January 15, 2021

Shameful, Ridiculous, and Cruel

On Monday, Veterans Day, we ran a post that, it is hoped, caused us to think more perceptively, compassionately, and realistically about matters related to war and military service and have a thoughtful conversation.

Today, another conversation came to my attention on the same topic that could not be more shameful and ridiculous. Furthermore, it models a preposterous approach to Scripture that all sane believers should denounce as completely illegitimate.

Finally, it is pure cruelty toward those who suffer from the effects of war.

The steam came out of my ears when I saw this.



  1. So I’m supposed to accept the biblical exegesis of someone who has to read by moving his finger along the words? Hasn’t he prayed through that dyslexia?

    I shouldn’t mock him — them — but it seems the most restrained response I can make. Watching rich, well-preserved, comfortable people throw Bible verses at those who are suffering might otherwise make me mad.

  2. Marko Requena says

    father forgive them fro they do not know what they are saying

  3. Biblicism. Yuk.

    “If you…”

    That’s not salvation…that’s damnation.

  4. Oh yes David Barton the “scholar.” How many serious scholars do you know who go on word faith talk shows?

  5. David Cornwell says

    Dastardly corrupted interpretation. This is what happens when the bible is put in the hands of ignorance. These people are biblical illiterates.

  6. And with enough faith, people exposed to measles won’t contract it. So no need for vaccine, said Kenneth Copeland, directly or indirectly. Until the outbreak at his church.

  7. Adam Tauno Williams says

    The *very* chilling thing for me is that there is an unequivocal conflation of being in `the Lord’s army` to being in a [one must assume the USA’s] military. So all who serve [I’d prefer to say “employed”] in the US military are guiltless – period. I neither accept that or the premise that the promise recorded in this passage can be appropriated in that way to a modern soldier of a nation that was not yet to exist for thousands of years.

    Ugh. The gross over-simplification at work in this reading is is stunning, breath-taking, chilling, and deliberate. And simply hideous. It is both diabolically manipulative and extremely cruel. It endorses the worst of everything as divine.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      And very convenient for the Godly Soldiers of the future Republic of Gilead.
      And their Godly Commanders giving the orders.
      “GOD WILLS IT!”

  8. I wonder whether the same principle applies to the rape of enemy civilians. Or torture.

    • Unfortunately yes. In fact, the rape of civilians part comes with some direct Biblical sanction. According to Deuteronomy 20: 14

      “As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the LORD your God gives you from your enemies.”

      I’m honestly shocked that verses like this aren’t pulled out to justify torture and abuse of civilians. Considering the commentators’ obvious view that anything the US military does is in the direct service of God.

  9. Jesus wept.

  10. From the Youtube comments:

    “These guys are so right! PTSD is a choice. If you’re suffering from constant nightmare’s and flashbacks that’s only because you haven’t been told that you shouldn’t be. And what’s with these lazy amputees? What? You can’t walk because your legs were blown off in Fallujah? Isn’t that a convenient excuse.”

  11. Doubting Thomas says

    Wouldn’t this apply to Hitler’s AS troops as well?

  12. Their comments regarding PTSD amounts to “just think sunny, Bible-y thoughts and pray about it, and you’ll do just fine,” which is the same exact advice many Christians prescribe for anyone who has clinical depression, anxiety disorders, low self esteem, or any number of other mental health issues or problems.

    I had clinical depression for many, many years – even saw psychiatrists, took medication for it – and prayer and Bible reading brought no healing, cure, or relief.

    I have no idea why not, since the Bible does say if one prays and has faith, God will do whatever you ask. But anyway.

    Prayer/ faith/ church attendance do not cure most people of mental health problems. Many people do find relief or healing through seeing mental health professionals or by taking medications or some other method.

    I was finally helped from reading several books and many blogs about codependency and realized from reading that material I did not have to go through life being a passive little doormat.

    Once I realized I can stand up to people if they are mistreating me, that I don’t have to permit myself to be used and abused, I stopped fearing people (I used to have social anxiety disorder), and I realized I am no worse than anyone else – other people are not more important than me, we’re equal. My self esteem shot up tremendously, and my depression lifted.

    Years of Bible reading, begging God in prayer to deliver me from the panic attacks, low self esteem, and depression did jack squat.

    I think it’s very dangerous to tell people who have mental health disorders that all they need to do is pray about it, or read their Bible, or believe what God says about them in the Bible, or envision themselves as how God sees them, etc. I’m not knocking prayer or Bible reading for anyone in any situation, but I don’t think for most people doing that stuff alone is what helps them. It sure did not help me with my problems.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      In my days at Cal Poly, I called that attitude “Five Fast Praise-the-LOORDs Will Fix Anything!”

      And it only came from those who had NEVER seen the elephant for real.

