On June 15, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) published a video that documents a troubling level of Christian proselytizing in the U.S. military, where servicemen who are physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted are targeted for conversion so that they may become "government paid missionaries." Although the speeches shown in the video are not dated, some of the proselytizing shown takes place in Afghanistan, where military operations are currently taking place.
"From an evangelistic standpoint, I always refer to them as 'ripe as black bananas,'" Maj. Douglas W. Duerksen, Army Chaplain, told a laughing audience about new recruits. "And it's great to be a government paid missionary!"
"Missions To Military, a ministry designed to win and train the military for Jesus Christ" is also shown in the video, as well as "Rock the Fort" types of events hosted by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association where military personnel are trained to "have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ" and become members of "God's Army" by "giving their lives over to Jesus Christ."
Maj. Jeff Struecker, Army Ranger School Chaplain, had this to say about his mission:
It puts the student — the Ranger student — in the absolute worst possible conditions. Most of them will go a couple of days with no food, some of them have gone as long as three days without any sleep whatsoever. My goal has been to meet them when they are at their absolute worst, when they're coldest and the most tired and the most hungry that they are going to be because the more difficult the circumstances, the more receptive the average person becomes to issues of faith.
Civilian para-church organizations such as Cadence International view the military as a mission field. According to Cadence, "Shaken people are usually more ready to hear about God than those who are at ease, making them more responsive to the gospel."
The largest para-church ministry targeting young, vulnerable service members is Military Ministry, a division of Campus Crusade for Christ International (now known as "Cru"). MG (Ret.) Bob Dees, Executive Director, Campus Crusade for Christ International Military Ministry, is shown on the video saying,
Our vision is to transform the nations of the world through the militaries of the world. We try to reach our recruits immediately […] We have staff at half of the nation's boot camps.
Campus Crusade for Christ was formed in 1951 by the late Bill Bright and his wife Vonette, advocates of 7 Mountains Christian dominionist theology (see the "7 Mountains" in the video immediately following the MRFF video on this page).
A spokesperson for Campus Crusade's military mission claimed that Air Force recruits will become "government paid missionaries" as they are sent throughout the world. The MRFF video shows service members in Afghanistan describing themselves as Christian missionaries who "serve as witnesses" for Christ and who pray for the Afghanistan people so that "they may know the truth of Christ." Lt. Colonel Gary Hensley, Army Command Chaplain, is shown in the video telling troops in Afghanistan that "You are commissioned to be witnesses for Him. Does that mean we are all preachers? Um-hm. […] The special forces guys, they hunt men, basically. We do the same thing as Christians. We hunt people for Jesus."
Editor's Note – Back in May 2011, we tried to raise much-needed funds for MRFF, but were only able to raise a few hundred dollars. MRFF is not an atheist group, nor is it affiliated with any particular religious practice. It fights for the Constitutional rights of American service men and women to practice whatever faith their consciences guide them to practice, or to not practice a religious faith at all. Aside from the Constitutional rights to freedom of religion and freedom from religion, given the American military presence in Muslim countries, the last thing we need is for our armed forces to be perceived as being engaged in "a holy war." Please consider helping MRFF out by donating at http://www.helpbuildthewall.org
Laren Cunningham, founder of Youth With a Mission, explains the "Seven Mountains" vision that he, Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusades for Christ, and theologian Francis Schaeffer were "given by God" in the following video: