West Point and Religion

Submitted by: Mike Spindell

061410-FlagA young man named Blake Page resigned from West Point this week with five months left to go until graduation. This will no doubt be a life changing event for him and could potentially have drastic consequences. His reason for resigning was his belief that there was a pervasive influence of religious proselytizing at this famed military academy. He and other non-religious cadets are retaliated against for their beliefs and for their refusal to go along with a program that makes Christian Faith the standard for success and for receiving privileges.

He wrote an article for the Huffington Post which I will discuss and link to below. First though I want to add my own thoughts on this because I think this young man is credible and because his charges regarding West Point are not the first complaint of intolerance towards non-religious cadets at a U.S. Armed forces Academy. The U.S. Air force Academy is located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. It is said that this community of 416,000 people can be considered the nexus of Evangelical Christianity in the United States, if not the world.

“Although houses of worship of almost every major world religion can be found in the city, Colorado Springs has in particular attracted a large influx of Evangelical Christians and Christian organizations in recent years. At one time Colorado Springs was counted to be the national headquarters for 81 different religious organizations, earning the city the tongue-in-cheek nickname “the Evangelical Vatican[57] and “The Christian Mecca”.

Religious groups with regional or international headquarters in Colorado Springs include: the Association of Christian Schools International, the Christian and Missionary Alliance, Compassion International, Every Home for Christ, Focus on the Family, HCJB, the International Bible Society, The Navigators, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Colorado Springs, WAY-FM Media Group, Andrew Wommack Ministries, and Young Life.”

In addition to the Air Force Academy there is Fort Carson and two air force bases located in the City. Twenty percent of this County’s employees work for these facilities. Besides this large military presence: “Colorado Springs is home to the United States Olympic Training Center and the headquarters of the United States Olympic Committee. In addition, a number [15] of United States national federations for individual Olympic sports have their headquarters in Colorado Springs http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colorado_Springs,_Colorado#Religious_institutions

Call me paranoid perhaps, but I think that it is no coincidence that this small city, but sixty miles from Denver, at the base of Pikes Peak, has drawn such a large influx of Evangelical Christians and their national organizations. I think it is potentially an ominous sign and I’ll explain my thoughts and feelings.

There has been a long and troubling history of religious proselytizing at the Air Force Academy (ACA).  In the last two decades as many Evangelical Christians flocked to this city, their efforts to make contact with both Officers, Professors and Cadets has been constant and quite successful. This outreach has also extended to the military bases and airfields in the area. I don’t believe that this interaction is coincidental and I also believe it is an attempt by the Evangelical Christian movement to increase their power by converting the military. A hall mark of the Evangelical Christian movement today is their militancy and their willingness to not only confront, but to exercise power to coerce people into accepting their beliefs. What better source of coercion than having the U.S. Armed Forces in back of you and perhaps subject to your manipulation of religious ideology. Let some of the evidence speak for itself:

“David Mullin, a former AFA economics professor, said military culture muddies the distinction between encouragement and orders, so only chaplains should speak on religious matters. “When a military commander says ‘you are encouraged to attend,’ whether it is to military officers or civilians, that is an effective order,” Mullin said. This constitutes improper proselytism, he added.

A self-described evangelical, Mullin is one of the few to openly criticize what he calls an unhealthy religious climate in the AFA. He is represented in court by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a legal watchdog. Mullin was one of five academy professors who sued unsuccessfully in January 2011 to stop a school prayer luncheon that would feature as keynote speaker a veteran who calls himself a “U.S. Marine for Christ.” He alleges his dog was poisoned after he protested about the school’s religious climate later that year.

Mullin suggests part of the problem stems from the AFA’s Colorado Springs location. The city hosts many evangelical parachurch organizations, such as James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, as well as New Life Church, an evangelical church founded by its former pastor Ted Haggard. He added that some of these groups have access to the academy, including cards that get them into dorms. “You have very strong encouragement — basically carte blanche access to cadets by the leadership of the academy by these groups,” Mullin said. “It is corruption, and there is substantial religious discrimination as part of this corruption,” he said. The AFA has long struggled with setting boundaries for religious expression.”

Professor Mullin says the problem stems from the proximity of these church groups, but my suspicions are that the proximity of these church groups is o coincidence, but the result of a concerted to make inroads into the military. The result is the kind of situation described in a column on 10/12/11 by Chris Rodda Senior Research Director, Military Religious Freedom Foundation; Author, ‘Liars For Jesus

“A little over a year ago, a cadet at the Air Force Academy emailed the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) to tell us about an “underground” group of about a hundred Academy cadets who, in order to maintain good standing among their peers and superiors at the Academy, were actually pretending to be fundamentalist Christians. Their charade included leaving Bibles, Christian literature, and Christian music CDs laying around their rooms; attending fundamentalist Christian Bible studies; and feigning devoutness at the Academy’s weekly “Special Programs in Religious Education” (SPIRE) programs. This group of cadets had decided to resort to doing whatever they had to do to play the role of the “right kind” of Christian cadets, all the while living in constant fear of being “outed.”

 In the words of the cadet who wrote to MRFF last year, who described himself as “kind of the leader” of this underground group: “If any of us gave even the slightest indication that we weren’t one of their number, our lives would be even more miserable than they already are due to the fact that we are all living lies here. Despite the Cadet Honor Code we all lie about our lives. We have to.”

Who makes up this group of over a hundred cadets who feel that they must pretend to be such devoted fundamentalist Christians? Well, surprisingly, they are mostly Christians — both mainline Protestants and Catholics — who aren’t “Christian enough” or the “right kind” of Christians for the AirForceAcademy. The rest of the group is made up of other assorted heathens, which include members of non-Christian religions, agnostics, and atheists.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/chris-rodda/air-force-academy-cadets-_b_1007411.html

Imagine if you will, a Cadet at the AFA, who is a perhaps a Presbyterian, Unitarian, Catholic, or a Jew, who feels this pressure to be seen as faithfully religious. You are already trying to adapt yourself to a hierarchal military system that emphasizes following your superior’s orders. What if your Superior hints strongly that they will think better of you if you are seen to be religiously faithful? What do you do? Obviously, as shown above some people, unable to stand up to the stress and pressures of conformity, in a system which requires it, will “fake it” to get by. What happens though to those who don’t fake it? How do we quantify that number among those who are booted out, ranked at the bottom of their class, or leave the Academy with an unfavorable notation in their permanent military record? It’s really not possible to make such a calculation and so we must infer it. Also from HuffPost and Chris Rodda on 10/29/10:

“The AirForceAcademy reversed course on Friday and released the results of a survey that showed mixed results on the school’s efforts to improve religious and racial tolerance and limit sexual harassment.

The survey, conducted in December and January, showed improvements in making minority groups feel more accepted and in reducing the number who say they feel pressured by others to participate in religious activities.

But it found that many cadets believe that some religious and racial minorities face discrimination and harassment, and an increasing percentage of the faculty and staff believe that sexual harassment occurs at the school.

The academy superintendent, Lt. Gen. Michael Gould, said the survey overall shows that many of the school’s tolerance initiatives are effective but that improvement is needed.

Gould initially declined to make the results public, saying the were a “commander’s tool” best used internally.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/29/air-force-proselytizing-christianity-evangelicals_n_775859.html

The title of the HuffPost article though is “41% of Non-Christian Air Force Cadets Cite Proselytizing” Despite Superintendent Gould’s assurances that things were improving there, more exists in this story:

“Several groups filed Freedom of Information Act requests for the data, including The Associated Press. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., also pushed Gould to go public.”

 “Coffman said Friday he’s still not convinced Gould understands his responsibility to be open with the public. “I think at the Air Force Academy, they need a remedial course in American government,” he said. Coffman said the military as a whole abuses its power to keep secrets and sometimes withholds information from the public because it’s embarrassing, not because of security concerns.

One of the groups that submitted a FOIA request for the survey, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, asked to have a representative at a briefing Gould conducted Friday but was turned down. Academy officials said the briefing was for media and that the foundation would be mailed the documents it requested. Mikey Weinstein, founder and president of the foundation, accused the Air Force of reneging on an invitation it had extended to his foundation and said Gould was trying to muffle opposition. Weinstein said the religious climate at the academy is worse than Gould portrays it. He said he has heard from 172 cadets, faculty and staff at the academy who say they face religious pressure, mostly from evangelical Christians at the school, and are afraid to complain for fear of reprisals.”

Another article also references the situation that exists at the AFA:

“An underground group of cadets says yes, and they say they have to pretend to be fundamentalists so they will be considered cadets in good standing. Mainline Protestant and Catholics, they say, are not considered “Christian enough.” A survery of the climate at the U.S. Air Force Academy, based in Colorado Springs, showed need for improvement. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation says that nearly one in 5 of the cadets questioned reported being the target of unwanted proselytizing, and 23 cadets — 13 of whom are self-identified Christians — say they feared for their physical safety, given their religious beliefs. You can read more here.” http://blogs.courant.com/susan_campbell/2010/09/is-the-air-force-academy-under.html

There is frankly too much material on the religious problems at the AFA for me to present more than all the links listed above. In the interests of fairness I will list some more links below that shows that many Evangelicals have a different viewpoint. If you would like that viewpoint then please click the following links: http://www.bpnews.net/bpnews.asp?id=36782 and: http://www.opposingviews.com/i/religion/christianity/air-force-academy-caves-anti-christian-activist and: http://blog.christianitytoday.com/ctpolitics/2011/11/air_force_acade.html.

