Which Branch Would Jesus Join?
February 11, 2005 9:02 PM   Subscribe

incredibly weird military recruitment drive/sermon/men's night out thing in a Baptist Church ... Every word of this might be true, but it was also part of a “The lord will protect you in the military” themed sermon. I have never had both respect and disgust for a single individual with such volume in my life. When I asked him for a picture with him holding the same bible he is in the sermon picture I think my attitude came off as “fan boy”. ... (might be slow-loading--tons of pics)
posted by amberglow (76 comments total)
"Formerly Wild Game Dinner"
posted by quonsar at 9:23 PM on February 11, 2005


on preview: Tasty, yet morally ambiguous.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 9:25 PM on February 11, 2005

This doesn't surprise me in the least.
Welcome to the red states, folks.
posted by 2sheets at 9:28 PM on February 11, 2005

Oh my God.
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 9:31 PM on February 11, 2005

I think I'll beat the rush and shop for brown shirts now, before they're all gone.
posted by yhbc at 9:38 PM on February 11, 2005

Before you get all frothy-mouthed over this being a "Recruitment Mass," note that this was not a standard Baptist Sunday worship service, but a military-themed "Night Out" bonding event for the men of the church.

That said, I still find this rather inappropriate and disturbing, to say the least, for a place of worship. If I were senior pastor at this place I'd have a nice, long, serious talk with whichever associate pastor organized the event.
posted by brownpau at 9:39 PM on February 11, 2005

Crap, and they were recruiting.

posted by brownpau at 9:41 PM on February 11, 2005

yhbc: Mind if I ask what you mean? That went straight over my head.
posted by Plinko at 9:56 PM on February 11, 2005

This isn't really a church, is it? I mean these guys are armed and in full combat gear. Aren't you supposed to be free of any headgear when entering a place of worship?
Quick, somebody whip up an appropriate bible quote. There must be something in there along the lines of "And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance if thou doth not bare thyself of sword and helmet before entering my house."
posted by sour cream at 9:57 PM on February 11, 2005

Plinko, meet the brownshirts.
posted by Mean Mr. Bucket at 9:58 PM on February 11, 2005

posted by rks404 at 9:59 PM on February 11, 2005

Isn't this illegal, or shouldn't it be? it's unbelievably wrong in so many ways.
posted by amberglow at 10:01 PM on February 11, 2005

Isn't this illegal, or shouldn't it be?

Illegal???!? No. And it absolutely shouldn't be. I'm sorry to stand in the way of progress, but free speech trumps any ickyness one might feel at this gross display of nationalism cum piety. Now, if you were to ask if the churche's non-profit 501c status should be revoked, I'd say ... you goddamn fucking right it should!
posted by Wulfgar! at 10:09 PM on February 11, 2005

so, Wulfgar! ... should the church's 501(c)3 status be revoked? And, if so, how far should the revocation go? This particular church, the whole Baptist church, or just the Southern Baptist part?

And, Plinko - what they said.
posted by yhbc at 10:14 PM on February 11, 2005

Sour Cream, if your under arms (Armed with a weapon, loaded or not) you do not by tradition remove your head gear.. even in a house of worship..

That being said, this is truly sick.
Christians indeed.
posted by Elim at 10:17 PM on February 11, 2005

I'm creeped out. Is anyone else creeped out? Because I am really, really creeped out.

Other than that, yes, this is some kind of insane monstrous sort of church-state melding. Sorta like Jerry Boykin and his craaaaazy "Kingdom Warriors."
posted by Anonymous at 10:18 PM on February 11, 2005

it's legal for the government to recruit soldiers in houses of worship?
posted by amberglow at 10:19 PM on February 11, 2005

sour cream's underarms are armed?
posted by DrJohnEvans at 10:22 PM on February 11, 2005

It also legal to fondle a cow., neither one is right.
In the olden days (18th century to early 20th) when the church WAS the meeting house in town, then I could see a grey area of morality, THIS is not one of them..
posted by Elim at 10:22 PM on February 11, 2005

posted by Chasuk at 10:31 PM on February 11, 2005

good find, Chasuk--and omfg--what is wrong with those people?
posted by amberglow at 10:45 PM on February 11, 2005

amberglow, I don't think they're recruiting soldiers while worshipping -- that would be blasphemous. Rather, they're worshipping while they're recruiting soldiers -- and worshipping the Lord is always allowed under any circumstances, you know.
posted by sour cream at 11:05 PM on February 11, 2005

Was anybody forced to attend or prevented from leaving?

