August 3rd, 2011
07:50 PM ET

Air Force: Bible and nukes don't mix

By, Barbara Starr and Jennifer Rizzo, CNN

Washington (CNN)–The Air Force has suspended an ethics briefing for new missile launch officers after concerns were raised about the briefing's heavy focus on religion.

The briefing, taught for nearly 20 years by military chaplains at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, is intended to train Air Force personnel to consider the ethics and morality of launching nuclear weapons - the ultimate doomsday machine.

Many of the slides in the 43 page presentation use a Christian justification for war, displaying pictures of saints like Saint Augustine and using biblical references.

"Abraham organized an Army to rescue Lot," one slide read, referring to the story of the Hebrew patriarch and his nephew found in the book of Genesis.

"Revelation 19:11 Jesus Christ is the mighty warrior," another slide read.

The Air Force halted the class last week after 31 missile launch officers reported the religious nature of the briefing to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a watchdog group which tries to ensure religious freedom among the troops.

"There were several things that they found disgusting," Mikey Weinstein founder of the foundation said. "The first was the fact that there is actually a slide that makes it clear that they're trying to teach that, under fundamentalist Christian doctrine, war is a good thing."

Weinstein said his group had to act.

"We were literally blown away by what we saw on the slide presentation. And one of the first things I did was to contact some of the most senior leadership for the Air Force in the Pentagon and made it very clear that this has to stop immediately," Weinstein said.

The Air Force said headquarters officials were not aware of the religious component of the ethics course, despite it being taught for nearly two decades by chaplains.  The matter came to their attention they said when they received an inquiry by Truthout.org, an online publication which initially reported the story.

Here is a link to the story and associated slides CNN obtained from Truthout.org.

"That is when we became aware of concerns about the course and our commander here reviewed the course and decided immediately that it was not appropriate for what we want to do and suspended using that briefing," David Smith, an Air Education Training Command spokesman said.

The briefing was meant to mimic an academic setting where concerns could be voiced, according to Smith who claims chaplains were used to oversee the briefing for that reason.

"A chaplain is not required to take action if concerns are voiced," Smith said.

A review is underway at the base to see if an ethics briefing is needed at all.

"Ethics discussions are an important part of professional military development and it is especially important for our airmen who are training to work with nuclear weapons because they have to make hard decisions," Smith said.  "We are looking to see if we need a briefing like this... but it will not be a religion based briefing."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church and state • Military • United States

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soundoff (1,189 Responses)
  1. Scaredshiiteless

    Wow, you heartless besterds are amazing. God or not this shiite is evil. Maybe you're not worried cause you're atheists. If there is a hell though, I'm sure most of the posters here will see the 7th tier. Maybe you're already in hell, living in your hate.

    August 4, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • William Demuth

      Dude, stop fearing the dark!

      Life is good and you don't need Bronze Age Super Heros to save you.

      Free your mind, and your spirit will follow!

      August 4, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • Albert Camus

      "Bronze Age Super Heros"

      Who hopes for that?

      August 4, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
  2. Rainer Braendlein

    Short outlook on history:

    The Roman Empire (predecessor of the Western World) became Christian by the impact of emperor Constantin. Since Constantin the Roman Empire protected the Christian Church.

    The favoured political system on earth is the Western World, because it promotes the happy life of its inhabitants and hinders nobody to join the Christian Church. It would be desireable to complete the parlamentary rule by a pious Royalty (similar to the Netherlands, Norway, Britain, etc..). A pious Royalty could cause a further stabilisation of the Western countries.

    Seemingly the cold war (conflict between Western World and Atheistic World) is over, and Russia seems to become Christian again after a long period of atheism.

    The cold war is over, but the conflict between Western World and Islamic Empire germinates

    August 4, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • LivinginVA

      "The Western World" is not a political system.

      August 4, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • William Demuth


      You do understand that when the Christians took over Rome the whole thing collapsed and began a Dark Age considered the darkest in human history?

      You Germans do so love to re-write history!

      August 4, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @William Demuth

      Demuth, you are incurable!

      August 4, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Peace2All

      @Rainer Braendlein

      Hallo Rainer...

      Hmmm... an argument could be made that 'you' are "incurable" as opposed to @Willy D.

      While I'm certainly not in agreement with his (Willy D.'s) call to take out all religious folk in the world, however he seems to know his sh-it when he is posting.



      August 4, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • William Demuth


      All I express is a willingness, not an intent.

      It will force them to the bargaining table.

