Belaboring the Obvious

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Faith-Based Warfare...

... or something like that. Digby brings up yet another uncomfortable instance of God's Own Air Force at work (quoted from this WaPo article):

The Air Force is investigating whether a two-star general violated military regulations by urging fellow Air Force Academy graduates to make campaign contributions to a Republican candidate for Congress in Colorado, Pentagon officials said yesterday.

Maj. Gen. Jack J. Catton Jr., who is on active duty at Langley Air Force Base, sent the fundraising appeal on Thursday from his official e-mail account to more than 200 fellow members of the academy's class of 1976, many of whom are also on active duty.

"We are certainly in need of Christian men with integrity and military experience in Congress," Catton wrote.

Now, recall that as much as one-quarter of Congress already may be composed of evangelicals, and Catton's plea is for more of those to have military experience. The Air Force general he's plumping is Bentley Rayburn, recently retired, who, upon entering the campaign, said, "I have been serving my country for 30 years, and my country has taken me all over the world.... Now I’m ready to come home."

Home may be a relative term. Rayburn didn't return to his "home" (he graduated from Parkway Central high school in the St. Louis, MO, area, and likely grew up in Lookout Mountain, Georgia, where his father, Dr. Robert Rayburn, was the founding president of Covenant College). Instead, he retired to Colorado Springs, home of James Dobson's Focus on the Family organization, Ted Haggard's megachurch, The New Life Church, and of the Air Force Academy (Rayburn is a 1975 AFA graduate).

While that might be a confluence of forces which would attract someone like Rayburn, Rayburn's presence there, along with Catton's Christian endorsement of him, imply that right-wing evangelical religion and the AFA have been intertwined for longer than recent reports suggest, and that evangelicals are now rising into the command structure of the military, especially the Air Force. (The phenomenon is certainly not limited to the Air Force, though. Witness the crackpottery-in-uniform of Army LTG Jerry Boykin.) Also stumping for such people for Congress gives me more than a little pause.

If anyone thinks we don't have a problem with the military, the right wing and religious influence in government, in general, they've either been dead or in a coma these last few years. As a nation, we're rapidly going broke paying the combined costs of far-too-excessive military appropriations and for the cronyism and corruption at the heart of paramilitary institutions such as Homeland Security, along with the military crusades of George W. Bush against the brown hordes who have anything to do with oil. A bunch of true believers running the Pentagon is the last thing we need, because they'll step right into line any time a faux Christian born-again politician like Dubya strikes a manly pose, steps up with bullhorn in hand and promises neverending war.

Let's say that 2009 brings a new government looking to ramp down the conflicts now raging that Bush the Younger has precipitated. The situation might be analogous to that of 1961, when a Pentagon leadership full of John Birchers very nearly openly advocated military takeover of Kennedy's government. When a real President (i.e., in their view, a good career military man like Eisenhower) was in office, White House and Pentagon were in general agreement. When Kennedy sought to defuse growing tensions between the Soviet Union and the US, that right-wing military became not a little restive, and profoundly unhappy with that prospect--and with Kennedy.

Now imagine Congress being stuffed like a ballot box with retired Christian evangelical generals....

Catton's email went out by official email to a list of about 200 recipients. How many of those recipients were high-ranking military men of like Christian mind?


  • Well, I'm one of the 200 receipients of the email, and you'll be glad to know I wish a pox on so-called "Christian" right-wing ideologues. Rayburn announced his candidacy on Hitler's birthday - probably not intentional, but you never know. I will say that the Air Force Academy was NOT a hotbed of evangelical fervor when I was a cadet. In fact, the Supreme Court struck down manadatory chapel when I was a sophomore there, and there was no hue and cry. But with that nut-case Dobson on the prowl, I pity the ever-suffering cadets who have to put up with proselytizing whackos along with everything ELSE they come up with to make life miserable.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:23 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home