

  8. Ben Breuer says

    Two things come to mind (in this evolution-interested musicologist):

    1. Why does, in this situation, the phrase “intelligence failure” pop into my head?

    2. Now that the crackers are dealt with, must we move on to Biscotti? (Sorry, PZ.)

    Good night, BB

  9. says

    The slideshow mentions of Darwin are beyond bizarre – it reads like something from Coral Ridge Ministries’ D. James Kennedy.

    I have contended for years that if there is ever a coup d’état attempted in the US, it will be led by the Air Force. There have been news articles in the recent past about religious discrimination at the Air Force Academy and on airbases.

  10. BruceJ says

    This is, unfortunately, a logical outgrowth of the USAF Academy being turned into a Christianist Madrassah.

  11. Ben Breuer says

    Looking through the slides, I was equally surprised to find that Karl Marx was a leader of the Soviet Union. Did his peers at the British Museum Reading Room know? Did those Soviet attempts at reanimation pay off, after all? Soviet Atheist Darwinist Alquaeda Marx? Is that how SadaM [sic] came to be behind 9-11?

  12. Feynmaniac says

    Even being extremely generous and assuming they were saying Charles Darwin was an intellectual leader for the Soviet Union (like Marx) it’s still…..


  13. says

    Telling a depressed person that they’re depressed because they’re being self-centred and childish will make things all better. They obviously just need to pull themseleves up by their bootstraps because they could be happy if they really wanted to.
    Nothing kills depression like a Bible and a round of guilt.
    < >
    Have these commanders been hiding under rocks since the middle of the last century? I’ll bet they give icepick lobotomies to the ones who attempt suicide and fail.
    I hope they get sued to the moon–when all else fails, let the lawyers keep -em honest.

  14. says

    Oh for crying out loud. Troops, die for the cause, not your own selfish reasons. We’ll tell you when to die. Be a team player, not an atheist-Commie-liberal-babykilling-heathen.

  15. says

    Oh, wait. Mr. Biscotti can’t be a cryogenically frozen figure from the past because if he was, he’d know more about the Soviets.
    Unless the thawing has addled his brains.

  16. Wowbagger says

    Good to see the Liars for Jesus™ out in force again -and in the military, too. Guess they’re not very concerned about commandments nine (or eight) and six (or five).

  17. John Phillips, FCD says

    Wow, godbots abusing their authority in the USAF, again, colour me surprised. Cry havoc and let loose the dogs of law.

  18. DocAmazing says

    “Christian Biscotti” sounds like a euphemism for communion wafers. You couldn’t make this shit up.

  19. Danny says

    What strikes me most about this, after reading the full story on the Daily Kos, is not the nonsense about Marxism, Darwinism, etc. I come to expect that from fundies. More worrying is the statement in the slide that Philanthropy = Love of Man = Karl Marx. Are “Love your neighbor and acts of charity now Marxist?

  20. says

    In the military’s power point they used Pat Tillman as example of someone who recognized the purpose of his life. Wasn’t he an atheist?

  21. Chris A. says

    Why wouldn’t the Military Industrial Complex want to team up with Faith-based crowd?

    Match made in heaven for them.

  22. says

    I think it’s petty and immature to make fun of people because of their names. Nevertheless, I am weak and only human, especially when confronted with as stupid an example of preaching as the lame PowerPoint presentation. Therefore:

    Captain Biscotti?

    Who can take seriously a sermon from Captain Cookie?

  23. says

    Sherry | November 30, 2008 9:12 PM

    The founder is Mikey Weinstein, a USAFA grad. He has had to get body guards and guard dogs to protect his family and home after threats and vandalism.

    But… but… Those aren’t True Christians™ obviously. I mean, Real Christians™ would never do such things.

    Personally, I’m beginning to realize that the nice, law-abiding, somewhat-tolerant Christians are the flukes, aren’t you?

  24. Gibbon says

    Seeing as how creationism is denigrating and dehumanizing, (since it blames humans for all the suffering in the world) I don’t see how teaching it could lift anyone out of a suicidal state. If anything, creationism would have the opposite affect by making a person more suicidal.

