The signs of a holy war are undeniably present.
George W. Bush has used the word "Crusade" to describe his war against the people he calls "evildoers." Bush clearly believes that the United States of America is a Christian nation, and that the government should be used to promote Christian religious projects.
General Wesley Clark reports in his latest book that the White House has drawn up a list of exclusively Muslim nations to target as enemies over the next four years (Afghanistan, Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and the Sudan - two down, six to go).
Bush says that he's fighting against terrorism everywhere, yet refuses to touch Christian terrorist groups, even those that are organizing within the United States. Bush seems only interested in fighting Muslim terrorists.
In Iraq, a government-paid chaplain has been baptizing American soldiers as Christians in exchange for giving them water to take showers.
Now, it has been discovered that one of Bush's top generals in his wars against evildoers, General William G. Boykin, believes that these wars are being fought against Satan himself. In public, this military officer and aide to Bush insists that the mission of the American military is to defeat Islam in the name of Christianity. So far, the Bush White House has refused to distance itself from Boykin's claim, and defends Boykin's appropriation of the American military for religious purposes as "free speech".The Gospel of General Boykin
Preaching in his military uniform before a religious congregation in Oregon this June, General Boykin proclaimed, "we're a Christian nation, because our foundation and our roots are Judeo-Christian. Did I say Judeo-Christian? Yes. Judeo-Christian."
He continued, "The enemy that has come against our nation is a spiritual enemy. His name is Satan. And if you do not believe that Satan is real, you are ignoring the same Bible that tells you about God."
To that same congregation, still in military uniform, General Boykin said of George W. Bush that, "He was appointed by God" to be leader of the United States.
To another religious group in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, General Boykin declared that the true enemy in George W. Bush's wars "is the principalities of darkness. It is a demonic presence in that city that God revealed to me as the enemy."
In a religious flyer, General Boykin is quoted as saying, "Bin Laden is not the enemy. No mortal is the enemy. It's the enemy you can't see. It's a war against the forces of darkness."
Comparing himself to a follower of Islam, General Boykin offers the taunt that "my God is bigger than his."
According to a Charisma News Service report of June 4, 2002, Boykin told to the Community Prayer Breakfast in Fort Myers that in executing the wars of George W. Bush, "It is a spiritual enemy we have to contend with. Now is the time to fight."Boykin and Bush: Conspiring for Christ?
Confronted with these comments, the Bush Administration is supporting General Boykin. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld refuses to criticize General William Boykin's ideas about an American holy Crusade against Islam, or even to say that his remarks are diplomatically unfortunate.
it is particularly disturbing that the problems with General William Boykin are not restricted to mere talk. Boykin has a long history of using his official position in concrete ways in an attempt to transform the American military into a Christian organization of religious conversion and holy war. The Bush Administration, for example, has long been aware that Boykin used his position as leader of a military base within the United States to provide unique and unprecedented access to civilian Southern Baptist missionaries so that they would have the opportunity to convert Green Beret soldiers to their particular fundamentalist version of Christianity.
An attempt to convert an entire segment of the American military into a force devoted to one particular church instead of to the United States government is not just against military regulations. It's treason.
Knowing of General Boykin's history of illegal use of military training facilities for religious purposes, and aware of Boykin's radical views about using America's military to fight a Christian Crusade against other religions, George W. Bush promoted Boykin to the position of Deputy Under-Secretary of Defense for Intelligence. In this position, Boykin is in frequent communication with senior White House officials, and even the President of the United States himself.
What else are we to think but that George W. Bush and his assistants in the White House are using the American military in order to wage a religious war on behalf of Christianity against Islam?
Was this agenda, represented by both Boykin and Bush, part of the motivation behind the rush to war in Iraq?
None of our soldiers signed up for that.An Independent Investigation
When it comes to Boykin, the central question is: does this General, believing what he does about the wars he fights for Bush, continue to purposefully use American troops to undermine Islam itself? This question can only be answered by an official investigation that is independent of the Bush White House and of General Boykin's sphere of command.
This independent investigation must also target the Bush Administration, to determine whether Bush has communicated with Boykin or other military officers about executing a military strategy designed to injure Islam for the sake of Christianity.
The role of radical fundamentalist Christian theology in the Bush Administration's foreign policy is crucial to understand, yet shrouded in secrecy. Is the Bush Administration cooperating with fundamentalist Christians in the Pentagon to attempt to bring about Armageddon?
Boykin seems to suggest as much. Describing his sense of destiny about Christian America, he says, "We in the Army of God, in the House of God, the Kingdom of God have been raised for such a time as this." It seems that General Boykin believes that he is fighting in the first battles of the prophesied End Times, in which the forces of righteousness combat Satan on Earth.
The problem with having an active military general who believes that he is fighting in a final holy war against Satan is that fundamentalist Christians regard the global destruction that this holy war would bring as a good thing. For believers like General Boykin, such destruction is a welcome first step to establishment of the Kingdom of God on Earth. That's what Boykin is referring to when says that now is the time of the "Kingdom of God".
