Kill or Convert

Max Blumenthal has a frightening piece in The Nation about “Operation Straight Up (OSU), an evangelical entertainment troupe that actively proselytizes among active-duty members of the US military.”

As an official arm of the Defense Department’s America Supports You program, OSU plans to mail copies of the controversial apocalyptic video game, Left Behind: Eternal Forces to soldiers serving in Iraq. OSU is also scheduled to embark on a “Military Crusade in Iraq” in the near future.

Left Behind: Eternal Forces: Worst. Game. Ever.

Even Marvin Olasky, the evangelical publisher, intellectual author of “compassionate conservatism,” and a force behind the George W. Bush Administration’s White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives,” denounced the Left Behind videogame. In a blog post on the website of his World Magazine, Olasky described the game’s content as akin to “the way homicidal Muslims think.” As a result of the fallout, Left Behind Games fired its senior VP and released three board members.

But that’s not all you get in the “care package”:

What’s more, OSU’s “Freedom Packages” include a copy of evangelical pastor Jonathan McDowell’s More Than A Carpenter — a book advertised as “one of the most powerful evangelism tools worldwide” — that is double-published in Arabic. Considering that only a handful of American troops speak Arabic, the book is ostensibly intended for proselytizing efforts among Iraqi civilians.

The packets also include “Gideon’s pocket size New Testament” and “Extreme Sports ‘Livin It’ Witnessing DVD.”

To make it even worse, the star of the OSU tour is a Baldwin brother:

Spreading the Gospel to US troops is only one of many crusades [Stephen] Baldwin has waged in the name of the Lord. During 2006, Baldwin frequently stationed himself on the sidewalk outside a pornographic video store in New York. There, he photographed the license plates of people entering the store and threatened to publish an ad in a Nyack paper publicizing the names of those who patronized the store. “In my position, I just don’t think I’m supposed to keep my faith to myself,” Baldwin told a group of Texas Southern Baptists in 2004. “I’m just doing what the Lord’s telling me to do.”

Makes you feel all good inside, doesn’t it?

(Thanks to Jonathan for the link!)


[tags]atheist, atheism, Max Blumenthal, The Nation, Operation Straight Up, Defense Department, Left Behind: Eternal Forces, Marvin Olasky, Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, Jonathan McDowell, More Than A Carpenter, Arabic, New Testament, Livin It, Stephen Baldwin, God[/tags]

  • Aj

    Ever see the bad movie with Michael Keaton called Multiplicity? I think they cloned Alec Baldwin to make Daniel and William, but Stephen was cloned from Daniel.

  • Lee

    Dang… scary, fer sure.

  • Vincent

    Unfortunately I can’t take the article too seriously because of his unsupported claim that OSU is an “official arm” of the DoD.

  • gliderace

    Yes, I agree with Vincent…the claim is very wide in that this is an “official arm” of the Defense Department. As I read the America Supports You web site (http://www.americasupportsyou.mil), I see that the OSU is part of a program whereby military members and corporations/families are connected. Yes, this is through the DOD, however I cannot find that this is an “official arm,” insomuch as The Holy Land Foundation is an “official arm” of Hamas. Or vice-versa :)

    I have been in the military, and I have received care packages. I have served both at home and abroad. I have been deployed in Afghanistan, and while I will not reveal my personal beliefs, I did find it very comforting to receive a Bible at one time. We were hot, we were very tired and quite alone. We were proud and we had and have a great strength between us. That little camo-covered Bible (which, by the way, did not come through the US government) was a precious object. I don’t think I ever cracked it open, but I still have it…

    At the end of the day, yes, bullets and money will go far in a battle. But the other 90% of that battle is made up of morale. The point of focus on that battlefield and the sense of support that comes to the soldier on the front line (or rear echelon) hinges on how he perceives others are “holding on” back home.

    I received a little Bible from some poor farmers back home. I always found it interesting that perhaps 100% of all non-familial support came to us from Christian organizations. What did my atheist friends do for us? When I talk about sacrifice and compassion and dust and giving, I notice how their eyes turn away. Usually, there is a vague reference to “cannon fodder” or how all war is to be abolished.

    Yes, I would love war to be outlawed. It is not going to happen. Be very real and be very logical. Man is a war animal, and he will be so for a very long time. Face up to the facts, grow up and give back. These are things that I want to say, however I do not. I keep my silence. I have broken it now, however, in my once-every-six-years response to a Comment on a Blog. All I hope is that it makes some people talk and perhaps make a few people give back, however they can. The nature of man will not change.