The title of this piece is “West Point and Religion” and my opening paragraph dealt with the resignation of Blake Page from West Point five months before he was due to graduate. I’ll let him explain why:

“As the President of the West Point Secular Student Alliance (SSA), a Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (MAAF) affiliate, and first Director of Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) Affairs at West Point, I have been in a position to hear countless cadets recount their personal stories of frustration in dealing with the ongoing oppressive and unconstitutional bigotry they face for being non-religious. Cadets often come to me to seek assistance, guidance and reassurance in response to instances of debasing harassment. Many here are regularly told they do not deserve a place in the military. They are shown through policy that the Constitution guarantees their freedom of, but not from religion. Many are publically chastised for seeking out a community of likeminded people because it is such a common belief that Humanism and other non-religious philosophies are inherently immoral and worse. “

“The title West Point Graduate carries a great deal of weight in this world. Those who earn it are given a “golden ticket” and wear a “ring of power” which will certainly carry them to successful careers with doors flung open in the military, in business, even in personal relationships; as so many are seduced by the historic prestige of the United States Military Academy. All of these things seem enticing, but for me personally they are not worth it. As I write this, I am five months from graduation. After nearly three and a half years here, there is no reason to suspect that I would be in any way incapable of completing the final requirements and walking across the stage in Michie Stadium with diploma in hand in another 174 days. Choosing to resign at this point also carries significant risk. The Army may seek recoupment in the form of about $200-300k which I will personally owe, or an additional term of up to 5 years of enlisted service. What could possibly compel me to pass over this incredible opportunity in exchange for such harsh penalties?”

“While there are certainly numerous problems with the developmental program at West Point and all service academies, the tipping point of my decision to resign was the realization that countless officers here and throughout the military are guilty of blatantly violating the oaths they swore to defend the Constitution. These men and women are criminals, complicit in light of day defiance of the Uniform Code of Military Justice through unconstitutional proselytism, discrimination against the non-religious and establishing formal policies to reward, encourage and even at times require sectarian religious participation. These transgressions are nearly always committed in the name of fundamentalist evangelical Christianity. The sparse leaders who object to these egregious violations are relegated to the position of silent bystanders, because they understand all too well the potential ramifications of publically expressing their loyalty to the laws of our country. These are strong words that I do not use lightly, but after years of clear personal observation I am certain that they are true.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/blake-page/west-point-religious-freedom_b_2232279.html

Considering the pressures, possible dangers and the sacrifice this young man is making by resigning from West Point I find his story credible and at the same time by linking it to what is occurring at the Air Force Academy, chilling from a Constitutional perspective. My belief is that many, but not all, of those who are in what is deemed “The Evangelical Christian Movement” are radicals cut from the same cloth as the “Islamic Fanatics” that many in this country fear and despise. This includes the James Dobson’s, Ralph Reeds, Franklin Grahams and Pat Robertson’s. They espouse a form of Christianity that is militant, intolerant and thirsting for power over all. The have amassed great wealth and have supported some of the most regressively radical politicians in this country. As we now see they are trying to extend their tentacles into the Military. If they succeed to any large degree we will indeed be at risk of this country turning into an oppressive theocracy. Will they succeed? Will we let them overturn our Constitution and substitute a Christian simulacrum of “Sharia Law”. What do you think? Am I indeed paranoid?

Submitted by: Michael Spindell, guest blogger.

121 thoughts on “West Point and Religion

  1. What do you think? Am I indeed paranoid?

    Good research Mike S.

    I do not think you are paranoid, because what you have touched upon is a real phenomenon.

    There are a lot of reasons for it, but let me add one more to your list if I may.

    This phenomenon is an event that happened to The Roman Empire on its way down.

    The religion is not Christianity, it is Mithraism, the religion of the Roman Army and Caesar:

    There is general agreement about that part of the history, the fact of Mithraism being a religion of soldiers and their commanders …

    There is lots of debate on the origins of Mithraism, but as far as it went in the Roman Empire, where some scholars believe it originated (others do not) it clearly is a militaristic religion:

    “Upon enlistment, the first act of a Roman soldier was to pledge obedience and devotion to the emperor. Absolute loyalty to authority and to fellow soldiers was the cardinal virtue, and the Mithraic religion became the ultimate vehicle for this fraternal obedience. The Mithras worshippers compared the practice of their religion to their military service.”

    (quoting David Fingrut, emphasis added). Remember recently that in Afghanistan U.S. soldiers were killing Muslims with rifles with Christian New Testament verses on their gun sights?

    This version of “Christianity” practiced by U.S. military religionists is far more like Roman Mithraism than was the religion the Christians were thrown to the lion’s dens of Rome for practicing.

    (Do The Right Thing – Mithraism). Note also the Turley Blog post of some years back pointing out that Bush II wrote a letter to the French President saying he, Bush II, had invaded Iraq because of some verses in the Book of Revelation.

    The imperialistic militarism of Mithraism is a form of evangelism that comes from the authoritarian form of cognition you have written about before.

    It includes, among other things, legislating morality.

    It is rife in our country from the military to our gunboat diplomacy in the state department, because add a dose of exceptionalism to Mithraism and you have The Virgin MOMCOM.

    Thanks for being free enough to discuss the taboo realm.

  2. I am finding it hard to believe that there is all this coercion. I think you’re a bit paranoid– You wrote: The title of this piece is “West Point and Religion” and my opening paragraph dealt with the resignation of Blake Page from West Point five months before he was due to graduate. I find something seriously hard to believe here. 5 months from going all through the hard work and the pain and he’s going to quit, I think there is more to this story then religious oppression.

  3. Dredd,

    You know I’m into mythology so of course I know about Mithraism and its popularity among the Roman Legions. Constantine was said to be an initiate.
    Mithra’s birthday incidentally was December 25th.

  4. Just remember it’s out of these institutions come the leaders that are keeping your a$$ safe. Like J A M says he’s there for 3 1/2 years and bails with 5 months to go.

  5. Bruce 1, December 8, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    Just remember it’s out of these institutions come the leaders that are keeping your a$$ safe
    You don’t have to inject feudalism into the discussion Bruce. It is hard enough for you to grasp as it is.

  6. Mike Spindell 1, December 8, 2012 at 7:26 pm


    You know I’m into mythology so of course I know about Mithraism and its popularity among the Roman Legions. Constantine was said to be an initiate.
    Mithra’s birthday incidentally was December 25th.

    I don’t know if you have read David Fingrut or not, but he was an easy read.

    Yes, Constantine did Mithraism as emperor. He also made “Christianity” legal in the empire circa 325 A.D. which was not real.

    It was based upon his hallucination of seeing a large cross in the sky with words and/or voice saying something like “under this sign you will make war and conquer” or something to that effect.

    Fits right in with this narrative of military religion and military government.

  7. Maybe you’re not paranoid about this subject enough, Mike.

    The only thing more dangerous to peace than a Fundamentalist of any stripe is a Fundamentalist with access to high tech weaponry. When killing in the name of an invisible unprovable being you can never underestimate the desire for efficiency.

  8. And how to you stop it…… A$$ wipes are everywhere Mike….in the military if your nose is not brown you go to the active zones….

  9. Interesting discussion Mike. It is scary that the military is creating good Christians. Maybe they should concentrate on their real secular purpose.

  10. The last great engineer to come out of West Point Military Academy who starred in his profession after the military was……. someone help me on this. Now the Air Force Academy goes by the phrase……. oh year, A Wing and a Prayer. Naval Academy goes by Sea The Almighty or Be Sunk. Marines… went in dumb come out dumb too. Coast Guard…. watch out for pirates or be Dog Gone.

  11. I have no trouble believing a high level of coercion among the West Point folks and no problem understanding why Page would wait until shortly before graduation to step out and make his protest. First of all, since nearly all his credits will be transferable, he can get a degree from a school he can respect in short order. Secondly, if it has been his desire to really announce his protest with credibility, it should not look as if he is quitting for any reason other than to separate himself, and if it comes this late, all the better. He’s a strategist.

    About the coercion, I trust that he is correct. We are all beginning to lose our ability to recognize coercion, and this is the greatest threat to our democracy that ever was or could be. Our slide down the slippery slope came in 2000-2001, in my opinion. First there was the coercion of the people in Florida who were doing the manual vote-count after the questions arose about the election there. I heard one 80-year-old Jewish woman who had lived through the Holocaust (although she was not personally IN IT) say, to explain why the vote-counters stopped their efforts to count the votes, “They were threatened; somebody was PUNCHED!” After 9/11, it seemed that nobody remembered that we as a people objected to coercion; objections to coercion fell like dominos after the Patriot Act. It was shameful to see. Anybody objecting to anything “patriotic” or “religious” was a target of enormous wrath and they were all scared of it. I was appalled.

