Jesus Nuke School Out For Summer

So what could really go wrong with an Air Force class that says nuclear war is moral and righteous — because the bible tells us so?

Well for 20 years no one had said a peep. But after a number of complaints by Air Force officers and a Truthout article last week by Jason Leopold revealed that the Air Force was using the bible and even the invocation of a former Nazi scientist to justify the use of nuclear warfare, the long-standing course was shut down:

The course [The Nuclear Ethics and Nuclear Warfare training ] was led by Air Force chaplains and took place during a missile officer’s first week in training at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Officers who train to be missileers were required to attend the ethics course, which included a PowerPoint presentation on St. Augustine’s “Christian Just War Theory” as well as numerous examples of characters from the New and Old Testament the training materials asserted engaged in warfighting in a “righteous way.”

St. Augustine’s “Qualifications for Just War,” according to the way the Air Force characterized it in slides used in the ethics training, are: “to avenge or to avert evil; to protect the innocent and restore moral social order (just cause)” and “to restore moral order; not expand power, not for pride or revenge (just intent).”

One of the PowerPoint slides also contained a passage from the Book of Revelation that claims Jesus Christ, as the “mighty warrior,” believed some wars to be just.

In his original story, Leopold talks about the most outrageous of the power point slides, the “moral” justification invoked by Wernher Von Braun, who was captured, recruited and brought to the U.S by American forces in 1945:

One of the most disturbing slides quotes Wernher Von Braun, a former member of the Nazi Party and SS officer. Von Braun, regarded as the father of the US space program, is not being cited as a scientific expert, rather he’s specifically being referenced as a moral authority, which is remarkable considering that the Nazi scientist used Jews imprisoned in concentration camps and captured French anti-Nazi partisans and civilians to help build the V-2 rocket, a weapon responsible for the death of thousands of British civilians.

“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 [emphasis in document] more than anything else,” Von Braun said upon surrendering to American forces in May 1945. “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.” [emphasis in document]

Von Braun was part of a top-secret military program known as “Operation Paperclip,” which recruited Nazi scientists after World War II who “were secretly brought to the United States, without State Department review and approval; their service for [Adolf] Hitler’s Third Reich, [Nazi Party] and SS memberships as well as the classification of many as war criminals or security threats also disqualified them from officially obtaining visas,” according to the Operation Paperclip web site.

In comments to the press, Air Force spokesman David Smith said the main purpose of the class was to help missile launch officers understand that “what they are embarking on is very difficult and you have to have a certain amount of ethics about what you are doing to do that job.” But the course was nonetheless suspended indefinitely this week.

“In an effort to serve all faiths, we try to introduce none in our briefings and our lectures,” Smith told Fox News Radio. “Once we heard there were concerns, we looked at the course and said we could do better.”

You bet, says ferocious Constitutional watchdog Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. In recent comments he said if the Air Force didn’t pull the plug on the Jesus 4 Nukes course, he would have sued them. And it wouldn’t have been the first time.  “This isn’t about attacking someone’s faith,” he said. “What it’s about is remembering that in this country … we separate church and state. They don’t do that in other countries. We do that here.”

20 thoughts on “Jesus Nuke School Out For Summer”

  1. Wow! Way to pervert what Sts. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas really meant! These fascists never cease to amaze me with their twisting and turning of "ethics."

  2. "" One of the PowerPoint slides also contained a passage from the Book of Revelation that claims Jesus Christ, as the “mighty warrior,” believed some wars to be just.""

    Somehow, a nuke doesn't quite fit the bill for a weapon used in a 'just war'. Unless you have a battlefield completely devoid of civilians or civilian infrastructure, nukes are pretty much an illegal weapon, seeing as they kill indiscriminately. These days, those old-school battlefields are few and far between.

  3. There were reasons v. Braun was not persecuted as a war criminal – and his perceived future utility was probably not even the chief reason.

    Straightening out the record about forced labour – providing precision components for rockets no less – however would mean for me to be seen as coming to the defense of the indefensible – and I do not intend to wade into that moral swamp.

    Anyway, that former SS officer helped you put a man on the moon and I suppose there are still people around who know him by that part of his career rather than by how he got started.

    Reducing the man to "a former SS officer" gives only part of the truth – and is not giving only part of the truth exactly what you constantly and correctly accuse the war party of doing?

    1. Von Braun was cited by the Air Force as a "moral authority" not as a scientific expert and the quote the Air Force used to support the ethics of war predated his work for the US. So in that context he is in fact simply an ex-Nazi SS officer. Again, he was cited as a MORAL AUTHORITY. The Air Force saw fit to cite a former Nazi as a MORAL AUTHORITY.

  4. Describing Werner von Braun in terms of being an SS officer is akin to describing the current pope in terms of being a Hitler Youth – yes, they were involved in those organizations as were millions of Germans of that era, but one cannot define them by that alone.

    If you want to go that route, let's start teaching about George Washington and Thomas Jefferson only in terms of being slave owners; let's teach about Dick Cheney only in terms of being a draft dodger; let's start teaching about Ronald Reagan only in terms of being an actor. You simply cannot take one aspect of a person's life and extend that to encompass an entire legacy.

    1. In the case of the holy father that way of reducing a biography would be a tad more unjust even because he was "hiding in plain sight" at that point of his life, because at least the Nazis recognized clearly he was not one of them.

      All that is pretty well documented, but what do you expect from the media that lied us into Iraq?

    2. True, Dick Cheney is a war monger, corporate predator and all-purpose scumbag in addition to being a draft dodger.

      Von Braun, like Albert Speer and the other "good" Nazis, worked people to death for the benefit of the Nazi state. There were nicer guys in the SS.

  5. According to this theory Hitler was a mighty Christian warrior and Werner von Braun was serving the mission of Jesus Christ. Talk about nukes ending up in the wrong hands.

  6. Yet another example of just how successfully the State has co-opted the church. Ironically, the same "evangelical Christian" churches that proudly advertise on their websites that they "believe in the separation of church and state" are the same ones that express shock and horror over the fact that this exercise in brainwashing and perversion of the Gospel has been ground to a halt.

    1. Almost all States use religion to influence the masses. The SS belt buckle had the words "In God We Trust" on it. The few States that don't, such as the former Soviet Union and China still have a use for religion. It's often the scapegoat. (If not for religion X then Y would not be a problem).

      During my time "In Service" (barf) there was plenty of brainwashing to go around. Religious and otherwise. They simply used Religion as one part of their arsonal.

  7. Having been around Army Chaplans and more than my share of Pastors and Fathers I have come to one simple conclusion. They are humans. Most are average people with the same problems the same susceptibilities to propoganda, the same IQ's, etc. as the rest of us.

    My point is that you shouldn't really expect a higher moral base from the clergy than from anyone else. They are handed a moral authority which they are not in most instances prepared for any more than you or I. Four years of classes bickering about minutiae does not make anyone morally supperior.

  8. My only thought and hope is that in seeking a newsworthy story, truthout hasn't at least temporarily halted any teaching of the ethics side of the missile launching business, however misguided. The ethical side of the news business is also, or more so, fraught with the temptation that could bring us annihilation.

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