The Hypocrisy of Christian Militarists
by Laurence M. Vance
by Laurence M. Vance
Although I have written previously about the hypocrisy of both American Christian soldiers and Christian warmongers, there is another group of Christians that are hypocrites as well: Christian militarists.
As I have pointed out again and again, there is an unholy alliance between conservative, evangelical, and fundamentalist Christians and the military. Although some of these Christian militarists may oppose the Iraq War, the stationing of U.S. troops around the globe, and U.S. foreign policy in general, they wholeheartedly support the U.S. military as the defender of our freedoms. They see no problem with Christians joining the military and then going off to fight some foreign war that has nothing to do with defending the United States because soldiers should "obey the powers that be" and submit to their commander in chief. In this respect they are hypocrites.
One very recent event reminds us of another respect in which Christian militarists are hypocrites: the death of Kurt Waldheim on June 14.
Born in Vienna in 1918, Waldheim became an Austrian diplomat after World War II. He served as Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1972 to 1981 and as president of Austria from 1986 to 1992. The problem with Waldheim is that, not only was he a member of the German Wehrmacht during World War II, but that he was allegedly complicit in Nazi war crimes. Although it was never officially established that Waldheim had actually committed any atrocities during the war, he was the only head of a "friendly" country to be barred from the United States. In an interview before being elected president of Austria, Waldheim said about his wartime service: "What I did during the war was nothing more than what hundreds of thousands of other Austrians did, namely fulfilled my duty as a soldier."
Kurt Waldheim ought to be a role model for Christian militarists. He served his commander in chief. He obeyed the orders of his superiors.
Like President Bush, the Christian militarist believes that (outside of the ministry, I suppose) there is no higher calling than military service. But what about soldiers in other countries? Doesn't the dictum apply to them as well?
What the Christian militarist really believes is that there is nothing greater than being in the United States military. How dare "enemies" of the United States join their country's military and fight against the United States! And if they are drafted into the military to fight an obviously unjust war (since it is against the United States), they should desert or surrender rather than wage war against the United States. How dare they try to kill American soldiers!
If members of the U.S. Armed Forces should obey orders then why not the soldiers in other countries? Aren't they justified in bombing, maiming, and killing for their country if their government orders them to do it? And why should we get upset if they kill civilians? It is inevitable that there will be collateral damage in any conflict. And after all, an order is an order. There would be chaos in the ranks if soldiers stopped to question their orders.
If Christian militarists were honest they would admit that they don't think that foreign soldiers should "obey the powers that be." They should not obey orders if it means killing Americans. They should refuse to obey their superiors and suffer the consequences. American soldiers should obey orders because the U.S. military defends our freedoms and protects the free nations of the world from communists and Muslims. And after all, we were attacked on September 11th and our president is a Christian.
The bottom line is this: If foreigners should question serving in their military and obeying orders then why not Americans? Especially since the U.S. military is the greatest force for evil in the world today. Since that is something I have written about many times over the past few years, I won't revisit that subject here. But I will say this: Christians should end their illicit love affair with the U.S. military, and they should do it now, before the government enlists their support for next foreign military intervention.
All Christian warmongers are Christian militarists, but not all Christian militarists are Christian warmongers. Thank God that some Christian militarists recognize the Iraq War for what it is: an immoral, unjust, unnecessary, unscriptural war of aggression. But when it comes to the subject of the military as the coercive arm of the warfare state, they fail to think consistently. Indeed, many of them turn into full-fledged apologists for the state if you dare criticize the military in any way.
Some Christian militarists are veterans who refuse to admit that they fought for a lie, some are nationalists who adhere to the notion of "my country, right or wrong," some are super-patriots who blindly follow the U.S. government, some are idealists who refuse to see the U.S. military for what it really is, and some sincerely believe that the troops defend our freedoms, but all of them are hypocrites when it comes to people joining the military and obeying orders.
June 16, 2007
Laurence M. Vance [send him mail] is a freelance writer and an adjunct instructor in accounting at Pensacola Junior College in Pensacola, FL. He is also the director of the Francis Wayland Institute. He is the author of Christianity and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State. His latest book is King James, His Bible, and Its Translators. Visit his website.
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