The Military-Evangelical Complex


There are evangelical Christians whom I love and respect. Nonetheless, it’s time to face this: The military-evangelical complex is not just politically dangerous; it’s a corruption of the Judeo-Christian tradition and thus of Western Civilization itself.


Let’s start by defining this clearly: The military-evangelical complex is an intricate partnership between the US government and thousands of churches, typically evangelical. These churches support and glorify government-authorized violence. Their messages to their members are clear: To enforce laws is noble and righteous; to bleed on a foreign battlefield is godly; the US military is a great force of goodness upon Earth; America, manifested especially through military action, is God’s special tool.

Every American past high-school age should recognize this description, but to be clear, here are a few exemplary images:

  • It is announced in church that Johnny has joined the military. He is asked to stand and is heartily applauded by all.

  • Memorial Day church services (or Veteran’s Day or July 4th) feature dedicated sermons and proud displays of flags and uniforms. There is effusive praise for soldiers, casting them as godly heroes.

  • Military-themed ceremonies are held before every major sporting event.

  • Children are encouraged to choose “service” as a life plan; if not in war, at least enforcing state laws.

  • Enacting violence on behalf of the state is certain to get you public praise and pats on the back.

  • Government-ordered violence is prejudged to be good and right.

  • Funerals include the ritual touching of flags by military veterans.

  • Churches promote slogans like, “Jesus died to save us; soldiers die to keep us free.”

  • Rituals of saluting flags, singing anthems, and thanking soldiers for ‘service’ are obligatory.

Now, let’s be honest about this. Military service has become a sacrament in these churches; soldiers are the new missionaries, and wounded soldiers are the new martyrs.

And let’s be honest about something else: If we found records of such things in ancient inscriptions, we’d define them as the rituals of a military cult… and we would not be wrong.

How Did This Happen?

It happened because it was the easiest thing to do.

Christianity, however, was never meant to be easy. Not only did early Christians risk serious persecutions, but Jesus had warned them that “all men will hate you for my sake,” that they would be persecuted, and that they would “suffer for righteousness’s sake.” A follower of Jesus is supposed to lead mankind “into the light,” thus angering those who remain in darkness. (“He that dwells in darkness hates the light….”)

Most Christians, however, don’t want to suffer and don’t want to be hated. On top of that, leading mankind into the light is hard work. Alternatives to such things – easier ways – have always been popular.

And so, joining with the state – the biggest and most powerful entity – is the safest thing to do; once joined, no suffering and no hatred are required. And to gain that position, all you have to do is spin a theology that makes church-state partnership into a righteous thing.

Christians began making such arrangements just a few centuries after Jesus’s time. The Middle Ages had their versions, and modern times have theirs. And right now, among the most vocal advocates of Christianity, we have a military-evangelical complex.

And we all know what has supercharged this process over the past decade and a half: 9/11.

In a single day, people in uniforms were promoted into a new Hero caste. Minds stewing in fear skipped right past contrary facts and the lessons they had learned in the 1970s. (The Pentagon Papers, the Church Committee reports, the Gulf of Tonkin, etc.)

All of this gave Christian leaders an immediate opportunity to fill their pews and keep them full. So they jumped at it. Presently, they are clinging to it. Military leaders jumped at it too and have spent millions of dollars promoting it, notably at sporting events.

We Were Warned

There is a great deal more to say about this, and I am tempted to ramble on about the military-evangelical complex inverting the most fundamental elements of the Judeo-Christian tradition, how it turns government into an agent of sanctification, and how the Scriptures condemn it. But I shall not. I’ve made my point and I will leave it where it stands, adding only this:

As he was stepping down from the US presidency in 1961, Dwight Eisenhower warned about this. He talked about the threats of “an immense military establishment,” that it was “new in the American experience,” and that Americans “must not fail to comprehend [the] grave implications” of this “total influence – economic, political, even spiritual.”

And yes, this was the speech where he warned Americans to “guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence… by the military-industrial complex.”

But, like all the great warnings of history, Eisenhower’s were flatly ignored.

It was the easiest thing to do.

* * * * *

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You may never look at life the same way again.

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* * * * *


Paul Rosenberg

27 thoughts on “The Military-Evangelical Complex”

  1. Great article: it is a tough topic to treat, but necessary. I could never understand how Christ’s words and deeds could ever be translated into the destruction of foreign military expeditions. I have since learned that it likely has to do with a literal interpretation of the Bible’s mention of establishing a new Israel and the Evangelical’s support of bringing this about. It seems to me to have elements of a new Jansonist movement that is eschatological in nature. With its prevalence, it is very scary stuff.