  • Maria

    Stephen Baldwin is an evangelical xtian activist? oh ugh. I did not know this. that game is awful. I signed a petition against it when it came out. I can’t believe anyone would release something like that. Josh McDowell’s book I read back when I was Catholic. The book itself isn’t too bad (it doesn’t condemn non-xtians or talk about hell much, it mostly talks about the life of Jesus), but it’s something people should read if they WANT to, not have it pushed on them. And I really don’t think evanglizing in Iraq is such a good idea considering they’re mad enough at us already. geesh, way to go making a bad situation worse……

  • Pingback: Sarx » Kill & Convert or Die.

  • Alex Leckie

    Good on you stephen, blackmailing is definately more moral than satisfying natural urges you holier than thou prick.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com/ hoverFrog

    Baldwin told a group of Texas Southern Baptists in 2004. “I’m just doing what the Lord’s telling me to do.”

    So he hears voices (OK a voice) and acts on it does he? Is this a literal voice because if it is he should get some help…or maybe drink strong alcoholic beverages till the voices go away.

  • Vincent

    Yes, I would love war to be outlawed. It is not going to happen.

    Not as long as people continue to think like you do, it won’t.

  • gliderace

    Well, maybe that is true, Vincent. Perhaps humankind will have a lot of changing to do over the course of several eons. What I mean to say is that war, in an of itself, is an outgrowth of healthy, competitive thought. On a local level, this is fine with regard to sports, expanding your business, and so on. It (the competitive/expansionistic urge) sort of ‘snowballs’ and we get wars as a result. Bad, for sure, but in all honesty, I do not see them stopping. I do see, however, a dramatic decrease in Americans stepping up to the plate as they become far too concerned with aspects of personal enlightenment and draw away from social and civic cares that often do envelope an older, more primitive mindset.

    Burglars will continue to beat down our doors and we must continue to fight. In my own primitive mind, I see it this way on a global level. Again, perhaps it is shame on me and my unenlightened soul.

    By means of somehow wrapping this up and bringing it back around to the matter at hand (somehow! Let’s see…) I just want to emphasize the following:
    A) War will continue; ignore it to your peril
    B) People are stepping up to the plate to defend our neighborhood (and expand it when necessary; another real and vital aspect I neglected to mention and which should draw a boatload of ire, I suspect…)
    C) The neighborhood derives its protection from B, above, and about 90% of what they can give back to the defense is moral support, and finally
    D) To date, my experience has been that non-atheists, and primarily Christians, have supplied that moral support

    I can only conclude that D (those who are giving back through that moral support pipeline) are the only ones concerned with the health and welfare of society and community as a whole and as lively, competitive parts.

    I would love to be convinced otherwise, and as a matter of fact, am casting a net out there to see what I may be missing and where that ‘other’ support may be. Ideas?

  • Vincent

    I can only conclude that D (those who are giving back through that moral support pipeline) are the only ones concerned with the health and welfare of society and community as a whole and as lively, competitive parts.

    I was with you up to this point.
    First it assumes that moral support to the armed forces is the only criteria of civic support.
    Theoretically, all atheists could be heavy contributors to children’s educational programs, but by the above you would deny them having any concern for the welfare of society.
    Second, it assumes you would be able to tell the theological perspective of every donor.
    Unfortunately, atheists don’t have a church to meet at where they can act as a group. This means they have a hard time being visible. Also, they may want to contribute by going to boxing parties (where people gather to box up care packages) but they won’t necessarily admit they are atheists there since it’s often a religious group organizing the event.
    Finally, of course, there’s the issue of anecdotal evidence not being sufficient to prove anything.

  • gliderace

    I agree with you, yes: “anecdotal evidence not being sufficient to prove anything.” That is true. It is hard to really prove anything, but I often fall into the trap (?) of using anecdotal evidence because, well, that is all I have. I also enjoy looking at the world in a Buckminster Fuller-ish sort of way where my own experience propagates the core of what I believe more than statistics, polls, magazines, and so on. But then those darn books are pretty good, eh?!

    I see your point: atheists do not have a meeting place and can contribute in many, meaningful ways that may go unnoticed. That is a very good point and something I hope goes on. Very nice!

    I did not mean so much to say that I believe atheists not to care for the welfare of society, as I firmly do believe that they do care for welfare. I just find it very hard to find evidence of “caring” going in an outward direction when all I see comes from religious groups or individuals. I really want to believe you and see atheists participating (maybe even covertly) in boxing parties and whatnot. Fantastic! I do think, however, that atheists are doing themselves a great disfavor by NOT vocalizing this aspect of their community involvement.

    OK. On to the vocalization! Good grief: there seem to be hundreds of atheists around me at this very moment and (in all honesty (again, anecdotal by observation) there are!) they do not enjoy any form of oppression or judgment. Indeed, to be a non-atheist in my particular environment is to be branded a Luddite of sorts. I should think that they could get together and release a statement or put up a group that says “hey, we care about our society and here is what we are doing.” Why be so silent about giving? They certainly are not silent about the dull wits who believe in a god. MOVE the vocalization!