Content at church functions is always iffy. I think the displays were cool - don't let recent times belittle the men that defended the battleflags pictured or the ideals for which they stand for. Freedom of religion and speech allows us to gather in such ways.
posted by buzzman at 11:33 PM on February 11, 2005

This day the answer to “what would Jesus do?” is grab one of the m-16s laying around and start kneecapping.

...note that this was not a standard Baptist Sunday worship service, but a military-themed "Night Out" bonding event for the men of the church.

Christianity. Christianity?

Fuck it. Fuck it. Looks like I chose the wrong millenium to give up exogenous chemicals.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 11:36 PM on February 11, 2005

I have to say that you Americans are beginning to scare me...
posted by i_cola at 12:50 AM on February 12, 2005

I'm creeped out. Is anyone else creeped out? Because I am really, really creeped out.

I am completely creeped out. I was disturbed enough when politicians started campaigning in churches... this is just over the top.
posted by BoringPostcards at 1:21 AM on February 12, 2005

amberglow, there is no way this should be illegal. NO WAY. Nor, Wulfgar!, should the church's tax-exempt status be revoked: they were not involved in partisan politics.

Regardless of what you think of this (and it freaks me out) free speech is everyone's right. Even crypto-Fascist Christians. "Free speech" only for speech we like, or that is uncontroversial, is evil pure and simple, and it's evil whether the Right or the Left does it.

I didn't spend four years fulminating against John Ashcroft so "my side" could come in and slap duct tape over mouths speaking things "we" find inconvenient.

If the Left in this country wants to have any legitimacy at all, we need to stand up for the Constitution even when it hurts (and for the Second Amendment as much as for the First), and we need to stand up for Christians when their rights are trampled.

Lest we forget, we wouldn't have a First Amendment if it hadn't been for some Christians (Baptists) afraid of other Christians (Episcopalians, Congregationalists) establishing Established Churches. So two cheers for the Baptists, and let us hope they remember their origins the next time they want a creche at City Hall.

As usual, the best remedy for speech you don't agree with is more speech. In that spirit, I'll yield to a far superior essayist than myself, and hope the "Christians" who organized this "Men's Night Out" remember that their Savior is called "The Prince of Peace":
...O Lord our God, help us tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended in the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst....

We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.
posted by orthogonality at 1:36 AM on February 12, 2005

Free speech? First Amendment? 501c(3)? WTF? What planet are you guys from - I live in America, dammit! </sarcasm>

Land of the Free, home of killers of brown-skinned people... and I'm LOVING the idolatry, the flags COVERING UP the Church Sacraments. When's Moses scheduled to appear? What would HE think of all of this? Ashcroft? Seriously...
posted by vhsiv at 2:26 AM on February 12, 2005

I was just thinking of Clements War prayer, thanks...
posted by Elim at 2:37 AM on February 12, 2005

This isn't anything terribly new. In my ultra-conservative Baptist school we used to have various military people show up for the mid-week chapel and they'd mix Christian values with military ones. We were urged to sign up and fight the spread of communism. Unforunately, our production values weren't as high as this rally, but the content was the same: God == USA.

