’Em and God Will Bless You
by Laurence M. Vance: Stay
Home, Gabby, Stay Home
God, what have we done?" ~ Robert Lewis, co-pilot of the Enola
anniversaries, and especially of horrific events. Every year at
this time we are reminded that the atomic bombs the United States
dropped on Hiroshima on Monday, August 6, 1945 ("Little Boy"),
and on Nagasaki on Thursday, August 9 ("Fat Man") ended
World War II (or began the Cold War, depending on how you look at
Since the 9/11
attacks, we have heard a lot of talk about Iraq, Iran, or some terrorist
group having weapons of mass destruction; that is, nuclear weapons.
Yet, when it is pointed out that the United States is the only country
that has actually used these weapons of mass destruction – against
civilians no less – we are told that it was necessary to incinerate
200,000 people – civilians – to save the lives of "thousands
and thousands" (Harry
Truman’s original number) or "millions" (George
H. W. Bush’s figure) of American soldiers who might die
to the American
myth that is trotted out every year, the atomic bombing of Japan
was not only justified and necessary, but sane and moral. After
all, the U.S. Army Air Force had already killed 100,000 Japanese
civilians when it firebombed Tokyo on the night of March 9, 1945,
with seventeen hundred tons of bombs. "War is hell." "All’s
fair in love and war." "Remember Pearl Harbor."
I write now,
not about Truman’s decision
to drop the bomb or to rethink
World War II, but about the United States using nuclear weapons
again in another "good war."
It was recently
to light that U.S. Air Force chaplains at Vandenberg Air Force
Base in California were appealing to the Bible and just war theory
in a mandatory Nuclear Ethics and Nuclear Warfare session for missile
officers in order to morally and ethically justify the launching
of nuclear weapons.
In other words,
nuke ’em and God will bless you.
Religious Freedom Foundation, filed a complaint on behalf of
thirty-one instructor and student missile launch officers.
has since "been taken out of the curriculum and is being reviewed,"
Smith, chief of public affairs of Air Education and Training
Command at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas. It turns out that the
Air Force has been citing Christian teachings in its missile officer
training materials for twenty years.
PowerPoint presentation given in the Nuclear Ethics and Nuclear
Warfare session by Chaplain Captain Shin Soh can be viewed here.
armchair Christian warriors, Christian Coalition moralists, Religious
Right warvangelicals, Reich-wing Christian nationalists, theocon
Values Voters, imperial Christians, Red-State Christian fascists,
and God and country Christian bumpkins might object, not to the
existence of a Nuclear Ethics and Nuclear Warfare session that appeals
to Scripture to soothe the consciences of religious people, but
to the cancellation of such a program because it "takes God
out of government" and other nonsense. David
French, senior counsel at the American Center for Law and Justice,
dismissed complaints about the program as what he called "another
attempt to cleanse American history of its religious realities."
"It’s about cleansing religion from the public square and building
a completely secular society and military," added French.
I am not one
of those Christians and I think French should go to France.
I wish I could
say that the only things wrong with the PowerPoint presentation
are that page sixteen is duplicated and page forty-three is blank.
I find the
presentation to be a blasphemous misuse and perversion of Scripture
to justify the idea that Christians can launch nuclear weapons with
the blessing of God.
I want to focus
on the examples given in the presentation from the Old Testament,
the Intertestamental Period, and the New Testament. I reproduce
the text of the presentation exactly as it appears.
On page eighteen
we are told that there are "many examples of believers engaged
in wars in the Old Testament." Here are the four examples we
organized an army to rescue Lot (Gen 14)
(Samson, Deborah, Barak) – God is motivating judges to fight and
deliver Israel from foreign oppressors
is a warrior who is also a man after God’s own heart
11:32-34 uses as examples of true faith those OT believers
who engaged in war in a righteous way
Soh should have just said what he meant: Abraham organized an army
to rescue Lot, so nuke ’em and God will bless you. God motivated
judges to fight and deliver Israel from foreign oppressors, so nuke
’em and God will bless you. David was a warrior and a man after
God’s own heart, so nuke ’em and God will bless you. Hebrews 11:32-34
uses as examples of true faith those OT believers who engaged in
war in a righteous way, so nuke ’em and God will bless you.
What does Abraham,
"the friend of God" (James 2:23), rescuing his nephew
Lot have to do with launching nuclear weapons? Absolutely nothing,
of course, unless you are deluded enough to think that the United
States is the "friend of God" and other nations are God’s
So, God motivated
judges to fight and deliver Israel from foreign oppressors. Does
this also mean that God motivates U.S. soldiers to fight and oppress
foreigners? I didn’t think so.
was a warrior (Psalm 144:1) and a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel
13:14), but he was also an adulterer (2 Samuel 11:2-4) and a murderer
(2 Samuel 12:9). And besides, because David was a man of war, the
Lord said to him: "Thou shalt not build an house for my name,
because thou hast been a man of war, and hast shed blood" (1
believers" mentioned in Hebrews 11:32-34 include four judges
(already discussed), King David (already discussed), and Samuel
and the prophets. What they did is irrelevant since, as the presentation
says, they did it "in a righteous way." There is nothing
righteous about nuking cities. And especially nuking civilians after
their military strikes a military target like the Pearl Harbor Naval
Base. And besides, the Bible in Hebrews actually says that these
people in the Old Testament "wrought righteousness" (Hebrews
11:33), not that they did something in a righteous way. At least
get your Scripture straight before you pervert it.