  25. sus says

    I am more livid about this than I’ve been in a long time. I’ve seen so much forced religiosity as a military spouse that I thought I couldn’t be surprised. This takes the cake. It’s absolutely disgusting, and I’m literally shaking with rage but not sure who to fight with this anger. When a general signs off on something like that, to whom do you make your complaint?

    I would hope everyone is offended by this. There are Christians who don’t believe in creationism; they should be furious. They were just told they have no purpose in life. And everyone valuing religious freedom, you know, that little thing called the constitution they’ve sworn to protect, should be furious.

    While my family respects that my partner and I feel out of place in that environment, and they don’t see it as right that these things happen, they don’t see the chaplain as being wrong, either. GAH. They just think we shouldn’t be part of an organization that treats all the nonTrue Believers like that. They just think we should abdicate power to the theocrats and find new jobs thinking that nothing will change now, but things will get better in the vague future. Somehow. Without actually doing anything about it. Thankfully, I do think there are some freedoms worth fighting for while I’m not yet burned out and will keep on fighting this sort of thing.

  26. Kimpatsu says

    @John Phillips, FCD:
    Cry havoc and let loose the dogs of law.
    Shouldn’t that be “let slip…”?

  27. sus says

    Yes, I actually am surprised. This goes so far beyond what even we jaded military members/spouses expect. Since forwarding the link to my mil friends, I’ve received statements of shock and speechlessness from people who are never speechless. We’d thought we’d seen it all and wouldn’t be surprised by any of the religiosity. Well, congrats, Lt. Gen. You win.

  28. says

    I think slide 5 entitled “Current Problem” could solve everything.

    1. In the last two years, completed suicides have escalated throughout the Air Force.

    3. The Air Force did not use spirituality as a part of their suicide prevention briefing until 2005.

  29. says

    Christians know respect about as much as they know history or science. So, for some uneducated, god-soaked, Air-Force chaplain to state that Darwin was any sort of leader of the Soviet Union doesn’t really surprise me.

    These idiots spend their lives avoiding reality, and rewriting History to suit their petty ends is one of their most industrious pastimes.

  30. Graculus says

    Are “Love your neighbor and acts of charity now Marxist?


    this has been another edition of simple answers to simple questons.

  31. says

    While my family respects that my partner and I feel out of place in that environment, and they don’t see it as right that these things happen, they don’t see the chaplain as being wrong, either. GAH. They just think we shouldn’t be part of an organization that treats all the nonTrue Believers like that. They just think we should abdicate power to the theocrats and find new jobs thinking that nothing will change now, but things will get better in the vague future. Somehow. Without actually doing anything about it.

    Ah, the libertarian solution to problems!

  32. ihedenius says

    Much as I sympathize and agree with MRFF and Weinstein’s cause, having a website pop up with sound is not a good idea. Especially if it cannot be shut off or have volume control. ( Let the visitor choose to start the video.

    What will it take to stop this ? Politically appointed defense minister taking action ? Can anyone act without first having the problem widely publicised and recognized in the media ? If not will it be ‘christian persecution’ ?

  33. says

    I wish I could say this surprises me, but sadly, it does not.

    In September 2005, after being wounded by an IED, a chaplain came by my bed in the Balad Air Force Hospital in Iraq and asked me my name so he could pray for me. When I told him that I am an atheist, and thanks but no thanks, he gave me a smug look and said (no shit) “Like it or not, your soul needs our prayers more than most.”

    Idiots like that chaplain and this Biscotti character simply aren’t fit to wear the uniform.

  34. Quiet Desperation says

    Am I the only one most baffled by the “Are You Ready For A New Tool” slide?

    What is he holding? My pattern recognition is failing here. I saw things like that back in my BDSM days. It looks like someone’s prostate is about to receive some professional stimulation. Thank you, Mistress. May I have another?

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that, mind you…

  35. Quiet Desperation says

    Guess who the first leader of the Soviet Union was

    Thomas Crapper?

    Sorry. that’s my stock answer to every silly history question. :-) Either that or the cotton gin.

