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Vets for Common Sense and Religious Freedom Org Slam Christian Proselytizing in U.S. Military, Going to God Won't Make It for PT

Health & Wellness  (tags: americans, american veterans, Body-Mind-Spirit, drugs, environment, ethics, healthcare, illness, medicine, prevention, protection, proselytizing, PTSD, religion, research, risks, science, society, treatment )

- 2839 days ago -
Attempts to reverse the Dr. Sally Satel-Dallas Theological Seminary School of Treatment for PTSD--stressing belief in a Christian God over disability benefits and professional medical care--have met resistance from the institutionalized practice of-> READ

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Carole Sarcinello (338)
Tuesday August 10, 2010, 10:38 am

Another good one, Kit.

(I'm a big fan of Veterans Today.)

Kit B (276)
Tuesday August 10, 2010, 10:38 am
- Attempts to reverse the Dr. Sally Satel-Dallas Theological Seminary School of Treatment for PTSD—stressing belief in a Christian God over disability benefits and professional medical care—have met resistance from the institutionalized practice of ‘Battlefield Christian Proselytizing’ and its religious right allies.

Two veteran advocacy organizations are challenging this treatment of traumatized servicemen and servicewomen and the underlying entanglement of fundamentalist religion and the U.S. military. Fundamentalist chaplains are not certified, professional mental health experts, and the shortage of available mental healthcare professionals and lack of treatment exacerbates the service members’ psychological trauma as record suicide rates soar. -

August 9, 2010

Paul Sullivan
Executive Director
Veterans For Common Sense

Michael L. “Mikey Weinstein
Founder & President
Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF)

Dear Secretary Gates:

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) has learned on numerous occasions over the past several years about blatantly sectarian Christian religious programs and Christian proselytizing in the military. The proselytizing is unconstitutional and we demand you issue an order to stop it now.

Our letter addresses a particularly pernicious subcategory of proselytizing that must also cease immediately. The military often substitutes evangelical chaplains in the place of professional mental health care for service members suffering from mental health conditions, especially post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These reports have recently become increasingly frequent and alarming.

Among the many types of shocking incidents and illicit and dehumanizing practices reported to MRFF have been the military’s teaching of creationism as an actual bona fide means of suicide prevention; the use of a parachurch military ministry’s evangelical Christian program to treat PTSD; service members seeking help being sent to and proselytized by chaplains instead of being sent to mental health professionals; articles in official military publications stating that finding Jesus is the only solution to the mental health problems faced by members of our armed forces; mandatory mental health training inside chapels, plus countless “Spiritual Fitness” events and programs being promoted as mental health solutions.

Perhaps the most alarmingly repugnant stories are those coming in from our recent war veterans regarding the widespread practice of “battlefield Christian proselytizing.” When, on active duty, our service members sought urgently needed mental health counseling while on the battleield and with the gun smoke practically still in their faces, they were instead sent to evangelizing chaplains, who are apparently being used with increasing frequency to provide mental health care due to the acute shortage of mental health professionals. Chaplains are not certified, professional mental health experts.

According to the reports of these veterans, the chaplains they were sent to for evaluation and treatment had the unmitigated temerity to urge, as a medicinal cure, a conversion to evangelical Christianity, and sometimes even went as far as disgustingly lacing their “counseling” with the soldiers’ need to stay on the battlefield to” kill Muslims for Christ.” Even in the best cases, while the chaplains’ words of proselytizing may have provided a temporary placebo, allowing these soldiers to return temporarily to combat for the remainder of their deployment, within months of returning home from war, their “temporary religious faith” wore off as their profound mental health symptoms, quite predictably, returned in all their fury. And, again, the shortage of available mental healthcare professionals and lack of treatment exacerbated the service members’ psychological trauma.