    I heard a rational, intelligent person say, “We cannot oppose the war in Iraq; even the New York Times is saying so” as if that newspaper had become canon law.

    No, Mike, you’re not paranoid. This stuff is scary as Hell and it’s HERE.

  12. Mike Spindell, in polite terms your essay scares the crap out of me.

    Another great reason to get the teavangelicals exposed in the light of day.
    Kudos for people turning the rock over on this. The American people have a right to know if the Air Force is being HiJacked by a cult.

  13. JAM,

    You may think there’s more to the story than religious coercion, but then how do you explain the other people feeling coerced?

    Bruce about these leaders watching my behind, you miss the point of this, if you think I’ve forgotten it. That I wrote this piece means I understand how important they are. They take their orders from the Commander in Chief and not from a hack like Dobson who delusionally thinks he speaks for Jesus.

  14. Gene,

    Thanks for the links, though even more paranoia is not really what I need. It’s a good thing I stopped getting high years ago.

  15. >> “[T]he tipping point of my decision to resign was the
    >> realization that countless officers here and throughout
    >> the military are guilty of blatantly violating the oaths
    >> they swore to defend the Constitution. These men and
    >> women are criminals, complicit in light of day defiance
    >> of the Uniform Code of Military Justice….”

    This is the part that will either get Page in the most trouble, or the part that saves him. Accusing officers is considered a “crime”, even when the claims are true. Officers are cowards who hide behind their rank to make statements and abuse people in ways they could never get away with in the general population.

    The US military academies should be secular but are instead being turned into christian taliban training and recruiting camps. Page is courageous for speaking up not just for atheists, but for anyone who objects to the harassment going on. If Obama and those taking orders had any decency and were concerned about the money spent, they would immediately ban all proselytizing on the campuses and allow Page to finish the year, then do a thorough investigation.

    As for the lie that “no proselytizing is going on”, no one admitted that sexual harassment and rape of female soldiers was commonplace in service academies or in Iraq, but it did happen and happened many times. There’s a culture of impunity, that the accuser has a burden of 100% proof or face both charges and further harassment and abuse. Even if the accuser proves the charges, the harassment will continue or even get worse.

    March, above it both clueless and/or proof of the fact that those who approve of the abuse will deny it ever happens, whether sexual, physical or religious harassment.

  16. Mike

    I toured the Air Force Academy around 1983 or 1984 when I was in Civil Air Patrol. The most prominent building there at the time was the church which most will recognize as the white structure with many points at the top. The church seemed to be the focus of the architecture there.

    The cadets we spoke with made much comment about the central part of it being a focus of life there. I don’t know how much this was the case as being a student there or if it has changed since then since I did not attend the school later in life.

    I started in Civil Air Patrol when I was about 12 years old until I was 16 and enrolled in the sheriff’s office’s cadet program. Most of the CAP senior leadership at the time consisted of WWII and Korean War veterans mostly pilots. Religion is very much a part of the program then and this was portrayed as being as integral as any other part. Our squadron in Wenatchee had Chaplains that spoke each week at our meetings.

    Each month our squadron went for training exercises in Ephrata at was at one time a WWII bomber training base. On Sunday mornings we were as cadets required to attend the church services. Of course it was not a “requirement” but if you didn’t wish to attend you were required to wash dishes for KP or do other unattractive busy work they conjured up for you. Rarely did any of us do the latter. There was also a slight bad light you got cast into if church was not your choice.

    The leadership seemed to be of the opinion that Church attendence was of Moral Education that contributed to the betterment of teenagers and others in general. But I also feel that much of it was a reflection of those officers who were veterens and their experiences in the military

    I don’t want to say that my experience in CAP back in the early 80’s is anything indicative of the present situation in the real military (which I never served in and know really little about from a hands on experience) But I didn’t see that the religion experience there harmed me in any way. Yet I can see from that experience what happened at the millitary academies you describe and can easly believe what you have reported is true.

    I will say that I think that being in that organization was a great experience for a young teenager such as myself. Taught me a great many things about life.

  17. There is NO honor left within the US military establishment – particularly for those permitted to rise… to the level of command… where fighting is really infighting [political intrigue]… and playing the careerist game… is ultimately about who will get to compete for all those fat government contracts upon retirement.

    As for the religious component in all this – in looking at the larger picture – I see the heavy hand of [faux] Christian ~Zionism~ here, folks.

    And so what’s really happening… is that those Israeli-firsters… are leading a systematic… heavy-handed takedown and actual takeover of this bloated federalist government bureaucracy… whilst also participating mightily in the globalists’ ~communitarian~ agenda… in order to [of course] totally enslave ALL of humanity.

    Sure. Let’s all support the troops. And World Socialism too. Check in with Jonathan about that Constitution…

  18. Paranoid, you are not. The hazards of a military that thinks or whose leaders claims some special relation with god are visible each and every day. The fact that our government allows and supports this climate explains a lot of things that have been troubling me lately about how the military responds to certain conduct like the rape of female members of the various branches of the service.

    When a person or group of persons believes that god has ordained their success, victory or way of life, they often see non believers as nonpersons whose lives and dignity have no value or meaning. Religious zealots also often see their lives and conduct as guided by different rules than others because they are special chosen by god. In view of the enormous power in the hands of our military it i time for the civilian power structure to exercise its control and stop this now.

  19. The problem with religion is that the faithful actually want other people to believe it too. And their reasons for it are not the most noble as Seneca reminds that, to the powerful, religion is “useful.”

    Good job, Mike S.

  20. So others don’t have to follow links to my blog to read about Mithraism, I am adding this comment to show the striking similarities between Mithraism and Christianity (not my idea, just sayin’ and quotin’).

    Mike S already knows this, so for those who want to understand why identifying the actual dynamics of Mithraism is important … it is dictator worship when manifested in a meme complex such as a militant group.

    Mike S and other commenters up-thread in this post have recoiled at the manifestation of religion within the U.S. Military, so let’s look at why Mike S and the others are correct to be concerned:

    The widespread popularity and appeal of Mithraism as the final and most refined form of pre-Christian paganism [in the military of Rome] was discussed by the Greek historian Herodotus, the Greek biographer Plutarch, the neoplatonic philosopher Porphyry, the Gnostic heretic Origen, and St. Jerome the church Father. Mithraism was quite often noted by many historians for its many astonishing similarities to Christianity.

    The faithful referred to Mithras as “the Light of the World, symbol of truth, justice, and loyalty. He was mediator between heaven and earth and was a member of a Holy Trinity. According to Persian mythology, Mithras was born of a virgin given the title ‘Mother of God’. The god remained celibate throughout his life, and valued self-control, renunciation and resistance to sensuality among his worshippers. Mithras represented a system of ethics in which brotherhood was encouraged in order to unify against the forces of evil.

    The worshippers of Mithras held strong beliefs in a celestial heaven and an infernal hell. They believed that the benevolent powers of the god would sympathize with their suffering and grant them the final justice of immortality and eternal salvation in the world to come. They looked forward to a final day of judgement in which the dead would resurrect, and to a final conflict that would destroy the existing order of all things to bring about the triumph of light over darkness.

    Purification through a ritualistic baptism was required of the faithful, who also took part in a ceremony in which they drank wine and ate bread to symbolize the body and blood of the god. Sundays were held sacred, and the birth of the god was celebrated annually on December the 25th. After the earthly mission of this god had been accomplished, he took part in a Last Supper with his companions before ascending to heaven, to forever protect the faithful from above.

    (Univ. Chicago, emphasis added). When Constantine made “Christianity” the religion of the Roman Empire, he was a member of Mithraism, its leader as Caesar, so he was strengthening his following, and allowing Mithraism to compete with Christianity in doctrine and dogma.

    In fact, how does on tell the difference? One is militant the other is peaceful, but through the propaganda of fear and the selling of “security” it is quite easy to supplant the one with the other.

    Holy wars ensued in the form of the Crusades.

    Today, The Virgin MOMCOM carries on and has planted military bases cathedrals in 191 or so countries around the world in our name.

    Do you grasp the irony of this religion coming from what is now Iran originally, and the worshippers now tooling up to invade the religion’s homeland?

    Do you grasp the irony of this religion coming from what is now Iran originally, and the worshippers now tooling up to invade the religion’s homeland?

  21. Daughter taught debate one summer to high school students at a camp at Colorado College in Colorado Springs so we went to visit. It is a bastion of liberalism amidst Christian republican fundamentalists .My relatives from Chicago came on the trip and were horrified after we went on the tour of the Air Force Academy although the architecture of the chapel was stunning. We traveled on to liberal blue Boulder never to return to Colorado Springs.

