Thursday, May 9, 2013

Save Your Indignation

Compost by paynehollow
Compost, a photo by paynehollow on Flickr.

...and put your persecution complex on hold, right-winged zealots.

Recently, some in the more fundamentalist/extremist camp have been up in arms (literally??) about a news story. The Pentagon has recently reiterated an existing policy against proselytizing. Some in the extremist camps have pointed to this to prove their poor persecution and the state of our godless society and president.

They are, of course, never ones to let facts interfere with a good pity party.

The facts, from the Pentagon...

A statement released May 2 by Defense Department spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen clarified the military’s policy that “members of the military are free to share their faith as long as they don’t harass others.” Christensen continued:

“Service members can share their faith (evangelize), but must not force unwanted, intrusive attempts to convert others of any faith or no faith to one’s beliefs (proselytization),” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a Pentagon spokesman, in an email.

“If a service member harasses another member on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, or disability, then the commander takes action based on the gravity of the occurrence. Likewise, when religious harassment complaints are reported, commanders take action based on the gravity of the occurrence on a case-by-case basis.”

Christensen said there are no plans to single out evangelical Christians for punishment, despite claims of activists.

“The U.S. Department of Defense has never and will never single out a particular religious group for persecution or prosecution. The Department makes reasonable accommodations for all religions and celebrates the religious diversity of our service members,” he said.


"Free to express their faith AS LONG AS they don't harass others..."

So, is it the case that these extremists want to reserve the right to harass others or are they just looking for reasons to whine?

Or maybe a bit of both?

Facts: 1
Zealotry: 0

26 comments:

Craig said...

“Religious proselytization is not permitted within the Department of Defense, LCDR Nate Christensen said in a written statement.

Maybe, just maybe, if one looks at all of the available information, the situation MIGHT NOT be quite as cut and dried as you presume.

Alan said...

One would imagine they really do have other things to do with their time, on the taxpayer's dime.

Alan said...

When even the President and President-Elect of the Southern Baptist Convention issue a statement that calls these stories "sensationalism" "misrepresentation" "misinformation" and "conspiracy theories", you have to wonder just how crazy one would have to be to believe them. (And I'm sure we'll find out. LOL)

Marshall Art said...

Just a hunch on my part here (an actual "hunch", not one perceived by another because it conflicts with the preferred position), and I admit that I haven't looked into this story, but the concern might be that charges of proselytizing may become more common with the current changes in personnel policy. I base this hunch on the speed with which homosexuals cry victim at the slightest hint of opposition to their agenda.

Dan Trabue said...

Marshall, in what way do you think charges of proselytizing might become more common? Are you suggesting that someone merely mentioning "I'm a Christian" will be greeted with a charge of proselytizing, or something like that?

Do you agree that the workplace (any workplace) is not the place for religious folk to try to actively sell/push their religion?

Craig, I'm not sure what you mean with your comment. You offered a quote that says "religious proselytization is not permitted in the DOD" which was the point of the post.

Do you agree that the workplace (on an employers' dime, no less) is not an appropriate place to push one's religion?

Alan said...

Correction, Dan, I think you're being a little loose with your terms. In this case, what is banned is not "actively selling or pushing" one's religion, the key words are "unwanted" and "intrusive" and "harassment." That's a LONG way off from handing out an invitation to a church social or handing out a little Gideon's NT, etc.

I make the point because the next comment from the peanut gallery will be the usual attempt to derail the conversation into a different topic about violation of first amendment rights just to share one's religious views, which is NOT what this policy, which I believe has been in place for a long time, is about.

Alan said...

"the speed with which homosexuals cry victim at the slightest hint of opposition to their agenda."

The irony of this comment on a post about the speed at which fundies cry victim at the slightest hint of opposition to their agenda is hilarious.

Alan said...

Also, no surprise to anyone, I'm sure, but it only took MA 4 comments to start talking about gay people on a post that has nothing at all to do with sexual orientation.

Frankly, I can't believe it took him so long. LOL

Dan Trabue said...

Re: Alan's correction: Point taken.

Alan...

The irony of this comment

As it has been duly noted, conservatism is marked by a noticeable irony deficiency.

The question is, Does irony deficiency lead to conservatism or vice versa?

Craig said...

Dan,

The point of the quote I posted was to point out that the same spokesperson has made statements that appear to be at least partially contradictory. Given that it might be that the situation is not as cut and dried as you present it.

I have seen much conversation on various employers dimes about many non work topics. So, within reason, I don't see any more problem with talking about faith than sports. It should go without saying that conversation is one thing and that harassment (or whatever else is something different), but again that should go for any non work topic, not just faith. I'm sure you would agree that faith conversations shouldn't be singled out as inappropriate simply because if the topic.

