On Skunks and “Christians”

I think my favorite animal is the skunk. More on this below. To set the context, Mother Jones has a chilling slice of American life in its current issue. 

What kind of people do this?   

At Mikey Weinstein’s home in the suburbs of Albuquerque, the picture window in the living room has been twice shot out. Sometimes Weinstein opens his front door to find dead animals on his porch, feces smeared on his walls, or slashes in his tires. Men have called to threaten his daughter, women to chant rhymes about shooting him in the head, small children to inform him that he will burn in hell. To his critics, he says, “Take a number, pack a picnic lunch, and stand in line.” He’s not going anywhere, and neither is his 5’6″ ex-Marine security guard, Shorty.

The target, Michael L. “Mikey” Weinstein,  is the founder and President of  the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, dedicated “to ensure that our government does indeed adhere to the spirit as well as the letter of the Constitution; that it leads by example. The next chapter in the never-ending struggle to expand religious freedom in the military is being written, and MRFF is playing a critical part in the effort. A watchdog’s role requires constant vigilance.”

The kind of people who do this? Self-identified Christians. Their beef is the work of Weinstein’s Foundation.

[Weinstein] has fielded more than 6,000 complaints from soldiers who claim to have been persecuted by Christian evangelicals; 95 percent of the complaints come from mainstream Christians. Tipsters helped him catch uniformed military officers publicly endorsing an evangelical group and ferret out an anti-Semitic Bible study guide on an army base website. In September, he shunted many of the complaints into a massive lawsuit against the Department of Defense. His lead plaintiff, U.S. Army Specialist Jeremy Hall, alleges that a major at Iraq’s Speicher base threatened to block his reenlistment in the Army in retaliation for organizing a meeting of atheists.

To Weinstein, the threat is more than a simple matter of First Amendment niceties:   

Weinstein is certain that fundamentalists will stop at nothing to transform the United States military into an army of God. He notes that Officers Christian Fellowship, with chapters in every major U.S. military installation in the world, envisions—and here he quotes its mission statement—a “spiritually transformed military, with ambassadors for Christ in uniform, empowered by the Holy Spirit.” The group has helped boost fundamentalist Christianity among the armed forces from a negligible presence 20 years ago to a faith currently held by 30 percent of U.S. soldiers, according to Weinstein. He adds that many of those soldiers—hardcore end-timers and Dominionists—desperately want America to invade Iran, thereby triggering the biblical prophecy of the Rapture.

… “It’s not just the Holocaust or the inquisition or the pogroms or the nine—count ’em: nine—crusades,” Weinstein cautions. “It’s everything that’s happened since then. Whenever a virulent form of any faith has engaged the machinery of the state, in the words of the U.S. Supreme Court, we have ended up with tidal waves of blood.”

So Mikey Weinstein is a fighter, and God bless him for that. People who shoot windows, leave dead animals on porches, smear feces, slash tires, and threaten children are gutless bullies. Unchecked, gutless bullies en masse become global horrors. They need to be fought. Suppose “good Germans” had banded together to throw cream pies into the faces of roaming brownshirts in  the 1930’s. Might history have been different?

Hmmm… perhaps even throwing pies might be a bit much. This brings us to the skunk. They are gentle and affectionate creatures; ask anyone who has cared for a de-scented skunk as a pet. Yet ask any dog owner whose dog has been off the leash one too many times how it is to de-scent their Rover once it has tried to tangle with a skunk, and you’ll get a long and tortured tale.

The skunk has a superb defensive weapon. It doesn’t injure its attacker. It merely lets the whole world know, in the most expressive manner possible, that the behavior of its attacker stinks. How badly does it stink? You could try tomato juice.

In its way, the skunk is nature’s Mahatma Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr.

My son attended a service at a college friend’s church a few weeks ago. The preacher made a point of saying that although Jesus’ first sojourn on earth was one of love and gentleness, his next was going to be all about wrath, hatred for sinners, and destruction (aka “purification”). This preacher urged his flock to look forward to the Jesus to come. According to this logic, shooting windows, leaving dead animals on porches, smearing feces, slashing tires, and threatening children would be legitimate forms of “evangelical outreach.”

All of which goes to show that you are what you worship. And that skunks are necessary to the ecological balance, human or otherwise.

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