And if the Lord protects those in the military, does that mean the 11,000+ casualties were all atheists?
posted by pandaharma at 3:40 AM on February 12, 2005

Christianity has always been packed sardine-tight with murderous scum hiding under a thin veneer of lordliness. Like pandaharma says, this is nothing new.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:17 AM on February 12, 2005

i'm kind of creeped out by the dropped-jaw creeped-outedness in this thread. but i live in a city with churches out the wazoo, where one county away one cannot buy liquor on sunday, so frankly i was more boggled by the reactions than i was by this "ministry". illegal? amberglow, you really gotta get out more!
posted by quonsar at 5:24 AM on February 12, 2005

Its bad enought they are doing this in church, but, at least they are preaching to the choir, so to speak.

To me, it is even worse to be doing it in schools.

Seems I read that under "No Child Left Behind", schools must provide physical access for recruiters and turn over all student personal information (name, address, etc.) or risk losing what little federal funding they still receive.

Great. Homeland security through blackmail.

As a substitute teacher in high school, I have wondered what the ever increasing numbers of don't work-don't care losers are going to do when they get processed out onto the street.. er, graduate at 18 with 2nd grade reading skills and the math skills of a dull baboon.

I think I know the answer. I wish I could get these kids to read the "War Prayer", except most can't, and wouldn't understand it if they could.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 5:28 AM on February 12, 2005

Enron Hubbard
As a substitute teacher in high school, I have wondered what the ever increasing numbers of don't work-don't care losers are going to do when they get processed out onto the street.. er, graduate at 18 with 2nd grade reading skills and the math skills of a dull baboon.

What's the modern equivalent of the phrase "cannon fodder"? If conscription remains political poison, how else are we going to find enough recruits to immanentize the Eschatoncarry out the wishes of the PNAC crowd?
posted by kcds at 6:06 AM on February 12, 2005

I grew up in a red state and this doesn't surprise me at all. Par for the course, really. Ridiculous, of course, but it wasn't exactly done during Sunday service, and it was a voluntary thing. Anyone know the percentage of folks that are adamantly pro-war who are also red-state Christians? The vast majority, I'm sure.
posted by zardoz at 6:26 AM on February 12, 2005

I humbly apologize for ever daring to question on MeFi whether we're becoming a fascist state!
posted by alumshubby at 6:57 AM on February 12, 2005

orthogonality: I thought amberglow's talk of "this should be illegal" was in reference to the recruiting part - she'd have a legitimate question there. If I'd thought otherwise, I would have jumped all over her, despite its being late and the fact that I'd been out for drinks earlier.
posted by raysmj at 7:28 AM on February 12, 2005

Then again, the military could claim to have a legitimately secular purpose in going to the church - it's not promoting religion by going there. It's ethically dubious, surely, but probably no legal violation. And yeah, this wasn't anything new, particularly. I don't think I've ever seen a church bulletin with tanks 'n' stuff all over it, though. That's a little stupid.
posted by raysmj at 7:35 AM on February 12, 2005

Oh boy! Red state stuff again! As useless as the distinction I am about to make is (in terms of perhaps nuancing the discussion), I will still make it - the red state / blue state division is extremely misleading. The divisions are much more between cities and suburbs / rural areas. Jefferson County (where Louisville is) voted for Kerry. The only county in Kentucky to do so. Louisville is a city of over 1 million people. It's urban, even cosmopolitan for being in the twilight between Midwest and South. The Courier-Journal (the local paper) was one of the few Southern newspapers to endorse Kerry (consistently I might add).

Louisville, my place of birth, is actually a liberal place. Often, it strikes me as more liberal than my current, supposedly sophisticated, urban paradise, Ann Arbor. It just happens to have pockets of conservative and evangelical activity, such as the Southern Baptist Seminary (which if you read carefully, was connected to some of the speakers at this church). Bush is clearly reaching out to the Baptist churches (and always has, despite the differences between his professed Methodism and the Baptist ideology).

I do find this to be disheartening, but as has been pointed out, was probably an event for preaching to the choir (literally)... If there is a St. Peter, one hopes that he brings those involved to account for this hypocritical nonsense...
posted by Slothrop at 7:36 AM on February 12, 2005

Good thing troutfishing didn't post this!

