Sunday, July 16, 2006

Taking His Name in Vain

But there is a somewhat frightening organization gaining power today in the military, Called The Officers' Christian Fellowship. A second abuse (in my view) by the evangelical Christian movement in America is the refusal of believers to practice pharmacy or medicine independently of their religious views.

There are slightly different versions of the particular commandment by God that speaks of his name and how it shall be used; not taking his name in vain being the short version. "You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name,” is the longer.
But the idea is that He’s picky about how His name is bandied about.
I mean that, not disrespectfully, but as a matter of clarification, because there are several instances in which the Religious Right have kidnapped the rights of others to force their acceptance of Him in their own way. So far as I know, He has not ever designated himself by particular religion, much less denomination.
But there is a somewhat frightening organization gaining power today in the military, Called The Officers' Christian Fellowship. The OCF claims to be a private organization. It further claims some 14,000 active-duty members on more than 200 U.S. military bases around the world. How’s this for a mission statement? The OCF says its goal is
"a spiritually transformed military, with ambassadors for Christ in uniform, empowered by the Holy Spirit."
Onward Christian soldiers, no matter that the military is non-sectarian and made up of many sizes and varieties of non-Christians. OCF is particularly active in the Air Force, Army and Naval Academies. For the record, I think that’s wrong. The reason I think it’s wrong has little to do with theology and much to do with Fitness Reports, the bread and butter of advancement within the military.
A proselytizing sergeant or superior officer controls by means other than military, who peels potatoes, gets the primo positions, gets his (or her) promotion and (quite possibly) lives or dies.
That is so wrong that it is a national scandal.
Those who agree it is wrong include retired Air Force Gen. Robert T. Herres, who was the first vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; retired Vice Adm. Bernard Kauderer, former commander of the Pacific submarine fleet; and retired Air Force Col. Richard Klass, who won a Silver Star as a pilot in Vietnam.
OCF is being challenged in court and we’ll have to wait to see where that goes.
A second abuse (in my view) by the evangelical Christian movement in America is the refusal of believers to practice pharmacy or medicine independently of their religious views.
Everybody’s suing everybody; patients and customers for the right to medicines and procedures they feel are unjustly withheld and doctors and pharmacists for the right to withhold them. I have some experience with that, being perhaps the only medical corpsman in my artillery-support unit whose religion (stamped on my dog-tags) read Christian Science. That was back in the late fifties, when life was simpler and belief was strictly a personal matter.
But the neo-cons, who believe in a more wasteful conservatism than I used to know, have ushered in the theo-cons, who believe in a more agressively Christ-only American religious community than I am comfortable with. They see their mission as thrusting their personal belief into the face of those who think otherwise. Their constitutional freedoms come before those of others and therein lies the leak in theo-con theocracy.
Thomas Jefferson said,
“It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”
That statement affirms, as much as anything I have ever read, the true and correct meaning of religious freedom. The Founders came from a European continent within which religion was a forced matter that could indeed pick your pocket or break your leg. And they were having none of it.
In the Military, in the health care system and in the millions of hearts that hold dear many thousands of beliefs, we must reconfirm those principles and have none of it today.
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