Where do you draw the line…

…between making the gospel available to our troops (which is absolutely vital) and turning the gospel into a niche marketing tool that makes Jesus the Stepin Fetchit for Mars, Militarism, and Neoconnery? I think this crosses the line. The wedding of the gospel and Americanism is standard issue Evangelicalism, but it is not Catholic.

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  • Dave G.

    The wedding of the gospel and Americanism is standard issue Evangelicalism, but it is not Catholic.

    Given what I’ve seen in the Catholic blogosphere, I’d have to say that’s true.

  • Rosemarie


    >>>”They are spiritually raping the U.S. Constitution, the American people and the men and women who are fighting for us,” said Weinstein, who never, ever minces words.

    Um, isn’t that a bit much? I mean, I agree that this edition of the Bible is a bit much and against the spirit (if not the letter) of the Establishment Clause. Yet I haven’t been “spiritually raped” by its existence or its promoters. I didn’t even know about it until today and even now don’t feel victimized.

  • Thinkling

    Mark, I am curious if you had a look at Bad Religion,/i> yet. One of Douthat’s main points was a criticism of Americanism, although he framed it in language somewhat different from yours.

    One of his insights I appreciated is that there are two competing forms of Americanism, and he asserts that (at least recently) each of our two political tribes adheres to one of them, in opposition to each other. But they change possession of them as they exchange reins of power like clockwork. “The Devil sends us lies in pairs.

    • Ted Seeber

      There are indeed. I call them the Fiscal Libertines and the Sexual Libertines. But here’s what they have in common: a complete rejection of the Apostolic Authority of the Roman Pontiff to call their favorite sins a sin.

      • Thinkling

        I actually concur those categories exist (and are indeed immoral) but those are not Douthat’s partitioning of Americanism as far as I could tell.

        • Ted Seeber

          I haven’t read the book- but by a review from his enemies, I found these categories to be close to accurate, in that he identifies the “God Within” movements which allow for individual sins in finance (Health & Wealth Gospel) and sex (women’s ordination and homosexuality).

          Someday I want to ask a fiscal libertine if he thinks he will be able to take his material wealth to heaven with him, and a sexual libertine if they think angels have genetilia.

          • Thinkling

            OK, yes he does write about those categories. Those are not his Americanism subdivisions I was asking Mark about, but he did write copiously about those too. Enough heresies to go around :O

  • Thinkling

    Ugh, markup fail. Y’all can figure it out.

  • Irenist

    Lies in pairs indeed. The First Amendment wisely commands that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof[.]” These Pentagon-endorsed Baptist Bibles are an illegal and unwise establishment of religion, like the public schools of old with their mandatory daily reading of the King James Bible that led immigrant Catholics to establish American parochial education to shelter their children from state-mandated Protestant indoctrination. The twin lie, of course, is the militant secularism that seeks to “prohibit the free exercise” of our Catholic religion through the tyrannical HHS contraception mandate.

  • Kirt Higdon

    The Church has never been especially favorable to nationalism of any variety, but has specifically condemned two varieties – Gallicanism (French nationalism) and Americanism. I’ve always thought that Pope Leo XIII was especially prescient in his condemnation of Americanism. That particular heresy just keeps getting worse and worse.

    • ivan_the_mad

      TIme to bring back the oath against modernism, IMO 😀

      • Ted Seeber

        Modernism, though, doesn’t cover the problems that Gallicism and Americanism cause. It is perfectly possible to be an Americanist Fiscal Libertine and not be guilty of modernism.

  • Qualis Rex

    I am the last person to come to the defense of Fundies, but this is a hit-piece on religion disguised as “concern” for all non-Evangelicals. As Rosemarie points out: “They are spiritually raping the U.S. Constitution, the American people and the men and women who are fighting for us,” said Weinstein, who never, ever minces words. This is just meaningless hyperbole.

    Also, some telling passages: “as a Jew, Weinstein said he felt the sting of prejudice when he attended the Air Force academy in the late 1970s” what sting of prejudice? Any examples here? And “He insists that 96 percent of his clients are Christians (Catholic and Mainline Protestant) and that his is not a religious crusade.” which means he really is.

    For a Catholic, this bible is of course a major non-issue as we should not be reading ANY bible without Imprematur. And heretics have been “editing” the bible since long before Luther ripped out the Deuterocanonicals. I think one of the most sinister recent edits is some new Fundie “translation”/edit meant to confuse Mohammedans into converting by mistranslating the more objectional passages and phrases (i.e. they take away all mentions of “Son of God” and replace with “Messiah” which is found in the Qur’an as well). Point is (as always) Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus.

  • Observer

    Where Mark is certainly drawing the line is at the point of insights and commentaries (particular to Our country’s founders and others alike) being used for utilizing scripture to promote militry activity and bolster patriotizm asserted as a somewhat mcarythiztic enthusiast. You have, as result, a common boast between mil branches (hence the insignia’s) and a loosely connected church through bible fellowship particular to a translation expressively touched upon in the article. So, you do have something pressing along the lines of violating separation between Church and State.

