Religious Crackpot of the Month: December 2008

Fairly recently I read this article on the Daily Kos, about a Powerpoint presentation being shown to the US Air Force. It’s pushing religion, obviously – it’s written by the chaplain. I still really have no idea what chaplains are for. I think our university has one and I have no idea what, if anything, he does. But the fact that a chaplain wrote a presentation pushing religion is not remarkable or necessarily bad. What is wrong with this one is that it’s pushing religion – in fact, it’s pushing creationism – as a way of fighting suicide. (Because, you know, nobody religious has ever killed themselves and if you think they have then you must have been watching the lying News or something.)

That’s just not on. Apart from the fact that creationism is anti-science enough without trying to trump psychology as well as biology, geology and astrophysics, this kind of thing is displacing real therapy that can actually prevent these deaths. But the hell with that – why bother preventing deaths if they can be used to promote an ideology?

An obvious question that may have entered your brain by now is “what on Earth does creationism have to do with suicide prevention?” and the answer is of course “nothing”, so a better question is “what does Chaplain Biscotti think creationism has to do with suicide prevention?”. Well. Apparently he has identified a Problem:

It seems that he read that and thought that the solution was to add more spirituality. I cannot fathom how even the most religiously retarded mind could reach that conclusion from that evidence. So what’s his solution?

Dr. Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life,  provides a powerful model for Suicide Prevention, developing leaders, and making troops combat ready and effective.

No, it provides a pack of bullshit. (I haven’t read it, but I can easily surmise it’s a load of rubbish from the fact that Rick Warren wrote it.) After that are a series of laughably inept slides that are reproduced in the Kos article so I won’t bother here. Suffice to say that atheism (specifically, humanism) is equated with selfishness and then The Dreaded Communism, to the point where Darwin is inexplicably listed as one of the leaders of the USSR. It also uses the story of Pat Tillman, an atheist (as far as we know) who was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan, to push the idea of faith in general, including faith in oneself. That’s probably basically good advice, were it not displacing real therapy and attached to the rest of this pro-Christianity propaganda.

Chaplain Biscotti is not the Crackpot of the Month. That honour falls to those in secular roles above him, who allow and promote this, who push religion both as a way of reducing suicide and in general. I’m starting with Rod Bishop who seems to have compiled the presentation that contained Biscotti’s slides. Beyond that it seems to be so systemic as to make naming names as pointless as it is impossible.

Luckily the Military Religious Freedom Foundation is suing the US Military over this. How that lawsuit will go is unclear. I have no idea what the rules are on such things, not that that has anything to do with the result of any lawsuit with religion anywhere near it.