      P.S. As someone active in various fandoms, I’ve run into a LOT of fannish types with PTSD symptoms who had never been in the military, let alone in actual combat. A lot of them came out of abusive childhoods and school situations.

  13. They are assuming that PTSD has something to do with guilt and for some maybe it does but for alot of folks Im sure the trauma of just being in a warzone is enoiugh to wreck a human being. Unfortunately these guys are failing to see how their already faulty application of this scripture can be misconstrued even further. This is the same thing that was said to get recruits for the Crusades. War against the enemies of God absolved a soldier of his sins committed prior to and during battle. Also similar to the Jihadists responsible for 9/11 who were seen in strip clubs and doing other unsavory things prior to the hijackings. Jihad wipes out the wrong and guarantees paradise. The promises in the Bible are for the folks the promises were spoken to and not just any believer claiming them for themselves.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > The promises in the Bible are for the folks the promises were spoken to

      +1. Ditto.

    • Agree completely with your point.

      But, I do feel the need to clarify one point. Most Muslims do not interpret the Koran or the Hadiths to say that no matter what you do before/during a “war” is expunged by the act of dying in the name of god.

      But I must truly agree with the observation that extremists, whether Christian or Muslim or Buddhist, attribute what would be classified by the religion as unholy behavior to the freedom found in killing in a just war.

  14. These are the same kind of people that are saying they are going to take over all areas of society and transfer the wealth of the ungodly to the righteous for “God’s kingdom.”

  15. One of my brothers is an infantryman in the US Army, and he is hardcore. But having to cut the melted bodies of civies who were trapped in their humvee by an ied and burned to death could wreck anyone. Those who make light of PTSD are ignorant and harmful.

  16. In my understanding, PTSD often comes from having a healthy conscience, and from the trauma of survivor’s guilt or from having taken part in an unjust act such as the killing of civilians. Those who have no conscience, such as sociopaths, will have no feeling of guilt, misplaced or otherwise, because that emotion isn’t available to them, and they will not suffer PTSD. In a sense those people are truly “guiltless” but that isn’t what the bible is talking about.

    I suspect Copeland means to comfort people, but he’s misinformed and may compound their feeling of guilt. I won’t even comment on Barton.

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > In my understanding, PTSD often comes from having a healthy conscience, and from the trauma of
      > survivor’s guilt or from having taken part in an unjust act such as the killing of civilians.

      No, this is incorrect. PTSD is Post-Traumatic-***Stress***-Disorder. It is not “guilt”. It is akin to a magnified version of Hyper-Vigilance disorder. It is brought on my living under extremely stressful circumstances for l-o-n-g periods of time; and the repeated exposure to, under those stressful situations, traumatic [either physical or psychological] events.

      I am certainly no fan of the military and I do not `support` in any way, beyond compulsory taxation, those who volunteer to engage in wars of empire – which is every war in my life-time so far – *BUT* relating PTSD to guilt is incorrect and unfair. A sociopath[*1] can certainly suffer from PTSD, as can a “normal” person.

      [*1] “sociopath” represents someone at the high-end of a range, it is not really a diagnosis [like most such categories]. Most people are on that range somewhere lower than that, but many people who score above average lead productive well-integrated lives.

      > I suspect Copeland means to comfort people

      I have doubts about that. His comments are, at very best, intellectually reckless.

      • Adam, I don’t think I said that PTSD is guilt, but the disorder may come from feelings of guilt related to the stress/trauma or, as you said, exposure to the stressful/traumatic event.

        In some of the reading I’ve done lately the authors relate sociopathy to lack of conscience, and that such people do not suffer PTSD. People with healthy, working consciences often do suffer.

        I won’t argue with you about what Copeland intends. Only God knows.

    • I just finished reading Patience Mason’s book “Recovering from the War” – as reference, her husband Robert wrote “Chickenhawk” which I think is one of the best books about the Vietnam war.

      Based on hundreds of interviews with actual combat veterans from different wars and her own personal experience dealing with it with her own husband, I found it to be the most complete, thoughtful, compassionate, easy-o-understand and thought-provoking work on the subject of PTSD.

      Bottom line – PTSD is not something folks just “get over” and requires patience, understanding, skilled treatment and grace from those around the effected individual.

  17. being from a family with many military members, I strongly suspect that Mr. Copeland and Mr. Barton have NOT served their country in battle, or seen the effects of war up close . . .

    if they both could experience for one day what some of our soldiers live with, I don’t think we would see these two being so smug as they appear to be . . .

    there are days when the mean-spiritedness is profoundly painful to watch . . .

