Thursday, December 28, 2006

The USA: God's Country

Thanks to an interesting article in The Revealer, we now have a better idea of exactly what has infiltrated our government. In the article, the author, Jeff Sharlet, reviews some notes he took during an interview with Sam McCullough, the Christian Embassy's chief of staff. The review comes on the heels of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation catching wind of Jeff's earlier article in Harper's which hilighted military officials speaking benevolently of the Christian Embassy. You're going to love what the CE's chief says during the course of his interview (more below the fold):

Christian Embassy is political.

Unlike the conservative Family Research Council, which McCullough describes as an explicitly political lobby with which Christian Embassy sometimes coordinates, Christian Embassy focuses on “networking, individual counseling, that kind of thing.” McCullough told me that Christian Embassy is apolitical; on the other hand, he also said its ministry has a political impact: “It’s more to help the individual grow as a person in their relationship with God, and then their politics is going to be an outcome.”
Interesting. McCullough would like to distance himself from an organization that is a blatantly political lobby, while characterizing his own organization as one that networks behind the scenes, resulting in political impact. Dude, that's called lobbying. Wrapping an extra step of an individual's consideration of his/her relationship with God between the initial chat and the eventual political impact doesn't change anything.

Christian Embassy believes religion should guide politics.

Christian Embassy believes that politicians, diplomats, and officers should not consider their personal faith separate from their politics and their official duties. McCullough offers as a role model President Bush: “…in terms of the way [Bush] talks, the way he believes, he doesn’t really say ‘Oh I’m going to do religious things now and do other things later.’”
I guess the CE does have a point about Bush. He did once state in the same sentence that he believed that God wants him to be president.

Christian Embassy sees the top brass as its mission field

McCullough on Christian Embassy’s Pentagon presence: “At the Pentagon, we have a flag officers groups. Your stars, basically, 1-4 stars. We also have a disciple group at the pentagon. And there’s a general Bible study that meets Wednesday morning where 70-120 come. Most of our groups that we organize and work with are at the officer level. Flags, a good percentage. We have about 40 that come or are involved with that.”
This is great. Instead of actually doing their fucking jobs, we have officers at the Pentagon who enjoy Bible study every Wednesday morning. Maybe they should dedicate their evenings and weekends to Bible study, if they love it so much, and save the rest of the working day for protecting our fucking country.

Christian Embassy is closely involved with political and military officials.
Those who work with Christian Embassy will typically meet in small groups, under the supervision of a counselor like McCullough, for an hour every week. Counselors typically select a scripture verse for discussion and attempt to draw out its “practical” implications, often through application to current events. Participants can and do call on Christian Embassy counselors for additional advice outside of their cell meetings. These counseling sessions typically take place in the officer’s or politician’s office. The most committed participants may travel overseas on behalf of Christian Embassy or arrange their official government travel to leave time for evangelizing work. This work may sometimes be “covert,” such as a evangelizing in countries where it’s against the law.
That last part really intrigues me: covert evangelizing. Perhaps they're afraid they'll be persecuted for trying to spread a religion that doesn't jive with the state sponsored one. How ironic.

Christian Embassy takes political positions.
Participants may call on Christian Embassy for advice on specific issues. “'What does the Bible say about this?'” is a common question, according to McCullough. He says Christian Embassy will not give explicit policy advice, but as a counselor, he would tell a member of Congress or a military official that a particular position -- pro-choice politics, or pacifism, for instance -- is “contrary to scripture.”

OK. The first thing that's making me crap my pants is the fact that officials are outright asking what a book (that was written over 2000 years ago) advises. And not giving explicit policy advice? Passive/aggressive, tuh-may-toe/tuh-mah-tow. Let's call the whole thing off. The real pant-crapper is that McCullough insinuates with his quote that pacifism is contrary to scripture. Fucking piece and pacifism is contrary to scripture. I had no idea that the Judeo/Christian God was none other than Ares/Mars, ye olde god of war.

Christian Embassy believes the Iraq War may be biblically sanctioned.

On the question of the war in Iraq, McCullough counsels: “We have war all throughout the Bible. Man’s history is war. So what’s the right thing? Not necessarily [the] war in the Bible. But what are you looking for? Is peace possible?” McCullough answered is own question by laughing.

This is so fucked up I truly don't know where to even begin.

Christian Embassy is a lobby in all but name.

