Christian Bias in Military?

Soldier alleges military pattern of Christian bias

An atheist soldier suing over prayers at military formations claims a larger pattern of religious discrimination exists in the military, citing attempts to convert Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan and an evangelical bias in a suicide prevention manual.

The expanded lawsuit filed Monday by Spc. Dustin Chalker and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation in U.S. District Court in Kansas City also claims the military doesn't take complaints of religious discrimination seriously enough.

The Defense Department has identified fewer than 50 complaints about alleged violations of religious freedoms during the past three years, with 1.4 million personnel in uniform, spokeswoman Eileen Lainez said.

She declined to comment on a pending lawsuit but noted that the military has policies against endorsing any religious view.

The revised lawsuit criticizes the Army's 2008 manual on suicide prevention, quoting it as promoting "religiosity" as a necessary part of prevention and describing "connectivity to the divine" as "fundamental."

The lawsuit cites comments from a chaplain and a second soldier in Christian missionary publications about attempts to convert Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the two soldiers' desire to distribute Bibles.

The lawsuit also notes that in 2007, the Air Force sponsored "Team Faith," which performs motocross stunt shows to "lead extreme sports athletes to Christ."

The original lawsuit filed in September alleged Chalker had to attend events at Fort Riley where Christian prayers were given. Foundation president Mikey Weinstein said Chalker tried to pursue his complaints within the Army but was told they were "unfounded."

On the Net:

U.S. District Court, Kansas

Military Religious Freedom Foundation

Department of Defense

What will these crazy Christians think of next?



"All for Jesus. All for Jesus. All for Jesus. All for Jesus" Republican Candidate Sam Brownback's stump speech in Iowa.

"Between science and God, I'll stick with God if the two are in conflict." Republican Candidate Mike Huckabee

"Freedom requires religion." Republican Candidate Mitt Romney

"I would probably have to say yes, that the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation." John McCain

"Just before us is a nuclear countdown with Iran, followed by the final battle: the battle of Armageddon . . . . The end of the world as we know it is rapidly approaching. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad. The best is yet to be." Televangelist and McCain endorser John Hagee

"Americans must be 'Christocrats' -- citizens of both their country and the Kingdom of God"; "And that is not a democracy; that is a theocracy"; "That means God is in control, and you are not." Televangelist and McCain supporter Rod Parsley

March 13, 2008 - Sam Brownback (R-KS) introduced S. Res. 483, a resolution "recognizing the first weekend of May 2008 as 'Ten Commandments Weekend,'" which has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The resolution has one co-sponsor -- Joe Lieberman. "The Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation" John McCain, September 2007

"Our national leaders, are sending soldiers out on a task that is from God. That's what we have to make sure that we're praying for, that there is a plan and that that plan is God's plan." Sarah Palin, on the Iraq war

If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier -- so long as I'm the dictator. George W. Bush, Dec. 19, 2000

"I hope I live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won't have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!" Rev. Jerry Falwell

"Secular schools can never be tolerated because such a school has no religious instruction and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith.... We need believing people." Adolf Hitler, April 26, 1933

"Our job is to reclaim America for Christ, whatever the cost. As the vice regents of God, we are to exercise godly dominion and influence over our neighborhoods, our schools, our government, our literature and arts, our sports arenas, our entertainment media, our news media, our scientific endeavors -- in short, over every aspect and institution of human society." D. James Kennedy, Coral Ridge Ministries and Bush advisor.

"The really dangerous American fascist... is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power... They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective, toward which all their deceit is directed, is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection." U.S. Vice President Henry A. Wallace, quoted in the New York Times, April 9, 1944

"What did the Fascist regimes in Italy, Germany, and Spain have in common? They consisted of a highly militarized state, backed by corporation and a wealthy elite, that rose to power through a false populism that exploited the public's fear of foreigners and 'moral degenerates'. This precisely defines the formula that Karl Rove designed to consolidate the Bush administration's power in the recent election." Sean Donahue, Nov. 2004

"I've heard the call. I believe God wants me to run for president." George W. Bush, quoted in George Magazine, September, 2000

"I would like to thank Providence and the Almighty for choosing me of all people to be allowed to wage this battle for Germany." Adolf Hitler

"A person who is guided by God will never be misguided by anyone." Osama Bin Laden

"We're being guided by God." Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson

"George Bush was not elected by a majority of the voters in the United States. He was appointed by God." Lt. Gen. William Boykin, the defense undersecretary in charge of hunting down top terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan

"Nothing [Bush] does can be challenged on moral grounds, however unethical or evil it might appear, because all of his actions are directed by God. He can twist the truth, oppress the poor, exalt the rich, despoil the earth, ignore the law--and murder children--without the slightest compunction, the briefest moment of doubt or self-reflection, because he believes, he truly believes, that God squats in his brainpan and tells him what to do." Chris Floyd, CounterPunch, 7/30/03

"No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God." George Bush Sr., to a reporter in 1988

"A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider to be God-fearing and pious." Aristotle, 343 B.C.