    What I see around me, on the other hand, are atheists with a sort of higher-consciousness and navel-gazing myopia which I mistake to be extremely narcissistic. Please let me be wrong! I am fighting for you here! Maybe the vocalization needs another form to it, perhaps?
    Maybe the ‘old’ way was “how can you be so idiotic to believe in that crap,” and now needs to mature to “this is us, so be it, here is how we are helping society.” In other words, I really want to see all these friends of mine get off of the persecution bandwagon and just plain help the World through real actions. Fine, they are atheists. I love them! Now then let’s get our heads together and box up some care packages………

  • http://www.myspace.com/timandjeffrey Tim D.

    What I see around me, on the other hand, are atheists with a sort of higher-consciousness and navel-gazing myopia which I mistake to be extremely narcissistic. Please let me be wrong! I am fighting for you here! Maybe the vocalization needs another form to it, perhaps?
    Maybe the ‘old’ way was “how can you be so idiotic to believe in that crap,” and now needs to mature to “this is us, so be it, here is how we are helping society.” In other words, I really want to see all these friends of mine get off of the persecution bandwagon and just plain help the World through real actions. Fine, they are atheists. I love them! Now then let’s get our heads together and box up some care packages………

    Talk like this is part of the reason why there will always be a line between atheists/agnostics and religious folk; you talk about how you’ve seen some atheists in your personal experience, and you proceed to judge everyone else who is an atheist by that standard. On that same note, you seem to judge all religious folks as having the same perogative. I understand that it’s a strong tendency to lump people together when we’re talking about a group (atheists) who are trying to organize on a national level, but it’s still a logical fallacy. I’ve seen a lot of black people on the news for robbing stores, but do I discredit the NAACP? No. Because I know those few renegades don’t represent the majority of the sane population.

    My point being, when a friendly atheist (to coin a phrase) says something to you, and you respond with something one of your “friends” (atheists) has said to you that you deem descriminatory, what do you expect them to say? That would be like me confronting you with something Pat Robertson has said, and asking you to justify it—atheists don’t all have some magical connection to one another in that they can “call each other off” when the going gets rough (nor do Christians, for that matter).

  • gliderace

    You are quite correct, and thank you for taking me to task on that one. It is not right for me to judge everyone by a ‘set’ standard that comes from only one aspect. Good point, and well taken.

    I really hope for more friendly atheists to come up to the plate; it is quite refreshing and it is indeed VERY different from what I have seen around me.

    Yes, none of us have that ‘magical connection.’ :) I think we imagine that connection INTO other people (or, rather, project it on others) in order to give substance to a bogeyman that is really our own creation in that particular moment. I know for sure that I am guilty of this and have let that color my quest for caring. Thank you for pointing that out and lifting the fog, so to speak!

  • http://raphael.doxos.com Huw

    Just read this update: the Pentegon seems to have backed out and didn’t approve the packages.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-aslan22aug22,0,4674900.story

  • Pingback: Friendly Atheist » Operation Foxhole Atheists

  • Jason

    To Vincent, gliderace, and Tim D.,
    It is dialogue like this that makes this counrty great and keeps hope burning. All of you have engaged in meaningful debate and have gained understanding of others and what makes ourselves do and say what we do. This introspect (especially gliderace) gave way to “You are quite correct, and thank you for taking me to task on that one. It is not right for me to judge everyone by a ’set’ standard that comes from only one aspect. Good point, and well taken. “– Understanding and learning and changing views when faced with educated and observant facts is what makes the true greatness of mankind and the ability to progress. If only our politicians and leaders of all types could engage in this form of intellectual compromise that you have, then the world would be a much safer, happier and healthier place. You three gave me hope that America is still alive and strong. Great people who all care to make things right through understanding, compromise and allowing individualism along with organizationalism. Systematic judgement of others through evil or just ignorance has always led humanity into turmoil. So I vow to blur that line, if I may: I judge you who wrote here as exceptional people who care about people and care to keep discovering what is right and what is wrong. Thanks for the hope that all this horror currently encom-passing this world can be worked out—I have never enjoyed myself reading comments and searching my own programming and soul SO much. Not ever. Even the “lost sheep” deserves protection from the wolf-until it can find it’s way into another heard. PEACE to you all. Peace (I think we all agree) is the goal and maybe that should be what we define as “end game”.

  • Mriana

    Don’t get me started on the violence and alike in the Religious Reich material. Then they turn around and accuse others of the vary same thing they are doing. Hypocrits who want to take over and destroy the world. :roll:


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X