Nothing new or shocking here.
Situation normal in red state America.
Move along now.
Like quonsar said, you need to get out more as it is rather insular in many of our better cities.
The War Prayer is quite appropriate in this instance, yet again.

I watched Cold Mountain last night after having read the book years ago (and was thus reticent to watch the movie), I was reminded once again that there are NO winners in war, only losers and death and destruction. There's nothing "godly" or "glorious" about war, only pain and misery. But try and tell the 101st Fighting Keyboarders that!
Those most reluctant to wage war are those who have seen what war is really about. How can these people who support such events be anything but assholes?
posted by nofundy at 7:38 AM on February 12, 2005

Oh, I meant "him" for amberglow. Sorry. Just got up - it's not the drinks.
posted by raysmj at 7:44 AM on February 12, 2005

Isn't this illegal, or shouldn't it be? it's unbelievably wrong in so many ways.

Being a not-ultra-patriotic atheist, I would not have attended. But I find the above reaction more disturbing than the "men's night out." Why should it be illegal? What are some of the many ways this is unbelievably wrong? It looks to me like a bunch of like minded, christian, ultra-patriotic people got together for "honoring the U.S. military" while mixing together their religion/philosophy and politics. Do I like it? No. Do I agree with their views (or, more accurately, what I'm projecting their views to be)? NO. Should it be illegal? HELL NO.

BTW, a table with some Navy recruitment literature does not make this a recruitment drive.
posted by Bort at 7:46 AM on February 12, 2005

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
Forward into battle see His banners go!

I will bet there were lots of tears in that church. God and Country is a powerful cocktail for some.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:19 AM on February 12, 2005

NO winners in war, only losers

Would this were so, then there might be a lot fewer of them (wars, not winners or losers).

Alas, in times of chaos there are always winners. Nature of the beast, really. But if you want to get in early, there are plenty of folks out there willing to help
posted by IndigoJones at 8:40 AM on February 12, 2005

This strikes me as similar thinking to the "If you fight for the cause, God or Allah will protect you and you will gain immediate entrance into the promised land." that we see in the radical fundamentalists of Islam.
posted by bas67 at 8:44 AM on February 12, 2005

> Isn't this illegal, or shouldn't it be? it's unbelievably wrong in so many ways.

Well, I'll back amberglow on this one. Anything that pegs anyone's creepout meter should certainly be against the law. Nice to be on the same side as amber for once. Blue-state brownshirts can take out this sort of thing, red-state brownshirts can take out the Christopher Street Day Parade, and afterward we (assuming there's any "we" left) can all join hands around the bonfire immolating the right of others to be creepy. You know, the very idea of tolerance creeps me out. Definitely need some prophylactic state intervention against it here.
posted by jfuller at 8:51 AM on February 12, 2005

Slothrop and everyone else:

I'd like to point out there was an error on the website. Porter Memorial Baptist Church is in Lexington, not Louisville.
posted by Mcable at 8:57 AM on February 12, 2005

bullshit, jfuller. if you're not allowed to tell people how to vote in churches, you shouldn't be allowed to sign them up in churches to serve the government as a soldier.

If the first is illegal, and it is, even tho Bush is trying to change that, then there's no way the second is legal. Does the Dept. of Education recruit in churches? HHS? Fisheries and Wildlife?