  22. James Dobson Gives Away the Game, Admits the National Day of Prayer Task Force Prayed for Obama’s Defeat
    Submitted by Brian Tashman on Friday, 11/16/2012 1:50 pm

    Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, now the host of Family Talk, admitted on his radio program today that the National Day of Prayer Task Force, chaired by his wife Shirley Dobson, were praying for Obama to be defeated on Election Day. Religious Right activists have lambasted Obama with false smears that he had “cancelled” the National Day of Prayer and defended the event as “not politically inclined,” even though it regularly hosted anti-Obama speakers like David Jeremiah and Harry Jackson and both Dobsons are closely tied to the GOP. But during an interview with Concerned Women for America president Penny Nance, Dobson gave away the game and said that his wife and Task Force vice-chair John Bornschein put together an election season prayer effort that they hoped will defeat Obama. Right Wing Watch

  23. Colorado Springs is kind of like the state of Texas. Bible thumping christian militaristic republicans are in abundance.

  24. “Of course it was not a “requirement” but if you didn’t wish to attend you were required to wash dishes for KP or do other unattractive busy work they conjured up for you. Rarely did any of us do the latter. There was also a slight bad light you got cast into if church was not your choice.”


    I have no doubt that your CAP experience was a positive one for your life. If your family background had a strong religious component, which I have no way of knowing, then this more’ of the CAP would seem quite minor to you. There are very religious people among my family and friends whose faith enriches their lives. I am hardly disdainful of their beliefs. Contrary to some here, I actually believe religious belief can play a positive role for those who practice it. The people I know though, who are religious came to it on their own and were not coerced into their practice, even if gently.

    From what you write above there was coercion going on in the CAP that from my perspective is wrong, even if not overtly harmful. As a Jew my experiences attending school included have to take part in Christmas activities like singing carols in Assembly and class projects centered around Christmas activity in elementary school. While taking part was more or less not completely mandatory, at Elementary school ages having to decorate a Christmas Tree, taking part in card-making, exchanging “Secret Santa” gifts and classroom discussion of Christmas, was disturbing to me on many levels.

    These activities at the AFA and West Point though negatively affected many Christians. As you well know Christianity, like all major religions is not a monolithic faith. The objections at the Academies have in the main come from Catholics, Unitarians, Presbyterians, etc., who are being given the “hard sell” towards the Evangelical branch of Christianity, despite their own core beliefs. The too I touched on the fact that on-believers and atheists are also being coerced into something they find against their own ethical/moral sensitivity.

    Finally, the distinction that I also make is that in the CAP, you as a youth were pursuing and avocation, rather then in the midst of building a career. These cadets are involved at an institution that can set the tone for their future success.
    That multiplies the coercion factor enormously. Beyond that though there is another thread to my concern with these practices.

    Evangelical Christianity, or more precisely “Right Wing Fundamentalist” Christianity, puts forth an agenda that I find inimical to our Constitution and our country. They have been a movement that for many years has tried to make their religious beliefs the “Law of the Land”. They have shown time and again a commitment to do this, while disregarding all outside their belief system as either misguided or evil. They have for years waged a “war against women”, or more correctly a “war for male supremacy”. They also represent a movement to make our criminal law into a harsh, retributive system. They have joined conservative politicians in their battle and have re-made Jesus’ teachings into “Free Market” dogma. For them to get a stranglehold on our military establishment would be a disaster and with it comes the possibility of some point of what would be in effect a civil war between them and what they would term “the forces of evil”.

    We have seen this already in some quarters with the election and re-election of President Obama. The attacks he has suffered go far beyond the range of policy disagreements. On his policy there is plenty for reasonable people to disagree with and on some issues I disagree with him strongly myself. However, to characterize this man as an “Islamofascist”, a Muslim, a communist, a NAZI, a traitor and the most “Leftist” of U.S. President is a hyperbole far beyond the pale of political discourse. Much of this hyperbole has come from those intertwined with “Right Wing Fundamentalist” belief. We could well see a time when a demagogue like James Dobson ignites a “Civil War” over some issue and a party to that war may well be elements of the U.S. Armed Forces. As I even said myself in the article, paranoid I may be, but yes this is my paranoia.

  25. As noted in a comment above, Mithraism was quite often noted by many historians for its many “astonishing similarities to Christianity.”

    Such as:

    1) Mithras was “the Light of the World“ (Jesus said “I am the light of the world.” John 8:12).

    2) Mithras was a member of a Holy Trinity (“Christians are baptized ‘in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit’ … ‘The faith of all Christians rests on the Trinity.’ St. Caesarius of Arles, Sermo 9, Exp. symb.: CCL 103, 47”; see also Mt 28:19).

    3) Mithras was born of a virgin (Jesus was born of a virgin. see Matthew 1:18-25).

    4) worshippers of Mithras held strong beliefs in a celestial heaven and an infernal hell (“The Bible speaks clearly of the existence of Heaven … Hell is also spoken of in the Bible, but its nature is even more sketchy. When Jesus described the destiny of sinners who refused to change their ways, he compared it to Gehenna, which was a rubbish dump outside Jerusalem. People in wretched poverty picked their way through it to find scraps, and fires burned”).

    5) worshippers of Mithras believed they would be given enless life (“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” I Cor 15:53).

    6) worshippers of Mithras believed in a final day of judgement in which the dead would resurrect (“But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” I Cor 15:12).

    7) worshippers of Mithras believed in a final conflict that would destroy the existing order of all things (“Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army” Rev 19:19; “Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon” Rev 16:16).

    8) Mithras worshippers believed that a ritualistic baptism was required of the faithful (“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit …'” Matthew 28:18-20).

    9) Mithras worshippers took part in a ceremony in which they drank wine and ate bread to symbolize the body and blood of Mithras (“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body'” Matthew 26:26; “And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many” Matthew 26:26-28).

    10) Mithras worshippers believed that Sundays were held sacred (“the majority observance of Christian Sabbath is as Sunday rest” Wikipedia).

    11) The birth of Mithras was celebrated annually on December the 25th (“Christmas … is an annual commemoration of the birth of Jesus Christ and a widely observed holiday, celebrated generally on December 25 by billions of people around the world” Wikipedia).

    12) Mithras took part in a Last Supper with his companions before ascending to heaven (“The Last Supper is the final meal that, according to Christian belief, Jesus shared with his Apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion.” Wikipedia; “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11)

    How would young cadets at West Point know how to tell the difference or even contemplate the notion of a difference?

    The scary bottom line is the brutality of the soldier worshippers of Mithras:

    “Polybius claimed that the Romans deliberately caused as much destruction as possible, slaughtering and dismembering animals as well as people, to deter other communities from resisting Roman demands to surrender; mercy. Male inhabitants were usually slaughtered, women raped, though only in exceptional circumstances killed in the initial orgy of destruction. After that, as tempers cooled and the desire for profit took over, prisoners would be taken for sale as slaves, though at times any considered to have a low market value, such as the very old, were still massacred.”

    (Complete Roman Army, 197, see also 172-73). And don’t forget their practice of crucifixion.

    Hear of any torture, etc. by the exceptional good guys (“warrior heroes”) in uniform in the past decade?

    So, what are they teaching at The War College and other military academies?

  26. Mike Spindell 1, December 9, 2012 at 10:01 am


    They have for years waged a “war against women”, or more correctly a “war for male supremacy”.
    Did I neglect to point out that the doctrine of Mithraism did not allow women to be members of their religion.

  27. Amy Goodman talks with Jeff Sharlet & Mikey Weinstein of MRFF

    Are US Forces Trying to Convert Afghans to Christianity? Democracy Now 1 of 2 (May 2009)

    Are US Forces Trying to Convert Afghans to Christianity? Democracy Now 2 of 2

  28. “When Constantine made “Christianity” the religion of the Roman Empire, he was a member of Mithraism, its leader as Caesar, so he was strengthening his following, and allowing Mithraism to compete with Christianity in doctrine and dogma.”


    I think the truth is that Constantine was redefining Christianity into Mithraism. Reading the earlier doctrines and beliefs of Christianity such as “The Gospel of Thomas” and the “Gospel of Mary Magdalene” present a quite different picture of Jesus’ teachings, than that coming out of the “Council of Nicaea”. There have been many books written by Biblical Scholars that see that “Council” and later “Councils” as re-making/re-editing early Christian belief into one that supported the Empire and its extreme militarism. There is some evidence that Constantine himself never became a Christian and that the “Cross in the Sky” dream was a convenient fiction on his part to complete his hold on the Roman Legions. A brief example of that re-making/re-editing is that Pontius Pilate is shown in the gospels as a reasonable man with a conscience. This picture of this historical figure is negated by Roman records from his time showing that he was removed from his position over the land due to his harsh brutality. Considering that this was in the uber-militaristic Roman Empire, the man had to be a really bad person.

    Having read the Gospels over again and having read many works on the real beginnings of Christianity, I see a large dichotomy between Jesus teachings, such as remain in those highly edited texts, and what resulted from the “Nicaean Council”. Your contribution here is very valuable in bringing up the cult of Mithra, because there are indeed parallels to be drawn in terms of the situation that I write about.

  29. Mike, thank you for exposing this mental illness. We absolutely cannot have it in our military. If good old fashioned “christian” persecution is needed to clean out the swamp, so be it. Zealots need to be glad we don’t tax your churches as you pump your non-christian poison into the heads of those you have controlled with fear of bullies, namely the biggest one of all: jehova, such that you permit yourselves to kill in the name of ghosts.

