Deception and Faith.

About 2007, a young military recruit was astounded by the orientation program.  He  contacted the ACLU and things changed.

During the usual items covered in the orientation,  a man in fatigues representing the US Operation and Support Command addressed the recruits about their spiritual lives.  He spoke about accepting Jesus as their Savior.  A highlight of his talk was handing each individual his/her camouflage wrapped “military Bible.”

But, there was no “US Operation and Support Command” or Bible supplied by the military.  All this was a ruse.  The man and Bible were from the Gideons.  The ruse was to make recruits think finding Jesus was what their superiors want them to do.

Eventually, with the help of atheist organizations, the Gideon actors were taken out the orientation program on all military bases.  They were relegated to giving Bibles to Christian soldiers off base and having the soldiers bring them on base to place around the lounge areas.  This practice was eventually adopted by atheist soldiers who placed secular materials around bases as well.

All of this illustrates the effort is takes to at least reduce the propaganda efforts of Christian groups in the military.   The practice of evangelising has historically seemed so much a part of military life it could no one questioned it.

The myth of an Christian military has been challenged, not only by atheist soldiers, but by American soldiers of the Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and other faiths.

As for the Gideons, they are both unethical and un American.

Avatar of Jon Lindgren

About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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30 Responses to Deception and Faith.

  1. danpind says:

    Is it propaganda or freedom of speech Jon? Propaganda is considered to be from ones adversary while freedom of speech is what only people who believe as you do are entitled to. Another example of athiest intollerance. And I thought only the crazy, bible toating conservatives were the only crazy intollerant lunatics around here.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      danpind 1:47 Thanks for coming on to comment.

      I gather you are saying that when the Gideons falsely portray themselves as military staff memebers and implied military superiors wanted them to accept Jesus and have and read their Bibles, it is a freedom of speech issue? It’s a First Amendment, freedom of religion issue. The government shall not establish a government religion. If there is any act that violates this Ammendment, it is allowing, actually endorsing, someone to impersonate a government official advocating a particular religion.

      When the ACLU came calling, the military shut down the program. They knew better, just didn’t want to shut it down voluntarily.

    • entech says:

      Propaganda is considered to be from ones adversary while freedom of speech is what only people who believe as you do are entitled to. A failing we are all prone to (me as much as anyone, I agree)- it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking I am right, therefore the other is wrong, or similar.
      Another example of ashiest intolerance.And here you are leaping into the trap.

      There is a fallacy called the excluded middle, it is often worth considering that both can be wrong..

  2. pk says:

    I think you have your facts wrong Jon. The Gideons were not involved with the USOCS. They weren’t the ones impersonating military officers. Where are your sources?

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-rodda/rapture-ready-evangelical_b_106739.html

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      pk 4:41 The story you posted is not the one I wrote about. My story came from an atheist publication and I checked it out at the ACLU site.

      The story you posted is an interesting case of deception as well.

      • pk says:

        Was it the one i just posted below? I would like the source of your information.

        • pk says:

          Let us read this publication and the ACLU reference for ourselves.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            pk 8:27 Apparently, you did not read carefully the Dawkins article nor my blog. They do not disagree. I was not mixing two stories. My blog said the Gideons were dressed in fatigues. The Dawkins story does not say how they were dressed. I said the recriut contacted the ACLU, the Dawkins article said the person in that article did so. Maybe they both did, or, did it together. In any event, it was the State of Kentucky ACLU. If you want to defend the Gideons, maybe you should find the KY ACLU website and point out how wrong the ACLU was.

          • pk says:

            You linked the Gideons to the USOCS, a different group who were dressed in fatigues at orientations. So your article and the Dawkins one do disagree. So do yours and a couple other ones i read. The Gideons had nothing to do with the USOCS. After reading the few different articles on this i determined you did combine different cases into one. Don’t spin it around to make it look like i agree with the behavior of the Gideons, USOCS and the military. They shouldn’t have been, or should be, engaging in that type of behavior. I wasn’t complaining about anything. I was just trying to help you out so you don’t get into trouble. Please, give the sources like i’ve asked to prove you’re correct about this. I can’t find anything about the Gideons and USOSC on the ACLU website. All this confusion could be remedied if you would post your sources like a real journalist. If you have a blog you’re considered alternative media, so you have a responsibility to back up what you’re saying.

    • pk says:

      According to this article from your hero’s website, it was actually a military physician that brought the Gideon’s evangelizing to the ACLU.

      http://richarddawkins.net/articles/646040-military-proselytizing-by-the-gideons-and-how-we-stopped-it

      • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

        pk This was the case I wrote about. I have no reason to doubt the version written up on the Dawkins site. I have no reason to doubt the one I read about–they could both be correct. I doesn’t matter. The point of the story is that the Gideons were doing something unconstituional and it was stopped.

        • Stan says:

          Jon, what does matter is that you rarely post the article. All we can do is guess what you are talking about. Is this supposed to be a “gotcha” post where we can’t refute it because we don’t have the data?

          Almost every post it’s “I read somewhere” or “several years ago I read” or “I heard once”. You are supposed to be the smart guy compared to us uneducated superstitious types but you refuse to let us have the same articles you are using for the post.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            Stan– The blog pk is complaining about was based on an article I read in hard copy. We were driving all day and I did not have the publication in the motel room where I wrote the blog. It takes so much time to write and rewrite several times these blogs–if there is an easy to reach reference I try to put it up here.

