Mother Jones' Adam Weinstein reports that soldiers at Virginia's Fort Eustis were recently punished for refusing to attend one of the many Christian evangelical events sponsored by the commanding base general and "self-professed 'reborn' officer, Maj. General James E. Chambers." The incident and subsequent investigation have revealed a Fort Eustis culture where Christian evangelism isn't just pervasive, it's a direct order. Weinstein explains that this isn't just a quirky, isolated incident. It's part of an increasingly zealous military culture of evangelical-or-else:
That kind of rhetoric is par for the course, according to Mikey Weinstein (no relation), who heads the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which first broke news of the concert series. "Ft. Eustis is not an anomaly, just an example," he says. "'Spiritual fitness' is 2010 Christian talk for "We're gonna make you a Christian."
Weinstein says his organization has tracked an ever-growing problem of proselytizing in the ranks for a particular, hyper-muscular strain of dominionist end-times Christianity. Of MRFF's nearly 20,000 clients, 96 percent identify as Christians who feel intimidated by more aggressive co-religionists. "What's happening is, troops are being told: 'You'd better be the right type of Christian," he said.
Mother Jones's Adam Weinstein says things can get difficult for soldiers who find themselves "on the wrong side of the faith." That's not just an abridgment of their basic constitutional rights, it's also a distraction from the core U.S. Army mission of maintaining national security.
[Mikey] Weinstein says the officers involved, up to Chambers, should face a court-martial for exacting "an unconstitutional toll on religious objectors."
"They're supposed to support and defend the United States Constitution, not the pristine weaponized gospel of Jesus Christ," he said.
Mikey Weinstein's work and the somewhat radical evangelization of the U.S. military were profiled in an in-depth cover story for Harper's magazine last year. Responding to the Mother Jones story, the Center for New American Security's Andrew Exum sighs, "Someday I need to write an essay on why and how it took my Christian faith several years to recover from the U.S. Army."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.