    Because there is absolutely nothing related to unconditional love through service to one another in our military, or any military. This sick fantasy is not an American proposition, sorry, and those who push it are going to be bitterly disappointed by the future, because those who are coming up do not buy it. Not for a second. There was no “huffington post” 10 years ago. In the harsh light of now, the roach problem we have is revealed in total.

    The time when we just silently and quaintly accept the clearly demonstrably dangerous behavior of religious zealots simply because they are religious is OVER. Call them by their real names: Dumb and Dumber, and tell them to their faces the damage they cause. Take away the ridiculous tax protection to drive it home.

    Enough of the kiddie wet-dreams. We really do not have the time for it.

  30. “Mithraism was quite often noted by many historians for its many “astonishing similarities to Christianity.”

    Dredd as you can already guess I’m on the same page as you regarding those “similarities”. A tangential point I find interesting and which you have touched upon is how the extremely brutal Roman conquests have been treated lightly in general public education. Gibbon is of course an exception and I’ve read his complete works. However, I well remember my Elementary and High School education regarding the Romans was biased to leave one with a relatively positive view of that Empire. “Pax Romana” was seen as a good thing for the the “savages” of the world bringing them a positive society. Carthage was made into an implacable, brutal entity that had to be completely destroyed.

    The truth of Roman society is that while they produce some individuals of note, the Romans greatest “civilizing” talents were in War and Engineering. They copied much mythology and philosophy. They treated people horribly, save for their nobility and soldiers and many of the “savage” cultures they subdued represented civilizations of far greater age, wiser philosophy and greater learning.

    We see, as you state, a similar situation and drive today. The U.S. has been trying to impose a “Pax Americana” since WWII. We have ongoing military bases all over the world that act as deterrents to those who would thwart our aims. We have deposed governments that would dare to oppose us, even in philosophical terms. We have deemed “Barbarian” cultures that represent some of the oldest civilizations among humanity. We are already behaving badly as a world power. I think you and I both cringe at the thought that like the warlike, male-centered cult of Mithraism drove the Roman Legions, so to does the warlike, male-centered cult of “Right-Wing Fundamentalism” want to control our military, if it already doesn’t.

  31. Elaine M has provided a must-see video.

    It is in two parts.

    Please watch it.

    It proves that the fear of what threatens us is real and reasonable.

    Paranoia is unreasonable or unwarranted fear.

    Therefore, Mike S is not paranoid, he is reasonably fearful as we all are who see where this is going.

  32. In the midst of writing this piece I knew with a certainty that some people here would actually add substantially to the evidence I was presenting. As I expected Gene, Elaine, SwM and David have done much more than supplement what I presented, they actually made my job much easier with the links they’ve provided.
    Being an acolyte of studying mythology and its influence on today’s world, Dredd’s contribution on Mithraism took the discussion to another level, which though I was aware of the background, didn’t think to connect to this story.

  33. bettykath,

    LOL:mrgreen: Ummmmmm. Nope. It was late, I had a head full of NyQuil, I was tired and thinking of Blake Lively (who I had also just read something about) when I typed “lady” and “her”. I linked to it b/c he wrote it.

    Apologies to both Mr. Page and Mrs. Lively.

  34. Dredd,

    The effort to “fundamentalize” the military is only part of the story. Have you read Jeff Sharlet’s book “The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power?”

    Watch this video:
    Jeff Sharlet talks about “The Family” on Rachel Maddow

  35. “However, to characterize this man as an “Islamofascist”, a Muslim, a communist, a NAZI, a traitor and the most “Leftist” of U.S. President is a hyperbole far beyond the pale of political discourse. Much of this hyperbole has come from those intertwined with “Right Wing Fundamentalist” belief. ”

    Mike Spindell, These enormous lies are being spread on Fox news (still) 24/7 . They are being spread by numerous politicians, pro right PACs and sermons in churches. They are a faux clarion call to wake up, join our ranks of blind faith in Jesus** and spread his truth, glorify his name, and become a most worthy human being ensconced in gods grace.

    How can this happen in the 21st century. ??? …. Because the right wing Plutocrats needs tools to support their maintenance covetness of wealth and power. Some “left” wing plutocrats conveniently ignore this dichotomy.

    Religious fundies can deliver 30 million votes each election cycle. They can be counted on to come through. The strategy is simple, sophomoric, and successful.
    One unforseen offshoot is some of the pols being elected by this strategy, do not know it is a strategy. They are self righteous deluded fanatics whose goal is a Dominionist society. (thanks Gene H.) …… Ohhh not to worry though, the plutocrats have a strategy for this. See the Saud family and the Wahhabis. The problem with this is it won’t work in a secular democracy.
    Mike, this is what scares the crap out of me. Control of the military is the #1 need for coups in non secular societies. In a Democratic secular society the military exists as a protector of secular Democracy. Gather the Loons in the military hierarchy, gather the Loons in our representative Congress, and we will be soon “ungathering” the enlightenment and achievements of the last 230 years progressive American Democracy.

  36. The Family is a chilling book. Sanford of SC and the Apalatian Trail was and may still be a member. (his wife wrote about these guys in her book.) They have a tax free house in DC where they stay. It’s a religious organization, don’t you know. So we not only pay these jokers their salary we also subsidize their housing and their meetings where they tell each other that no matter what they do, no matter how heinous it is its ok because they are chosen by god to lead the people.

    Religion will be the end of our freedom or at least the perversion of religions ill be.

  37. This is so dam disheartening. How could West Point and the Air force Academy allow such cultism and ignorance to overwhelm their institutions of higher learning?

    This brings the entire military’s decision making ability and process into question destroying any confidence the population may have in the Generals and Colonels and certainly in the Commander in Chief.

    Is Annapolis also infected?

  38. Elaine M. 1, December 9, 2012 at 11:10 am


    The effort to “fundamentalize” the military is only part of the story. Have you read Jeff Sharlet’s book “The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power?”

    Watch this video:
    I did not read the book but I read reviews of it and have cited to it.

    Thanks for another great video.

    AY wrote up-thread “Isn’t power a religion all in of itself …..” and James in LA thanked Mike S for exposing “this mental illness” …

    Our forefathers and foremothers were prescient on this. They felt that power in the social context of civilization was a mental illness that masqueraded as a religion, with priests, laity, rituals, and the whole shebang.

    The “Father of the Constitution” said war is our greatest threat, meaning a warmongering government structure. It was also the belief at that time that power corrupts.

    Illness has a cause, because it is an effect.

    I have been studying it for a long time and sharing my findings from time to time as food for thought to bloggers here and there.

    Just like we all do to benefit each other.

    Peace and season’s greetings.

  39. I remember when Jeff Sharlet’s first guest appearance on Maddow and got the book shortly thereafter.

    It really is a must read.

    Religion really appeals to sociopaths for it provides a great place to hide as they cloak themselves in ritual and piety.

    It is my opinion that all religions are, at their core, sociopathic in that they all preach a form of “set aside that which you believe and follow me”.

    Perhaps, in order to be a truly effective killing machine, one must have the mantle of religion around one’s shoulders?

  40. Evangelicals Implicated When Ugandan Gay Rights Activist Was Beaten to Death
    By Frank Schaeffer

    There is an attending level of smarmy hypocrisy expressed as “we hate the sin, but love the sinner” that is as ludicrous as it is two-faced. For instance, in 2010 top Evangelical leaders participated (as they have clamored to do each year for decades) in a Washington schmooze-fest “prayer breakfast” organized by none other than the Family. At that very moment the Family was also hock deep in yet another scandal, this time in Uganda.

    The story of the Ugandan legislation to kill gays for being gay was intertwined with the Family and also with representatives of the wider “respectable” American Evangelical community. According to many press reports, the genesis of the antihomosexual Ugandan bill may be traced to a three-day seminar in Kampala in March 2009 called “Exposing the Truth Behind Homosexuality and the Homosexual Agenda.” This seminar was led by Evangelical leader and hero to the Religious Right Scott Lively. He is best known for his Holocaust revisionist book The Pink Swastika, which claims homosexuals founded the Nazi party and were responsible for death camp atrocities.

    According to sources who attended the conference (and who were later widely quoted in the press), Lively told his Kampala audience, “I know more about this [homosexuality] than almost anyone in the world. The gay movement is an evil institution. The goal of the gay movement is to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.” The results of the seminar were dramatic. “The community has become very hostile now,” Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, said in an interview. “We have to watch our backs very much more than before because the community thinks if the Ugandan government is not passing the law, they will deal with [gay] people on their own.”

    For years Evangelical leaders have jockeyed for good tables at the Family-run “prayer breakfast.” (My late father — evangelical leader Francis Schaeffer — to his credit, always called the Family a “fascist cult” and “evil,” long before its bizarre actions came to anyone else’s attention. He refused all the many invitations to attend the prayer breakfast, let alone speak at it, as he was asked to do several times. Moreover, Dad said that his interest in meeting political leaders was “personal and spiritual,” and he never went in for public displays of sucking up.)

    After the Family was reported to be hock deep in the Uganda scandal, Evangelical leaders still turned up in droves anyway!