There is one
PowerPoint slide on the "Inter-testimental [sic] Period":
– Jewish revolt against their Syrian oppressors
- No pacifistic
sentiment in mainstream Jewish history
Shin Soh means to say is that since the Jews revolted against the
Syrians and there is no pacifistic sentiment in mainstream Jewish
history then go ahead and nuke ’em and God will bless you.
is true that God commanded the nation of Israel in the Old Testament
to fight against heathen nations (Judges 6:16), the president of
the United States is not God, America is not the nation of Israel,
the U.S. military is not the Lord’s army, the Christian’s sword
is the word of God, and the only warfare the New Testament encourages
the Christian to wage is against the world, the flesh, and the devil.
On pages twenty-one
through twenty-three we are given six examples from the New Testament:
- Luke 3:14
- John the Baptist doesn’t tell the Roman soldiers to leave
the army before being baptized
- Luke 7:10
- Jesus uses the Roman centurion as a positive illustration
- Acts 10:2,
22, 35 Paul interacts with Cornelius, a Roman army officer
– known as "devout and God fearing"
- Romans 13:4
In spite of personal blemishes, God calls the emperor to
be an instrument of justice
- II Timothy
2:3 Paul chooses three illustrations to show what it means to
be a good disciple of Christ
– work hard and be patient
– be self disciplined, train
– be willing to put up with hardship
19:11 Jesus Christ is the mighty warrior
Shin Soh should have just said what he meant: John the Baptist doesn’t
tell the Roman soldiers to leave the army before being baptized,
so nuke ’em and God will bless you. Jesus uses the Roman centurion
as a positive illustration of faith, so nuke ’em and God will bless
you. Peter (the chaplain wrongly says Paul) interacts with Cornelius,
a Roman army officer, so nuke ’em and God will bless you. In spite
of personal blemishes, God calls the emperor to be an instrument
of justice, so nuke ’em and God will bless you. Paul uses the illustrations
of a farmer, an athlete, and a soldier to show what it means to
be a good disciple of Christ, so nuke ’em and God will bless you.
Jesus Christ is the mighty warrior, so nuke ’em and God will bless
soldiers, centurions, and army officers, it’s funny how apologists
for the U.S. military never refer to the ones that beat and crucified
Jesus Christ, an innocent man (Matthew 27:4). They would be more
akin to U.S. soldiers that kill foreigners in unjust wars or train
to launch nuclear missiles at civilians. On John the Baptist, I
have written a whole article here.
was "an instrument of justice" in his empire; he was not
the policeman of the world. Unless Chaplain Shin Soh wants to acknowledge
the U.S. empire of troops and bases that encircles the globe, he
might want to rethink his example. He can’t have it both ways.
The Bible does
liken a Christian to a soldier (2 Timothy 2:3, Philemon 2, Philippians
2:25). But as soldiers, Christians are admonished to "put on
the whole armor of God" (Ephesians 6:11), "the breastplate
of righteousness" (Ephesians 6:14), and "the helmet of
salvation" (Ephesians 6:17). The weapons of the Christian soldier
are not carnal (2 Corinthians 10:4); his shield is "the shield
of faith" (Ephesians 6:16) and his sword is "the word
of God" (Ephesians 6:17). Not exactly a description of a soldier
in the U.S. military.
It is blasphemous
to even remotely imply that since Jesus Christ is pictured as a
mighty warrior, so nuke ’em and God will bless you.
New Testament section of the presentation closes with this statement:
"If war in the natural order is inherently unethical, it cannot
be a good illustration in the spiritual order." Sorry chaplain,
wrong again. First, it depends on what kind of war. War that is
truly defensive (not just said to be defensive like Bush
declaring the Iraq war to be defensive) or war that is divinely
sanctioned (limited to Jews in the Old Testament, not U.S. wars)
is not inherently unethical. Anything else is not just unethical;
it is wholesale murder. And second, the Bible records Jesus as saying:
"Behold, I come as a thief" (Revelation 16:15). Although
stealing is inherently unethical, it is a good illustration
in the spiritual order because the Lord Jesus made the illustration.
On page thirty-two
of the presentation, under "Nuclear Ethics," the question
is asked: "Can we exercise enough faith in our decision makers,
political and military, to follow through with the orders that are
given to us?" This is a good question, and one that all current
and potential U.S. military personnel should consider. I would say
that our decision makers, political and military, are the last people
that anyone should put faith in.
concludes with a statement by a Captain Charles H. Nicholls that
I wholeheartedly agree with: "Those of us on missile or bomber
crews must also make the decision now. Before taking the oath of
office or donning the uniform, we must commit ourselves to duty.
We must decide now that our mission is compatible with our morality,
or else we must resign our commissions." This is a great statement.
I would say – nuclear mission or no nuclear mission – that since
so much of what the military does is immoral (like, for instance,
bombing, invading, and occupying other countries that were no threat
to the United States), those young people that can’t find a good
job or are looking for money for college should not even consider
the military in any capacity. And to those entrusted with nuclear
weapons, we can only hope and pray that they resign their commissions.
God will not bless them for launching nukes just because they were
following the orders of political and military decision makers.
M. Vance [send him mail]
writes from central Florida. He is the author of Christianity
and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State, The
Revolution that Wasn't, and Rethinking
the Good War. His latest book is The
Quatercentenary of the King James Bible. Visit his
© 2011 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in
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