It's not about creepy so much as it's about mixing church in state in the most dangerous possible way.
posted by amberglow at 9:04 AM on February 12, 2005

church and state.

this is not just creepy--besides using the church to recruit for the state, it's directly promoting activities that are against both the most basic of the church's teachings, and holding those state activities up as something religious in themselves.
posted by amberglow at 9:15 AM on February 12, 2005

I totally see amberglow's point. The creepy part, though, is HOW CAN PEOPLE BE SUCH FUCKING IDIOTS? What the fuck good's freedom when people SIGN IT AWAY to numbnuts like Captain Revered Strucker?
posted by DenOfSizer at 9:30 AM on February 12, 2005

You can't tell people how to vote in church because you'll risk losing your tax status -- that is, the church would face being unable to operate more or less tax free. It's not a church-state issue, so much as, "We're giving you this tax deduction, and you can't have it if you choose to interfere in elections." The church, in short, could continue to operate if it engaged in blatantly partisan speech - it just couldn't operate as a tax-exempt organization. (The IRS, to my knowledge, has only revoked a church's non-profit status once, with a church in New York that took out an anti-Clinton ad four days before the 1992 presidential election.)
posted by raysmj at 9:44 AM on February 12, 2005

Oh, and the ads in that case were placed in USA Today and the Washington Times.
posted by raysmj at 9:45 AM on February 12, 2005

what raysmj said--it's directly in violation of their tax-exempt status and against the Tax Code.

i sent an email to Americans United for Separation of Church and State asking about this. i'll let you know what i hear back.
posted by amberglow at 9:56 AM on February 12, 2005

Man, nice father. What's next, auctioning his son off to the highest bidder?
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 9:56 AM on February 12, 2005

> You can't tell people how to vote in church because you'll risk losing your
> tax status

The civil rights movement is the benchmark of how much politicking and lobbying you can get away with from a church, without endangering its 501c status. No church lost its tax-exempt status despite the massive African-American church-based politicking/lobbying efforts in the runup to the Civil Rights Acts of 1957, 1960. and 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. After those precedents, anyone who really expects the church mentioned in the fpp to lose its tax exemption over mixing up the cross and the flag is praying to the tooth fairy.

> It's not about creepy so much as it's about mixing church in state in the
> most dangerous possible way.

Well, as most mefiites including amber will tell us, it's perfectly OK to live in the most dangerous possible way as long as you wear a condom. So as long as church and state are separated by 0.07mm of latex that's plenty enough. (And for those of us doing crystal meth you'll just have to understand and overlook it if we, oops, forgot the 0.07mm. Tout comprendre, tout excuser, that's how broadminded we are.)
posted by jfuller at 9:58 AM on February 12, 2005

jfuller, you're allowed to register people to vote--you can't tell them who to vote for.

Comparing this to the civil rights movement is completely appalling, btw, not to mention unsafe sex or condom use. WTF is wrong with you?
posted by amberglow at 10:04 AM on February 12, 2005

I think a lot of the jaw-dropping that's going on in this thread comes not from the fact that there are rallies like this going on in the country or that people have these views, but that it's being done so blatantly. From what I read, the activity in the church might have been borderline (and way over the line as far as being unethical), but I agree that they should have the right to do this.

What I don't think anyone's addressed is the inherent danger in viewing military service as a way of directly serving God, or military action that's intended to serve God's "higher purpose." Western nations tried that with the Crusades, when we tried to "retake" the Holy Land, and that produced nothing. Then governments in Europe set up their own state-sanctioned versions of Christianity, and that set off a war or two as well. I think the reason Europeans are so turned off of religion in general now is that churches became so institutionalized in society there that they lost touch with the people and the spirituality and faith that drove those churches. Since American churches were left to themselves outside of the political establishment, they managed to stay vital - something to think about for people who'd like to see Christianity be this country's state religion.

P.S. - for those who want to stop the Crusader and jihad insanity, they should check out Scott Adams' new book. It contributes more to society and thought than Dilbert ever has. I'm not product spamming here, I just read the book this week.
posted by Leege at 10:05 AM on February 12, 2005

Recruiting for the armed services is inherently a political and governmental activity. That's why there are all sorts of rules and laws about it, and why colleges have lost their federal funding over allowing or not allowing it on campus, for just one example.
posted by amberglow at 10:26 AM on February 12, 2005

I don't think the church should lose its tax exempt status over this, for the record. It's tacky and of dubious morality, but whatever floats their boat, y'know. And the military would not be promoting religion by recruiting in a church building, but I don't think it would be the wisest idea to start doing that all the time, exactly.
posted by raysmj at 10:35 AM on February 12, 2005

I knew of city councilman in a mid-sized U.S. southern city who provides all sorts of institutions in his predominantly black district with a newsletter that includes municipal job openings. That's governmental activity, but he's not singling out churches as places to get his message out. He just knows that black churches have a strong social role in their communities, generally, more so than in most predominantly white areas. It's akin to sending a municipal newsletter to the library.