  36. Pat says

    Wow. I’m a former military member, and at no time was I laboring under the illusion that I was somehow serving God by being in the military. I was serving the civilian government, since ours is one of a few that works that way, as one of those who self-elect to fight in the place of others.

    I’m also clinically depressed, and I can tell you that nothing would have made me still more so than having some preacher come up and tell me I was being selfish by feeling so horrible that the future was a nonexistent blank void. Yeah, sure – adding the guilt of it being my own fault for not loving God enough, that sure would have helped. As it is, you don’t talk about mental illness in the military – it gets you kicked out. Just like flat feet used to. Mental illness is hushed up, “counseled” away, and generally swept under the rug.

    And there are still some idiots in the military who don’t understand why taking those same mentally ill people, who live in fear of having their possible condition being discovered, and shipping them off away from their families and handing them guns somehow – SOMEHOW – results in an increase in suicides?

  37. Feynmaniac says

    Did you know….

    Not only was Charles Darwin the first leader of the Soviet Union, but Sir Issac Newton was a Field Marshal in Napoleon Bonaparte’s army?

    Gregor Mendel led the Vietcong’s guerilla activities?

    Niels Bohr was both Jack the Ripper AND Count Dracula?

  38. says

    Did you know….

    Not only was Charles Darwin the first leader of the Soviet Union, but Sir Issac Newton was a Field Marshal in Napoleon Bonaparte’s army?

    Gregor Mendel led the Vietcong’s guerilla activities?

    Niels Bohr was both Jack the Ripper AND Count Dracula?

    And Calculon was all of history’s greatest acting robots, including David Duchovny.

  39. Molly, NYC says

    I don’t know about anyone else, but my immediate reaction was to email my congressman, with a link to the PowerPoint slides and an inquiry as to exactly how much of my tax dollars were paying for this crap.

  40. DLC says

    What, you mean they didn’t try to link Darwin with Hitler, in the time-honored fashion used by creationist nutcases since 1950 ? Damn, somebody messed up there.

  41. negentropyeater says

    Wasn’t Darwin the leader of England and Australia ? He’s on the banknotes, and there’s an Australian city with his name.
    That’s crevidence, no ?

  42. Muffin says

    “turning soldiers into misinformed and ignorant morons”

    Misinformed? I think if you’ve ever talked to an army recruiter, you’ll agree that this is actually accurate – they have been. And ignorant? Yes, that too, thanks both to the aforementioned misinformation and the sorry state of the educational system in general.

    I wouldn’t call them morons, since that’d be adding insult to injury, but “misinformed and ignorant” definitely seems to be accurate…

  43. psychocow says

    I have to say, I’m in the air force and this is by far the most discriminatory piece of tripe I have ever seen in my life. I am utterly aghast, and if I’m ever forced to sit through this tripe in a presentation I will throw a belligerent fit. I’m not at all surprised considering the religious climate of the armed forces but I couldn’t imagine anyone on my base actually putting this up as part of anything. If I ever see it I will not stand for that kind of mockery of the air force’s non-homogeneous beliefs.

  44. BrainFromArous says

    Thing is, having to watch ANY PowerPoint presentation would move most otherwise-sane people to suicidal thoughts.

    The content is almost an afterthought.

  45. says

    Take a look at the full slideshow (If you can bear it), “SLIDE 16”.

    Family #2 instilled purpose, hope and faith into their family, which positively and empirically affected the generations after him
    In contrast, Family #1 instilled little or no hope or purpose into their family, and it negatively and empirically affected the generations after him

    Where do they get this stuff. Any actual names to these families? Somehow I doubt it, just plucking figures from the air.


  46. negentropyeater says

    #54 that presentation is a scary example of super-mega-Kookery

    Irony :
    slide 14
    under theories explaining our existence, he’s put “Chance” with Darwin and Man is the center of the Universe !

    NEW ! Science ⇒ Man is the center of the Universe

    When you can make up such things, you can also make up families such as on slide 16, there’s no more limit to lies and dishonesty.