      If they stay out of government, pay their taxes, lock up their deviants, become moral members of modernity and control their lunatics they can worship whateve Bronze Age Cult Leader they prefer.

      But if they come near me or my kids I will happily engage in genocide against them

      August 4, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Willy D.

      Well, I understand and can certainly respect that point of view.



      August 4, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
  3. Colin

    A conflict has broken out somewhere in the World between two nuclear armed nations. You do not know who it is between or why it broke out. A person is sitting on a chair at one of the combatant countries’ headquarters with the ability to launch a nuclear strike. All you get to pick is the person’s religion. Would you feel safer that he is more likely to act rationally if he is

    (i) A deeply religious Muslim
    (ii) An Orthodox Jew
    (iii) An evangelical Christian; or
    (iv) A secular humanist

    August 4, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • William Demuth

      I pick the Muslim.

      He would strap it on his back and get on a bus in Tel-Aviv.

      This kills many birds with one stone.

      August 4, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • Peace2All

      Oh... @Willy D. what are we gonna' do with you !


      August 4, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • William Demuth

      Sorry peace, just whipping the fidels again!

      August 4, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • Nonimus

      (v) Jainist (Jain?)
      (vi) already dead

      August 4, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • Clint

      Duhhhhhh! IV of course.

      August 6, 2011 at 12:35 am |
  4. Peace2All

    One way of getting someone to be able to annihilate millions of people is to indoctrinate them and get them to believe in "end time" doctrine, just as they have been doing through 'warrior Jesus' and the Book of Revelations.

    This is crazy wing-nut religious drivel at it's finest.


    August 4, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • Colin

      Hey Peace, how u been, buddy?

      August 4, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • Peace2All


      Just fine, mate... How's bout you...?


      August 4, 2011 at 10:22 am |
    • Colin

      I'm good. Working and writing my book, as usual.

      August 4, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • Peace2All


      Good that you are well. Did I see correctly..."writing my book" ...?


      August 4, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • Colin

      You did. I am writing a book.

      August 4, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • Peace2All


      I guess I was inquiring... as to the content/ti-tle of your book, as I would be very interested in anything you are writing about.

      Are you willing/able to share anything about it...? If not, I respect that and understand.

      However, if you have a link to your website, where you are writing posts and/or snippits from your upcoming book, please provide a 'link'

      Good luck brother... very happy for you ! 😀



      August 4, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • St. George

      You'd think they would have changed their game then, seeing as it hasn't worked like that for the past twenty years. Idiot.

      August 23, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • St. George

      Whoops - 2000 years I mean. Forgot about your asinine assertion about the Book of Revelations.

      August 23, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
  5. Fin

    The Air Force has no need for the made-up fairy tale stories in the bible.

    August 4, 2011 at 9:53 am |
  6. CW

    Well Well Well,

    See that the atheist made to the blog. Keep on sprewing this nonsense as you do...The Bible and its teachings have been around since the world...6,000 years...since God began using man to write it..don't worry christianity will live on way way way after me and you are gone....by the way you'll have your chance to argue your way of thinking in front of God on Judgement day.

    August 4, 2011 at 9:22 am |
    • William Demuth

      So the earth is 6000 years old?

      My My you ARE an idiot aren't you!

      Third grade kids know how much bull that is.

      Why do you want people to be so poorly informed? Is it easier to cheat or meolest them?

      August 4, 2011 at 9:31 am |
    • UncleM

      @CW – your ignorance is truly scary.

      August 4, 2011 at 9:35 am |
    • Laughing


      It's funny you think so, because I think the pope would even agree with me on this one that Christianity has only been around for 1/3 as long, I guess unless you include the Torah. But then again, since christ invalidated everything in the OT why exactly do you still use it?

      August 4, 2011 at 9:48 am |
    • Free

      Oh, I agree that Christianity will still be around after you and I have gone, but it will have had to evolve to those times as it has been evolving since Jesus' day. Like other human creations such as fashion it never stays the same for very long, and current fundamentalist leanings may not be in vogue for mush longer. There already have been some pols of young Christians indicating a swing away from their parent's exclusionary views, so you might not like the turn it takes.

      August 4, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • J.W

      If the Bible was supposed to be a history book it would have been called "History of the entire world from beginning to end" instead of the Bible.

      August 4, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • Frogist

      @CW: Any opinion on the story? Or are you here just to proselytize?

      August 4, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • Clint

      Non religious folks were around before christianity was invented. That's one of the few facts about christianity that's provable.

