Bush’s Defense Department recently agreed to distribute “freedom packages” to U.S. soldiers in Iraq, as prepared by a fundamentalist Christian ministry called Operation Straight Up (OSU). As the LAT explained, OSU’s packages included “Bibles, proselytizing material in English and Arabic and the apocalyptic computer game ‘Left Behind: Eternal Forces’ (derived from the series of post-Rapture novels), in which ’soldiers for Christ’ hunt down enemies who look suspiciously like U.N. peacekeepers.”
By agreeing to distribute these “freedom packages,” the Pentagon seemed to be endorsing the idea that the U.S. military presence in Iraq should include more fundamentalist Christian evangelism. Fortunately, after the Military Religious Freedom Foundation raised a fuss, the Defense Department backpedaled and announced it would not deliver OSU’s packages, but the larger problem persists.
American military and political officials must, at the very least, have the foresight not to promote crusade rhetoric in the midst of an already religion-tinged war. Many of our enemies in the Mideast already believe that the world is locked in a contest between Christianity and Islam. Why are our military officials validating this ludicrous claim with their own fiery religious rhetoric?
It’s time to actively strip the so-called war on terror of its religious connotations, not add to them. Because religious wars are not just ugly, they are unwinnable. And despite what Operation Straight Up and its supporters in the Pentagon may think is taking place in Iraq, the Rapture is not a viable exit strategy.
Well said. Now, if only Bush’s Defense Department would stop giving everyone reason to be afraid.