| How Much Money Could the Department of Defense Save if it Stopped Trying to Save Souls?. This is just absurd. Seriously. And long.. some highlights:
About a year ago, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) began an investigation into just how much money the DoD spends on promoting religion to military personnel and their families. What prompted this interest in DoD spending on religion was finding out what the DoD was spending on certain individual events and programs, such as the $125 million spent on the Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program and its controversial “Spiritual Fitness” test, a mandatory test that must be taken by all soldiers. The Army insists that this test is not religious, but the countless complaints from soldiers who have failed this “fitness” test tell a different story. The experience of one group of soldiers who weren’t “spiritual” enough for the Army can be read here.
I highly suggest reading about the experiences of people who have failed the fitness test from WaPo. But continuing with the madness:
One concert series that stands out, both because soldiers were punished last year for not attending one of the concerts and because of the cost of hiring the musical acts, is the “Commanding Generals’ Spiritual Fitness Concert Series” at Fort Eustis and Fort Lee in Virginia. This is not a chapel concert series, but a command sponsored “Spiritual Fitness” program, paid for with DoD contracts.
All of the performers for these Spiritual Fitness concerts so far (this concert series is ongoing) have been evangelical Christian artists. Not only is the music itself overtly Christian, but during the concerts there are light shows of large crosses beamed all over the stage, and the performers typically give their Christian testimony or read Bible verses between songs. Some of these performers have Blanket Purchase Agreements and Indefinite Delivery Contracts good until 2012 or 2013, indicating that this concert series is planned to continue at least through the next two years. The total amount of money awarded so far for this concert series, including the amount remaining on Blanket Purchase Agreements and Indefinite Delivery Contracts, is $678,470. This figure is only for the performers fees, and does not include all the other expenses associated with putting on concerts on the scale of those being held at these Army posts.
The site regularly used by Fort Sill, for example, is Oakridge Camp & Retreat Center, which has received over $500,000 in DoD contracts and has hosted approximately 60 retreats. Oakridge not only requires its employees to be Christians, but even goes as far as requiring on its employment application that the applicant state their views on issues such as abortion and homosexuality. While a private religious organization is free to impose a religious test on its staff, it is quite a different matter for a DoD contractor to do this. And, in the case of Oakridge, it is not only the facility’s staff who must adhere to the its Christian beliefs, but all of its guests as well, including the soldiers attending Fort Sill’s Strong Bonds and Spiritual Fitness retreats
In addition to the constitutional issue of these military retreats being evangelical Christian retreats, any of the Christian facilities used for these retreats that receives over $10,000 in DoD contracts is in violation of the prohibition on federal government contractors discriminating based on religion in their hiring practices. They all hire only Christians, and many require in their employment applications that potential employees subscribe to a “statement of faith” and provide their Christian “testimony,” detailing when and how they were “saved.”
For example, Quail Ministries, a Christian music ministry that provides performances “liberally seasoned with songs, stories, and anecdotal Scripturally-based lessons,” has received over $84,000 in DoD contracts for performances at about a dozen Strong Bonds retreats.
84,000 dollars. Our infrastructure is crumbling because there is no money to be found for things like education, or social programs or shelters. do you know what 84,000 would mean to a domestic violence shelter?! We were about to have a government shut down! We had to raise the debt ceiling! Nowhere in there did this stick out like a sore thumb as something that could probably go.. with it weirdly obscuring constitutional boundaries? More creepy:
Service members are not the only ones targeted by evangelical Christian programs paid for with DoD contracts. Military children are also heavily targeted, both here in the U.S. and on bases overseas. Evangelizing the children of service members is one of the largest areas of spending.
The biggest ministry contracted by the DoD to target children is Military Community Youth Ministries (MCYM), whose mission statement is “Celebrate life with military teens, Introduce them to the Life-Giver, Jesus Christ, And help them become more like Him.” MCYM has received $12,346,333 in DoD contracts since 2000. One of MCYM’s tactics?Stalking “unchurched” military children by following their schools buses.
Our economy was about to crash, and nobody out there in DC thinks this kind of shit shouldn’t be completely defunded?