CFI Condemns Use of Religious Materials for Instruction in Nuclear War Ethics

July 29, 2011

The United States Air Force has been citing Christian teachings in its missile officer training sessions by referencing passages from the New Testament, according to recently released documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).


According to an article on Truthout.org, reports show the mandatory Nuclear Ethics and Nuclear Warfare session, which takes place during a missile officer’s first week in training, is led by Air Force chaplains and includes a discussion on St. Augustine’s Christian “Just War Theory.” Also included in the PowerPoint presentation is a slide containing a passage from the Book of Revelation that attempts to explain how Jesus Christ, as the “mighty warrior,” believed war to be “just.”


The presentation goes on to say that there are “many examples of believers [who] engaged in wars in [the] Old Testament” in a “righteous way” and notes there is “no pacifistic sentiment in mainstream Jewish history.”


The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), an advocacy group that watches for signs of religious bias in the military, said more than thirty Air Force officers, a majority of whom describe themselves as practicing Protestants and Roman Catholics, have contacted their group in hopes of working together to have the Christian-themed teachings removed from the Nuclear Ethics and Nuclear Warfare training session.


The Center for Inquiry (CFI) condemns the U.S. military’s use of Biblical rhetoric in a mandatory training program. The use of religious doctrine as a means of justifying actions by officers is wholly inappropriate. Among other things, the use of religious dogma confuses the officer’s ethical obligations with religious commitments, and it constitutes a violation of the separation of church and state. Mandatory military training should be wholly secular and applicable to soldiers and officers of all backgrounds.