For many of our veterans, the severe adverse consequences of being subjected to battlefield Christian proselytizing rather than receiving genuine mental health care have been, to just name a few, broken families, crime, drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness, and particularly, even suicide. While religious counseling may be helpful to some service members, and should certainly be available to those who specifically seek religious counseling, the widespread use of evangelizing Christian chaplains as a substitute for qualified mental health professionals is preventing many service members from getting the serious medical treatment that they desperately need and deserve, and is most likely exacerbating the unprecedented, unbridled suicide epidemic. It’s just as specious and heinous as having these proselytizing military chaplains substitute for military combat trauma surgeons.

Another alarming matter is that, due to the heavy promotion by the military of sectarian Christian religious “solutions” to mental health problems, non-religious, even moderately religious, service members struggling with mental health issues or contemplating suicide may not seek the help they need because they think they will just get evangelical, fundamentalist Christianity rammed down their throats if they do.

The improper use of Chaplains to proselytize our psychologically traumatized service members seeking mental healthcare is an unconstitutional, unconscionable disgrace and is a clear matter of national security because it fatally undermines unit effectiveness for battle. Thus, this issue must be aggressively addressed immediately by you and top military leaders. No more suffering and no more suicides will be tolerated. Suicide can and should be prevented, but not at the price of unconstitutional battlefield proselytizing by officers or enlisted personnel – which is of no value. We are not requesting, we are now demanding a direct, responsive reply from you within the next 10 business days about your plans to stop unconstitutional proselytizing of traumatized service members.

Given the shamefully rampant suicide rates in the United States Army, it is likely that at least another dozen or so United States active duty service members, not counting veterans, will commit suicide during the aforementioned period in which we have just demanded to be contacted by you.


John M. McHugh – Secretary of the Army
Ray Mabus – Secretary of the Navy
Michael B. Donley – Secretary of the Air Force
Admiral Michael Mullen – Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Sta­
General James E. Cartwright – Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Sta­
General George W. Casey, Jr. – Chief of Sta­ff of the United States Army
Admiral Gary Roughead – Chief of Naval Operations
General Norton A. Schwartz – Chief of Staff­ of the United States Air Force
General James T. Conway – Commandant of the Marine Corps


Carole Sarcinello (338)
Tuesday August 10, 2010, 10:49 am

"We are not requesting, we are now demanding a direct, responsive reply from you within the next 10 business days about your plans to stop unconstitutional proselytizing of traumatized service members."

Unbelievable that this is even necessary . . . but, good on them for taking a stand!

John F (52)
Tuesday August 10, 2010, 11:07 am
Israeli Defense Force Members - as much an oxymoron as 'pre-emptive warfare' or Department of Defense instead of War - suffer from PTSD less than other forces. US troops have higher incidence than those of other nations. Israelis report chaplains framed the Gaza invasion as 'religious war.' Proslytizing in Afghanistan is rife.
The same was done by JARS - Jungle Air distributing Wycliffe Bibles in Central and South America -years ago.
The State Church is an institution which serves Empire and deals with demonizing people while claiming to be an instrument of 'Brotherhood.'
Usually Fundamentalism exposes the Lie that is promoted on television by promoting 'The Whole Bible'. That would be fine if it was clear sociological context was being used as background for Evangelism - Good News - that showed the essential lie behind conformity and mindbanging : where rebellion against authority is mercilessly suppressed by murder of popular dissenters.
So they are doing the work of the military. Lack of recognition that they are killing fellow beings of similar makeup to themselves is essential to the manufacture of superior human killing machines.

Kit B (276)
Tuesday August 10, 2010, 11:15 am
Sorry John, but I really don't see the correlation, this article is rather simple and well defined. When I post some thing about the IDF, I'll be sure to put you at the top of the list for a notice.

This about our - American veterans and abuse by those Christians who would rather play with their minds then pay for the care they need and benefits earned.