    They did this even though David Bahati, the man behind the kill-the-gays legislation, was deeply involved in the Family’s work in Uganda at that time, and a minister in the government of Uganda and was also helping to organize the Family’s National Prayer Breakfast.

    A day before this “prayer” schmooze-farce, I participated in a press conference held at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign. I did so to call attention to the antigay activities of the Family. “Prayer is a good thing, and Americans ought to gather to pray, but we better be careful what we pray for,” said one of our presenters, Gene Robinson (the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church). “I call upon our president to make himself known to be in opposition to this violation of human rights for all of God’s children in Uganda and beyond,” Robinson concluded.

    A gay Ugandan who was seeking asylum in the United States gave a detailed account of the harassment he withstood “from my fellow Christians in Uganda.” Given the multiplying death threats he was receiving for speaking out, Moses (not his real name) addressed reporters with a paper bag over his head to conceal his identity. He described in detail how “one would rather die than come out of the closet” in religiously conservative Uganda. He also spoke about how American Evangelicals had egged on the Ugandan authorities with the Evangelical-propagated pseudoscientific myth that homosexuality is a “chosen lifestyle” that can be “cured” by Jesus and/or therapy and that therefore people who remain gay do so out of choice.

  41. Blouise,

    I think it’s the perversion of religion by evil people who have their own beliefs and interests at heart that is at the root of the problem. I know many good people of conscience who are religious.

  42. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (James 1:27)

    From where come wars and fights among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” (James 4:1)

    Warmongers let lust create hate within them, then hate produces vile violence.

    They kill, rape, maim and destroy even the orphans and widows, after they become polluted by the warmongering doctrines of Mithraism.

    Make love not war. Give peace a chance.

  43. Well the videos that I just watched were the scariest thing I think I have heard since… since the last scariest thing I heard. I don’t know, my mind is like a sieve but that scared the bejeebers out of me. Not that I ever really thought we were a country full of saints with a military full of supersaints, but that I never realized the extent to which the danger of our vicious faked-up mythology has gained technological and military control of the whole world.

    This morning’s experience leaves me actually glad to realize that my position on the actuarial charts will probably keep me from seeing the “natural endpoint” of this fearsome journey into the world of antihumanity. I’m so glad my kid is not planning to have children. I want to put these genes to rest and not be a witness.

    If Jesus were, if he had a grave, if he spiritually persisted into some kind of “afterlife” in any way, shape or form, he would, I believe, be so appalled by all this that he would cancel the second coming. :follow:

  44. I applaud you posting this article. I have for several years followed the news on this formidable effort by Evangelical Christian leaders in the US Armed Forces in newsletters I receive from Mike Weinstein’s organization. I have often thought, as a result of reading about the illegality of proselytizing, that the US military contains a scary resemblance to Muslim jihadist groups. I encourage everyone to sign up for the newsletters put out by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. I think that the founder, Mr. Weinstein, is a bit of a ‘crusader’ (no pun intended) himself, but his cause is a most needed one.
    What really galls me is that the Evangelical US Air Force Academy students have no qualms harassing women. There was a report on this just recently which detailed the pervasive use of pornographic material by the students in their daily lives and quarters which female cadets feel very much is a form of harassment. Will try to find a link to this story and send it.
    I most certainly believe there is a direct relationship between the abundance of religious organizations in Colorado Springs and the American military bases.
    This past summer, my husband and I traveled through Colorado and we were stunned by the prevalence of road signs which included warnings about Pres. Obama winning the elections and equating this possibility to evil.

  45. Elaine,
    Wouldn’t it be better if the troops in Afghanistan just come home? They can do all the converting to Christianity right here at the military academies!

  46. Elaine,

    Two years ago I would have agreed with you but as I have looked closer at the beginnings of all these religions and the paths they have followed down through the centuries, I see a common thread of sociopathicism (my totally made up word) that starts with the “follow me” directive which is part and parcel of each major religious movement.

    I have intimate knowledge of people inside and outside of religion doing evil and doing good and I’m also not supporting, one way or the other, the existence of a higher power … I’m questioning the founders … the “I KNOW; FOLLOW ME” people:

    Abrahm, Jesus, Mohammed, Luther, Henry VIII, Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, L. Ron Hubbard etc … are they sociopaths?

  47. Blouise,

    Something to ponder:

    Is religion the opium of the people?
    Was Karl Marx right to characterise faith in the way he did?

    This week, revellers and thinkers gather in London to celebrate Marxist thought at the annual “festival of resistance”. Marx, of course, famously disparaged religion as “the opium of the people”. He wrote, at length, that

    “Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again. But man is no abstract being squatting outside the world. Man is the world of man – state, society. This state and this society produce religion, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, because they are an inverted world. Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realisation of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion.

    “Religious suffering is, at one and the same time, the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.

    “The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.”

    Was he right?

  48. Mike, I would say your piece, and the font of essays and videos it has ushered in, is a call to urgent action if ever I heard one. We have been conditioned not to question those “who believe.” But this is not belief that we witness. This is demanding permission to kill, and those who deny it shall be killed. This desire is now heavily funded with tentacles everywhere, a Rapturous Beast as such.

    We must act.

  49. “Was he right?”


    Marx made some valid points about religion. I wonder though if he realized that his own ideas would be formed into a secular religion, every bit as cynical and destructive as that which he sought solutions. My own take is that all “Isms” are flawed attempts at trying to solve humanity’s problems. The flaw is in trying to come up with an overarching solution for a multiplicity of problems and having that solution turned into dogma by the sociopaths who claim discipleship to the “prophet”. In this instance the “religious” leaders have molded their version of Christianity into a “warriors Creed” that would appeal to the military. That people like Dobson and Graham, sociopaths both, assume the mantle of understanding the divine, is the essence of their sociopathy. To postulate a supreme creator of this entire Universe, with the belief that you personally can understand the wishes of that creator, is both ego-maniacal and sociopathic.

  50. “Mike, I would say your piece, and the font of essays and videos it has ushered in, is a call to urgent action if ever I heard one.”


    That is exactly why this aged hippie spends may hours daily here and on the Internet, when I’m really more of a fun-loving type of guy. I’ve got kids and grand-kids and friends and family and empathy for all of us in the human condition. I worry about all our fates in this perilous life.

  51. Blouise,

    “Abrahm, Jesus, Mohammed, Luther, Henry VIII, Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, L. Ron Hubbard etc … are they sociopaths?”

    Abraham? Too remote in time to say as little or nothing is known of the historical person. Jesus and Luther though? Probably not by DSM or WHO criteria. Jesus was far too empathetic in his teachings unlike many who claimed to follow him. Plus he never sought to be worshipped himself but rather – like Luther – was rebelling against established orthodoxy in advocating others to adopt a more personal relationship with their sense of God. Similar could be said of Buddha, who the historical person would probably be repelled by those who worship him instead of simply taking his wise council just as the historical Jesus would. Peter was probably a sociopath though. He was interested in controlling people just as Constantine after him. The rest of them? You could also argue the inherently top down control oriented features of Mohammed’s teachings could indicate a psychopath as opposed to a sociopath. But L. Ron and Smith with their focus on materialism being a prime requisite in “supporting their beliefs” reek of Ponzi scheme from the get go. Henry was the very portrait of a sociopath even if he hadn’t founded the Anglican Church. Eddy? Hard to say. Even Mark Twain noted of her, “We cannot peacefully agree as to her motives, therefore her character must remain crooked to some of us and straight to the others.”

  52. The Christian jihadists pervade all power structures in our government. Consider the number of Congress people; the state governments, legislators and governors, the military, and the members of MSM that provide cover. It is truly scary.

    We have seen that women have no status, the poor, disabled and elderly have no status. We are disposable. All union workers are disposable. To be useful they need to be willing to work for poverty wages. Black, Hispanic and poor white men are disposable. Well, actually, they aren’t all disposable. Some of them come in handy in the for-profit prisons working as slave labor.

    There’s the advent of drones, the escalation of militarization of the police (at-the-ready swat teams, riot gear, military gear, tasers), the SYG laws, TSA, complete and total eavesdropping on everyone, cameras everywhere, chips in our driver’s license, Presidential “kill” list, indefinite detention without charges, and as this thread points out so well, a required oppressive religion that holds only God responsible for our actions. George Orwell, it this what you meant?

  53. Elaine,

    And I forgot to name … how in the world I could forget is beyond me … good old Paul. The Jew with Roman citizenship who persecuted Christian then was blinded and became one of the great “I KNOW; FOLLOW ME” characters. So much so that Jesus’ brothers despised him for draining monetary support from their movement and who’s sect was the one picked up by Constantine who had his own vision of the cross in victorious battle!

    As to Marx, “It is the opium of the people.” … that’s the peoples’ problem … the good would be good and the evil would be evil without any religion?

    I can’t support or deny the existence of a higher power but I question the real motives of people like Abrahm (Those of the Jewish faith will recognize that I didn’t use the Abraham spelling), Jesus, Mohammad etc. Were they sociopathic personalities?