Is such a fanatic, fatalistic man psychologically equipped to direct American soldiers into battle? Can such a man, when he believes that he is fighting against evil spirits, develop realistic military strategies, or will he just follow his theological inclinations, hoping for the best?
So far, the Bush Administration is refusing even to ask these important questions. If Bush will not ask these questions, it is the duty of the U.S. Congress to seek answers through its own investigation.
Irrational Evangelical Exuberance
The emotional relationship of Bush's wars to evangelical End Times prophecies is disturbing precisely because it is so irrational. An example of this irrationality comes from General Boykin, who continues one of his sermons with the following thoughts:
"...our roots are Judeo-Christian. Did I say Judeo-Christian? Yes. Judeo-Christian. That means we've got a commitment to Israel. That means it's a commitment we're never going to abandon.
Ladies and gentlemen, we will never abandon Israel, we will never walk away from our commitment to Israel because our roots are there. Our religion came from Judaism, and therefore these radicals will hate us forever."
The leaps of logic shown in these brief religious pronouncements are staggering. First, there's the unspoken premise that the "roots" of the United States of America must necessarily dictate present day foreign policy toward Israel and the entire Middle East. Putting aside the fact that the government of the United States of America is certainly not a "Judeo-Christian" entity, let us consider the broader validity of the "roots" argument that General Boykin makes.
The historical roots of the United States of America are in British colonization. Does that mean that it was wrong for the Americas to abandon its commitment to those roots by breaking away? Does it further mean that the United States should perpetuate its roots in colonialism by obtaining new colonies of its own?
Then there's slavery. If the United States is rooted in anything, it's slavery. So, would General Boykin argue that we ought to be loyal to our roots in enslaving other human beings as a basis for our economy?
How about the horse-riding roots of America? What about our roots in doing surgery without anaesthetic? Should those roots determine our foreign policy as well?
General Boykin and his fundamentalist allies might do well to consider that as great as roots are, they don't make the whole plant. The plant may grow out from its roots, but that doesn't mean that the plant should stick its leaves back under the ground and live in darkness. To do so would be suicide.
America has grown since its beginnings, in size and in its knowledge. The last thing that America needs now is to be thrown back into the lifestyles of the late 1700s, as Boykin would have it.
There's a second, even more irrational element to Boykin's statements about the relationship between America's old "roots" and our current foreign policy. General Boykin says that America must be an ally to Israel against what he characterizes as Islamic idolatry because the United States is a Christian nation, and Christianity is derived from Judaism. Then he suggests that Muslims hate the United States because, as a Christian nation, the United States is historically rooted in Israel and Judaism.
Well, what General Boykin may not be aware of is that Islam is itself derived from Judaism! So, if, as Boykin extravagantly claims, Muslims hate the Christians because Christianity is derived from Judaism, then Muslims must hate themselves too. Hmm. Is that his explanation for radical Islamic suicide bombings?
This kind of strange faith-based reasoning that ignores the plain facts of history and of present global political realities in favor of the prophecies of a book that is almost 2,000 years old has its place. Its place is in the churches of those who choose to believe it. Faith-based foreign policy does not, however, belong in the Pentagon, or in the Oval Office.A Call for Separation
We do not mean to suggest that any evangelical Christian is unqualified to serve in the White House or in the leadership of the American military. Jimmy Carter as a born again Christian and a Southern Baptist, but he did not allow his religious faith to overwhelm his common sense. President Carter certainly was not a perfect president, but at least he did not lead United States soldiers into combat in the name of Christianity.
Our leaders can be religious in their private lives and secular in their public offices. This arrangement is not only what the first amendment to the Constitution dictates, it is also dictated by plain common sense. A pluralistic democracy where only a minority of citizens are consistent members of any church cannot be honestly led by religious zealots who wish to coerce others into their own beliefs.
The United States of America is at a crucial point in its history, on the verge of being pulled into a prolonged war fought not in the national interest, but in the interest of particular religious groups within the United States. This war is not representative of American religion in general, or even American Christianity in general, as many American Christian groups are strongly opposed to Bush's war in the Middle East.
War is no time for a government that is led by centuries-old prophecies. It is time for the American government to return to a foreign policy built upon reason and calm consideration, leaving blind faith and hopes for holy war behind.
The past has shown us that holy wars destroy civilizations. Through the wise leadership of the 1990s, America has become the most powerful nation on Earth. We must not allow George W. Bush to destroy our peace and prosperity, leading America back into the Dark Ages.
Now is the time to check the forces of radical, violent Christianity within the American government. The Bush Administration can demonstrate that it is devoted to defending the secular, democratic identity of the United States by transferring General Boykin to a position that does not include command of soldiers in Muslim nations and is out of direct communication with the White House. George W. Bush can follow up by agreeing to an independent investigation of the cooperation between conservative Christian evangelicals and the White House in developing foreign policy and military structures.
We're watching to see if Mr. Bush takes these necessary first steps. Just like Mr. Boykin, we're waiting for a sign.
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