"He [God] is using me, all the time, everywhere, to stand up for a biblical worldview in everything that I do and everywhere I am." House Majority Leader Tom DeLay

"If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier -- so long as I'm the dictator." George W. Bush, Dec. 19, 2000

"Why is this man in the White House? The majority of Americans did not vote for him. Why is he there? And I tell you this morning that he's in the White House because God put him there for a time such as this." Lt Gen William Boykin, speaking of G. W. Bush, New York Times, 17 October 2003

"He [Rumsfeld] leads in a way that the Good Lord tells him is best for our country." Marine General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

"God gave the savior to the German people. We have faith, deep and unshakeable faith, that he was sent to us by God to save Germany." Hermann Goering, speaking of Hitler

"Government authorities, police and the military = God's Ministers" Frank Bussey, director of Military Ministry at Fort Jackson

"Our purpose for Campus Crusade for Christ at the Air Force Academy is to make Jesus Christ the issue at the Air Force Academy and around the world. They're government paid missionaries when they leave here." Scot Blom, Campus Crusade for Christ director assigned to work at the Air Force Academy

"...bring lost soldiers closer to Christ, build them in their faith and send them out into the world as Government paid missionaries." Military Ministry, a subsidiary of the Campus Crusade for Christ

Thanks to Ray for showing me this


Vatican rehabilitates Galileo Five Hundred Years Too Late

Vatican rehabilitating Galileo

By NICOLE WINFIELD, Associated Press Writer Nicole Winfield, Associated Press Writer Tue Dec 23, 2:45 pm ET

VATICAN CITY – Galileo Galilei is going from heretic to hero.

The Vatican is recasting the most famous victim of its Inquisition as a man of faith, just in time for the 400th anniversary of Galileo's telescope and the U.N.-designated International Year of Astronomy next year.

Pope Benedict XVI paid tribute to the Italian astronomer and physicist Sunday, saying he and other scientists had helped the faithful better understand and "contemplate with gratitude the Lord's works."

In May, several Vatican officials will participate in an international conference to re-examine the Galileo affair, and top Vatican officials are now saying Galileo should be named the "patron" of the dialogue between faith and reason.

It's quite a reversal of fortune for Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), who made the first complete astronomical telescope and used it to gather evidence that the Earth revolved around the sun. Church teaching at the time placed Earth at the center of the universe.

The church denounced Galileo's theory as dangerous to the faith, but Galileo defied its warnings. Tried as a heretic in 1633 and forced to recant, he was sentenced to life imprisonment, later changed to house arrest.

The Church has for years been striving to shed its reputation for being hostile to science, in part by producing top-notch research out of its own telescope.

In 1992, Pope John Paul II declared that the ruling against Galileo was an error resulting from "tragic mutual incomprehension."

But that apparently wasn't enough. In January, Benedict canceled a speech at Rome's La Sapienza University after a group of professors, citing the Galileo episode and depicting Benedict as a religious figure opposed to science, argued that he shouldn't speak at a public university.

The Galileo anniversary appears to be giving the Vatican new impetus to put the matter to rest. In doing so, Vatican officials are stressing Galileo's faith as well as his science, to show the two are not mutually exclusive.

At a Vatican conference last month entitled "Science 400 Years after Galileo Galilei," the Vatican No. 2, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said Galileo was an astronomer, but one who "lovingly cultivated his faith and his profound religious conviction."

"Galileo Galilei was a man of faith who saw nature as a book authored by God," Bertone said.

The head of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Culture, which co-sponsored the conference, went further. Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi told Vatican Radio that Galileo "could become for some the ideal patron for a dialogue between science and faith."

He said Galileo's writings offered a "path" to explore how faith and reason were not incompatible.

The Rev. John Padberg, a church historian and the director of the Institute of Jesuit Sources at St. Louis University, said he suspected the Vatican's new emphasis on Galileo's faith came from the pope himself.

"Pope Benedict XVI is ardently convinced of the congruence of faith and reason, and he is concerned, especially in the present circumstances, of giving reason its due place in the whole scheme of things," he said.

