AF suspends ‘Jesus loves nukes’ training

AF suspends ‘Jesus loves nukes’ training

We were just talking a few days ago about how the top commander of the Air Force’s Global Strike Command had called for his airmen to “change their culture,” and here’s another example: Air Force missileers may no longer get decades-old, Bible-centric ethics training, designed to help them resolve moral or religious doubts about the use of nuclear weapons, our own Bryant Jordan reports. The training, known colloquially among the blue-suited as “Jesus loves nukes,” has been in place for 20 years, Jordan writes, and it sounds like a version of what Malcolm McDowell underwent in “A Clockwork Orange:”

Wrote Jordan:

The training slides include quotations from the Bible, portraits of Christian saints, prophets, and famous American generals known for their faith, including George Washington, Union Army Gen. Joshua Chamberlain, and Confederate Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Every new missile officer had to take the training at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, regardless of their own religious beliefs or lack of them, according to [Air Education and Training Command spokesman Dave] Smith.

AETC halted the ethics training last week after an article on the training was posted at Truthout​.org. Former Air Force Capt. Damon Bosetti — described as a missile officer who took the training in 2006 — said he and others referred to the religious section of the ethics training as the “Jesus loves nukes speech.”

The website also published the training slides [pdf], which it acquired from the watchdog group Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an organization that has filed numerous lawsuits against the Air Force for allegedly infringing on the rights of religious minorities and non-believers and promoting evangelical Christian beliefs.

The upshot of the slide deck is that a moral, ethical, religious person can resolve the implications of being the officer strapped in the chair who has to push the button for real and call “missile away!” And as Truthout reports: “At the conclusion of the ethics training session, missile officers were asked to sign a legal document stating they will not hesitate to launch the nuclear-armed Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) “if lawfully ordered to do so by the President of the United States or his lawful successor.”

One might hope the oath these officers had already sworn to uphold the Constitution and follow lawful orders would cover this, but the Air Force evidently wanted to make extra super-sure its deterrent mission was that much more credible; ideally, copies of these forms were then faxed to the governments of Russia, China, North Korea and Iran. Are nuclear bomber crews or the crews of Navy ballistic missile submarines also required to sign separate agreements that they’ll pickle their weapons if the clock hits midnight?

This is the latest dustup between the Air Force and critics who say the service improperly pushes Christian values and messages onto airmen:

[Military Religious Freedom Foundation president Mikey] Weinstein said more than 30 Air Force officers, most of them practicing Protestants and Roman Catholics, contacted his group in July to ask if he could help get rid of the Christian-themed nuclear missile ethics training. The Air Force released the slides under a Freedom of Information Act request.

“If this repugnant nuclear missile training is not constitutionally violative of both the ‘no religious test’ mandate of the Constitution and the First Amendment’s ‘No Establishment’ clause, then those bedrock legal principles simply do not exist,” Weinstein said.

True — but this is a tough one. It’s probably a good idea for service members with strategic responsibilities to work through the full range of issues involved with their potential use well before they go on deterrence duty, precisely so there is no hesitation if the real order ever comes down. Maybe service officials can develop two tracks for missile officers — the religious “Jesus loves nukes” and one nonreligious brief, given not by a chaplain but by a senior officer who can make the secular case for nukes.

What do you think?

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Hmmm.…..this training has been in place for 20 years?? Really?? It wasn’t being trained in 1991 when I was at the wing (I left in 1994). Follow that up with an assignment to Vandenberg AFB as an instructor and I can tell you we didn’t train this ‘Jesus loves nukes’ material at anytime while I was there (until late 1996). The slides have the patch of the 381st Training Group (which is the unit that all missileers process through for training) but this is the first I have heard of it. Wonder who came up with this “great” idea. Must have needed an OPR bullet or something.

Signing the document wasn’t about convincing everyone else; it was about indoctrination. If you get the person to agree that they’ll do something, they’re that much more likely to actually do it.