Rebecca Stover (33)
Tuesday August 10, 2010, 1:33 pm
God gave us good minds that can train to be competient Psychiatrist, and he says he helps those who help themselves. This is illegal and an abuse of our soldiers. They should be getting the professional care they need from qualified caretakers and the benefits they have earned. Not send to some lay preacher who knows nothing about treating psychological disorders. No wonder the suicide rate it through the roof. We need to do better than this... our soldiers deserve it.

Sheryl G (363)
Tuesday August 10, 2010, 2:53 pm
This does not surprise me. We have so lack of respect for anyone today, that this happens does not at all surprise me.

Does it upset me, you better believe it.

First of all not all in the military are Christian, not that I guess they care. So to me this is forcing anothers religion upon them at a time they are most vunerable. PTSD is a SERIOUS medical issue, and the military seems to be treating it as a torn finger nail, here, take two asprins, say a few Hail Mary's, or O' Fathers, or whatever else and your all better now.

It seems indicitive of how the overall mental health is treated in the USA, as a second class citizen of most peoples Health Insurance to 4 mental health visits per year......ok, you should be all fixed now. Take these pills, go pray, your fine. So this idea, that mental illness is faked, or not important, seems to have drifted into the military.

Toss it to the Chaplain to repair. Our citizen soldiers have no value, as long as they can hold a gun, point, and fire, they are good to go. Look at how we treat them when they get back Stateside. How many have to fight for years to get help, benefits, and proper medical attention. Look at what a disrepair the Walter Reed Hospital was in, most likely still in.

Besides the cockroach infestation, mold, rats, and other run down conditions which none of our soldiers should be subjected to, the typical soldier is required to file 22 documents with eight different commands – most of them off-post – to enter and exit the medical processing world, according to government investigators.
Sixteen different information systems are used to process the forms, but few of them can communicate with one another. The Army's three personnel databases cannot read each other's files and can't interact with the separate pay system or the medical recordkeeping databases."
This complicated system has required some soldiers to prove they were in the Iraq War or the War in Afghanistan in order to obtain medical treatment and benefits because Walter Reed employees are unable to locate their records. So try doing all this with PTSD after you received such great help from your Chaplain over in the war zone.
But heck, a few prayers, I'm sure it will all get straigtened out......just go ask the Chaplain down the hospital hallway, he has knowledge of everything.

. (0)
Tuesday August 10, 2010, 4:00 pm
I've read quite a few articles over the years about the improper promotion of Christianity by the U.S. military. But this is a new one for me - that our military may be subjecting soldiers with PTSD to the care not of a mental health professional but rather to a chaplain. Why not just go whole hog and send soldiers blown apart by IED's to a faith healer instead of a surgeon? The basic premise is exactly the same - faith in god'll cure you of what ails you. And while many Chaplains are undoubtedly good and decent people who might never try and push their faith onto a soldier, nonetheless they are NOT trained mental health professionals.

No soldier in the military should EVER be placed in contact with a Chaplain unless that soldier has specifically and deliberately requested religious counseling. Anything else is blatant promotion of Christianity by the U.S. government.

Kit B (276)
Tuesday August 10, 2010, 8:06 pm
Sounds like you guys are not aware of the huge mega-churches being built on military bases all over the country. Many CO's still require those under their command to attend services at least on Sunday. So does this surprise me? Not in the least.

Carole Sarcinello (338)
Tuesday August 10, 2010, 8:13 pm

Hmmmmmm . . . Think we should send them a copy of our pocketbook edition of the  
Citizens Rule Book Bill of Rights Jury Handbook

Carole Sarcinello (338)
Tuesday August 10, 2010, 8:14 pm

(Kinda kidding . . . I realize that enlisted men/women HAVE NO RIGHTS!)

Sheryl G (363)
Tuesday August 10, 2010, 9:45 pm
Kit, mega churches on military bases.

God and Guns.....sure why not.

Maybe Sarah Palin will go preach there one day, with her faith healer, fill that church right up with all the wounded soldiers fix em' up right quick.

