That terrible warning to the USA, often attributed to the first American writer to ever win the Nobel Prize in Literature (1930), the great Sinclair Lewis, is now more terribly applicable than EVER; “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”
That time has come, my friends, and it’s BEEN coming for quite a while now.
The United States Military has undergone a slow-motion fundamentalist Christian coup d'état. On perhaps no other occasion has this been made clearer than in the brazenly illegal, anti-Constitutional, and wholly theocratic speech delivered on Capitol Hill by United States Air Force Major General Craig Olson to the assembled guests at a 2015 National Day of Prayer Task Force event on May 7, 2015. Unbeknownst to most Americans, yet broadcasted internationally via fundamentalist evangelical television (seriously, it’s actually called “GOD TV”) and internet streams, the uniformed Major General’s insipid 20-minute sermon revealed the frightening face of viciously intolerant, Christo-fascistic religious extremism run amok throughout the U.S. Armed Forces. The worldwide and national security implications of such a Christian supremacist force unleashed throughout our armed service branches is staggeringly high, yet the issue mournfully remains largely ignored by the lassitude and willful ignorance of mainstream press outlets.
Simply put, there IS no more profound clear and present danger to our American way of life than mixing this rabid theology of "Weaponized Jesus" with the vast weapons of our American military’s arsenal.
So, beyond the stridently hostile and cretinous views of Olson towards the religious liberties of the founding document of this nation (the U.S. Constitution and especially its Bill of Rights), what else can we say about the man? Let’s go directly to the source.
Our perpetrator, Major General Olson, is the Program Executive Officer for C3I and Networks at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts, 20 miles northwest of Boston and an installation of great strategic importance to the United States military. As the highest-ranking, superior officer at Hanscom AFB, Olson is in charge of acquiring the critical war fighting information systems and radar, communications, intelligence, and networking equipment for the entirety of the U.S. Air Force (worth nearly $11 BILLION of U.S. taxpayer funds). Olson also leads and commands 2,200 subordinate Air Force personnel at the base.
Judging by Olson’s OWN words about himself at the National Day of Prayer Task Force event, the man is clearly unfit for the job. He unmistakably lacks both the ability and the training to do the job that he was promoted to (apparently without the direct intercession of his version of God/Jesus). Judge for yourself:
"He put me in charge of failing programs worth billions of dollars. I have no ability to do that – NO TRAINING TO DO THAT – God did that."
"He sent me to Iraq to negotiate foreign military sales; deals through an Arabic interpreter. I have no ability to do that – I WAS NOT TRAINED TO DO THAT – God did all of that."
"I also went in as a very self-sufficient person. I thought if you work hard, study hard you’ll do fine and that was working great in high school. Did not work very well at the Air force Academy. That’s where I realized I had a very limited intellectual ability."
"I still carry in this pocket my transcript from the Air Force Academy – as Exhibit A in the court of law – that you’re not a gifted intellect; you have no real academic skills.”
- National Day of Prayer Task Force May 7, 2015
“At the end of his speech, Olson asks the audience to pray for Defense Department leaders, who ‘need to humbly depend on Christ.’ He also asks them to pray for troops preparing to deploy again so they can ‘bear through that by depending on Christ.’” – Jeff Schogol, Staff Writer, Air Force Times, May 15, 2015
Well, every cloud has its silver lining. In this case, effusive thanks are due to the extremist religious event organizers for creating a “special” space welcoming enough for Major General Olson to out himself as an utterly unqualified fraud and a casehardened fundamentalistDominionist… but, alas, the gratitude ends there.
You may be asking yourself, “What IS this National Day of Prayer Task Force”, anyway?
Well, my friends, the National Day of Prayer Task Force (NDP Task Force) is the base, evil and vile vanguard of the Christian fundamentalist fifth column in the United States military. Themonster hiding behind the mask of this semi-official sounding (and decidedly non-federal) “task force” is none other than Shirley Dobson, the lovely (and by “lovely” I mean hateful) wife of Dr. James Dobson, the notorious founder of the evangelical fundamentalist “empire,” Focus on the Family. The 2010 mission statement of the NDP Task Force is straightforward enough, claiming that its Crusade is to mobilize the Christian Community “to intercede for America and its leadership in the seven centers of power: government, military, media, business, education, church and family.” Nice, eh?
