By Philip Giraldi
The connection between America’s wars in the Middle East—and its wars more generally—with the more fundamentalist forms of Christianity in the United States is striking. Opinion polls suggest that the more religiously conservative one is, the more one will support overseas wars or even what many might describe as war crimes. Fully 60 percent of self-described evangelicals supported torturing suspected terrorists in 2009, for example. That is somewhat puzzling, as Christianity is, if anything, a religion of peace that only reluctantly embraced a “just war” concept that was deliberately and cautiously evolved to permit Christians—under very limited circumstances of imminent threat—to fight to defend themselves.
To be sure, some Christian conservatives who might be described as Armageddonists regard America’s Asian wars as part and parcel of the precursor events that will lead to the Second Coming of Christ, which they eagerly look forward to. Also, a non-interventionist friend of mine who comes from a religiously conservative background explained to me how the contradiction partly derives from the fact that many evangelical Christians hardly relate to the New Testament at all. While they can recite scripture and verse coming from the Old Testament, they are frequently only marginally conversant with the numerous episodes in the New Testament that attest to Jesus’s extolling the virtues of peacemaking and loving one’s neighbor. If true, that means that many evangelicals are much more imbued with the values of an eye-for-an-eye or smiting Philistines than they are with the Sermon on the Mount.
There has undeniably been pushback coming from some evangelical leaders as well as from many younger religious conservatives against America’s constant diet of God-anointed warfare, but given that those who describe themselves as evangelical Christians tend to disproportionately support America’s wars, it is perhaps no surprise to learn that fundamentalist viewpoints prevail in certain quarters in the military. There has indeed been considerable media reporting on the impact of evangelical Christians on the armed services, to include a bizarre account of US military sniper sights being inscribed with citations from the Bible, leading one critic to suggest that the soldiers were being issued “Jesus rifles.”
The increase in highly visible religiosity among U.S. soldiers also has real life consequences by becoming a propaganda tool for groups like al-Qaeda and strengthening the widespread belief that Washington is actually mounting a new crusade against Muslim regimes. Efforts to have soldiers distribute Bibles in Afghanistan’s languages, encouraged by some military chaplains, have been noted by both the local and international media, a practice that runs counter to both military regulations and specific general orders for the Afghan theater of operations.
Full article at The American Conservative