Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"With God On Our Side..."

Today I decided to finally sit down and watch The Laramie Project - the HBO film about the murder of Matthew Shephard. The most disturbing scene to me - and simultaneously the most hopeful - was the one where there is a group of fundamentalist Christians protesting outside his funeral, and the friends of Matthew Shephard dress as angels and stand in front of them. The former group echos, for me, the complete disrespect shown towards Heath Ledger and his family from the Kansas Westbro Baptist Church (both in a news release and a subsequent letter). All of these things are still pretty fresh in my mind, especially after seeing Jesus Camp.

It's with little coincidence that Democracy Now! came out with a report today about a recent footage released by Al Jezeera, who have alleged for some time that Christian U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan are attempting to convert Muslims. The Pentagon has denied their claims and, for the most part, has ignored the journalists that have investigated the subject. Now today, Al Jezeera released recent footage of a miliary chaplain discussing how to talk to Muslims about Christianity and hand out translated Bibles.

Amy Goodman interviews Jeff Sharlet, who wrote an article in Harper's article called "Jesus Killed Mohammed." The article tells the story of a soldier who, after seeing Passion of the Christ, goes on a destructive rampage in Iraq, claiming success because God is on his side.

Sharlet, author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism At The Heart of American Power, can be a come off a bit heavy handed, but he argues that this is an extremely serious problem that threatens U.S. military credibility overseas. Mikey Weinstein, Air Force veteran and author of With God on Our Side: One Man’s War Against an Evangelical Coup in America’s Military, also comes on the show and concurs with Sharlet, saying, "We look exactly like the crusaders of 1096 to the Iraqis, and now the Afghans."

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