  47. Tim Spencer says

    as an atheist in the United States Navy, I can say that if they ever tried to feed me this garbage, I would force it right back at them and choke on it. There’s been times where I’ve talked to the Command Chaplain (who I made perfectly clear with that I didn’t want to converted) and she repeatedly tried to emphasize how important it is to accept a creator. I have since stopped talking to her at all. The military is truely another one of the many government conversion methods. One thing i will say though, is being someone who’s somewhat argumentative I do enjoy throwing back even the most hardened right wing creationist nut job’s attacks on my beliefs right back them with reason and logic. It’s almost too easy.

  48. David Marjanović, OM says

    I hope they get sued to the moon

    :-D I’m so stealing this. :-D It’s almost up there with “We’ll sue his ass. And then we’ll sue the rest of him.”

    let loose the dogs of law.


    More worrying is the statement in the slide that Philanthropy = Love of Man = Karl Marx. Are “Love your neighbor and acts of charity now Marxist?


    American fundies generally don’t read the Sermon on the Mount. Whenever someone proposes that the government do some good, they get shouted down by cries of “SOCIALISM!!!1!”. That’s how Obama suddenly mutated into a socialist, for example.

  49. says

    One more irony – For decades the Soviets OPPOSED Darwin’s theory of evolution. Stalin’s pet pseudoscientist Trofim Lysenko promoted LaMarckian evolution instead.

    Darwin linked individual heredity to success, so had been misused by capitalists to legitimize ‘social darwinism’ and inherited wealth.


  50. says

    This is me being all pacifist and anti-corporate, but I would have thought that “misinformed and ignorant morons” make the best soldiers. Apologies to past and present soldiers. But getting killed for oil (Iraq), or revenge (Afghanistan), or for some half-baked theory about the spread of communism (Vietnam, Cambodia) seems kinda moronic to me.

  51. Maezeppa says

    America has always had its little fits and fads of religioius revivalism, but take heart – they’ve always been followed by longer and stronger periods of sanity and scientific advancement.

  52. Janine ID AKA The Lone Drinker says

    In more Rick Warren related news, Rick Warren is going to award dubya with an International Medal Of Peace.

    “No world leader has done more for global health than President Bush,” Warren said. “The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief [PEPFAR] has saved millions of lives in the past five years, so it is fitting that he be awarded the first ‘International Medal of PEACE.’

    “Through PEPFAR and other humanitarian programs, President and Mrs. Bush and their respective staffs have been instrumental in initiating and sustaining the largest humanitarian commitment to a single disease in history,” Warren added. “All around the world, lives have been saved and improved because of PEPFAR’s battle against AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis.”

    The “International Medal of PEACE” is given to honor outstanding contribution toward alleviating the five “global goliaths” – giant problems negatively impacting society worldwide, including pandemic diseases, extreme poverty, illiteracy, corruption and injustice and spiritual emptiness. The PEACE Coalition is a network of churches, businesses and individuals cooperating together to solve humanitarian issues through the PEACE Plan, an effort to mobilize millions of Christians to Promote reconciliation, Equip servant leaders, Assist the poor, Care for the sick and Educate the next generation.

    Ignorance Is Strength!
    War Is Peace!

  53. KI says

    Wasn’t Rick Warren the godbot that both the presidential candidates prostrated themselves before in that obscene “faith” debate? Fuqemall.
    The military mentality is the second most offensive thing about your filthy species (we all know the first), and it is high time we quit making heroes out of psychotic murderers.
    God and guns-oh man I’m gonna puke…
    Yeah, I said your species-us Roma aren’t human, or so I’ve been told many times, and I’m happy to divorce myself from the rest of you bald crazy apes.

  54. Steve_C says

    Yeah cuz nothin says PEACE like attacking a country that didn’t attack you.

    Rick Warren is an asshole.

  55. Ka says

    I’m still trying to figure out how Capt. Biscotti came up with the notion that Charles Darwin was a leader of the former Soviet Union.

    Oh, that one’s easy. It’s the name, stupid! Darwin, Lenin, Stalin, Putin. Anyone whose name ends with -in is an evil Russian leader.

