Friday, July 16, 2010

Backward, Bronze Age Soldiers

A must-read when you have a chance: Truthout's long but engrossing profile of Mikey Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (an organization whose necessity would be inconceivable in an America that still understood its Enlightenment roots) and fighter against the increasingly fascistic versions of "Christian dominionism" that have spread even into the institutions most popularly associated with the defense of traditional American liberties: the armed forces. Here's just one small taste of the sort of stuff he's up against (emphases mine):

MRFF receives multitudes of thank you's from veterans and service members serving across the globe. One thank you came from a U.S. Navy veteran, a self described "religious Jew," who described extreme religious coercion during hospital stays at the Iowa City Veterans Affairs Medical Center in 2007. "During two hospitalizations, despite my written and verbal instructions to the contrary, the hospital staff was not content to just refuse to contact my rabbi," wrote Akiva David Miller, now the director veterans affairs for MRFF, "they sent a proselytizing Protestant chaplain in to see me - while I was bedridden and wired to a heart monitor - to tell me that Jesus was the Messiah of the Jews too, and that my only hope was salvation through Jesus Christ." Miller and his rabbi protested and the medical center retaliated by discontinuing Miller's care. When they cut of [sic] his pain medication, Miller asked his doctor why. His response: "You're a religious Jew. Why don't you try prayer or meditation?" Miller contacted MRFF. Mikey flew out to Des Moines and held a press conference that launched a full investigation that confirmed Miller's discrimination. And with the help of his old boss Ross Perot, Mikey got Miller care at the Dallas V.A. Medical Center.
According to that Navy Times story,
Miller, 46, an Orthodox Jew, said he was repeatedly proselytized by hospital chaplains and staff in attempts to convert him to Christianity during three hospitalizations over the past two years.

He said he went hungry each time because the hospital wouldn’t serve him kosher food, and the staff refused to contact his rabbi, who could have brought him something to eat.


Over the past two years, Miller said, he has been asked over and over by the Iowa City VA medical center’s staff within its offices, clinics and wards, “You mean you don’t believe that Jesus is the Messiah?” and “Is it just Orthodox Jews who deny Jesus?” He said one staffer told him, “I don’t understand; how can you not believe in Jesus; he’s the Messiah of the Jews, too, you know.”

They can pretend all they want that this sort of abuse is done in the name of the dominion of God, but all I see is the dominion of men—nasty, petty, small-minded, cruel-hearted ones at that. Whatever they may call themselves, it's hard for me to call people like this "Christians" since so many Christians would not think that they were somehow honoring God by tormenting and belittling a sick man. Instead, I've come to think of these disturbingly arrogant, authoritarian, anti-intellectual, bibliolatrous, sometimes downright sociopathic people as Bronze-Age Tribalists. They're BATs as far as I'm concerned.

Read more when you get a chance—if you have the stomach for it.

Taliban vs. Taliban.
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