Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Anti-Semitic Bible Teachings Disappear From Army Site

Yesterday I posted an article about the fact that at the Fort Leavenworth, Kansas Army base, military chaplains have been holding Bible classes for US soldiers using study guides that appear to be anti-Semitic.

Later in the day after that article was published both here and at t r u t h o u t it appeared that the study guide were removed by the Army from the website and the links in that article began returning "HTTP 404 - File not found" error messages. Today those same links open an "Authentication Required" login box. [Update: the links are now back to opening to "Page not found (404 error)"]

Jason Leopold has written a new article (see below) showing images of the original pages from the site. Thanks to Jason's work, the Army is unable to cover its tracks and hide its Anti-Semitic Bible Teachings.

Anti-Semitic Bible Teachings Disappear From Army Site
By Jason Leopold, t r u t h o u t | Report, Wednesday 13 June 2007

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A series of Bible study guides were removed from the US Army's Fort Leavenworth web site late Monday following a report by Truthout that disclosed how the materials used by chaplains during Bible sessions for soldiers appeared to be anti-Semitic, and that disseminating it through a web site maintained by the federal government may have violated the law mandating the separation between church and state.

The Bible study guides were discovered last week by researchers at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a government watchdog group. The group's founder, Mikey Weinstein, said in an interview Tuesday that scrubbing the web site does not adequately address the problem of rampant evangelical Christian fundamentalism that continues to ripple throughout the military. Weinstein, a former White House counsel under Ronald Reagan, still intends to file a lawsuit against the US Army for alleged constitutional violations.

Calls to the US Army's Public Affairs Office at Fort Leavenworth and the Army base's chaplain's office were not returned. When contacted over the weekend about the study guides and the apparent anti-Semitic content contained in the documents, a person who answered the telephone at the Fort Leavenworth chaplain's office refused to disclose his name when asked for comment. The individual, a male, said there have not been prior complaints about the Bible study guides and that "I would not characterize the material as anti-Semitic."

"I guess if you're Jewish you may see it that way, but we're discussing the gospels as it appears in the New Testament," this person said, who added that there was no plan at the time to remove the study guides from the web site....>>

The study guides were posted at the link Late Monday evening the documents were quietly removed from public view of the chaplain section of the US Army Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth website. On Tuesday, a visit to the web address said "the page you are trying to find is unavailable or the address has been typed incorrectly." On Wednesday morning a visit to the web address prompted a request for a password. Truthout has posted the study guides and screen grabs of the website before it was scrubbed.

The Officers' Christian Fellowship Neighborhood Study Guides quote portions of the New Testament and were written by Major George Kuykendall, the leader of Fort Leavenworth's Officers' Christian Fellowship, who died in 1998, according to Chris Rodda, a senior researcher at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. Rodda said, "The study guides also encourage soldiers to engage in an unconstitutional level of proselytizing to fellow military personnel in the Fort Leavenworth community."

In one of the study guides, Galatians, Bible study group chaplains ask soldiers to provide an answer to the following question, "How does the present Jerusalem represent slavery?"

In the study guide on Nehemiah, the chaplains ask soldiers, "Do you see any similarity in the problems and attitudes that confronted early Zionism, 24 centuries ago, and the conflict that exists today between the Jews who have returned to their ancient homeland to reestablish Israel and the long-time Arab inhabitants of that same land?"

"As governor of Samaria, [Sanballat] apparently was at a meeting of Samaritan leaders, including military leaders, discussing the 'Jewish problem,'" the study guide says. "How do you interpret Sanballat's reaction to the Jews' progress (vv. one and two)? Angry suspicion and bitter mockery. In light of what we know about the Jews' performance today, were his fears reasonable?"

Weinstein said the study guides, while blatantly anti-Semitic, "clearly show that the goals of these study groups, often posed in the form of questions, as in the following example, would require an unconstitutional level of evangelizing of fellow military personnel by the group members."

Indeed, the study guides ask soldiers whether they "think it is possible for you to win one person to Christ this year?" The guides ask: "How would you proceed to accomplish that?; 1. By making a commitment to do that; 2. By learning how to present the gospel in such a way as to challenge someone to accept Christ as Lord; 3. By bathing my goal in prayer; 4. By praying for some specific person to accept Christ; 5. By inviting and encouraging a specific person to come to this Bible study, and continuing to pray for their salvation and/or spiritual growth. What effect could our group have on the population at Fort Leavenworth if we deliberately embarked on such an effort and prayed for each other daily?"

While some may have a different opinion on whether the study guides are anti-Semitic, Weinstein says the bigger issue is that the US military, an arm of the federal government, appears to be trampling on the Constitution by pushing a religious agenda.

"Today, there's a constant flow of religion into national politics and the military," Weinstein said. "And not just any religion either, but the dominionist, evangelical, Fundamentalist, us-versus-them, my-God-is-bigger-than-your-God, steel-fisted variety of Christian evangelism. There was a time, and not so long ago, when this nation worshiped a humbler God, but this invidious and cultish clan that is consuming our military believes they have a God-given right to rule the country, create a Christian nation, and eventually, a Christian empire."
Jason Leopold is a former Los Angeles bureau chief for Dow Jones Newswire. He has written over 2,000 stories on the California energy crisis and received the Dow Jones Journalist of the Year Award in 2001 for his coverage on the issue as well as a Project Censored award in 2004. Leopold also reported extensively on Enron's downfall and was the first journalist to land an interview with former Enron president Jeffrey Skilling following Enron's bankruptcy filing in December 2001. Leopold has appeared on CNBC and National Public Radio as an expert on energy policy and has also been the keynote speaker at more than two dozen energy industry conferences around the country.

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