The only reason I see military recruitment as different is that it's the friggin' military, already. Active recruitment in both cases I've discussed here would be a violation of at least the spirit of the Establishment Clause, but I think history shows that too much mixing of militarism and religion is dangerous for rather singular reasons.
posted by raysmj at 10:46 AM on February 12, 2005

Jesus, amberglow. Why don't you go read something before you run around spouting off about it?

You can't just make up definitions for laws to suit your argument. Influencing legislation (lobbying) or endorsing a candidate (political activity) does not equate to doing anything that has anything whatsoever to do with any governmental program amberglow doesn't fucking like.

In general, no organization may qualify for section 501(c)(3) status if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation (commonly known as lobbying). A 501(c)(3) organization may engage in some lobbying, but too much lobbying activity risks loss of tax-exempt status.

Legislation includes action by Congress, any state legislature, any local council, or similar governing body, with respect to acts, bills, resolutions, or similar items (such as legislative confirmation of appointive office), or by the public in referendum, ballot initiative, constitutional amendment, or similar procedure. It does not include actions by executive, judicial, or administrative bodies.

The Department of Defense falls under the Executive Branch and therefore any church can spout off about the military all they want - including inviting Baptist Army Chaplains to speak at a Baptist Church. This also includes opposing the use of force, and being against various wars, which many churches are. You think they should lose their exempt status for that too?

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.

See, that doesn't say anything about showing appreciation for the military, or *gasp* inviting recruiters to church functions.
posted by techgnollogic at 10:48 AM on February 12, 2005

Wow. Once you start going to war for Jesus...
posted by slf at 11:25 AM on February 12, 2005

> WTF is wrong with you?

Only that I am, y'know, right, o ye easily appalled.

Voltaire: "It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong." It is, one grants, distinctly less dangerous to be right when it's only one subcult on metafilter that's wrong, and it doesn't demand quite the same boldness to present an alternative point of view. It just makes me out of step, which is SOP and no great concern.
posted by jfuller at 11:30 AM on February 12, 2005

more: Christians in combat boots ...Marine recruiter Sgt. Thomas Bustamante swings by once a month - without compensation and on his own time - to instruct the physical training and combat portion of the service. Recruiting isn't part of Bustamante's involvement, Hestand said. ...

So, the next question is whether what went on at that church that night was with or without compensation, and on paid time or not.
posted by amberglow at 11:55 AM on February 12, 2005

I live in the same town I went to college and still drop in at the student watering hole occasionally. A few months ago there was a table full of uniformed recruiters drinking beer, buying kids drinks and handing out cards. I'm more troubled by that than the church thing - preaching to the choir man. The bar shows real desperation.
posted by rotifer at 12:10 PM on February 12, 2005

I'm having a hard time seeing what everybody is so upset about. So, a bunch of like minded folks get together and babble on about God and Country. They have some punch, shake a soldiers hand and sing a few songs. Sounds like a typical evening in many rural communities, both above and below the Mason-Dixon line. Do I agree with them, certainly not. Do I acknowledge their right to do so, absolutely.

I wonder if people would be half as upset if this was the Unitarian-Quaker Lesbian Alliance of Wiccan Practitioners holding a gathering to protest nuclear proliferation. The role of churches in shaping public policy is well documented and just because this bunch doesn't share the same view as the majority of MeFi members really isn't the point. As far as I'm concerned the fact that I disagree, with every fiber of my being, with their positions makes it all the more important that I defend their right to express those views. This freedom of religion and speech thing is kinda cool but it only works when it's applied across the board.