            But, if I get an idea based on an article I read, I mention it, but then write my own thoughts on the topic. There is no need to post the source of the original article up because it is not that important in what I wrote that day. It’s just a matter of the style of presentation–others might do it differently. But, thanks for this and any other reflections you have on the blogs. I’m please to have you here.

        • pk says:

          Your version wasn’t the same as the Dawkins article though. That’s my point. You combined two separate cases into one and slandered the Gideons by saying they were the ones dressing up and posing as military personnel. It seems like you just added the whole “young military recruit”, unless that’s from a third story you decided to throw in there.

          “I[t] doesn’t matter.”

          It does matter when you give false information. You could get sued for libel.

  3. entech says:

    Seems to be a lot of effort whose main purpose is to deflect from the fact deception did occur, and why not? Since the founder became all things to all men proselytizing has been the name of the game.

  4. entech says:

    A quick entry into google of “gideon bible military” gives this as about the 4th result

    http://www.aclu.org/religion-belief/military-reverses-bible-distribution-policy-induction-centers

    The first paragraph reads:
    WASHINGTON – In a move that will help protect the religious freedom of new inductees, the U.S. military reversed its policy of giving preferential access to some religious groups to provide literature to new recruits. Some induction centers, known as Military Entrance Processing Stations (MEPS), have granted Gideons International special access to military recruits in order to provide Bibles and religious messages on the day of their induction. MEPS facilities process incoming recruits for the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard.

    Seems reasonably close to me.

    • pk says:

      Very good. Where in that article does it back up Jon’s:

      “a man in fatigues representing the US Operation and Support Command addressed the recruits about their spiritual lives. He spoke about accepting Jesus as their Savior. A highlight of his talk was handing each individual his/her camouflage wrapped “military Bible.
      But, there was no “US Operation and Support Command” or Bible supplied by the military. All this was a ruse. The man and Bible were from the Gideons.”

      It doesn’t. Jon took the Huffington Post story with the USOSC and combined it with the Gideons story on Dawkins site. I’m sure it was a mistake. If Jon would just show me the article he read: (“My story came from an atheist publication”) and the source document: (“and I checked it out at the ACLU site.”) that describes the details given, i would apologize and we could end this stupid conversation.

      • pk says:

        It’s funny that i get accused of not reading carefully.

      • entech says:

        Nothing about camouflage Bibles, and I have lost interest. But I did find photo evidence.
        http://www.militaryreligiousfreedom.org/newsletters/2009-03/coc.html

        • pk says:

          Thanks you for providing me with more evidence. If you would just simply read what it says,
          “The Gideons weren’t the only non-federal entity using the MEPS as a forum to proselytize. Back in June, MRFF exposed another, far more problematic organization operating at these facilities — a civilian ministry with the very military sounding name of United States Operational Support Command (USOSC).”

          The man in the picture on the left is with the USOSC. They’re not labeled Gideons in any source i can find.

          Are you guys just playing stupid on purpose?

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            pk I had not looked at either of the sites you claim I had combined or mixed up when I wrote the blog. I was writing from some notes on an article in American Atheists written by the Am. Ath. Kentucky State Director. Now, with it in front of me, the story is a little more complicated than I wrote it to be, but the important facts are as the article stated.

            The name, United States Operational and Support Command, or, some variation of it, could well be a front name used by several groups intent on evanlgelizing troups to appear as if they are affiliated with the military. Front names are used in politics and religion all the time by liberals and conservatives alike.

          • pk says:

            I wasn’t saying you looked at those exact articles, it just seemed to me you took the two separate cases those articles were about and got some of the facts mixed up. I wasn’t trying to take anything away from the main point of your blog, just pointing out an inconsistency from other sources i’ve read.

          • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

            pk OK. Sorry I misinterpreted.

          • entech says:

            Not stupid just wondering why you are so systematically attacking fine detail when the story was essentially true to the title, deception and faith. Could it be that you were trying to attack the very idea that some people would do anything to spread the word? Could the opposite be the reason I took an interest?
            Neither atheist nor theist has an unblemished record over the centuries.

          • pk says:

            Systematically attacking? Didn’t you read anything i wrote?

  5. entech says:

    “US Operation and Support Command” is the organisation originally quoted.

    “The Gideons were not involved with the USOCS. They weren’t the ones impersonating military officers. Where are your sources? “ your first reply:
    look at it – initials from the first quote are USOSP. You were wrong and making false claims and assumptions from the beginning.
    Yes I read every word you wrote and it all seemed to be defending the indefensible, an attack. No one said the Gideons were the only ones, better for your case if they were.

  6. pk says:

    “USOSP”? Where did you get that? Sorry i switched two letters around a couple times, the S and the C. I got it right the majority of the times i mentioned it. I don’t understand why i’m getting attacked for just pointing out a simple error in what Jon wrote. It’s pathetic. Why don’t you re-read or drop it.

    • entech says:

      Really now, both sets of initials have valid meanings. I had dropped it and it is now a day later. I promise nothing more, as so often happens there are errors and misinterpretations all around.

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