Where I see areas of concern are how this will affect chaplains, how this is applied to non-christians, and if this policy is used to harass people of faith for conversations or actions that shouldn't cause problems.

As long is the policy is applied consistently and reasonably fairly, I really don't see much room for concern.



Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

As Candida Moss has made clear, the realities of mythology of Christian persecution and martyrdom are very different, with a need to feel victimized becoming an integral part of the Christian story not least because it provides a link to the passion narratives of Jesus.

When this story cropped up a couple weeks back, I decided to wait and see where it went. It is, by and large, the outrage of the week, although it certainly plants itself in the minds of the irredeemably aggrieved. And it's nice to see the usual suspects reacting to form.

Alan said...

Indeed.

And while there is very real religious persecution and martyrdom going on in the world, this amounts to just one more example of the "they're being meeeeeeaaaaaaaan to me" whining nonsense BS by fat, privileged American Christians, which has begun to drown out the truly awful stories of all-too-real persecution.

The fundies have clearly forgotten the moral of the story of the Boy Who Cried Wolf: never tell the same lie twice. :)

Marshall Art said...

Yeah. Right. It's the fundies whining. Sure thing.

And apparently to Geoffrey and Alan, they have determined that exact point at which the level of persecution is legitimate and which is whining. That must be like a little pregnant or a little racist or a little sinful.

And speaking of irony, whining about being victims is the primary weapon of the Agenda That Doesn't Exist.

"Marshall, in what way do you think charges of proselytizing might become more common? Are you suggesting that someone merely mentioning "I'm a Christian" will be greeted with a charge of proselytizing, or something like that?"

No. I'm suggesting that at any time a preacher (either an actual one or just a person of faith) reminds someone of the sinfulness of their behavior, the charge will be leveled just to shut them up. This is pretty much how the true lie of "forcing your religion down our throats" began. Few attempts to codify religion into law ever take place, if at all, but the mere mention of a behavior being sinful results in the charge.

And seriously, boys, we all have an agenda. The agenda of those you mock is merely Christians looking to bring reprobates back into the fold of true Christians living out His Will. You each do your own twisted version of the same thing.

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

It is illegal to be a Christian in Saudi Arabia. If you convert to Christianity in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, and a few other countries, you can be tried and convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to death. In China, if your congregation is not registered with the state authorities and your clergy approved by same, you can be harassed by the police, thrown in jail, lose your job.

The military doesn't want people harassing one another on the job. There are reported patterns of preferential treatment due to membership in particular denominations, and also trouble if you don't belong to these same groups. That's part of what the regs address. Not inviting someone to church; not having a Bible-Verse-A-Day calendar on your desk. Not even saying, "Yeah, I'm a Christian." It's harassment and discrimination that is criminalized.

And it isn't me or Alan making this determination. It's the Department of Defense. The rules seem sensible, given certain patterns of behavior they were designed to address. And, yes - stop your whining about non-existent persecution. Religious groups in the US - Wicca, Mormons, other small groups and sects - are persecuted; some folks who shall remain nameless spend most of their time on the internet denouncing not only Mormons, but Catholics and others as "non-Christian" based on . . . well, based on nothing more than prejudice. When I was in Seminary, a woman called Seventh Day Adventism a cult, while a member of that denomination sat in front of me in the same class.

So both bigotry and religious persecution are real, both here and abroad. The difference, however, is mainline and evangelical Christians aren't the target here in the US.

Alan said...

"Christians looking to bring reprobates back into the fold of true Christians living out His Will."

And there it is, just as I predicted. As I wrote above, "I make the point because the next comment from the peanut gallery will be the usual attempt to derail the conversation into a different topic about violation of first amendment rights just to share one's religious views, which is NOT what this policy, which I believe has been in place for a long time, is about."

Again, this is a policy that prevents "unwanted", "intrusive" "harassment."

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." ~ C.S. Lewis

Marshall Art said...

Perhaps one of you defenders of truth can post a link to examples of "harassment" you think this policy is addressing. Surely you've got something in mind. I gave a possible reason for the policy restatement that I think is a reasonable one considering the recent changes in policy regarding homosexuals. It isn't to bring up a discussion on homosexual behavior and it's clear violation of God's will. It's to point out that with THAT change in policy, as if there is no possibility of problems with such "toleration", there is likely to come some manner of preventing those who understand God's will from speaking at all. The easiest is to reiterate policy regarding proselytizing, as if it's a real problem.