  2. The only thing missing in this otherwise excellent essay is the premise that those in the intelligence community are the targets of equal idolatry to those who have fought unconstitutional military actions in countries that never threatened or attacked us, becoming ignorant traitors by their “patriotism.”

  3. In L Neil Smith’s parallel-universe novel, ‘The Probability Broach’, the difference between the police-state USA in our universe and the free North American Confederacy in the other universe was eventually traced to a single word in the Constitution. The USA version said ‘consent of the governed’, the NAC version said ‘unanimous consent of the governed’. Hence the NAC stayed free and the USA degenerated into manipulated majoritarianism.
    So how did Christianity turn into a tool for reinforcing rulership and state power?
    I would suggest the crucial factor was the inclusion of the single phrase ‘Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s’, thereby legitimising ruling-class plunder.
    Without this crucial provision it would probably have been suppressed by the ruling elites as a threat to their power. But doing so turned it into a tool of social and economic control wielded by those same ruling elites to maintain their status.

    1. But you are not correct about the phrase “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s”. When Christ said this, he was being tested by the Pharisees, a ruling sect of ancient Israel. Part of being a member of the Pharisees was memorizing large portions of the
      torah–what Christians call the Old Testament. In it, the Word of God clearly states that everything on Earth belongs to God. It says nothing about temporal rulers having “ownership” of anything. Thus the Pharisees had to walk away grumbling, because they had been shown up by Jesus’s logic. Meanwhile, the Roman loyalists in the crowd had nothing real to pin on Jesus.
      Jesus never told anyone to give anything to Caesar. Why? Because everything belongs to God, and if we are to “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s”, we will end up giving Caesar nothing & God everything.

      1. The coinage belonged to Caesar. We can make coinage ourselves and write on them ‘for the stewards under God’. That would mean the coinage is for our use but that we are under God and that all we have is from God as we are merely the stewards of creation.

        1. Go ahead and do that, try and use it as legal tender and see what the government does. Leviathan will come down on you like a ton of bricks. The state and its central bank does not like competition and will squash anyone who endeavors to pass their own coins off as legal tender.

      2. I am sure you are correct about the context, but my point was that this passage is often used, however incorrectly or unjustly, to justify the various taxes and other impositions of earthly authorities.
        This was why I began with the comparison with L Neil Smith’s novel, in which a single extra word in the constitution is found to make a crucial difference between freedom and tyranny.

  4. When we coin our own money as people collaborating with one another, then the Caesars will cease to be Caesars as the stewards will rule over earth in collaboration with one another under God.

  5. When we coin our own money, we shall remove the yoke of slavery from ourselves. It is money which keeps us in slavery to those who own its production and distribution who are under the evil one’s dominion..

  6. And don’t forget Romans 13:1-7; the Holy Grail of this incestuous relationship. But, if someone should throw this up as a reason for unquestioning obedience to The State ask them to then justify the American Revolution. No where in the Declaration of Independence is there listed any reason for revolt that has to do with the King’s violation of God’s laws.

  7. In 1999-2000 I went back to SE Asia and got involved in the anti-landmine movement. What I saw over there, especially in Laos and Cambodia shocked me to my core. So much so that when I got home I put my (not so) honorable discharge and DD-214 through the shredder. The US military is a tool of bankers and industrialists who profit from war making. And evangelicals are the great enablers of this behavior. Personally I will not attend a church that in any way, shape or form celebrates the military.

    1. David, if you don’t mind sharing, some detail on the experience in SE Asia might be helpful for those of us who haven’t been there. (But if you’d rather not, please don’t.)

      1. Sure Paul. Towards the end of the Vietnam debacle I was safely off the coast on an aircraft carrier. My exposure to real violence was limited to a very time during the Mayaguez incident. It did trouble me to see planes take off with full bomb racks and return empty. I always wondered where they ended up. Fast forward to 1999. I took a three and a half month leave of absence and went over there because I had become involved with the anti landmine movement. I went to Thailand, Burma, Laos and Cambodia. In the years following the war I was troubled by the notion that Vietnam posed a threat to the US. When I got over there I saw a lot of victims of the war and it was twenty five years after it had ended. For many people it never has ended. Landmines, unexploded ordnance and dioxin based defoliants still plague the area. More bombs were dropped on Laos (and the US wasn’t at war with Laos, right?) than all of Europe during WWII. Cambodia was still reeling from the aftermath of Pol Pot and his extermination of two million people. Thank you Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon. To say I was disgusted by what I saw and experienced would be an understatement. The media is wont to talk about the 58,000 names on the wall but never discusses the fact that the US was responsible for as many as 5,000,000 lives in Indochina during the war. I actively discouraged my children from enlisting as well as many of their friends. As a Christian I cannot support the military. It goes against everything I believe in.

