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How Much Money Could the Department of Defense Save if it Stopped Trying to Save Souls?

By       Message Chris Rodda     Permalink
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For example, the first paragraph of Oakridge's "Policies & Guidelines" for its guests states: "Oakridge is a private Christian retreat center, not a hotel. Therefore, there may be some guidelines and policies that may not seem 'hotel-like.' This is our purposeful intent. Oakridge does not serve the 'general public,' but only those interested in a Christian camp perspective." Moreover, guest groups must attend an "Oakridge Orientation," and it is stated in the "Policies & Guidelines" that "prayer will be offered for all groups at every meal in Jesus' name."

While Strong Bonds is specifically an Army program, the rampant promotion of evangelical Christianity under the guise of Spiritual Fitness is going on in all branches of the military. As an example from another branch of the military, over $120,000 in DoD contracts have been awarded to the Williamsburg Christian Retreat Center, one of the facilities used by both the Army and the Navy for retreats. Another popular site in Virginia for the Navy's Spiritual Fitness and "Personal Growth" retreats is the Peninsula Baptist Association's Eastover Retreat Center, which has received $75,000 in DoD contracts. For its retreats in Rhode Island, the Navy also uses a Baptist facility, the American Baptist Church's Canonicus Camping and Conference Center, which has received $53,000 in DoD contracts.

In addition to the constitutional issue of these military retreats being evangelical Christian retreats, any of the Christian facilities used for these retreats that receives over $10,000 in DoD contracts is in violation of the prohibition on federal government contractors discriminating based on religion in their hiring practices. They all hire only Christians, and many require in their employment applications that potential employees subscribe to a "statement of faith" and provide their Christian "testimony," detailing when and how they were "saved."

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Evangelical Christian Performers for Strong Bonds and Other Events

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Even retreats that are not located at religious camps regularly feature evangelical Christian speakers and entertainers. The contract amounts range from a few thousand dollars paid to each of a number of individual "motivational" speakers for single retreats to tens of thousands of dollars for evangelical Christian ministries and performers hired for multiple retreats.

For example, Quail Ministries, a Christian music ministry that provides performances "liberally seasoned with songs, stories, and anecdotal Scripturally-based lessons," has received over $84,000 in DoD contracts for performances at about a dozen Strong Bonds retreats.

Unlimited Potential, Inc., a ministry "Serving Christ Through Baseball" by sending evangelical Christian major league baseball players to military events, received over $80,000 in DoD contracts for just two retreats, one Strong Bonds retreat and one Spiritual Fitness retreat. Unlimited Potential has been at many other military bases for various other events that do not show up in DoD contracts, presumably because these appearances were paid for with base funds.


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DoD Funded Evangelical Christian Youth Programs

Service members are not the only ones targeted by evangelical Christian programs paid for with DoD contracts. Military children are also heavily targeted, both here in the U.S. and on bases overseas. Evangelizing the children of service members is one of the largest areas of spending.

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http://www.liarsforjesus.com
Chris Rodda is the Senior Research Director for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), and the author of Liars For Jesus: The Religious Right's Alternate Version of American History.

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