Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Since when does being a Christian mean giving “unmitigated support” to the military?

Last week, I received two frenzied e-mail alerts from Jay Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), an organization ostensibly devoted to defending our First Amendment liberties, particularly the free exercise of religion. The ACLJ identifies itself as “Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism, Inc.,” a “tax-exempt, not-for-profit, religious corporation.” The e-mail I received demanded that I “give generously” in order to punish the city of Berkeley, California, for “insulting” the U.S. Marines. Apparently, the City Council had decided that the Marines’ recruiting office was no longer welcome there. The e-mail also chided the Mayor of Toledo, Ohio, for canceling a military training exercise scheduled in Toledo because the Marines “frighten people.”

As the wife of an Air Force veteran, I care deeply about the men and women in our armed forces. I admire the sacrifices they make to protect our country, and I ache for those who are separated from their families while serving overseas. However, I fail to see how a city’s refusal to allow military recruiting and/or training exercises in its communities warrants the intervention of evangelical Christians.

Here are some quotes from Jay Sekulow’s e-mails:

“Do not allow this anti-military, anti-America sentiment to pervade!”

“At best, this kind of action is nothing more than hostile liberal activism.”

“With your help, we will ... take radical, anti-military rhetoric to task. We will hold liberal politicians accountable for their outrageous behavior.”

“[U.S. military personnel] deserve our unmitigated support.”

Here are my problems with Jay’s tirade:

1. Refusing to allow the military to conduct training exercises in one’s city is not necessarily “anti-American.” As someone who is extremely wary of the dangers of big government (my father grew up in Nazi Germany), I sympathize with those who would be fearful upon seeing an overt military presence in their communities. After hearing about numerous innocent Americans who were killed in no-knock paramilitary-style raids on their homes (at least one instance was a case of mistaken identity), I would be quite uneasy if I observed uniformed military personnel conducting training exercises in my neighborhood.

2. It is wrong to assume that only “liberal activists” would object to military recruiting offices/training exercises in their cities and communities. Libertarians and Christian pacifists may also have qualms about allowing recruiting offices or military training to take place in their cities.

3. As evangelical Christians, I’m not sure we should be devoting our time and energies to taking “anti-military rhetoric to task.” When Jesus spoke about our being salt and light, somehow I don’t think this is what He had in mind.

4. There are a host of abuses that politicians—liberal and otherwise—have committed in recent times for which they should be held accountable. I’m sure Jay could have found even more “outrageous behavior” to castigate had he looked far enough, including SWAT-type raids on home schooling families, government control and manipulation of juries, and unreasonable searches and seizures against innocent people. With so many serious problems in our government, I question the wisdom of focusing his organization’s resources on punishing a couple of cities for insulting the Marines.

5. Many patriotic Americans, including my husband who served in the military, have legitimate gripes with the armed services and therefore may not support their recruiting efforts. My husband has often said he would never recommend military service to anyone because of the experimental vaccines that new recruits are forced to undergo (he suspects that the autoimmune disease he has stems from an experimental Swine flu vaccine he was given in the Air Force). In addition, some conservatives and constitutionalists object to the way the U.S. military is being used as a global policeman. One such “police action” was the invasion of Congo’s Katanga province in the 1960s, which broke away from the pro-communist Congolese regime of Patrice Lumumba. As part of a UN “peacekeeping” operation, U.S. planes bombed hospitals, churches, and schools in order to force the Christian-led government of Katanga to submit to communist rule.

6. The Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal in Iraq, while hardly typical of the U.S. military as a whole, should make Christians wary of giving any branch of the armed forces “unmitigated support.”

If anyone else wants to weigh in on this issue, I’d be interested in your comments.


Blogger John Lofton, Recovering Republican said...

I agree. Please visit our site TheAmericanView.com

February 20, 2008 10:46 AM  
Blogger Corey said...

Hey Julie,
We agree on something!!

February 23, 2008 1:10 PM  

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