    On the other hand, is the guy, who addresses the situation, free of interests of his own? No. However – beside his faults, failings, or interests -, he is still correct upon the assertion which you have a clear violation between Church and State.


  • George Wash

    Absolutely a hit piece. Take an item and blow it out of proportion. The ultimate goal of these people is to remove religion from the military entirely. Deny American service members the right to worship freely. They are following the same strategy the homosexuals used; little by little wear away our inalienable rights to worship Him. I have many Bibles, Gospels, prayer books and rosaries given out by the US Military ( Catholic and Protestant Chaplains) and carried them with me into combat . Also I have never come across an officer or NCO who used religion as a weapon, instead they used it properly in the Name of God to spread His word through love and not coercion.

    • Dave G.

      Thanks for that perspective. Oh, and thanks for the service. It’s nice when folks talk of Protestants and Catholics as if they aren’t opposing teams.

    • kenneth

      No officer or NCO has any business using religion to “spread the word” to anyone in their chain of command. There is always a element of coercion when a superior is “suggesting” something to his underlings.

  • Fr. Austin

    I dunno. While the Constitution does forbid any law that would seek to officially endorse or inhibit a religious establishment and its free exercise, I don’t know if that is really being done here. There has never been a sense that government and religion are not allowed to touch; in fact, the bit about “nor prohibit the free exercise thereof,” guarantees that religious persons are free to continue exercising their religion even in the public and governmental sphere (since our nation has always taken for granted, that law and public order will be based upon religion and philosophy, which are the only rational bases for them).

    In this case, I don’t think that line has necessarily been crossed. The military and its officers are perfectly free, even Constitutionally speaking, to purchase and distribute religious paraphernalia – Bibles, rosaries, prayerbooks, etc. – to people that want them. I don’t see why they couldn’t put the insignia of the various branches upon the various Bibles, rosaries, prayerbooks, etc., which they have purchased and distributed. Now, if some sort of decree went forth and said that the Military now recognized the Holman Bible as being the only true and inspired word of God, and therefore personnel shall only be permitted to use this version of the Scriptures henceforth, we’d have a problem. But, to put their own seal on a Bible they have partnered with a company to produce… sorry, but that’s perfectly Constitutional and absolutely falls within the free exercise of religion which all citizens – even and especially those in public service – enjoy.

    It’s pretty clear that this piece is simply uncomfortable with military personnel thinking that their service to the country is rooted in their service to God and others for God’s sake. They resent that soldiers have faith, that they view even their willingness to kill as a God-blessed state of affairs, and that the military is allowed to let them revere both the Cross and the flag, when they should be busy undermining both, like all the other governmental departments that have been mangled beyond all recognition. I’m an ex Protestant myself, and I’m well aware of the insane and delusional arrogance that underlies the kind of men who can say “We are the aroma of Jesus Christ” (I know it’s a Biblical passage, but Christian humility demands that we say something like “I hope that, God helping me, I can join the Apostles and Saints of old in being the fragrance of Jesus Christ in this world,” rather than just arrogating that to ourselves; plus, it’s said of Christians baptized into the actual Body of Christ, who live out their faith in accordance with Church Tradition… not just any yahoo with a Bible in his hand). I don’t *like* their attitude; but, I wouldn’t jeopardize their religious liberties just because I don’t like their attitude, and I hope they wouldn’t do that to me, either. I’m afraid that, despite my disapproval of the overall smell of this situation, I can’t say that it violates the Constitution. I think this all falls within bounds.

  • Rosemarie


    This does not violate the letter of the Establishment Clause because Congress is not passing any law that will make the US a SBC confessional state. It arguably violates its spirit because putting an official seal on a Bible does make it seem like the gov’t is endorsing the Bible or this translation. While I revere Sacred Scripture, love my country and support the armed forces, that doesn’t mean I think a mashup of those is a good idea. I don’t think military seals belong on the cover of the Bible; I wouldn’t even put a US flag sticker on the cover of a Bible. Sacred Scripture belongs to the Church, not any political state. Only religious symbols, like the cross or Chi Rho, are suitable for that IMHO.

    OTOH, I do think the guy in that article is overreacting. My husband was in the Navy two decades ago. He says that Evangelicalism in the military was strong back then but Catholics were able to fight back with apologetics, too. He also said that military chaplains were required to provide books and religious articles for anyone of any religion. A Catholic chaplain back then told him that a sailor had once requested a copy of the Satanic Bible, and that he, as a military chaplain, was required to get one for him. He bought it, gave it to the sailor, then washed his hands and prayed an exorcism prayer. He also prayed for the sailor. Yet he got it for him, even though it was diametrically opposed to the priest’s own religious beliefs. Sounds like the chaplains are really required to accommodate others religious views, even fringe ones.