  54. “And I forgot to name … how in the world I could forget is beyond me … good old Paul. The Jew with Roman citizenship who persecuted Christian then was blinded and became one of the great “I KNOW; FOLLOW ME” characters.”


    Paul claimed to be Jewish and Pharisee trained, but that is historically suspect. Check out Hyam Maccoby’s (biblical scholar) “The Mythmaker”, written about Paul, where he demolishes Paul’s connection to the disciples and followers of Jesus. His contention is that Paul was the creator of Christianity as we know it and it was a religion that would be foreign to Jesus and his followers.

  55. Gene,

    I’m questioning all those who claimed “TO KNOW” and sought to teach others that which had only been revealed to them. That would include Abrahm and Jesus. As for Jesus not wanting to establish a church … that’s from the gospels which were concocted well after the fact and were certainly not in existence during the time of Peter or Paul. History rewritten. as it were. Paul never mentioned any of the “favorite” gospel stories in his letters and he knew Peter and James so ….

    As to the Buddha, I don’t know enough about him to argue the point but I’m highly suspicious.

    Is religion the greatest achievement of the sociopathic personality and readily recognized as such by the sociopaths who pick-up the devise?

  56. John A March,

    I think that you are not knowledgeable of young men nor the effects of christian (or other types for that matter) proselytizing.
    Citing examples as MikeS or I would do, is always dangerous and can be challenged just as you rightfully do.
    However, I think that there are sufficient studies made which confirm this take on the problem.
    Just in general, how much is this society plagued by dropouts for idealistic reasons. As to their fates, it need not be negative. Being a four-star ass-kisser is not always the heighth of happiness.

  57. Mike,

    Or Paul was the next sociopath to come along and “steal” the good thing Jesus and his brothers had going.

  58. Mike,

    When you’re seeking power you write the history that serves you best…. What a lot of folks are unaware is that there are almost 3 centuries between the first synopsis and the last. And they are not in chronological order either…..

  59. “Is religion the greatest achievement of the sociopathic personality and readily recognized as such by the sociopaths who pick-up the devise?” … like the Pentagon

  60. There are many types of psychopaths….. But one thing in common they lack a sense of right and wrong as it is commonly defined…

  61. Bruce,

    Thank you for bringing up the point of the military keeping us safe.
    Indeed, that was one of my thoughts. I thought of Dr Strangelove, and the base commander and his beliefs in insuring the purity of bodily fluids.

    You know that the filmmakers did no dare suggest that the commander was an evangelical psychotic, but there is such a risk with the religious suppression and selection being practiced at AFA and TMA.

    Nor perhaps do you dare entertain that idea, that on top of the brainwash of military absolute command issues, re war crimes etc. , that we are here adding an religious duty , which very well may lead us to a Strangelove solution to all our problems.

    Think about it. And thanks again.

  62. Blouise,

    Buddha never claimed to have “all the answers” but rather the answering to what is the root of human suffering and a system for escaping it. Buddhism as taught by Siddartha Gautama was less religion than philosophy. If you’ve noticed before, I make a distinction between philosophical Buddhism and religious Buddhism. I do so for the same reason I differentiate between the teachings of Christ (as they can be historically discerned through the canonical gospels (poorly), the Gnostic gospels (somewhat better) and the unorthodox gospels (a mixed bag) all taken as a whole) and any one of the Churches based upon those and other teachings. Buddha and Christ’s philosophies had quite a bit in common, the main difference being that Christ and Buddha both had differing types of mythology evolve about them and their teachings that derive from substantively different cultural traditions. However, from early on in both cases, the tendency to mystify and deify both was prevalent. I don’t think either likely saw themselves as having the market cornered on truth though. A truth maybe but not the truth.

  63. GeneH,

    “When killing in the name of an invisible unprovable being you can never underestimate the desire for efficiency.”

    And when the “being” will always right things in the end, then there are no risks (and no backthoughts).

    Fanaticism as I define it: the dogma of whatever kind that puts ideas before life.

  64. Gene,

    I’ve had my own experiences with the unknown and could probably build a religion around them … but I’m not a sociopath so remain content in my half-knowledge and free of the responsibility for leading others astray.

    I would be willing to bet a nickel that the majority of humans have had similar experiences so what is it about the personalities of those who seek followers?

  65. Here’s how scary and vicious this thing is: I was writing a comment that I feel is very significant, intellectually. I erased it and chose not to print it, why? Because I have two friends who are extremely religious (in two vastly different religions). I did not want either of them to be hurt or insulted if they read this blog.

    I would suffer no direct “hit” if they did — I just didn’t want to do it. And then I realized with much more misery than I previously had, in response to this scary situation, that the evil of this “religious government of behavior control” that is practically unnamed and unnameable has accomplished, like the Invasion of the Body-Snatchers, an inexorable and irremediable erosion of normalcy, even my own, even now. If I were a drinker, I’d get drunk right about now.

  66. Gene,

    Jesus may have been familiar with the teachings of Buddha as there was certainly trade between the two cultures but it is more than likely that the influence of Buddhism was on one or more of the later gospel writers as so much of what was later attributed to Jesus was never mentioned by Paul in his letters and he was contemporaneous to those who had known Jesus. (Think Greece.)

  67. The scariest aspect is that the “true” believers seem to hand all responsibility for their actions over to God. They are not responsible, God is responsible. The morality of right and wrong is not in their hands. All of their actions are “moral” because God made them do it, it’s part of God’s plan.

    I hear it from people close to me. We heard it from George Zimmerman when he was Hannity. It’s probably rampant among those in or from the AFC and West Point, Congress, various state legislatures.

    Those who oppose them, who criticize them, simply don’t count. We can’t touch them b/c our opinions don’t matter.

    The melding of corporate interests and the religious right has lots of scary implications. Keeping voters from the polls is ok b/c God has a bigger plan and they aren’t part of it. Controlling women’s bodies is ok b/c it’s God’s plan that they go back to the kitchen and serve men; that they raise more minimum wage workers. (Some states have no minimum wage except where federal funds are involved) Marginalizing or killing those who don’t believe as they do is moral b/c God says that only true believers count. All rulers need a strong army, God needs a strong army.

    Our best hope is in those who reject the proselytizing and maintain their own moral beacon.

  68. bettykath 1, December 9, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    George Orwell, it this what you meant?
    I guess we all know that “George Orwell” is a pen name.

    But I think your question is germane and that the answer is “yes.”

    The part of his writing that most directly applies to this Mike S post is his writing about Universal Bully Religion.

    That really sums up this Military Religion in the U.S.eh? that Mike S is focusing on, which is in substantial parts a modern manifestation of Mithraism.

  69. This is not surprising in the least. While I didn’t attend the Naval Academy, I DID spend four years in the Navy. One of the requirements in basic training was the attendence of religious services. Failure to do so would result in extra duties while the ‘good recruits’ were at services. In the heirarchy of the company formation, one of the recruit company officers was the ‘religious petty officer’, who was charged with leading Bible readings and evening company prayer. Participation was mandatory. So, it’s not difficult to believe that this is how it works at the various Academies.

  70. Blouise,

    The life of St. Josaphat is the Christianized tale of Siddhartha. I think I’ve read that a similar “translation” took the tale into Islam as well, but I don’t know the details.

  71. Which is really funny considering her pseudo-philiosophy is treated by many today just like a religion and she their patron saint, Bron. She was trying to make her own religion/cult just as surely as L. Ron. She just didn’t have his marketing savvy. Or his writing skills. As bad a writer as L. Ron was, she was worse. Well. Maybe as bad. When you reach that level of suckiness in a writer, it’s a tough call deciding the worst. At least L.Ron had spaceships.

  72. Blouise/raff/Mike,

    That modern Christianity would be alien to Jesus is a very valid point and something that has been danced around often on the many theological discussions that have occurred around here.

  73. Why has no one mentioned that god is but an outgrowth of the deification of the ruler.

    Someone passed on to me a video of Elie Wiesel’s “Trial of God” which is placed in a concentration camp, a trial held by jews.
    The god portrayed was one, IMHO, largely modelled after a secular ruler: ruthless, a scourge of all enemies, an unjust god by human standards……and yet a justifier therefore of crimes by his people.

    Our rulers in the Family, excuse themselves for the same reason: they are following god’s model and thus excused for terrible sins for they are done in his name and under his aegis.

    Buddha was FAR FAR different than Jesus IMO. Buddha had no heavenly father from whom morals came. Buddha did not even believe in gods, saying that if they existed they were not concerned with mankind.

    Buddha fully believed in the reality he saw in the society around him and believed in an inescapeable wheel of reincarnation. He sought release from this cycle. The inevitable and eternal cycle, in his eyes, of being shot from the mother’s womb aimed at a garage door adorned with sharp killing instruments (Christopher Hitchens), and with only the strivings in between left to us to decide on.

    Paul claims acquaintance with Peter, and differings with Peter on the point of Jesus teachings being reserved for the Jews, whereas Paul wished to use the synagogues of the Hellenic world to entice and convert Greeks who were attracted to Judaism, but where circumcision was required and association with unclean non-jews was forbidden by Peter. Paul did indeed build a church. This is as I recall and if you know better do correct it.

