Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Hunt them down for Jesus

I am going to post a review later today on a book I read over the last couple of days, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power by Jeff Sharlet. Check this interview with Sharlet in the Rolling Stone and his 2003 article in Harper's.

His book may help make sense of the following video produced by a U.S. soldier and broadcast on Al Jazeera showing what some American troops are really up to in Afghanistan. Read the post in the Quaker Agitator.

"The special forces guys, they hunt men, basically. We do the same thing as Christians. We hunt people for Jesus. Hunt 'em down. Get the hound of heaven after them. So we can get them in the kingdom! Right? That's what we do! That's our business!" --Lt. Col. Gary Hensley, Army Command Chaplain
General Order Number One forbids "proselytizing of any religion, faith, or practice." Afghanistan has an overwhelmingly Muslim population.

In The Family, Jeff Sharlet reports on his visit to New Life Church (Ted Haggard's Church) in Colorado Springs, CO. On the big screens (The WorldPrayerCenter) are prayer requests. Sharlet writes:

The Iraqis come up often, particularly with regard to their conversion: Despite the efforts of the news media, believing soldiers and others testify to the effective preaching of the Gospel, and the openness of so many hear of Jesus. Pray for continued success!

Another prayer request puts numbers to that news: 900,000 Bibles in the Arabic language distributed by Christians in Iraq. And one explicitly aligns the quest for democracy in Iraq with the quest for more Christians in Iraq: May the people stand for their rights and open to the idea of making choices, such as studying the Bible. p. 303.
American evangelicals think their prime directive is to convert Muslims and others to "Jesus." They feel it is perfectly legitimate to have our soldiers and military be the vessels for this conversion whether in Iraq or Afghanistan.

On one hand we can excuse popular evangelicals. They don't know any better. They don't know or don't care that the military specifically prohibits proselytizing. The real issue is with the military personnel and chaplains as well as government officials who look the other way or even encourage this behavior.

As Sharlet uncovers in The Family it is bigger than that. He is not talking about any kind of conspiracy. He is writing about his research regarding fundamentalist elites involved behind the scenes, networking, and through these networks financing activities all over the world. To what end? The kingdom. A kingdom ruled by Jesus and those who are intimately connected with Jesus, godly men. Jesus is power. America is the city on the hill calling all soldiers of the cross to submit to his authority through his command structure.

By the way, Jesus really likes free market capitalism unhindered by the inconveniences of any government interference including democracy. It is a kingdom.