While it is widely accepted that Galileo was a convinced Catholic, Padberg questioned whether he could ever be accepted as some kind of a poster child for the faith and reason debate. "That's going to be a long shot for an awful lot of people, on both sides, by the way," he said.

Benedict, a theologian, has made exploring the faith-reason relationship a key aspect of his papacy, and has directed his daily newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, in particular, to take up the charge.

On Monday, the newspaper published a piece on the possibility of alien life on other planets as well as one on the popes who were "friendly" to astronomy.

Benedict clearly is: In his Sunday blessing, he noted that the Vatican itself has its own meridian — an obelisk in St. Peter's Square — and that astronomy had long been used to signal prayer times for the faithful.

But the Vatican's embrace of Galileo only goes so far.

There were plans earlier this year to give Galileo a permanent place of honor in the Vatican to mark the anniversary of his telescope: a statue, to be located inside the Vatican gardens, donated by the Italian aerospace giant Finmeccanica SpA.

The plans were suspended after some Vatican officials voiced "problems" with the initiative, said Nicola Cabibbo, the president of the Pontifical Council for Science. He declined to elaborate.

Finmeccanica spokesman Roberto Alatri said the Galileo statue was just an idea that never got off the ground.

Italian news reports suggested the Vatican simply didn't want to draw so much permanent attention to the Galileo episode, which 400 years on, still rankles some.

"The dramatic clash between Galileo and some men of the Church left wounds that are still open today," the Vatican's chief astronomer, the Rev. Jose Funes, wrote recently in Osservatore. "The Church in some ways has recognized its errors.

"Maybe it could do better. One can always do better," he wrote.


On the Web:

International congress "The Galileo Affair: A historical, philosophical and theological re-examination" is at http://www.stensen.it

Vatican Observatory is at http://www.vaticanobservatory.org

Now,if the Vatican could just undo all the damage it did to the "heretics" it burned at the stake (alive and dead), tortured, imprisoned, from whom it took all property, even doing so posthumously by appropriating the "heretic"'s survivors. In our mind, the RCC has still got a lot of 'splainin' to do ... and apologizing and atoning and ...


Democracy flowers in Iraq, thanks to US Presence

December 22, 2008

Iraqi Journalist Who Threw Shoes at Bush Was Tortured in Jail, His Brother Says


BAGHDAD — The television reporter who threw his shoes at President Bush was burned by a cigarette in the hours after his arrest on Dec. 14 and was beaten so badly by Iraqi security personnel that one of his teeth was knocked out, the reporter’s brother said Sunday after a visit to the jail.

The reporter, Muntader al-Zaidi, 29, has been jailed since hurling his shoes at Mr. Bush during a news conference here last week. Mr. Zaidi has not been formally charged, but he faces up to seven years in prison if convicted of the crime of aggression against a foreign leader during an official visit.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki did not return phone calls seeking comment on Sunday about the allegations, but the Maliki government previously denied that Mr. Zaidi had been mistreated while in custody.

It was Mr. Maliki’s security detail that detained Mr. Zaidi after he hurled his shoes. Mr. Zaidi was seen being beaten before he was pulled from the room where the news conference by Mr. Bush and Mr. Maliki was held.

On Sunday before the torture allegations were made public, Mr. Maliki said that he had received a letter from Mr. Zaidi saying that a terrorist had persuaded him to throw the shoes.

“A person urged him to commit this act, and this person is known to us as a person who beheads people,” Mr. Maliki said, without divulging the person’s name.

Mr. Zaidi’s family has maintained that he was acting out of his own frustration with the American invasion.

The visit by one of Mr. Zaidi’s brothers was the first by either a relative or a lawyer that the reporter had been allowed since being jailed. He has not been seen publicly since his arrest.

During an interview broadcast Sunday on Al Baghdadia, the Cairo-based satellite television network for which Mr. Zaidi works, his brother Uday, 33, said that Mr. Zaidi had been stripped to his underwear before being placed in a cell and tortured during the 24-hour period after his arrest.

“He told me he was sleeping on the floor of the cell when a very large man came in and dumped cold water on him and began hitting him with a thick cable,” Uday al-Zaidi said in the TV interview.

He said his brother had told him that he was brutally beaten by several men and burned on his right ear by a cigarette. Uday al-Zaidi said that on Sunday his brother had bruises on his face, stitches on the bridge of his nose and swelling in his legs, arms and hands.

