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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

My tax dollars at work.

Longtime readers of this blog are probably aware that I am... you know... an atheist. You're probably also aware that I have remarked previously on the whole notion that there are no atheists in foxholes. For those who are unfamiliar, this expression supposedly relates to the idea that once a person is exposed to mortal danger, they inevitably recognize the "reality" of a god or gods. Sure they do. I've also remarked in passing on the increasing tendency for the United States military to serve as a recruiting arm of certain elements of the Christian faith- a tendency that has become disturbingly pronounced. Still, there has been some room for folks to dispute the idea that the military in general is a shade too religious for the good of a secular nation.

Yeah. Not so much anymore.

Check out this powerpoint presentation given by Captain Christian Biscotti of the Air Force Chaplain's corps.* It's supposed to be on suicide prevention, and it kind of is, but mostly it's about why U.S. commanders should encourage their soldiers to believe in god and why humanism is bad.

No, I am not fucking kidding. Besides basing itself** on Rick Warren's "The Purpose Driven Life", this presentation takes a number of opportunities to swipe at evolutionary theory and us gosh-darned atheists. Take, for example, the "three levels of purpose":



It's nice to see that loving an invisible, ineffective quite likely imaginary critter in the sky more than you love other humans is better. You also have to love the logic: "Category I is most beneficial, because if you love God (in a majority of world religions), you'll love man and yourself." Yeah, but here's the thing: if you're in category II then you also love man and yourself. So, you know, we have all our bases covered without religion. So why should we love god, again?

Still not enough to make my point? Try his slide on "Contrasting Theories of Hope":



So, to recap, Darwin is all about random chaos while god is about purpose. And purpose, of course, equals "good". And before you spend too much time trying to tease out the logical implications of his talk, allow me to remind you that this talk is supposed to be about suicide prevention. Do we have advice on picking out depressed subordinates? On appropriate ways to get them medical attention? No. Instead, we have a call to proselytize and, you know, a general claim that being an atheist is equivalent to being a damn dirty Soviet:



So, remember: all the historical, ideological, and cultural differences between Soviet Russia*** and the U.S. can be summed up on one handy slide. And the most important difference of all is we Americans love god. Fucking awesome. Now, just in case you haven't quite gotten the point yet, Capt. Buddhist Donuthole decides to make it a little more obvious what he's saying:



Yikes! So not only does atheism lead to horribly oppressive totalitarian regimes, it also leads to crime, prostitution and alcoholism. Hell, given the math of the slide, it's amazing atheism could lead to any sort of regime since they're all apparently too busy drinking, screwing and stealing to do anything else. Specifically, the descendants on the right add up to 615 (out of 929) while those on the left add up to 1170 (out of 1026). And no, he's not just double-counting the prostitutes as convicts because if we subtract 190 from the total we get 980. So, basically, some of Family #1's descendants must be alcoholic prostitutes or something. Finally- and this is my favorite part- in what way is being an author, a minister, or a congressman necessarily inconsistent with being a convict, engaging in prostitution, or being an alcoholic? Sorry, Captain Hindu Bagel, but your outcome categories are not mutually-exclusive.

And just to make sure that the horse has well and truly been beaten into a thin pinkish scum on the ground, we have this emphasis slide:



Look, it's not that I object to people in the military having religion, it's that I object to it being pushed on soldiers as a matter of policy. And, frankly, given that Arlington National Cemetery has an approved emblem for atheists,**** I think such a policy is disrespectful to both those atheists currently serving and those who have given their lives for this country.

And if that isn't enough for you, how about this: what should we be telling our soldiers? That their god is foremost? Or that their duty to the constitution is foremost?

Just a thought.


* Yes, I know his name makes him sound like a prank. What's next? "Lieutenant Commander Muslim Teacakes"? But, so far as I can tell, the dude really exists.

** i.e. slide 8 "Developing Purpose-Driven Airmen".

*** In Soviet Russia, Powerpoint presents YOU!

**** Number 16.

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