  8. In a recent interview, Ron Paul mentioned that Evangelical Zionism was a political movement, less spiritual. It’s like a pseudo-spiritual hybrid of Militant Philosemitism and Marxian “revolutionary” Dispensationalism…Straussianism on steroids(strauss was a member of the militant Jabotinsky youth(Betar) in Germany).
    Spiritial abuse and ideological totalism is the hallmark of destructive churches, high demand groups, and yes, political cults.
    Your description sounds like the clone cults and pyramid scheme of LIEutenant “colonel” Robert Thieme, the “pastor teacher” and cold war crusader of berachah church. He liked to strut around at the pulpit like a peacock in his uniform(mystical manipulation). Coupled with some corrupt houston police ready to eject anyone who wasn’t listening intently to his “prophecies”(milieu control/dispensing with existence). His disciples are called “tapers” or thiemites. Creepy stuff.
    His son has toned down the militant rhetoric, so he can sell franchises…
    He uses a style of indoctrination similar to marxists, by using mental fatigue to soften up his victims, he could freeze a new identity on them(doctrine over person). He reversed communism to include a hateful, emotionless, testing god(confession)…fused with the state, and himself as the “charismatic leader” who was above any criticism and only answered to God(himself). Complete with loaded language, mental jargon, esoteric charts and graphs, military tactics…all explained and 110% correct(sacred science)…even though his mentor at Dallas Theological Seminary rebutted him and his “teachings”.
    So, Militarism + God = Christian Patriot = Good American = Follow me to salvation and spiritual war(demand for purity).
    He railed against Hitler…but never touched Mussolini(a former marxist). Thats because he borrowed from him and his “Mythos of the State”. I brought this up in a support group of his victims, and they all expressed shock at how similar thiemes “teachings” sounded.
    In his youth, my grandfather was a card carrying member of a neofascist party in Italy(blackshirt and all), but became disenchanted when he discovered anarchism when he left the home, and later rejected any political belief system(he was more libertarian, just didn’t have access to any information) but remained spiritual.
    I mention this because he also held onto things from his youth, like a small wall bust of mussolini that his father gave him, which was prominently displayed above the kitchen table, this is after WWII. He recounted how his mother would say a prayer for the deceased Mussolini while kissing the cross around her neck before dinner every night.
    “We have created our myth. The myth is a faith, it is passion. It is not necessary that it shall be a reality. It is a reality by the fact that it is a good, a hope, a faith, that it is courage. Our myth is the Nation, our myth is the greatness of the Nation! And to this myth, to this grandeur, that we wish to translate into a complete reality, we subordinate all the rest.” Benito Mussolini 1935
    Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? 🙂
    Thieme was also the spiritual guru of Dan Quayle’s wife and family, but he was too extreme to bring on the campaign trail, so she changed affiliation when he ran with Bush.
    There are hundreds(potentially thousands) of thieme’s victims worldwide that have come forward to expose him in a support group. You can read their stories, as well as some still indoctrinated that have failed to defend his “teachings”, that show just how destructive this totalist doctrine of militant christian statism can be. My great grandmother, the devoted fascist who prayed to the deceased Mussolini before dinner, is an example.
    R.B. Thieme Jr., Berachah Church Houston,13233,129455
    Gary North
    The Foreign Policy of 20 Million Would-Be Immortals
    Christian Zionism The Tragedy and The Turning, Part I

  9. Having recently left a church due these types of blasphemous prayers and displays (LDS), I have since been investigating the Quaker and Mennonite churches. I can say that the two respective churches I visited in my area still hold true to their pacifistic and anti-war roots. They were both very welcoming and inclusive, the Quaker church in particular was quite wonderful in the open nature of their worship, in which everyone is invited to stand and speak as their heart and the spirit moves them. Those of us who hear the voice of the gospel calling us to peace and brotherhood must do the same. Leave behind these corrupt churches and gather together with other brothers and sisters. We may disagree on doctrine, coming from different place as we are, but we can agree on the fundamental rightness of the Way laid out by Christ, the Prince of Peace.