Remember when Iraqi soldiers marched to war trampling on the U.S. flag, stars and stripes underfoot? The NDP Task Force events are similar in their utter disregard for the U.S. Constitution, only the “trampling” is carried out with the accompaniment of heavily armed Capitol Hill security and an official Department of Defense brass quintet, anthem singer, and color guard. The civil rights organization that I head, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, has on multiple occasions sounded the alarm bells over the unashamedly unconstitutional nature of the group’s anti-American activities, which have been carried out withsignificant complicity and largesse from both the Pentagon and the United States Congress for many, many years.
Basically, the NDP Task Force is a putrescent Potemkin Village, an illusion of “respectability” crafted through artifice to shoehorn a truly bloodthirsty, sectarian, religious extremist agenda into those areas of civilian governance previously off-limits to organized religion thanks to the once-ironclad separation of church and state embodied by the No Establishment Clause of theFirst Amendment of the Bill of Rights. Think the Taliban, with formal shoes instead of sandals and significant and stealthy civil means of brutal coercion rather than AK-47s.
So our Major General Olson here is not simply a harmless howdy-doody/“Stepford Wife”/Ned Flanders type of character delivering homilies and platitudes to his assembled flock of like-minded fools. No, the man is a definite Constitutional scofflaw – one among many – whose delivered screed of fundamentalist Christian triumphalism DIRECTLY contravenes the controlling USAF regulation governing the “Balance of Free Exercise Religion and Establishment Clause,” Air Force Instruction 1-1, Section 2.12, which states that “Leaders at all levels […] must ensure their words and actions cannot reasonably be construed to be officially endorsing or disapproving of, or extending preferential treatment for any faith, belief, or absence of belief.” That’s not to mention Olson’s direct violation of the No Establishment Clause of the Bill of Rights as well as having constructively created a banned “religious test” in specific contravention of Clause 3, Article VI of the body of the United States Constitution, as well as violating the Joint Ethics Regulation (DoD 5500.7-R) and DoD Instruction 5410.19that proscribe endorsing non-Federal and private entities such as the NDP Task Force.
Let me ask you, do you REALLY think that ANY of the 2,200 USAF personnel he commands have the balls to tell that to Olson, their commanding General?
Of course, I’m often accused of being “anti-Christian" for pointing out the above, which is inconvenient for some. That’s certainly NOT the case. But the truth is that I should NOT AT ALL have to explain the obvious clear and present dangers associated with the tragic juxtaposition and unlawful conflation of Major General Olson’s crisp, military uniform and senior military command rank with the noxious Christian fundamentalist message conveyed in his 20-minute, Tourette-Syndrome-esque “Jesus” speech. Common wisdom should dictate that when we’re involved in a protracted war against Islamic religious extremists and barbaric Muslim fundamentalists, we DO NOT send them potentially limitless propaganda “ammunition” to inestimably aid them in killing or maiming American military and civilian personnel. Indeed, our theocratic Islamist foes already equate our United States armed service personnel with medieval “Crusaders.” Do NOTHING to aid them in their crimes against humanity!
As the old saying goes, common sense is not quite so common. In the upper echelons of the U.S. Air Force as well as all other service branches, what is becoming all-too-common is the proliferation and promotion of outright constitutional criminals who should be charged as potential felons under the Uniform Code of Military for their repeated and deliberate transgression of countless rules and regulations (among which are those listed above) as well as the outright BREAKING of the solemn oaths they swore to support and defend the foundational values of the United States of America as embodied in our laws of the land.
I shouldn’t have to explain all of this to you – if the Pentagon were doing its job, General Craig C. Olson would be explaining HIMself to a General Courts Martial as well as the American people. And the very same fate should await his military accomplices and enablers, all of whom should be likewise punished to the full extent of military law.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is up against well-funded extremist religious organizations. Your donations allow us to continue our fight in the courts and in the media to fight for separation of church and state in the U.S. military. Please make a fully tax-deductible donation today at helpbuildthewall.org.
Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein, Esq. is founder and president of the 7-time Nobel Peace Prize-nominated Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), an honor graduate of the Air Force Academy, and a former J.A.G. in the U.S. Air Force. He served as a White House counsel in the Reagan Administration and as the Committee Management Officer of the "Iran-Contra" Investigation. He is also the former General Counsel to H. Ross Perot and Perot Systems Corporation. His two sons, daughter-in-law, son-in law, and brother-in-law are also graduates of USAFA. In December 2012, Defense News named Mikey one of the 100 Most Influential People in U.S. Defense. He is the author of "With God On Our Side" (2006, St. Martin's Press) and "No Snowflake in an Avalanche" (2012, Vireo).