  56. ice9 says

    My first response was to fear that Poe had reared his ugly head in the Daily Kos airspace. But even if that hadn’t happened, my second response was more subtle. That powerpoint isn’t stupid or arrogant; it’s rhetorically sophisticated. I’d like to hope that Captain Biscotti either does not exist or is just another half-wit hypocrite, but the more I read the text the more I recognized some carefully formed rhetoric. Don’t underestimate the biscuit!

    1. The author of the slideshow knows his audience. “Purpose-driven life” is a great example of the new style of secular spiritualism that appeals to unsophisticated people with a desire for strong, unambiguous leadership but who shy away from “old church” intellectualism, hierarchy, and complexity. The philosophies these books peddle are reinforcing and “warm” but are also very difficult to grip, so they defy any of the typical processes of refutation that pull people away from the traditional churches. The philosophies are full of weak spaces so top-down church morality doesn’t alienate people on individual issues–you can be gay or greedy or “ripe with sin” but still imagine that you qualify and belong to the contented flock of purpose-driven livestock. So the adherents also happily accept inconsistency, thereby turning the great liability of organized religion into an asset. It further pushes this generic Western Christian “vague spiritualism” into an abstraction of belief as opposed to a daily practice (like Islam), which is comforting and therefore attractive. You can belong! You don’t have to do anything–just belong! No sacrifice!

    Enlisted military people are the ideal audience for this form of suasion–often well traveled, for example, and well trained and educated, drilled in conformity, etc. Of course, they are also stressed, poor, and contained within an enforced secular/nondenominational environment like the military. They typically have risen (guiltily) from rigid Christian orthodoxies. They participate in the (properly) homogenizing environment of the military, and have resigned their autonomy in even the smallest details. That makes the pseudo-religious candy of “Purpose Driven” the perfect sheep’s clothing for underhanded, camouflaged proselytizing.

    2. The writers know their issues. I’m not surprised that Hitler didn’t make the presentation. The military knows Hitler; he gets a fair amount of cred both as an organizer, a canny and dangerous opponent, and the architect of the last great military campaign that ended in decisive triumph for the good guys. He is also fairly popular among the lower echelons. Soviets, though, are fair game; they are not safely put to bed, and Darwin especially–not because of the ideological differences, but because of the thick reek of civilian intellectual elitism. The presentation sounds some very accurate rhetorical notes when your target is young enlisted people–Darwin isn’t an officer, he isn’t an American, and he’s really hard to understand.

    3. The inclusion of the message in a suicide prevention video is of course an effective way to cover the risk. Suicide is so dire an issue that it justifies any tactic (or so might a weasely chaplain argue in a court-martial; so might a court-martial accept.)

    4. The writer does well with language. I noted particularly the “big idea” slide, where left-to-right movement with the title in the center crystallizes the dichotomy, creating the perception instead of a single choice: whether to join or abandon a process, as growth from bondage to freedom, from ‘no hope’ to destiny, from discouragement to motivation. These of course echo the basic messages used to draw people in to the military in the first place, and rely on the key messages that the military (and most other large institutions) use to improve the morale of their personnel. These folks have already joined; they are safely on the right. To stay there, to stay alive, is easy. I lost track of the number of applicable logical fallacies at work.


  57. Michael says

    The good chaplain is a graduate of Pat Robertson’s Regent University. That pretty much explains it.

  58. Sir Craig says

    As disgusting as this PowerPoint was, and as much as this abuse of power definitely falls under the “Fraud, Waste, and Abuse” category of things to report, I’m kind of hoping Captain Biscotti’s little mark of idiocy makes its way to my base here in the states – nothing gives me greater pleasure than standing up and pointing out to the presenter not only how incredibly wrong they are, but in this case also how incredibly illegal they are behaving. This would be followed up with me leaving a “mandatory” commander’s call and going straight to the IG with my complaint.

