Jesus loves everyone. He loves innocents, he loves sinners, he loves cream-coloured ponies and crisp apple strudels. And according to the United States Air Force, Jesus loves atomic intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear mass-murdering too.
That’s basically what they have been telling their nuclear missile officers for decades under a special ethics training program colloquially known as Jesus Loves Nukes. It seems that the use of nuclear weapons to destroy enemy populations is perfectly fine according to their interpretation of Christian ethics. Now, after being exposed by Truth-Out and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, the Air Force is cancelling it.
What is it?
The “ethics” training — imparted by USAF chaplains — uses many passages of the Old and New Testament to justify the use of atomic weapons to obliterate innocent populations (aka the enemy). Its core document, a 43-page Powerpoint presentation, also quotes St Augustine’s Causes to Just War. It contains references to Hiroshima and Nagasaki too, teaching the official — and much debated — excuse for the bombing of those two Japanese cities.
The document also dedicates an entire slide to rocket scientist Wernher Von Braun, who justifies the use of missiles as a morally just decision:
We knew that we had created a new means of warfare and the question as to what nation, to what victorious nation we were willing to entrust this brainchild of ours was a moral decision more than anything else. We wanted to see the world spared another conflict such as Germany had just been through and we felt that only by surrendering such a weapon to people who are guided by the Bible could such an assurance to the world be best secured.
Braun, before becoming one of the fathers of the space program, was a Nazi scientist who used Jewish prisoners to make the V-2 missiles that terrorised London during the end of World War II. Those words were his justification for the use of those bombs. By the way, the emphasis on that quote is in the original document.
Two decades too late
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation requested the documents (PDF) under the Freedom of Information Act. They did it after thirty religious missile officers — most with Catholic and Protestant backgrounds — contacted them asking to fix the situation.
The publication of the presentation (PDF) has caused the USAF to halt the program immediately. Dod Buzz believes this move is actually in line with the “change of culture” that is coming from the Air Force’s Global Strike Command, set by top dog Lt. Gen. Jim Kowalski.
Whatever the reasons are, the cancellation comes 20 years too late. While I can understand the moral, ethical and psychological problems that the idea of unleashing hell upon millions of people may cause to any normal human being, there’s absolutely no justification for this religious-based training.
As the MRFF’s president points out, this has no place under “the ‘no religious test’ mandate of the Constitution and the First Amendment’s ‘No Establishment’ clause.” But beyond that, what seems repugnant to me is the idea of manipulating Christian ethics to try to brainwash officers into thinking that the launch of nuclear weapons is morally right. Simply because it just can’t be, no matter the way you look at it.
I’m not a religious person, but having been raised in Catholicism, the ethics of Judeo-Christian Mediterranean culture were an integral part of my upbringing. Nowhere in that ethical system there’s a justification for the use of force. Much less massive annihilation of humans.
But then again, people have been using religion to justify war against others since the beginning of time, so I’m not surprised about this new elaborated twist. In fact, including a Nazi scientist’s moral advice and the official justification for Hiroshima makes total sense. [Truth-out via Veterans News Now — Military.com via DoD Buzz]