Alan. You've posted that Lewis quote before, I believe, and it is no more appropriate now than before. There isn't a whole lot of "tormenting" going on by true Christians. What exists is mostly true Christians responding to the moral decay of our culture by people promoting immoral behavior. It runs along the lines of "when good men do nothing".

Geoffrey Kruse-Safford said...

Here's a story from last December:
When Blake Page announced this week that he was quitting West Point a few months before graduation, citing the overt religiosity on campus, he raised recurring questions about the pervasiveness and impact of evangelical Christianity within the ranks of the US military.

He cites, among other things, routine prayers at mandatory events for cadets and the practice of awarding off-campus passes and credit to students who take part in religious retreats and chapel choirs. These activities, in turn, foster “open disrespect of non-religious new cadets,” Page argued, adding that he had been told at West Point that it was not possible for people to have morals without believing in God.

This is not the first time such charges have been leveled within a military training academy. The US Air Force Academy came under similar criticism in 2005 for conferring preferential treatment on cadets who were evangelical Christians and promoting proselytizing in the ranks.

Alan said...

"There isn't a whole lot of "tormenting" going on by true Christians."

Then what are you upset about?

" The easiest is to reiterate policy regarding proselytizing, as if it's a real problem. "

Twice MA admits that this isn't actually a problem. So he's commenting here because .... um .... well, since he admits it isn't a problem, which is exactly the point of the post.

He's contradicting just to contradict. It's a Monty Python skit, without the funny.

Alan said...

BTW, reiterating this policy isn't new. It happens all the time. Here's an example from a year ago:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/17/air-force-academy-religion-proselytism_n_1678092.html

Alan said...

Here are complaints from 2010, before DADT was repealed:

http://www.veteranstoday.com/2010/09/22/former-usaf-academy-professor-slams-christian-bigotry/

And again, I'll point out that both the SBC and none other than tinfoil hat wearing freakazoid Glenn Beck have both stated that these claims of "persecution" by the fundies are baseless.

Marshall Art said...

Alan,

You really need to read and understand to avoid looking foolish.

""There isn't a whole lot of "tormenting" going on by true Christians."

Then what are you upset about?"


My comment was in response to the CS Lewis quote, particularly the last sentence. Try reading that, then re-read my comment. I'll give you a hint: my comment states that Christians aren't tormenting. YOUR quoting Lewis suggests you think they are. So I'm "upset" (if it helps you to believe I am) that you are falsely accusing true Christians of tormenting people.

As to the post, I will say it again: I don't believe anyone is harassing others by preaching, as if they're pinning people to the floor until their tired of preaching to them.

Marshall Art said...

Geoffrey,

The problem with your link is that there is nothing within it that describes Page's performance in the academy. He wasn't to get a commission? Why not? Could he have simply been a true whiner, crying because he didn't measure up and looking for something or someone else to blame? The article is written as if his story is an accurate retelling of his time in the academy. There's little that the article presented in the way of "the other side of the story".

Marshall Art said...

Here's Merriam-Webster's definition of "proselytize"

" 1: to induce someone to convert to one's faith
2: to recruit someone to join one's party, institution, or cause
transitive verb
: to recruit or convert especially to a new faith, institution, or cause"


Proselytizing is merely preaching. If anyone is hounding someone about their faith, that's a problem. But to bring up religious perspectives as regards issues of the day is within the rights of an individual to express his faith.

I do want to add that I have looked at this issue a little more and have found that rather than whiney homosexuals complaining about oppression from people of faith, this matter may have arisen in response to whining by another group, muslims, some of whom complain when Christians merely wear a cross.

I also want to say that persecution, as I told Dan at another blog, does not have to rise to a level of torture and death in order for the charge to be accurate. Like socialism, it's a matter of degrees. I've experienced associates and co-workers saying nasty things because they thought they'd get a rise out me due to my faith. And of course, I've been accused many, many times on the blogs of wanting to control people merely for pointing out the truth of Scripture. That's all low-level persecution, but persecution nonetheless. And florists being sued for not selling flowers for a homosexual "wedding" is a higher level of persecution. I don't see why anyone needs to wait until they're tortured or killed before the word "persecution" can be rightly used. It's appropriate now.

Alan said...

"And of course, I've been accused many, many times on the blogs of wanting to control people merely for pointing out the truth of Scripture. That's all low-level persecution, but persecution nonetheless. "

But when you do it, your definition magically requires tying someone to the floor.

Gotcha.

Marshall Art said...

Alan,

What are you talking about? Are you suggesting I actually persecute people? What do you think I do that requires tying anyone to the floor, magically or otherwise? What you "got" ain't anything I've ever said or done.

Craig said...

http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2013/04/legalize_polygamy_marriage_equality_for_all.html