McCullough says Christian Embassy is not a lobbying organization, but describes his work thusly: “I often will go visit a member of Congress and say, ‘Hey, there’s this going on, could you be involved in that?’ ... Or I will recommend to some of these groups that are issue oriented as to who might be interested in helping them. I am ware of where people are. So we do try to connect the dots. Network people.” He grees that Christian Embassy participants use the Christian Embassy network to political advantage, but considers this a positive outcome since it gives ambitious political, diplomatic, and military figures an incentive to get more involved with Christian Embassy’s evangelical theology.

Look, you're a theocratic lobbyist. Stop the tap-dancing already, asshat.

Christian Embassy is conservative and mostly Republican.

McCullough says Christian Embassy is bi-partisan, but in addition to President Bush and the Republicans featured in the video, he offered as examples of public figures very involved with Christian Embassy’s work three very conservative Republican senators, Sam Brownback of Kansas, James Inhofe of Oklahoma, and John Thune of South Dakota; and four Republican representatives, conservatives Robert Alderholt of Alabama and John R. Carter of Texas and moderates Vern Ehlers of Wisconsin and Tim Johnson of Illinois. McCullough could think of only one Democrat, Representative Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, a blue dog Christian conservative with high ratings from the Christian Coalition and Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum. He said that McIntyre was living at the time in the Fellowship's special Capitol Hill dorm for congressmen. The video features appearances by former Congressman Tom DeLay of Texas and Representative J.D. Hayworth of Arizona, two more
religious conservatives.

CE is conservative and mostly Republican? Ya think? Why are there so many folks in Congress that are involved with this? Can't they be tossed out on their evangelical asses?

Christian Embassy is influential.

McCullough says there are “about 80 members of Congress that are in our rotation.” More than half are “mature,” by which he means fully in sync with Christian Embassy’s theology. Immature Christians are matched with mature Christians to mentor them in Christian Embassy’s beliefs. Christian Embassy is stronger in the House than in the Senate; their goal is to develop a relationship with politicians and officers at the beginning of their Washington careers—as they did with Brownback—that will allow them access as some of those politicians and officers grow in influence.

Would the Colorado priests be considered mature or immature Christians? After the Foley scandal, I think it's safe to say that there are more immature Christians running around there than mature ones. Molding politicians as soon as they enter Capitol Hill. How lovely. I guess that doesn't say much for the juniors that get their first shot in the legislative branch who fall for this shite.

Christian Embassy thinks separation of church and state has gone too far.

Christian Embassy’s theology, like that of Campus Crusade, might best be characterized as “ecumenical fundamentalism.” They’re not interested in denominational divides. Rather, they’re invested in a critique of culture that sees the United States as in a state of “decay” as a result of inadequate Bible study. They believe the Bible was once part of public life and that it must be restored to its central role in order to achieve “revival.” According to McCullough, separation of church and state has gone too far.

I think their theology should be characterized as simple mentalism. At least he finally stopped his tap-dance routine for one minute to get his plug in for theocracy. McCullough and his ilk routinely evangelize within the government and yet he still thinks that there is a separation between church and state which has gone too far? I guess the only way it wouldn't be too far is if the entire House and Senate was populated with the Christian Embassy. That old domination black magic. Can't stand that you've not yet converted everyone on the planet, can ya?

Christian Embassy's ambition is international.
An elegant booklet that accompanied the DVD McCullough gave me is filled not just with the testimonies of generals and congressmen, but also with those of foreign diplomats declaring Washington a sort of holy city. “The most important thing since coming to Washington from my communist-dominated society is that I that I have discovered God,” writes a “European ambassador,” thanking Christian Embassy. Fijian Ambassador Pita Nacuva, reports the booklet, following his “years of spiritual training in Washington, D.C.” with Christian Embassy, reconfigured his country’s public schools’ “on the model of Jesus Christ” using an American Christian curriculum designed for developing nations, currently exported to around 40 countries.

Silly me. I spoke too soon. We can strike Fiji off of the vacation checklist now.


At 6:50 AM, Blogger Marked Hoosier said...

Wow, the expander looks nice and works great!

Is it automatic or can you pick where to place it in your post?

At 8:24 AM, Blogger gs.scooter said...

Thanks! You can actually pick where in the post it occurs by placing the expandable portion inside of a spanned style, which is obviously left to your discretion. I like that.

At 9:22 AM, Blogger Marked Hoosier said...

Now I might have to go and change my template... AGAIN...

Actually I am a perfectionist at heart, so change is good because it relieves anxiety in the end.

Yes, I am a little obsessive/compulsive... why do you ask? :)


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