Thursday, February 14, 2008

"US military accused of harboring fundamentalism"

I was getting my daily dose of and came across this...

Since his last combat deployment in Iraq, Jeremy Hall has had a rough time, getting shoved and threatened by his fellow soldiers. The trouble started there when he would not pray in the mess hall.
"A senior ranking staff sergeant told me to leave and sit somewhere else because I refused to pray," Hall, a 23-year-old US army specialist, told AFP.

Later, Hall was confronted by a major for holding an authorized meeting of "atheists and freethinkers" on his base. The officer threatened to discipline him and block his re-enlistment.

"He said: 'You guys are being a problem and problems can be removed,'" Hall said. "He was yelling at us and stuff and at the very end he says, 'I really love you guys, I want you to see the light.'"

Now Hall is suing the major and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, accusing them of breaching his constitutional rights. A campaign group, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, is waiting for the Pentagon to respond to a lawsuit filed in a Kansas federal court on Hall's behalf.

It alleges a "pernicious pattern and practice" of infringement of religious liberties in the military.

The group's founder, former Air Force lawyer Mikey Weinstein, said he has documented 6,800 testimonies by military personnel -- nearly all of them Christians -- of sometimes punitive or humiliating attempts to make them accept a fundamentalist evangelical interpretation of Christianity.

"I am at war with those people who would create a fundamentalist Christian theocracy in the technologically most lethal organization ever created by our species, which is the United States armed forces," he said.

He plans to add extra charges and possibly other lawsuits this month.

"It violates title seven of the US code for an employer to push their Biblical world view on an employee," he said. "But it's a trillion times worse when that is not just your shift manager at Starbucks but that is your military superior."

He singles out one of the major Christian groups in the military, the Officers Christian Fellowship (OCF).

The group represents 15,000 US military personnel around the world, according to its director, retired Air Force general Bruce Fister.

"It is not the position of OCF to try and coerce people to believe what we believe," Fister told AFP.

OCF's aim, as stated on its website, is to achieve "a spiritually transformed military, with ambassadors for Christ in uniform, empowered by the Holy Spirit."

It professes belief in "the eternal blessedness of the saved; and the everlasting, conscious punishment of the lost."

Fister emphasized the group's work to support families of soldiers deployed in the "global war on terror."

"People make mistakes. There's probably been some instances where people have wrongly spoken," he added. "We'd like them not to, but that's life."

"Our checks within our equal opportunity channels identified fewer than 100 formal complaints over a two-year period," said Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez.

Army spokesman Paul Boyce told AFP: "The Army places a high value on the rights of its soldiers to observe tenets of their respective religious faiths."

The MRFF's constitutional complaint "is a matter of the courts system to address and resolve," he added.

"The joint standards of conduct for the Armed Forces and military equal opportunity policies address the freedom of religion, avoiding discrimination because of religion."

But Weinstein argued that most personnel are "too terrified" to speak out.

"When you actually fight against them, they make your life hell," said Hall, adding he has been passed over for promotion since launching his lawsuit. "I can't get a leg up no matter what I do."

A former military chaplain of a prestigious US military college reported being prevented from leading worship after disagreeing with the fundamentalist stance of other officials.

"I am not ready to say that if someone does not profess Christ as their savior that they are going to hell ... That got a lot of people angered," the minister told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation against a spouse who is a senior officer.

"The leader of the youth group that ministered to the teens (at the academy) said that Catholics were not Christians and that Muslims hated Christians, and that created a lot of tension," the ex-chaplain added.

"As a soldier, many times you want to believe you're fighting on the right side. It's easy to kill someone if you believe that they're going to hell and that they are religiously opposed to you."

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

the run-a-round.

I went into my unit on Monday with every intention in the world of signing the paperwork to get into the IRR. I brought in my 201 file which i've had since deployment (oops) and my UA took out some papers and made photocopies. We talked about the IRR, new soldiers in the unit, when my unit was scheduled to deploy (right now its looks around 2010-2011) and what happened with the Air Force (and of course he laughed). He asked me if i was counseled by our career counselor and i said no...apparently this should've been done four months before my ETS. We walked downstairs to his office and what a surprise, he wasn't there. Back upstairs we UA and the Supply Sergeant explained to me that there were a lot of new female soldiers coming into the unit (i've had the pleasure of meeting a few...god help them when they get to basic training) and that "they need me around", because i'm one of the only females without an attitude problem who does her job and could be a good mentor. i laughed, they told me they were serious...i laughed even harder. So my UA attempted to counsel me...he read about two lines and told me i needed to meet up with the career counselor, to see what he can offer me. He gave me his card...and i left. On Friday, i'll drive back to my unit...and get counseled. Can't wait.

On the other hand, my mom works at a school in the ghetto. They help kids get their GEDs, they teach English, and also recruit a lot of kids into the military. So my mom has made a lot of "friends"...all these friends happen to be Army Reserve and Army National Guard recruiters. Theres this one recruiter who my mom loves...shes always coming home with t-shirts, shitty pens that don't write, coffee mugs, key chains, etc. My mom told him my situation and of course she brings home a business card. She's been nagging me everyday, "Katie, did you call him? Just see what he has to say, you never know." But today she got...called me from work and guess who jumps on the phone? My moms BFF...a fast talking Italian National Guard Recruiter. He didn't even say hello...he goes "so whatcha unit doing?" what the fuck. I told him i didn't know. He told me to join the National is free...7500 dollar bonus...he can hook me up with units who aren't deploying until 2010 (i told him thats when my unit was suppose to deploy...he changed the subject)...then he said, when you were deployed the first time did you go with your unit...i told him no i was cross leveled...he said, well we don't do that-you'd go with people you know, you're own unit. He thought he really got me with that statement...too bad he didn't get the memo that states, the Reserves doesn't cross level anymore. I told him i was meeting up with my career counselor on Friday and I'd give him a call after that. He said "DON'T SIGN A 4187"...goddamn i won't. so heres where i stand...the Air Force doesn't want me, my unit is getting a bunch of delinquents and they want me to stay, and the crazy Italian recruiter thinks the National Guard is the best answer.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Super Tuesday!

22 states! VOTE VOTE VOTE!!!

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York!, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Utah!!


i'm leaning towards Obama.