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I don't believe in Jesus enough, either

An alert reader from southern Indiana told me to look at today's This Modern World comic, which is especially biting today. And I said to myself, "Did that unnamed officer really say that?" Because making disparaging comments because of someone's religious beliefs, well, that NEVER happens in the U.S., does it?

So off I went to ESPN.com's website, and eventually I found the article that was the source, a four-part article published last week titled An Un-American Tragedy. Indeed, the quote belonged to Lt. Col. Ralph Kauzlarich, who led the Army's first official inquiry into the death of Army specialist Pat Tillman. It has taken five inquiries to get out the fact that Tillman's death in Afghanistan was from "friendly fire," though they still have not charged anyone, nor have they come clean about who knew what and who covered up the truth.

The quote as it appears in the ESPN.com article is:
Kauzlarich, now a battalion commanding officer at Fort Riley in Kansas, further suggested the Tillman family's unhappiness with the findings of past investigations might be because of the absence of a Christian faith in their lives.

In an interview with ESPN.com, Kauzlarich said: "When you die, I mean, there is supposedly a better life, right? Well, if you are an atheist and you don't believe in anything, if you die, what is there to go to? Nothing. You are worm dirt. So for their son to die for nothing, and now he is no more — that is pretty hard to get your head around that. So I don't know how an atheist thinks. I can only imagine that that would be pretty tough."

Asked by ESPN.com whether the Tillmans' religious beliefs are a factor in the ongoing investigation, Kauzlarich said, "I think so. There is not a whole lot of trust in the system or faith in the system [by the Tillmans]. So that is my personal opinion, knowing what I know."

This angers me so much I hardly know where to start. I do know this: Tillman had given up a lot to go on Mr. Bush's war crusades, even if he hadn't died in the effort, and he did so with the belief that he could help and it was more worthwhile than making a gazillion dollars playing football. The fact that he died under ignominous circumstances and then it got covered up is absolutely shameful. And his family has given up far more than a family should have to. Sure, the case of his death and the cover-up may be propelled farther than expected simply because he was a star National Football League player. But anyone deserves justice, and truth, and if it takes fame to get it, it's fame well used.

The implication by Lt.Col. Kauzlarich in his comments about the Tillmans' spiritual beliefs is mean-spirited, irrelevant, and bigoted. I'm having the hardest time coming up with a more cogent statement than that, because I'm so flabbergasted that a spokesperson of a large organization like the military would say something like that. Frankly, I think it shows him as identical to the Radical Islamists we're fighting who think that to die gloriously in battle with the infidel gets you 72 virgins in heaven.

Dave asked why I was so surprised. It's because I didn't think they could stoop to a low quite that abysmal. But I should now be used to the administration and its flunkies and backers stooping to new lows every day, I suppose.

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( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
altivo
May. 2nd, 2007 12:43 am (UTC)
It's not new, alas. This attitude has pervaded not only W's administration, but that of his father before him. Remember that Bush Sr. said in public (and refused to retract) that atheists had no rights in America, should not be considered citizens and should not be able to vote.

Not that I have any idea what the religious beliefs or affiliation of the Tillman family might be, but that's the attitude taken by both Bush presidencies. Anyone who opposes them is godless. And anyone who is godless must necessarily be their enemy.
songdogmi
May. 2nd, 2007 05:21 am (UTC)
I don't know if I should admit how preternaturally naive I am, but it was only a few years ago that it actually sank in that, whatever I wished to believe, America really was intended to be Christian, and mainstream Protestant Christian at that. The only reason so-called religious freedom is touted is to protect people who want to be, say, Baptist from people who are, say, Episcopalian. The founders (including regular citizens) probably had no intention of including atheists and pagans in our religious freedom-fest.