    • It was okay when Barton remained a quack in history because he caused no physical harm. It is scary dangerous now when he feels equipped as an expert in combat-related psychological trauma. And Copeland – with this wonder-working answer that God will fix everything instantly with a Bible verse instead of the ugly, messy and time-consuming process needed to heal deeply-buried layers of emotional injury. Evangelicals do a wondrous job beating holy war drums, but the harm doesn’t stop when the soldiers redeploy home. These ministers who acted like recruiters in spiritually exploiting the nation’s youth, should be the first responsible to help the young men and women they have put through. But what veterans get from people who safely sat out wars in seminary class is a patriotic sermon offering a free healing from flashbacks and night sweats by reading through the Psalms. Killing other humans is what trained soldiers do by personal necessity, but it comes with a heavy psychological cost. Ask any soldier about collateral damage, or his emotions upon finding a wallet full of family photographs on an enemy he has just killed. With advice like this, no wonder the same soldiers who followed the flag of Christ into battle often find themselves chased back home by demons.

  18. You sure this didn’t originate from ‘Duffel Blog’?

  19. I am disappointed in you Chaplain Mike. Don’t you know this video can cause acute cognitive dissonance? Which is really dangerous until you pray it away.

    @Christine – I see no mention of military service in Barton’s wikipedia entry. Or Copeland’s.

    But wow! I am amazed at all the assumptions strung together in that video!

    • Hi srs

      I did look up their bibliographies to try to find out, but they were inconclusive about military service. Copeland’s mentioned his being a pilot, but there was no mention of him being in the service as a pilot.

      Why do people who follow fundamentalism make so very many assumptions? Even about the salvation of themselves and the damnation of others? About things only God can know?

      Yes, I too have seen some people who are evangelical fundamentalists make the most astonishing assumptions with a straight face. There is no Christian humility in doing that. There is ‘something else’ going on and it is not Christ-honoring, no.

    • Don’t you know this video can cause acute cognitive dissonance? Which is really dangerous until you pray it away.

      That is good.

      Seriously though, this is just awful. Telling people who have PTSD not to “feel bad” because the Bible says so is so insensitive.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        It’s the Attitude “Five Fast Praise-the-LOORDs Will Solve Everything” (and if it doesn’t, either You Were Never Saved or You Have Some Secret Sin). Been there, still got the scars.

  20. Those two guys are certifiable whack-jobs.

    May the Light of the TRUE Father, Son, and Holy Spirit drive the darkness from their minds.

  21. It is like watching teens do free word association when stoned.

    Hero – “OOOOOOO. I know a verse – Hebrews . . . ”

    Condemnation – “My turn – I know a verse that says there is no condemnation . . . .”


  22. Being that I am not from the evangelical tradition I try not to call out ” what yinz guys are doing over there…”

    But for me… this is a case of applied Bible, something extremely irritating, because you know, every answer is found in Scripture…. and we’ll find some scripture that will fit our already drawn conclusion….

    BTW… I am a conservative guy… but this kind of stuff… as with the wackiness on the left that makes liberals roll their eyes, just makes me shake my head. And yes, there is wackiness in my tradition too so evangelicals don’t have the monopoly on this…

  23. I hesitate to join the feeding frenzy here except to say these are two media guys pandering to their particular niche audience. That there are those who look to them for real scriptural interpretation and encouragement dismays me, but not as much as the damage they do to the name “conservative” (or the name “Texan” or, for that matter, the name “Christian”) by being exposed as fools on this website. Frankly, I’d rather that CM had managed to ignore them all together.

    • Unfortunately, Baron is looked to by many in the dominionist crowd for answers – and mroe.

      The attitude on display is cruel and *more* than deserves to be called out, imo.

    • I’m one Texan that is extremely embarrassed by these yahoos.

  24. Amazing how two men who present themselves as Biblical authorities are so far from the truth.

    Kenneth Copeland’s teachings are so far off the mark as to be ridiculous. His own mentor, Kenneth Hagin Sr who founded the bulk of the word-faith movement rebuked him and turned on the excesses of the modern prosperity gospel he largely founded.

    I spent a few years in one of Kenneth Hagin’s followers churches and slowly grew to understand how ridiculous it was. Copeland is just one of a number of Hagin’s disciples who made it big.

    God is Santa according to Copeland and his ilk.

  25. These are sick, psychotic men…good thing they have not been or are in charge of the DoD or our gov – because what they’re implicitly supporting here are soldiers and leaders without conscience…and without any post-OT/Jesus perspective.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      These are sick, psychotic men…good thing they have not been or are in charge of the DoD or our gov…

      That will have to wait until Reconstructionism Establishes a Truly Christian(TM) Nation.

      “For Holy State, we have learned,
      Endeth in Holy War…”
      — Rudyard Kipling

      And soldiers and leaders without conscience are required for genocide kill orders.
      Just ask the NKVD or Allgemeine-SS.

  26. Not many of us should be teachers. Teachers will be judged by a higher standard. I feel sorry for these guys.

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