His jailers had periodically demanded that he state in a videotaped confession that he had been ordered to commit the act by enemies of the prime minister, Uday al-Zaidi said his brother had told him.

Uday al-Zaidi said his brother had said: “After the torture and the cold-water shower, I told them to bring me a blank sheet of paper and I would sign it, and they could write whatever they wanted. I am ready to say I am a terrorist or whatever you want.”

But Muntader al-Zaidi told his brother that the men had stopped beating him and did not force him to write or sign anything. The journalist said that a letter to the prime minister written by him from jail expressing regret for the attack had not been coerced, his brother said. It was unclear if this was the same letter Mr. Maliki referred to.

Uday al-Zaidi said his brother told him that he had bought the shoes — used — at a market in Cairo.

For THIS we liberated Iraq? How many Americans and Iraqis and "coalition troops" have died so that this great democracy can flourish?


The Line Between Contraception and Abortion

We're having fun over at the Washington Post this afternoon, participating in a discussion of "The Line Between Contraception and Abortion". Feel free to stop by and join in the discussion!

Bristol-Levi Update

We know that our reader has been on the edge of his/her seat recently, wondering how things are going for the lovely damsel Bristol Palin and her handsome knight Levi Johnson. We are therefore mightily pleased to be able to bring you this item from the Anchorage Daily News:

Levi Johnston's mother hit with drug charges
Arrested: her son was in the spotlight as father of Bristol Palin's baby.


WASILLA -- A 42-year-old Wasilla woman was arrested Thursday at her home by Alaska State Troopers with a search warrant in an undercover drug investigation. Sherry L. Johnston was charged with six felony counts of misconduct involving a controlled substance.

Johnston is the mother of Levi Johnston, the Wasilla 18-year-old who received international attention in September when Gov. Sarah Palin and her husband, Todd, announced their teenage daughter was pregnant and he was the father. Bristol Palin, 18, is due on Saturday, according to a recent interview with the governor's father, Chuck Heath.

Troopers served the warrant at Johnston's home at the "conclusion of an undercover narcotics investigation," said a statement issued Thursday by the troopers as part of the normal daily summary of activity around the state.

Troopers charged Johnston with second-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance -- generally manufacturing or delivering drugs -- as well as fourth-degree misconduct involving controlled substances, or possession.

Troopers released no other information, including the kind or amount of drugs, because details could jeopardize an ongoing investigation, spokeswoman Megan Peters said.

Asked how long the investigation had proceeded before Johnston's arrest, Peters would only say "a while."

The Palmer District Attorney's office had no comment.

Sherry Johnston was arrested around noon and booked at Mat-Su Pretrial Facility, according to a booking officer there. She was released on a $5,000 unsecured bond just after 2 p.m.

No charging documents had been filed at Palmer courthouse by the end of the day, a clerk said.

Levi Johnston sat with Bristol and the rest of the Palin family in St. Paul, Minn., during Gov. Palin's speech to the Republican National Convention, and he joined the family on the stage afterwards.

When asked about the arrest, Palin's spokesman, Bill McAllister, issued the following statement by e-mail: "This is not a state government matter. Therefore the governor's communications staff will not be providing comment or scheduling interview opportunities."

Johnston didn't come to the door of her home on Caribou Loop Road outside Wasilla on Thursday afternoon. A teenage boy who answered the door said he couldn't provide any information.

A commentator at the Anchorage Daily News offers this comment:

"And this is news why? Oh, wait, it's because her son knocked up the governor's daughter. What a sorry excuse for a news story. If this was anyone else, it would be a small blurb in the police blotter."

All true. And yet, some say that apples don't fall far from the tree .... We're just worried that Sherry may not be out of the slammer in time to attend Bristol's and Levi's wedding - now that would be a tragedy, the Johnsons and the Palins bein' all jiggy with family values, n' stuff.

Come to think of it, when is that wedding? The baby is apparently due tomorrow, Saturday, December 20, 2008 ... and the kid's parents aren't even living under the same roof, let alone married? I'm sure, however, that all their friends on the "right" will be rushing to give them a hand (not a hand-out) to get on their feet. We expected it to be four feet, rather than two, however. Surely, the Johnsons and the Palins won't disappoint.


