Back in June, when it was reported on the Time Magazine website that the Obama family had chosen the chapel at Camp David as their home church, I wrote a quick post about Navy chaplain Lt. Carey Cash, the chaplain at Camp David. Although the White House had denied the Time story by the time I finished writing my post, I made no changes to what I had written, with the exception of adding a disclaimer that the White House had denied the Time report that the Camp David chapel had been chosen by the Obamas as their home church. As the Research Director for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), my concerns regarding what I had discovered about Lt. Cash, a military chaplain who had said of the efforts to Christianize the U.S. military, "First we get the military, then we get the nation," were the same whether he was the president's official pastor or not.
Last week, I was contacted by the Washington Post for a statement from MRFF about Lt. Cash for an upcoming article about him, an article that came out on Wednesday. While most of the WaPo article is a fluff piece about the chaplain, it's clear from the reaction around the world to this article that the international community doesn't give a rat's ass about Cash's football stardom at the Citadel or that he's Johnny Cash's great-nephew. The world is focusing on one thing and one thing only from the WaPo article -- the revelation of the deprecating statements about Islam made by this chaplain who Obama is recorded as complimenting with statements like he "delivers as powerful a sermon as I've heard in a while. I really think he's excellent."
The headline Thursday in The Times of London, for example, is "'Islam is violent' says President Obama's new pastor Carey Cash," and a search of the web shows a growing list of articles and blog posts from around the world, some in languages I can't read, but with headlines containing words that are clearly understandable in any language.
MRFF founder and president Mikey Weinstein had the following to say upon seeing the worldwide attention being paid to Lt. Cash's statements:
"With the attention of the world riveted on the startling revelation by the Washington Post of Lt. Cash's unabashed disgust and disdain for ALL of Islam, President Obama has a once-in-a-lifetime, golden opportunity to immediately start earning that Nobel Peace Prize. A national and international public denouncement by the president of Lt. Cash's dangerously outrageous statements must be made at once by President Obama. This clarion call will send a desperately needed, crystal clear message that he will not, as commander-in-chief, tolerate these blatantly unconstitutional fundamentalist Christian religious 'crusaders' in our mighty American military. Let's face it; it's is long overdue. Lt. Cash should be swiftly removed from his Camp David chaplaincy slot and, just as expeditiously, very publicly punished for his egregious statements, not publicly lionized by our President."
While the WaPo article did at least expose Lt. Cash's statements about Islam, it minimized Cash's connections to the military-wide para-church organization Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC) Military Ministry to a point where anyone reading the article would wonder what the problem was. The article quoted only part of the statement I provided its author, leaving out a crucial reason for MRFF's concern about Cash's involvement with CCC, and quoted a thoroughly innocuous description of CCC's Military Ministry rather than any one of a slew of available quotes from the organization revealing its true mission and tactics. (The article also described me as a "spokesman" for MRFF, although I'm female -- a mistake I've gotten used to with a name like Chris, but the first time it's ever happened after I've actually spoken to a reporter on the phone.)
So, to clarify why MRFF, in addition to Lt. Cash's statements about Islam, is so concerned about this chaplain's (or any other chaplain's) involvement with or support of CCC's Military Ministry, here's what I posted back in June:
Camp David Chaplain: "First we get the military, then we get the nation"
One thing we do here at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) is to do a quick check on any military chaplain whose name shows up in the news for anything other than a routine reason. So, with the news this morning that President Obama had selected the chapel at Camp David as his church, we did our usual thing of checking to see if any big red flags popped up regarding the chapel's pastor, Lt. Carey Cash. Within minutes, we found Lt. Cash quoted as saying, "First we get the military, then we get the nation," a statement that, needless to say, we considered a big, giant red flag.
Cash made this statement via video in 2005 to the congregation of Grace Church in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. The event was an Independence Day weekend service at which Campus Crusade for Christ's (CCC) Military Ministry Executive Director Bob Dees delivered the sermon, a sermon during which Dees made statements such as:
"I'm here today to testify that we have found the weapons of mass destruction. It is Satan's artillery," and, "...the reality is, too many of our troops are prisoners of war still. Prisoners of war to the master of deceit, these troops do not yet know liberty in Jesus Christ."
During the service, Lt. Cash came up on a video screen, reiterating Dees's CCC talking points, and making the statement, "First we get the military, then we get the nation," a statement that echoes CCC's mission:
"Evangelize and Disciple All Enlisted Members of the US Military. Utilize Ministry at each basic training center and beyond. Transform our culture through the US Military."
According to Dees:
"We must pursue our particular means for transforming the nation -- through the military. And the military may well be the most influential way to affect that spiritual superstructure. Militaries exercise, generally speaking, the most intensive and purposeful indoctrination program of citizens..."
According to CCC's Military Ministry, in a statement referring to their "gateway" strategy of preying on new recruits and cadets while they are worn down by the rigors of training:
"Young recruits are under great pressure as they enter the military at their initial training gateways. The demands of drill instructors push recruits and new cadets to the edge. This is why they are most open to the 'good news.' We target specific locations, like Lackland AFB and Fort Jackson, where large numbers of military members transition early in their career. These sites are excellent locations to pursue our strategic goals."
CCC's goal, which appears again and again in their literature and videos is to transform the U.S. military into "government paid missionaries for Christ," and, with the organization's already prodigious presence at our military's basic training installations, military service academies, and ROTC campuses, they are well on their way to achieving this goal.
As commander in chief, President Obama, rather than giving his tacit endorsement to a chaplain who subscribes to the goals of CCC's Military Ministry by choosing to attend his services, should be ridding the military of such chaplains and organizations.
Since posting this piece, MRFF has found out a bit more about Lt. Cash's completely inappropriate actions as a chaplain, like his driving around Iraq in a Humvee decorated with large crosses. If you don't see the utter stupidity of that, just read Jeff Sharlet's cover story from the May issue of Harper's Magazine, "Jesus killed Mohammed: The crusade for a Christian military," or my recent post, "Top Ten Ways to Convince the Muslims We're On a Crusade."
Lt. Cash also appeared, in uniform, with Pat Robertson on The 700 Club to promote his book A Table in the Presence, the book from which the Washington Post quoted Cash's anti-Islamic statements. The Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), which sells Lt. Cash's book in its online store, immediately capitalized on the attention bestowed on Lt. Cash by the WaPo article, posting "some new, exclusive video and remarks from the man who is preaching God's Word to President Obama at Camp David's Evergreen Chapel" on its website.
CBN also included a link to Lt. Cash's 2003 address to The National Conference on Ministry to the Armed Forces, a speech in which Cash, after recounting the miraculous protection of his unit in Iraq during the heaviest fighting, explained how "our" god, who, after all, had "fought against Satan in the wilderness and defeated his schemes," "knows something about battle."
Even George Bush denounced the anti-Islamic and 'our god is bigger than their god' statements when they came from Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin. So, will President Obama denounce the statements of Lt. Cash, or continue to attend his Camp David services and compliment him on his sermons?