    Any speculations as to the nature of Paul’s constant plague?

    So the final goal of any ruler is conquest as a form of defense. And we have inherited it through our religions. All religious leaders, and many followers are sociopaths. Why? Because they say better the world be drowned and god’s people end in his arms in heaven, than let the rest of the world’s people be as they want to be, NOT as I want (and god wants for he spoke to me and told me so.). And each religion has its own god. Therein lies the rub. All gods can’t be right. And they don’t entrust their knowledge to sociopaths either.

  74. “I’ve had my own experiences with the unknown and could probably build a religion around them … but I’m not a sociopath so remain content in my half-knowledge and free of the responsibility for leading others astray.

    I would be willing to bet a nickel that the majority of humans have had similar experiences so what is it about the personalities of those who seek followers?”—————–Blouise


  75. Blouise,

    True, but the whole heal the sick/take care of the poor thing is just a bit too empathetic to make me think sociopath in his case. Iconoclast? Sure. But then again, so was Luther.

  76. Gene,

    Many before Jesus claimed the same.

    It is one of the many cloaks … one of the many very common cloaks … then and now.

  77. Blouise,

    Absent better proof of the historical figure, I’ll concede it’s possible, but just a little too cynical even for me. But then again, that’s the problem when dealing with a nebulous historical figure: lack of information. You can profile anyone with enough information. Several of my comparative religion professors agreed on one thing. The sad truth is that for as influential on human history as he has been – whether he was real or not – there really isn’t much known about the historical Jesus. Not even enough to say he was an actual person instead of a mythological construct. This is especially true in comparison to Mohammed and Buddha who both had contemporary or close contemporary biographers. We know they were real people and a fair amount about their lives. Same goes for Luther, Smith, Hubbard and Eddy. Peter and Constantine even. We know a lot more about the historical Peter and Constantine than we do about the historical Jesus. And I am not willing to go to the sociopath profile without further evidence that it is more than just a possibility but rather a probability. The contra-indicative from what teachings are most likely his are just strong enough for me to want more evidence that he was just a charlatan instead of a wise teacher.

  78. Gene,

    I threw him into the mix simply because the story of Jesus’ impact is tied up with the Resurrection which is to be seen as proof that life is everlasting. And that, my man, whether he actually existed or not can never be proven one way or the other and is the height of ḥutspâ!

    And back we come to the sociopathic personality sealing control of the followers with the threat of losing that which never existed. And if Jesus did exist and did manage to survive crucifixion and then took part in concocting the life everlasting story …. sociopath.

    That’s not cynicism … it’s a willingness to consider reality.

  79. Gene and Blouise it’s late and I’m on my damned kindle so let me weigh in on your discussion briefly since this machine is hsrd to type on along with other deficiencies.

    The common thread that runs from Confucius to Buddha, to Jewish Pharisees, to Jesus and Rabbi Hillel the Elder is all similarly known as “The Golden Rule” to Christianity. I believe that the Hellenists also adopted this formulation. With Confucius it dates back to circa 600BCE. He formulated it as a stricture to try to halt the constant internecine warfare in ancient China. To my mind this and what logically flows from it, is the highest contribution of religious philosophy to humanity. However, the sociopaths who pretend to discipleships tend to ignore its true meaning and implications.

    As to Jesus, my view is that he believed himself to be The Messiah. However, the true meaning of Messiah for Jews never contemplated, or meant a divine being. It literally means “Like Moses” or alternatively “Inheritor of Moses position as a human savior of Israel”. The idea of a “literal son of God” as proposed by Paul would have been viewed as comically crazy, not heretical. This is one of the reasons I suspect Paul was not Jewish and certainly not educated as a Pharisee.

    My reading and research lead me to believe that Jesus was a revolutionary who thought himself destined to save Israel from Roman oppression, i.e. Messiah in the true Jewish sense of the word. Where he might have been pathological is that he strongly believed that God would back him and ensure his victory over the Romans. Certainly a miscalculation on his part. One proof of this is the “King of The Jews” sign hung on his cross. A pretence to Jewish kingship by any man without Ceasar’s blessing was consider treason by the Romans punishable by crucifiction. A much more in depth view of this theory is seen in the works of Hyam Maccoby, who I previously cited, or Hugh Schoenfeld in “The Passover Plot”.

  80. bettykath wrote,
    “The scariest aspect is that the “true” believers seem to hand all responsibility for their actions over to God. They are not responsible, God is responsible. The morality of right and wrong is not in their hands. All of their actions are “moral” because God made them do it, it’s part of God’s plan.”

    I guess this philosophy saves the supplicant from any individual twinges of conscience in regards to their immorality. NICE.

    I have struggled with the meaning and purpose of existence since I was 8 yrs old, and my 5 yr old brother died from an illness. I was raised catholic and the answers I received, the reasonings presented for this loss, never filled nor satisfied nor put to rest the emptiness that sprouted in a part of my soul. I have been questioning ever since. I posit, the struggle of life is the questioning of it.

    I am an atheist and I have clawed back the incredibly powerful word Soul from the RCC. Their fanatical immoral monopoly on its use, is the most destructive hurtful tool in their box. I say to all and any preacher, you are only authorized by life to speak of your soul. The moment you stand and spew filth and garbage about my independent soul as if you own it, or a magical mythmonster told you about my soul and therefore you think you own it, you diminish and corrupt yourself. I have learned to stand with my soul. I have danced with my soul, fallen, ran, grieved, mourned, been ecstatic, willful, and learned to be responsible****. This is the wonder of life.

    My Soul, I describe as the “MYSTERY” of me, wrapped in atoms, forming a vehicle housing me till I am no longer.

    The force that guides me today is nothing more than experience and thought, the product of evolutionary chance that has given me and our species reason. That’s good enough for me.
    I choose reason and I will continue to, till my atoms unwrap and I end.

    ………. INTERMEZZO……… ****I’m working on it

    My claim that my soul is the mystery of me demands that I give full recognition, that every human being contains the mystery of themselves within themselves. All our mysteries balance the scale of life. We are all equal in this. Whose mystery within is so righteous, that they can morally end the mystery within others forever. Murdering someones mystery is the same as murdering ones self. Our mysteries are equal. Our experiences are not, our genes are not, our intellectual abilities are not. But if not for X Y or Z there go I.

    ……Do under others mystery as you would have them do unto your mystery.

    ……NON NON…….
    …NON NON NON..

    Two letters, one word, arranged to explain Life, the Universe, Existence, and NonExistence. …..did I leave anything out? :)

    We were all nons, then suddenly (and briefly) we are non non, then we go into the great non non non, where everyone goes. Woo Hoo, party on my fellow journeyers and enjoy the ride.
    Struggle to learn, to understand, accept, let each of us explore our mystery in the shiny brief non non we share.

    The above nonnonsense is mine, and I am welcome to it. …… Anon, I shall be a non non non :),

  81. “My claim that my soul is the mystery of me demands that I give full recognition, that every human being contains the mystery of themselves within themselves.” (David Blauw)

    Humbly and beautifully said.

  82. This Cadet was not taking great risk in writing this letter. At most he was taking the risk of losing friends. He already knew that he would not receive his commission upon graduation for medical reasons and would have no obligation to the Army. While this does not detract from his claims, the idea that he made this decision at great personal risk should not be a consideration.

  83. joshprentice 1, December 10, 2012 at 7:58 am

    This Cadet was not taking great risk in writing this letter.
    So is great risk is a requirement for what?

    The link Gene H provided up-thread to the Huffington Post, which the cadet wrote, states:

    The title West Point Graduate carries a great deal of weight in this world. Those who earn it are given a “golden ticket” and wear a “ring of power” which will certainly carry them to successful careers with doors flung open in the military, in business, even in personal relationships; as so many are seduced by the historic prestige of the United States Military Academy.

    Choosing to resign at this point also carries significant risk. The Army may seek recoupment in the form of about $200-300k which I will personally owe, or an additional term of up to 5 years of enlisted service.

    Are you only impressed by a cowboy movie shootout at the OK corral?

  84. while! I do take mondays off as written.
    but this clip on getting a revelation in 1975 from GOD is wrong. so I will catch up with ya’ll. it was a very busy weekend on many subjects.

    PROPHECY: I would be in MY fifties. born and raised to, and to the age of MY fifties.

    so there was there was no revelation in the last fifty years because the trinity had to be completed, which was 1976. THE HOLY SPIRIT WAS 19 IN 76 AND JUNIOR WAS ON HIS WAY FROM THAT MOMENT.

    now back to the clip…

  85. Jonathon, you probably aren’t an evangelical Christian because you confuse “proselytize” with evangelize……Jesus left this earth with a command to “go and tell” Christians can’t “force” anyone to be a follower of Jesus, and if they attempt to do so they are not correct in their Theology. However to accuse those of simply telling “the old old story” with being militant in their evangelizing, is to do a disservice to the cause of Christ. God will have mercy and compel those whom He has chosen to believe the message, and those He has not will never be a believer no matter how much “force” or bullying, or blackmailing, nor any other form or persuasion. God says “not by power nor by might, but by My Spirit”..

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