The Air Force has suspended decades-old Bible-centric ethics training intended to make Christian officers comfortable with the possible use of nuclear weapons. The training program was given to all new missile officers by Air Force chaplains.
"We're in the process of reviewing that training and we'll make a determination whether or not to continue [it] or if it will be a different course," Air Education and Training Command spokesman Dave Smith told Military.com.
Smith said the ethics training has been in place more than 20 years, although he didn't know exactly when it was begun.
The training slides include quotations from the Bible, portraits of Christian saints, prophets, and famous American generals known for their faith, including George Washington, Union Army Gen. Joshua Chamberlain, and Confederate Gen. Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson.
Every new missile officer had to take the training at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, regardless of their own religious beliefs or lack of them, according to Smith.
AETC halted the ethics training last week after an article on the training was posted at Truthout.org. Former Air Force Capt. Damon Bosetti -- described as a missile officer who took the training in 2006 -- said he and others referred to the religious section of the ethics training as the "Jesus loves nukes speech."
The website also published the training slides, which it acquired from the watchdog group Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an organization that has filed numerous lawsuits against the Air Force for allegedly infringing on the rights of religious minorities and non-believers and promoting evangelical Christian beliefs.
MRFF President Mikey Weinstein is also on the board of advisers for Truthout.org, the article stated.
Weinstein said more than 30 Air Force officers, most of them practicing Protestants and Roman Catholics, contacted his group in July to ask if he could help get rid of the Christian-themed nuclear missile ethics training. The Air Force released the slides under a Freedom of Information Act request.
"If this repugnant nuclear missile training is not constitutionally violative of both the 'no religious test' mandate of the Constitution and the First Amendment's 'No Establishment' clause, then those bedrock legal principles simply do not exist," Weinstein said.
Gizmodo The Disturbing Secrets of the Air Force’s Jesus Loves Nukes Nuclear Missile Program
Jesus loves everyone. He loves innocents, he loves sinners, he loves cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels. And according to the United States Air Force, Jesus loves atomic intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear mass-murdering too.
That's basically what they have been telling their nuclear missile officers for decades under a special ethics training program colloquially known as Jesus Loves Nukes. It seems that the use of nuclear weapons to destroy enemy populations is perfectly fine according to their interpretation of Christian ethics. Now, after being exposed by Truth-Out and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, the Air Force is canceling it.
What is it?
The "ethics" training—imparted by USAF chaplains—uses many passages of the Old and New Testament to justify the use of atomic weapons to obliterate innocent populations (aka the enemy). Its core document, a 43-page Powerpoint presentation, also quotes St Augustine'sCauses to Just War. It contains references to Hiroshima and Nagasaki too, teaching the official—and much debated—excuse for the bombing of those two Japanese cities.
The document also dedicates an entire slide to rocket scientist Wernher Von Braun, who justifies the use of missiles as a morally just decision:
We knew that we had created a new means of warfare and the question as to what nation, to what victorious nation we were willing to entrust this brainchild of ours was a moral decision more than anything else. We wanted to see the world spared another conflict such as Germany had just been through and we felt that only by surrendering such a weapon to people who are guided by the Bible could such an assurance to the world be best secured.
Braun, before becoming one of the fathers of the space program, was a Nazi scientist who used Jewish prisoners to make the V-2 missiles that terrorized London during the end of World War II. Those words were his justification for the use of those bombs. By the way, the emphasis on that quote is in the original document.
Two decades too late
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation requested the documents (PDF) under the Freedom of Information Act. They did it after thirty religious missile officers—most with Catholic and Protestant backgrounds—contacted them asking to fix the situation.
Whatever the reasons are, the cancelation comes twenty years too late. While I can understand the moral, ethical and psychological problems that the idea of unleashing hell upon millions of people may cause to any normal human being, there's absolutely no justification for this religious-based training.
As the MRFF's president points out, this has no place under "the 'no religious test' mandate of the Constitution and the First Amendment's 'No Establishment' clause." But beyond that, what seems repugnant to me is the idea of manipulating Christian ethics to try to brainwash officers into thinking that the launch of nuclear weapons is morally right. Simply because it just can't be, no matter the way you look at it.
I'm not a religious person, but having been raised in Catholicism, the ethics of the Judeo-Christian Mediterranean culture were an integral part of my upbringing. For Jesus, the Bible character, there's no justification for the use of force. Much less for the massive annihilation of humans.
But then again, people have been using religion to justify war against others since the beginning of recorded history, so I'm not surprised about this new elaborated twist. In fact, including a Nazi scientist's idea of morals and the official justification for Hiroshima makes total sense.[Truth-out via Veterans News Now — Military.com via DoD Buzz]