    By the way, I need to address a couple of comments on this thread:

    Father Shaggy: Most soldiers don’t go into the service with notions of killing and dying for Big Oil or some half-assed notion about Communism. Some enter the service because some event, like 9/11, compels them to do something rather than just sit around and let events unfold. Sadly, after a few years these soldiers start to realize that the images and information on the Global War on Terror® has been filtered by an administration with other motives in mind (such as protecting and benefiting Big Oil) and the disillusionment begins – this explains the need for suicide awareness training, although Capt. Biscotti’s method is completely dicked. Soldiers also have no illusions about Communism: It’s dead, buried, and no longer an issue. While it may have been an issue in the past (Korea, Vietnam, etc.), it is no longer one now. These days, most soldiers enter the service not out of some sense of overwhelming patriotism but because the job market sucks. I know: I entered 23 years ago because I was out of work, and in my 23 years I’ve been in the military I haven’t seen too much to change that view.

    To brokensoldier and Tim Spencer: I’m with you 110%, guys – keep fighting the good fight and don’t ever let the assholes get to you.

    And lastly, KI: Pretending to be a Roma doesn’t make you any funnier. Go fuck yourself. Or better yet, go to Walter Reed and tell anyone there in the ICU they shouldn’t be considered heroes. Let’s see how long your candy ass would last.

  59. frog says

    Danny: Are “Love your neighbor and acts of charity now Marxist?

    Haven’t you heard about Capitalist Jesus? The cross wrapped in a flag, wrapped in Benjamins?

    That’s how crazy these folks are — we’re not even talking about sophisticated medieval philosophers trying to create semi-consistent apologies for the ages, but random money grubbing red-necks saying whatever it takes to get some bucks.

    Haven’t you noticed the Fundy/Libertarian alliance? You’d think it was theologically impossible… but then the market doesn’t think.

  60. oldtree says

    Christian Biscotti? Now am I wrong or is that a synonym for “jesus biscuit”? Have the insane started to re name themselves after their christian idols? A cracker perhaps?
    Next time you hear someone say; “you can’t make this up”, tell them that in fact, you can. And they did. And they continue to do so.

  61. says

    This is in response to the question in comment #54 about slide 16.

    I’m the person who wrote the article, and was going to include something about the families in that “study,” but decided it would detract from the main point of the piece. I did do a bit of digging into the source of this, however, but since TheRedFerret asked…

    The two families compared were the descendants of the colonial preacher Jonathan Edwards, and the descendants of a family called the Jukes. There really wasn’t a “Jukes” family. The Jukes were a community of impoverished people living in New York state who were given the name “Jukes,” which was a slang term for chickens who don’t build permanent nests and lay their eggs wherever they happen to be. This all started as a relatively scientific study for its time, conducted in the early 1870s by Dr. Elisha Harris, the Registrar of Vital Statistics for the NYC Board of Health. Dr. Harris discovered that a disproportionate number of inmates in a New York state prison had the same few last names, and became curious about that, so he traced them back to a common ancestor, who was given the name “Margaret, mother of all criminals,” who was the daughter of a man named “Max” who had settled along the Hudson River.

    In 1875, an article about Dr. Harris’s study, titled “Pauperism,” appeared in the The North American Review. In 1877, a book about the Jukes titled The Jukes: A Study in Crime, Pauperism, Disease, and Heredity, was written by Richard Dugdale. Then, in 1900, a guy named A.E. Winthrop got the idea to compare the Jukes to another family, that of the prominent colonial preacher Jonathan Edwards, and wrote a book titled Jukes-Edwards: A Study in Education and Heredity. The Edwards descendants, of course, had plenty of money, the best education available, and married into other families of similar means. The Jukes, on the other hand, had been determined by Dr. Harris to have both physical and mental problems due to heredity, degeneration through intermarrying of relatives, poverty, and lack of education, which is why so many of them eventually ended up in prison.

    Now, fast forwarding to how this study is misrepresented today, the religious right nuts have made it a moral study. They’ve made “Max” an atheist, although nobody knows what his beliefs were. So, it’s now presented as a study of the descendants of an atheist vs. the descendants of a Christian minister. Capt. Biscotti’s slide is pretty much copied from one of the recent religious right articles misrepresenting what the findings of the Jukes study actually showed and turning it into a religious thing.

  62. negentropyeater says

    In more Rick Warren related news, Rick Warren is going to award dubya with an International Medal Of Peace.