Anyone curious as to the Bush Sr. quote can look here: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/mathew/arguments.html#bush .

altivo
May. 2nd, 2007 11:38 am (UTC)
Actually, I disagree. The founders of our nation were quite sincere about religious freedom and the separation of church and state. Some of them were definitely not participants in organized and doctrinal religion of any sort. It was a time when people were still taught and encouraged to think for themselves, rather different from today's emphasis on conformity and not standing out in a crowd.
animist
May. 2nd, 2007 12:08 pm (UTC)
To be sure, that is true, but let's remember that it was full freedom of religion and separation of church and state for wealthy white men, who presumably were somewhat educated. Freedom of Religion was there to insure property rights, first, and civil rights flowed from that.
songdogmi
May. 2nd, 2007 06:24 pm (UTC)
These are my impressions, and I admit they could use some buttressing in the form of honest research (or perhaps revision):

What they said and what they meant could be two different things. Their idea of religious freedom may have gone as far as "Even Catholics, too!" which certainly doesn't include all the forms of worship that were not prevalent in eastern America and Europe in the day (e.g. Islam, Buddhism). Nor does it include forms developed here later, such as Mormonism or the neo-pagan practices. Perhaps they were thinking they were all-inclusive when they really hadn't been presented with a truly diverse spectrum of belief.

Also, several of the Founding Fathers were not as fundamentalist as others -- speaking of deists such as Jefferson here -- and they were looked at skeptically by Jesus-believers*. They may have gotten language referring to religious freedom into the foundation documents, but there were likely a whole lot of citizens who weren't thinking terribly broadly when they read them.

*cf: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_jefferson#Religious_views -- it looks pretty well researched at a quick glance; of course there are better sources, but this meshes with readings I've seen before.

altivo
May. 2nd, 2007 07:09 pm (UTC)
Ah, but a prevalent example of utterly nonconformist religion at that time was the Quaker. I believe the Shakers were present in New England by then as well, but nearly everyone (and certainly many of the authors of the Constitution) knew the Quakers. Compared to the mainstream religions of the time (and note that Maryland and Georgia had a high percentage of Roman Catholics too) the Quakers were very exotic and peculiar.

Franklin was a nonconforming "deist" as much as Jefferson was. I agree that the "man in the street" in places such as Boston or New York may not have conceived of such things, but I am firmly convinced that people like Adams, Franklin, and Jefferson were well aware that they were trying to lay a foundation for genuine religious tolerance that would include all views.

I agree, when the Mormons came along they showed that the foundation was weak. On the other hand, the Mormons were (and some still are) quite defiant about the priority of their extreme beliefs over civil order and custom. Rather than trying to develop a tolerance in society, they insisted on separating themselves from it just as much as Koresh did with his cult in Waco.

By contrast, the Shakers, the Mennonites and Amish, and the Christian Scientists received recognition of their rights almost from the beginning. Jews have almost always had their rights recognized by law and the courts, though they've certainly still been the target of social discrimination. The Constitutional principles of religious freedom apply to law and the state, but cannot effectively control social behavior.
animist
May. 2nd, 2007 11:22 am (UTC)
Not that I have any idea what the religious beliefs or affiliation of the Tillman family might be, but that's the attitude taken by both Bush presidencies. Anyone who opposes them is godless. And anyone who is godless must necessarily be their enemy.

Very true. These people are like paranoid schizophrenics or something. The co-called Republican party has really drifted towards fascism in a very big way. Gone are the days of calling for a small government, a Fortress America with no more "Democrat Wars", and "Don't tread on me" individualism (Property Rights, Privacy from Big Brother, so on). The Republic is dead: Bush's party is the party of Empire now.
altivo
May. 2nd, 2007 11:34 am (UTC)
Yep. This has become blatantly obvious since the whole "Homeland Security" bullshit started.
animist
May. 2nd, 2007 12:06 pm (UTC)
Yes, and the irony is that Bush originally was against creating a new department (if I remember rightly). But he sure loves it now.

Speaking of our brain-damaged-from-snorting-cocaine leader, this is funny:

The Weekly Radio Address

April 28, 2007: May Day!

The President celebrates May Day.


He would be a lot funnier if Shrub was El Presidente in some Central American banana republic. That would be a lot better fit for his politics, to be sure. As it is, he's going to turn the USA in to a series of interconnected banana republics, carving us up according to regional big business interests.
animist
May. 2nd, 2007 11:15 am (UTC)
What do you expect, with this moron and his Nazi followers in the Whitehouse? Thanks for posting this... you really said things here that need to be said.
songdogmi
May. 2nd, 2007 05:59 pm (UTC)
You're welcome. I wish it didn't have to be said.
hellmutt
May. 2nd, 2007 02:33 pm (UTC)
...

I want Bushies go away now plz. :'(
songdogmi
May. 2nd, 2007 05:59 pm (UTC)
You, me, and several billion people around the world. *sigh*
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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