I understand it's not a popular stance, but the military has actually done some good in the last two hundred years. To acknowledge the debt we owe them does not make one an ignorant hillbilly or tool of the administration. Like all cliches, the concept that the armed forces exist to defend our right to discuss these matters, carries an element of truth.
posted by cedar at 12:57 PM on February 12, 2005

When it comes down to it, I don't really give a fuck about the Baptist church, they can do whatever they want, and I take some satisfaction that they are showing their true colors. But fathers pressuring their sons this way? That is some kind of messed up. My dad and I have had our differences, but he would never have tried to brainwash me into making such an important decision by telling me that I would be safe if I only prayed enough.

This delusional crap that prayer will protect you completely demeans the soldiers who have died in all wars. I really hope that some 18 year-old kid doesn't have to die to give these morons a reality check.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 2:17 PM on February 12, 2005

Maybe, just maybe, the left ought to stop being so vociferously opposed to recruiting on mostly liberal college campuses. The officer corps is becoming a highly conservative, highly Evangelical, institution, in large part because so few college students at your elite institutions are exposed to ROTC or OCS as a option for serious consideration.
posted by MattD at 2:30 PM on February 12, 2005

By the way, ROTC enrollment is enjoying a surge according to usnews.com and colleges previously against ROTC or OCS are actually looking to bring them back. Looks like the elite heathens want in on all the fun as well.
posted by FormlessOne at 3:59 PM on February 12, 2005

One question: in this picture there's that one guy dressed in the Confederate uniform. But what's up with the guy to his left?

He looks like he's wearing some gay-themed Clockwork Orange jumpsuit or something.
posted by fungible at 5:50 PM on February 12, 2005

Prize goes to amberglow for the page title. Thanks for this... I think.
posted by squirrel at 1:56 AM on February 13, 2005

The "Voodoo witchdoctor/gay-themed clockwork orange jumpsuit" is a Kentucky Mounted Rifleman from the War of 1812.
posted by techgnollogic at 2:04 AM on February 19, 2005

Wow, thanks techgnollogic. That guy's been bugging me.
posted by sonofsamiam at 5:53 AM on February 19, 2005

I got a response from Americans United:
I looked at the pictures and the account of the "men's night out" that was linked to your email. While I share the author/participant's sentiment that the event's hard-sell nature and use of much religious and military propaganda is politically distressing, I don't believe there's a constitutional problem

It is pretty clear from the materials that this event is one put on and sponsored by the hosting church for the benefit of some of its members. Because the church is a private entity, there's no problem with the content of the program being religious.

Another area to look at is whether the participation of the members of the military involved were acting in their official capacity. The fact that one individual was featured and was sharing a personal and spiritual story tends to indicate that this is not part of the participants' formal duties. The individual sentiments of the people involved indicating that Christians will be more protected during wartime events, etc., seem to me to be pretty clearly individual opinions and not rightfully attributable to the U.S. military.

If, however, this was some sort of official recruitment operation by the military, then participants might be functioning in their official capacity. Sitll, I don't believe that the participation of the U.S. military--while significant--amounts to government endorsement of religion in this case. The military certainly has wide latitude to recruit at a range of different locations, including at private and religious events or organizations. Through a larger recruiting process that utilizes public as well as private areas, they are not favoring one religious belief over another, or religion in general.

The fact that a color guard ceremony was performed may be problematic, however, so long as the military participants would engage in a similar ceremony at other recruitment events this is probably not an indicator of endorsement of religion.

For these reasons, I think that the events described in the link you sent are probably not problematic from a legal standpoint. However, we do appreciate your dedication to these issues. We depend upon our supporters to make us aware of situations we would not otherwise find out about. Thanks for contacting us, and please feel free to do so again if anything of concern comes up in the future.

posted by amberglow at 4:18 PM on February 28, 2005

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