      August 6, 2011 at 12:37 am |
  7. Slumberjack

    For me, I think the most unsatisifying thing about being an atheist is the knowledge that there isn't a hell for religious people to go to when they die. Beyond that however, is the sad realization that the religious nonsense doesn't actually go away when they croak. They indoctrinate their children to continue tormenting humanity with immoral prolestyzing and ignorant fearmongering.

    August 4, 2011 at 9:07 am |
    • William Demuth

      I understand, but I have found a solution.

      We need to give them hell HERE.

      August 4, 2011 at 9:20 am |
    • Slumberjack

      I think it ultimately will come down to deciding in favour of a paradigm of life and enlightenment over that of a world governed by a paradigm of religion, but at the very steep price of rebellion against it. More than three thousand years of one form of unremitting nonsense after another should be enough to inform any thoughtful analysis that the prospect for some future model of peaceful co-existence will never amount to anything more than an ephemeral state of affairs, due to the fact that these death cults by their very nature relentlessly connives to turn us into them, while making plans to enslave, oppress and destroy those who would object.

      August 4, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • William Demuth


      WOW you are almost as optimistic as me!

      Well, party on, because our ignorance has doomed us. Just find something to bring you joy till we kill each other.

      I find mine in sleeping with the wives of Born Again Christians. Something really cool in hearing them scream Jesus as they climax.

      August 4, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • Slumberjack

      @William Demuth: "Just find something to bring you joy till we kill each other. I find mine in sleeping with the wives of Born Again Christians."

      At some point we'll have to think about conscripting fresh crews to take on those wide stance born again husbands.

      August 4, 2011 at 11:49 am |
  8. William Demuth

    I get such a kick out of the Christian nuts who come here to bash America!

    Most of them probably caugt beatings most of their time in school because they were creepy, so they come here hoping to be amongst OTHER creppy folks.

    Do us a favor and stay in whatever hellhole countries you hail from, we have PLENTY of degenerate Chrisitans here.

    August 4, 2011 at 8:30 am |
  9. Pauline

    By the way, I'm from a military family and some of my family members died in resistance(partisan works). In case anyone wonders why I care so much about American military. =D

    August 4, 2011 at 7:57 am |
    • William Demuth

      Your a FROG?

      Sheesh, I knew you were a wacko, but now your a FROG too?

      Your countrymen must loathe you even more than we do!

      August 4, 2011 at 8:32 am |
    • Paula

      Yes, atheists hate every truth-teller regardless of their nation-nality.

      August 5, 2011 at 4:56 am |
  10. Pauline

    Americans should stop thinking about the amount of salaries. There are far more important things. Literally.

    August 4, 2011 at 7:43 am |
    • bulger

      wow, that's deep.

      August 4, 2011 at 10:02 am |
    • Free

      Oh, I think a lot of ministers keep tabs on how much their t ithe-givers actually make annually, and guilt accordingly.

      August 4, 2011 at 10:11 am |
    • Paula

      @Free: Not true. Christian ministers only love them and teach them the truth. Ti-thing benefits the givers themselves. Proper Christians do double or tri-ple ti-thing.

      August 5, 2011 at 4:54 am |
    • Hie Thee to a Nunnery


      Don't you have a floor to sweep or a shawl to knit or something? Your namesake, Paul of Tarsus, would burst a blood vessel to see you preaching all the time on these forums.

      August 5, 2011 at 5:05 am |
  11. Reality

    Another view:

    "While claiming to represent America and purportedly seeking to “get the truth out,” Truthout.org conceals who they really are: A cornucopia of anti-American, anti-Semitic, pro-Palestine sedition. Its primary purpose: dumping extreme, Far Left rhetoric into its own little private black hole on the Internet – to anyone and everyone desperate enough to read its acerbic pontifications."


    And from IRS Form 990 for 2010, Marc Ash, CEO of Truthout, was replaced by Maya Schenwar. Maybe Mark's salary of $212,354/yr got a bit too much for the group to absorb???

    August 4, 2011 at 7:40 am |
    • William Demuth

      You do understand that Palestinians are Semites, right?

      You can't be Anti-Semetic and Pro-Palestinian. it is literaly impossible.

      Semites are a race, and being part of a religion is a CHOICE.

      If all the Isralelis became Muslim tomorrow they would still be Semites and vice versa.

      August 4, 2011 at 8:59 am |
  12. HisStory

    America, unless you go back to the Biblical priciples, you will never stay strong. There are over 600 commands in the OT Bible summarized in 10 commands, and over 1,000 commands in the NT Bible summarized in two commands and one great commission.

    August 4, 2011 at 7:13 am |
    • William Demuth

      Why spout this puke?