An offensive set of slides. Not because of Constitutional issues, but because it is such a lazy, cut-and-paste, and intellectually neutral presentation. A large percentage of the military figures used as examples were intellectually curious and circumspect thinkers who were also flawed individuals. This course served to indoctrinate and dampen intellectual curiousity through Hagiography. Something that the military often seems all too eager to do.

Uh, 42 slides?! Really?!

Glad it was cut off!.… imagine some nuke guy asked for Islam indoctrination ::0

Links to the original stories that resulted in the training being suspended:

Good and whoever put forth this ridiculous unconstitutional crap should be court marshaled.

Have you been in a cave? There is no doubt that if a Muslim in a MMIII silo said “I need religious guidance to help me fulfill the mission” he/she would get it instantly.

are you serious?!! .…. the US would put a muslim in control of nukes???!!! .….

Court marshaled? For a PowerPoint? Now that’s a waste of money.

Did “retail” nukes during the peak of the Cold War.… If I had been ordered to takeoff and employ nukes ( and if I survived to the “pickle point”), I would have released the weapons.…didn’t need a relegion lesson to steel dedication to my mission. The certainty that guys like me would do our job was the crux of detterence. This PPT stuff was just PC nonsense.

The President is in control of nukes, jeez do you understand anything about the chain of command? This program was for officers working in silos, subs, etc. These people are not in “control” of nukes.

After the Ft Hood shootings by an avowed muslim it came to light that he espoused radical islamic tenets and discussed them freely with other officers. HE WAS PROMOTED!! You really are behind the PC curve.

I never worked in a silo but I did work on nuclear weapons effects while in the Air Force. I wish I had had this type of “training” when I started to work with them. It would have helped me resolve the inner conflicts I had. Yes, some people actually worry about the legality of some orders and are not robots. I think the training was a good idea so people could discuss it and work their ways through their thoughts.

Using this as saying religion is being forced on Airmen is like saying Christmas is forcing God on America. I looked at the slide show. Yes it uses Christianity, but how many people, along with me, aren’t Christian? Could you push the button? Its not just that Jesus loves Nukes.

I’m Buddhist I am not offended, It doesn’t disparage any other religion. Get over yourself, or move, Mars doesn’t have religion.

That is the most intellegent post in this entire string. Good for you Mat.

No comparison Mat. State office Christmas holidays are an example of a democratic government making an accommodation to christians at minimum interference to non-christians (especially non-christians in the private sector who still sometimes work through the holiday). The military isn’t a democracy, which makes this truly insidious. The soldiers are a captive audience to religious indoctrination.

I’m bothered by the fact that the class was mandatory, and was taught by chaplains. I think the proper procedure would be as follows:

Missile officer trainee: “Ma’am/sir, is the use of nuclear weapons condoned by mainstream religions?”

Instructor: “Ask your pastor, minister, imam, rabbi, priest, or other religious authority. After that, if your attitude is that you can’t launch nuclear weapons when ordered to do so, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on your way back to the civilian world.”

One other thought — If God is unhappy about missile officers killing scads of people, it could only be because he can’t stand the competition. That old tyrant has been responsible for more deaths than our entire nuclear arsenal could ever cause.

The Russians get the head of the church to tell people to love nukes, just like the old days, in their pocket.

Does anyone think that Jesus would approve of this course? But I guess if one is in the slaughtering of people business, the commandment “Thou Shall Not Kill” must be gotten around somehow. What better way than to have evangelical pastors teach the button pushers that Jesus loves nukes, and that killing millions of people is all right with the guy in the sky. The whole thing is the work of idiots. In recently released White House tapes, General Lemay is heard trying to persuade President Kennedy to nuke the Soviet Union. Kennedy asks Lemay how many US deaths would result. Lemay said 31 million, but that it was worth it becasue the US could win the Cold War. Kenndy’s response: “Your nuts”. He was right, but it looks like the same nuts are still running the show.

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