  10. Truly frightening indeed. Thieme is simply another carney barker, a hustler, a pick pocket and charlatan. He is in good company with the likes of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Jimmy Sweigert, Jimmy Baker, Ted Hagard, John Hagee, Billy and Franklin Graham just to mention a few of the frauds, charlatans and liars.
    Thieme though, seems to have carved a special niche all to himself. It helps if one has the messianic personality, not unlike Jim Jones and David Koresh.
    The glorification of anything the government does, especially the mindless glorification of the military and the incredulous belief it is serving the people of America mixed with the brainwashing techniques of this “new messiah” is nothing short of amazement at the way so many people in America have fallen prey to these evil, wicked frauds.
    People such as Thieme depend upon the ignorance and gullibility of others in order to command such congregation and America is not short of ignorant gullible people. In truth far too many people in America have been dumbed down and brainwashed by the government indoctrination centers known as public education.
    Believe everything the government tells you.
    Believe everything the MSM tells you.
    Do not ever question the government.
    Do what the government commands you to do.
    Now do your part and enlist in the U.S. military so you can go marching off to the middle east and sacrifice yourself on the altar of zionism.
    Enlist so you can commit such acts of bestiality and sadisitic cruelty against innocent men, women and children. So you can be part of God’s army, invading nation after nation, destroying lives and leaving behind death, destruction, chaos and misery for the survivors, many of whom will be poisoned with depleted uranium and from the use of nuclear weapons.
    Enlist so you can commit such acts without fear of reprisal or condemnation.
    Enlist so you can serve the true beneficiaries of your wars: the international Kazarian banking mafia and Wall St.
    Enlist so you can carry out the evil foreign policies of Washington.
    Enlist so you can operate drones from thousands of miles away and launch Hellfire missiles into funerals, weddings and playgrounds.
    After all a good sand nigger is a dead sand nigger.
    Enlist so that when it is all over and you have been disfigured, wounded in body and mind, with missing limbs and tossed to the curb by a corrupt VA, just remember how your masters treated you when you returned.
    And become another of the 22 veterans who commit suicide every day in America.

  11. “Judeo-Christian tradition”
    And while we’re at it, another bit of nonsense that has to be addressed. There’s flat-out no such thing. Jews reject 2/3 of the Trinity. No more use of this idiotic phrase.

  12. The military-evangelical complex is alive and well in the church to which I belong. We put the names of members in the military on the screen every Sunday morning. We pray that they act with integrity. We had special recognition for the son of a member who was promoted to captain in the Army. Some time ago, when a member announced that her son was accepted for military duty, the congregation applauded.
    Some years ago, there was one small change we made. The American flag that was displayed in the sanctuary was moved to the narthex.

  13. There is no Judeo-Christen traditions, that garbage is only in bibles printed by Jewish publishers and translations added by jews.
    What you have in America is Zionist infiltration of churches.

  14. A lot of time is wasted arguing ambiguous terms. As an example, I offer: ‘Judeo-Christian’. Christians believe Jesus of Nazareth was God incarnate, and the Jewish Messiah. Most ‘Judeos’ that I have met, hold Talmudic, Mishna, Zohar, or rabbinic beliefs, and by doing so, fall under the warning of 1John 2: 22&23. Also, in 2Cor 6:14, we are told not to be yoked to ‘unbelievers’. And twice in Revelation (2:9 & 3:9), Jesus speaks of ‘them which say they are Jews, and are not’. I said all that to say, “I guess I can’t accept your ‘Judeo-Christian’ premise.”

  15. All religion is bull shit. Religion mixed with the state is the worst possible combination ever created. It is the end of liberty and freedom and the beginning of slavery and continuous wars.
    There is none so dangerous than a person waving holy script and screaming for the blood of innocent men, women and children. Warvangelicals take note.
    Religion is the route by which tyrants often use to sway the masses into committing such acts they would normally never do.
    Religion mixed with militarism is the most dangerous of all recipes. It combines self righteousness with psychopathic urge to murder and destroy for an invisible deity.
    There are none so disturbed as those who believe a certain deity is on their side.
    Religion and politics makes for strange bedfellows.
    How strange it is that the so called religion of peace (xtianity) so often glorifies war and the murder of innocents. Whose god is it they serve? How do I keep them away from me?

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