Dispatches from the Creation Wars

MRFF Files Second Lawsuit

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation has filed a second lawsuit against the Pentagon for violating the rights of American soldiers by unconstitutionally promoting Christianity at mandatory events. You can see the full complaint here. The case is being handled by Pedro Irigonegaray, the same attorney who was involved in the creationism battles in Kansas a few years back.

The plaintiff in the case is a soldier named Dustin Chalker, who is stationed at Ft. Riley, Kansas. He’s done tours in Iraq and has received the Combat Medic Badge and a Purple Heart. He has been repeatedly forced to attend events that included Christian prayer and has tried to resolve those issues through the chain of command but they’ve done nothing about it.

The complaint includes lots of examples of the promotion of Christianity to soldiers at mandatory events. One of them is an event at a base in England in March 2008 where Air Force Chaplain Capt. Christian Biscotti delivered what was essentially a sermon in powerpoint form on “spiritual fitness.” I have a copy of the powerpoint and it is absolutely incredible to see. The whole point of the presentation is that Christianity gives life meaning and therefore helps soldiers avoid suicide, whereas believing in evolution = no meaning of life and no purpose and therefore causes suicide.

The complaint describes some of what is in this presentation:

Another slide titled “Contrasting Theories of Hope, Ultimate Theories Explaining Our Existence,” has two columns, the first titled “Chance,” and the second “Design,” comparing Charles Darwin, creationism, and religion are also part of a chart comparing the former Soviet Union to the United States, concluding that “Naturalism/Evolution/Atheism” leads to people being “in bondage” and having “no hope,” while theism leads to “People of Freedom” and “People of hope/destiny.” After several more slides like these, the presentation continues with a slide titled “Christian’s Message,” and a slide with an image of a man looking upwards with his hands outstretched and the caption “Please open up both of your hands to receive this powerful tool.”

This program was approved by Lt. Gen. Rod Bishop, who spoke after this presentation about the mission of the basis and unit readiness. Attendance at the meeting was mandatory for more than 1000 soldiers at the base.