Biblical Marriage

Talking Points for the Religious Right's efforts to legislate "Biblical Marriage", with references to the textual support found in the Bible:

A. Marriage in the United States shall consist of a union between one man and one or more women. (Gen 29:17-28; II Sam 3:2-5)

B. Marriage shall not impede a man's right to take concubines in addition to his wife or wives. (II Sam 5:13; I Kings 11:3; II Chron 11:21)

C. A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed. (Deut 22:13-21)

D. Marriage of a believer and a non-believer shall be forbidden. (Gen 24:3; Num 25:1-9; Ezra 9:12; Neh 10:30)

E. Since marriage is for life, neither this Constitution nor the constitution of any State, nor any state or federal law, shall be construed to permit divorce. (Deut 22:19; Mark 10:9)

F. If a married man dies without children, his brother shall marry the widow. If he refuses to marry his brother's widow or deliberately does not give her children, he shall pay a fine of one shoe and be otherwise punished in a manner to be determined by law. (Gen 38:6-10; Deut 25:5-10)

G. In lieu of marriage, if there are no acceptable men in your town, it is required that you get your dad drunk and have sex with him (even if he had previously offered you up as a sex toy to men young and old), tag-teaming with any sisters you may have. Of course, this rule applies only if you are female. (Gen 19:31-36)

Thanks to "inbox_blues" in comments to Joe Solmonese's piece "Obama's Inaugural Mistake" in today's Washington Post.

I am the Walrus

Iraq officials arrested for reviving Baath party

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Twenty-three officers from Iraq's Interior Ministry have been arrested on suspicion of trying to rebuild former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's Baath party, a ministry spokesman said on Thursday.

Major-General Abdul Karim Khalaf said the officers were arrested under suspicion of being part of the al-Awda ("Return") party, seen as a new incarnation of the once omnipotent Baath party that was outlawed following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

"They are now being interrogated under the supervision of the Iraqi judiciary," Khalaf told Reuters. He said being a member of al-Awda was equivalent to being a Baath member.

The New York Times reported on Thursday that an elite counterterrorism force, reporting directly to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, arrested up to 35 officials, some of whom were accused of plotting a coup against the government.

Asked whether those arrested were suspected of plotting a coup, Khalaf repeated they were suspected of being members of the al-Awda party.

Read the rest here.

Coup coup ka joo.


Bipartisan Report: Rumsfeld Responsible for Detainee Abuse

Senate Committee Finds Officials Made Decisions That Led to Offenses Against Prisoners

A bipartisan Senate report released today says that former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other top Bush administration officials are directly responsible for abuses of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and charges that decisions by those officials led to serious offenses against prisoners in Iraq and elsewhere.
The Senate Armed Services Committee report accuses Rumsfeld and his deputies of being the principal architects of the plan to use harsh interrogation techniques on captured fighters and terrorism suspects, rejecting the Bush administration's contention that the policies originated lower down the command chain.

Read the rest of the WaPo story here.

We're not holding our breath waiting for those credulous sycophants for the military to apologize for their knee-jerk commentaries that it really was a few bad apples who were responsible for this.


So-Called Christians Come to the Defense Of Alleged Torturers Of Teen

TRACY, Calif. — A Girl Scout leader and her husband were arrested after an emaciated, terrified and nearly naked 17-year-old showed up at a gym with a chain locked to his ankle, saying he had just fled his captors, authorities said Tuesday.

Police were also seeking a third suspect and had an outstanding felony warrant against her for an earlier alleged assault against the teen.

The boy, who authorities said ran away from a Sacramento foster home last year, came into the In-Shape Sports Club in Tracy on Monday wearing only boxer briefs and covered in what appeared to be soot, gym manager Chuck Ellis said. Tracy is about 70 miles south of Sacramento.

Ellis said the teen was scared someone was going to come after him and asked to be hidden.

"He said, 'Don't let them get me, don't let them get me,'" Ellis said. "He was totally terrified."

The boy said he had been held captive for nearly a year, said Ellis, adding that he looked as if he was only 10 to 12 years old.

Authorities said they believe the boy had been chained to a car seat but picked up a dropped key, unlocked himself and fled when the car stopped.

Police arrested Kelly Layne Lau, 30, and Michael Schumacher, 34, late Monday after questioning the couple. A subsequent search of their nearby home found further evidence implicating them, said Tracy police spokesman Matt Robinson, who would not describe what officers found.

Read the rest here.

We here at HSD are investigating rumors that the Moron Church, the primary proponent of California's recent Proposition H8, as well as Focus on the Family, The Family Research Council are pooling their resources to mount a publicity campaign arguing that custody of the boy should be restored to Kelly Layne Lau and Michael Schumacher rather than run the risk that a homosexual couple might be seen as better guardians for the boy than Lau and Schumacher or 43-year-old Caren Ramirez, suspected of being the boy's aunt.her