Thursday, May 29, 2008

Deus nobiscum, quis contra?

Organizations that combine religion, the military, and proselytizing are recipes for disaster. While proselytizing is "banned" by the military, there are numerous instances where this type of activity has caused severe problems for members of the military. The question for readers is, are they ethical? Are they harmless? Should a veteran use their GI Bill Benefits to pay for the training that is being marketed by such an organization?

The idea of someone who has left the military going to work for an organization that does missionary and charity work is a fine idea. Selfless service should not be criticized. However, an organization that advertises on military issues websites and recruits former members of the military to engage in missionary work and proselytizing might be the sort of organization that should be scrutinized.

Individuals who "click" on the ad pictured above [the link is deactivated here] are taken to a web site for the Active Duty Missionary website. Visitors are asked to take a look at the various aspects of joining this program. Military images and graphics are found all throughout the site:

The facility where people would go to train is described as something very similar to what Blackwater uses in North Carolina:

The Master’s Mission’s 1500-acre training base in the remote mountains of North Carolina provides a unique setting for thorough and “hands-on” preparation for missions service. The Bible & Missions curriculum encompasses scriptural authority, principles of biblical interpretation, a survey of God’s plan throughout history, and scriptural methods for establishing churches in both remote and urban areas. The Technical curriculum includes building construction on roads, dams, and airstrips, bush living, mechanics, water systems, community development, health and first aid, and more.

The cost is fairly steep, but the applicant can get special assistance to apply Montgomery GI Bill benefits to the training costs:

Married Couples and Families: $17,675 *
Single: $12,010 *

*This amount includes estimates for living expenses while training, in addition to tuition and board. From the informational .pdf file: Cabins are equipped with kerosene or propane lamps and accessories. Each candidate is responsible for purchasing propane and kerosene for their cabins as needed. This cost is included in the above estimate.

Contact the Business Office to apply your Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty Educational Assistance Program benefits to your training costs.

It is not known whether this covers the use of All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs):

Their doctrine is fairly explicit:

We believe in the literal biblical account of creation (a grammatical/historical method of interpretation).

Frequently asked questions and issues are discussed:

In a section titled "The Issue," the subject of "why" is discussed:

Short term missions and relief/aid projects are an effective way to present the message of salvation to people in foreign countries.
REALITY “Cross-cultural evangelization will hardly occur when the time frame is a 2 or 3-week visit into and out of a society, with little knowledge or understanding of local language and culture.” (International Journal of Frontier Missions, Spring 2004, p. 29)

Short term missions and relief/aid projects are an adequate substitute for long term missionary presence.

Such activities are valid expressions of love… but in the strict sense, they do not qualify as missionary work. The distinction is vitally important if we are to keep gospel proclamation, evangelism, church planting, and discipleship at the heart of what we are supposed to do. (Jim Reapsome, Mission Maker
Magazine–2005, p.26)

The following is a list of places where the organization has missionaries:

Strengthening existing mission work in...
Alaska, Congo, Ecuador, India, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Mexico, Romania, Uganda

Starting new mission work in...
Afghanistan, Asia, Central America, East Africa, Eastern Europe, Iraq, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, South America, Western Europe

h/t to Wired's "Danger Room."

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