Charlie L (47)
Tuesday August 10, 2010, 9:48 pm
I've heard of this sort of thing before, trying to convince troubled people that all they need to do is read the Bible and accept Jesus as their savior instead of guiding them to seek the help they need from people who are qualified. This is the first time I've heard of it in the military. This is truly appalling. I have nothing against someone having a strong religious faith and a strong spiritual component in their lives, but it should be each person's free choice whether they are in the military or not. And to have religious doctrine shoved down the throats of people traumatized by the horror of war is brainwashing at it's worst.

Kit B (276)
Tuesday August 10, 2010, 9:53 pm
I agree with you Charlie.

Carole Sarcinello (338)
Tuesday August 10, 2010, 10:00 pm

So odd. I am watching a documentary right now about the Inquisition. (Same type of thinking.)

William K (308)
Tuesday August 10, 2010, 10:55 pm
Mikey Weinstein is a true patriot. The religious right has been working very hard over the last fifty years to get people into key government positions. We have dominionists in Congress, sitting on the bench, and in the military. The air force academy has it especially bad, since they are located in fundametalist-central. It is great that MW is willing to devote so much of his time and energy to defending the Constitution and American veterans.

Norm C (74)
Wednesday August 11, 2010, 12:58 am
I don't know how long this "Christian soldiers" thing has been going on, but I know from experience with people who left the military over the last 10 or so years that our soldiers have been fed propaganda from several sources. That propaganda probably led to the bombing of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City. It has led to really stupid proselytizing of Muslims and significant backlashes against our troops because of the ignorant and misguided disrespect shown to their religion.

Chaplains are there to comfort our Marines, soldiers, airmen and sailors. They are not there to start a holy war or to convert American and NATO forces. Such conduct is Unconstitutional and really, really stupid.

Mike M (40)
Wednesday August 11, 2010, 5:33 am
This sounds like the takeover of the American people led by a government not of the people but of those who wish only to have empire

. (0)
Wednesday August 11, 2010, 5:43 am
Mike, I don't think it has anything to do with 'empire' - merely the same old attempts of majority religionists to push their beliefs on others.

patricia lasek (317)
Wednesday August 11, 2010, 7:00 am
"Praise the Lord and pass the amunition....." - The Dixie Chicks

Kit B (276)
Wednesday August 11, 2010, 7:14 am
By George - "I think they've got it" I know a para-phase, but still meant as a compliment to those who see how very unAmerican this whole situation actually is and what potential it carries.

Lionel Mann (23)
Wednesday August 11, 2010, 8:44 am
Any help from any source should be offered to the afflicted. After all psychiatry and psychology are so-called "sciences" very much in their infancy, as suspect as religion, and have at least as many failures as successes. Surely no patient is under compulsion to accept treatment to which he/she objects, whatever its nature. Belief in anything is a vital component to its efficacy.

. (0)
Wednesday August 11, 2010, 10:35 am
Unfortunately, Lionel, in the military something which is 'offered' by the military to a soldier is often meant as an order. And is perceived as such by lower ranking soldiers.

The military is an arm of the federal government. And the government can't be pushing any religious ideology on anyone. It's supposed to be neutral.

Kit B (276)
Wednesday August 11, 2010, 10:46 am
If only all of the "supposed to be's" were reality.

Charlie L (47)
Thursday August 12, 2010, 4:15 pm
When I served during the Vietnam War our commanding officer would come on the PA system and announce when Sunday services would be held. However, it was entirely up to each individual whether or not to attend. There were never any orders issued making it manditory. I have to think this notion of making it a requirement is all part of the legacy of GWB. Wasn't it Dumya who claimed he was chosen by God to be President? Republicans have pandered to religious fanatics for many years, but GWB was without a doubt the worst one that actually became president. If he had it his way we would likely be as much of a theocracy as Iran.

pam w (139)
Thursday August 12, 2010, 6:43 pm
THIS IS DEPRESSING! Christians never quit, do they?
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