    You really cannot make this up ! This sounds more and more like some news from a banana republic;

    The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe commends the Fed and the Bank of England for following its lead

    So, if Dubya gets the International medal of Peace, maybe Rick Warren is going to award next the International medal of Prosperity to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe ?

  63. KI says

    I am descended from Roma who were forced to leave their homes because of Catholic assholery in Europe. Church with the power of soldiers. You can go crawl up your ass, with your “nation” and “religion” and “society” and all the other shit you fuckers have thrown at us for the last 1000 years. My only thanks is for getting my ancestors out of Europe before the holocaust, ’cause it’s likely that I wouldn’t be here otherwise.
    I’m really angry at this and have to keep deleting what I write, so I’ll just go now.

  64. raven says

    America has always had its little fits and fads of religioius revivalism, but take heart – they’ve always been followed by longer and stronger periods of sanity and scientific advancement.

    There is a backlash against fundie Death Cultists going on right now.

    1. Polls show that even 50% of “conservatives” and the majority of the US people are sick and tired of them trying to cram their wingnut beliefs down our throats.

    2. It didn’t help them that they wrecked the country in the last 8 years and many people are genuinely suffering financially.

    3. My local WC fundie church seems to be struggling for members. It is called a “community” church but is really a cryptic outpost of the ….Southern Baptists. I guess they didn’t think Southern Baptist would go over too well here.

    4. The rise of the Militant Atheists. You can tell the wingnuts are worried about them when they start attacking them like they were all gays or catholics or moslems or something.

    We’ll see how far it will go. So far the USA ran to the edge of the cliff, looked down, and stepped back a little.

  65. Ian says

    “Who can take seriously a sermon from Captain Cookie?”

    I think you misspelled Captain Cuckoo!

  66. octopod says

    …”Air Force chaplain Capt. Christian Biscotti…”?

    Man, could this nutjob be any more apropos to Pharyngula?

  67. Erp says

    The Warren International Medal of PEACE and “Global PEACE Coalition”
    has nothing to do with the noun peace. Instead the PEACE is an acronym standing for

    1. Promote reconciliation
    2. Equip servant leaders
    3. Assist the poor
    4. Care for the sick
    5. Educate the next generation has a bit from an earlier press release

    “The coalition plans to attack the five “Global Giants” of the world by encouraging believers to be involved in five areas of service that Jesus modeled: Promote reconciliation, Equip servant leaders, Assist the poor, Care for the sick, and Educate the next generation. These five principles make up the P.E.A.C.E. acronym.”

    “It will target the five most evil, global problems of our day: spiritual emptiness, lack of servant leadership, extreme poverty, pandemic diseases, and illiteracy. These “Giants” affect billions of people worldwide.”

    “Warren calls the P.E.A.C.E. plan “the most complicated thing” he’s ever done. It will involve the public and private sectors as well as the local church, and he expects it will not be finished in ten or twenty years.”

    “Warren hopes to involve 500 churches in the launch and ultimately to involve 1 billion Christians in the P.E.A.C.E. plan.”

    Methinks they have dropped the periods in the acronym.

  68. Longtime Lurker says

    George Washington had a God-given purpose, and was religiously motivated?

    “Darwinists” believe that “Man” is the center of the universe? I mean, what about beetles, or bacteria? Do any of us even think that Homo sapiens is the most important organism on this planet?

    Using creationism to fight suicide… what’s next from Captain Cookie, using exorcisms instead of psychology to help soldiers with PTSD?

  69. says

    No, exorcisms are used for ridding demons from military bases. I swear I’m not making this up. MRFF actually got a report from an extremely credible source that when a new commander at one of our military bases found out that the commander he was replacing had been a heathen of some kind or another, he held an exorcism in his office to drive out whatever demons might still be lingering.

  70. Last Hussar says

    “Darwinists” believe that “Man” is the center of the universe?

    Half right- it is a woman. My wife seems to think the universe revolves round her.

    (Ba-ba-boom. I’m here all week, try the Chef’s Special)

  71. To Stunned to Believe says

    I’m not sure, but I think I saw part of that crap shortly before I retired.

  72. hery says

    There have been news articles in the recent past about religious discrimination at the Air Force Academy and on airbases