Last night, I attended “Heal Our Heroes: Ministering to the Military in Our Midst,” an event here in Houston featuring keynote speaker Colonel Oliver North. (I was invited by a friend who had a table.) It was a fundraising dinner for Military Ministry, which provides various spiritual counseling and resources to soldiers. There were parents and a singer who had lost loved ones or suffered post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) etc. from the Iraq or Afghanistan war, various testimonials, etc. It was very Protestant in that Jesus was mentioned repeatedly and they explicitly pushed for us to give money at the end (Catholics are a bit more discreet when they ask for money–they just pass the basket).
I can understand wanting to help those who are suffering from the effects of war–even the soldiers. But after showcasing all the soldiers’ whose lives have been ruined by the military and by war, you would think there might be a word about peace or stopping the fighting that causes such devastation. But no, not a word. I suppose this is understandable: their mission was to raise money, so they focused on that.
But two other things really shocked me, both regarding the degree to which American Protestant Christians have intermingled their faith with patriotism and love of the state. For one, an award was given out, which was a miniature replica of a statue of Jesus hugging a soldier. Now I have no doubt the idea of a loving, compassionate savior giving succor to someone damaged by war is compatible with Christianity, but this seemed to go beyond that. And this impression was reinforced by the words of a young lady who spoke on behalf of MM. She said that in this world there are only two classes of people who have directly given their lives for you: Jesus, who gave his life to save your soul; and the soldier, who gives his life to save your freedom. Jesus comforting and forgiving the soldier–fine. Comparing soldiers to Jesus? Sacrilege. I don’t think Jesus is supposed to have had guilt or PTSD over what He did. Soldiers do, for a reason: War is hell. Jesus didn’t kill and murder people. Soldiers do.
Christians in America, especially Protestants and the “right-wing” types, it seems to me, have their priorities a bit out of place. Statolatry crowds out true faith and religion.