      Your faith is a con game, like a Ponzi scheme, and you are running out of fresh victims.

      Go crawl under a rock, because your religion is dying in front of your eyes.

      August 4, 2011 at 9:29 am |
    • Paula

      William, it's the West that is dying, not Christianity. Christianity flourishes where normal humans are the majority.

      August 5, 2011 at 4:58 am |
    • Clint

      Normal humans are those that see religion for what it really is. Everyone else has some learning....and some appologising to do.

      August 6, 2011 at 12:43 am |
  13. Pauline

    America, your strength was your good morality. Where is it now? Don't become a nation of perverts. You have too good godly legacies. Those who mock their own conscience never have a happy ending. Beloved America, be honorable and fight against the immorality(Sodomy) and mass murder(abortion) within you till the world's end.

    August 4, 2011 at 7:01 am |
    • Reality

      So says the crazy lady of many names. She reminds one of her favorite "nut job".

      To wit:

      Jesus was also a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

      Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Most contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospels being mostly fiction.

      Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European, white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

      So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, magic/preacher man would do or say?

      August 4, 2011 at 7:33 am |
    • Pauline

      @Reality: I got many names only because of evil atheists like you. It's nice no one stalks you because you are one of them. Can you do anything else other than blaspheming? You secular Americans are suicidal – totally crazy. What do you gain by adding hellish sins on your already abysmal stupid, immoral life?

      August 4, 2011 at 7:41 am |
    • Yo

      I bet Pauline you don't even know that it is about male and female doing it. Women giving men b l o w j o b s and men putting their d i c k s up the woman's butt.

      August 4, 2011 at 8:15 am |
    • Pauline

      God makes lots of gay animals. I wonder why he does that. I like animals.

      August 4, 2011 at 10:04 am |
    • The Original

      The third Pauline is a fake.

      August 5, 2011 at 4:50 am |
  14. Pauline

    US military, what's your purpose of being the mightiest and invincible? Look, your nation is collapsing by greedy people and being filled with selfish kids, other planets are too far away to reach, Planet Earth is crumbling down by irreversable pollution, barbaric nations are hating America(they don't know the reason why) more than ever, your wives don't respect you... You need to stop and look back. You must live for the glory of God and fulfill your destiny by liberating the oppressed until the last human on earth gets freedom and human rights. That's true American dream. Stop using filthy language and dangerous experiments. Trust in God again. Listen to women when they say the right things.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:54 am |
    • Pauline

      oh f-uck I typed that sh!t wrong. I'm such a stupid b!tch.

      August 4, 2011 at 10:08 am |
    • The Original

      The second Pauline is a fake. Filthy atheists.

      August 5, 2011 at 4:48 am |
    • Clint

      Filthy religious nut jobs.

      (oh and I'm not an atheist, I just think calling people names is wrong no matter who you are, but especially if your a "loving christian" .....

      August 6, 2011 at 12:47 am |
  15. Pauline

    American soldiers, don't take orders from women or let them fight in battlefields. If you have a female superior, give your life silently to excel her and protect her. You become weaker and feminized in every way by taking orders from women. Stop it. Excel women in morality, intelligence and ability. Don't be lazy or purposeless. You were not born to take orders from women. Be a real man.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:45 am |
    • Civiloutside

      See, here's the thing: some women are more capable officers than some men. This is not my opinion, it is a fact. When people's lives are on the line, they should be taking orders from the most capable *person* available.

      August 4, 2011 at 9:43 am |
    • Summary

      Civiloutside, it was stupid of you men to allow women to be more capable. It's a mark of civilization in regression.

      August 5, 2011 at 4:48 am |
    • Civiloutside

      Actually, it is stupid for any society to live in denial of the *fact* that some women are more capable than some men, jua as some men are more capable than some women. "Allow" has nothing to do with it. If some men simply *are* less capable leaders, then the only way for them to *always be* the leaders is through oppression, and the only effect is to lower the overall capability of the society.

      August 5, 2011 at 8:50 am |
    • Clint

      Funny...my battalion commander at ft Lewis was a Woman. She was also a combat pilot, flying blackhawk helicopters.

      (she was also, smart, funny, and quite frankly oen of the most beautiful women I've ever known. She was as clsoe to perfect as I've ever seen....and that just made me respect her as a Colonel and a human being even more.)

      August 6, 2011 at 12:51 am |
    • Clint

      IE, Pauline doesn't have aclue, oh wait, we knew that already.......

      August 6, 2011 at 12:52 am |
  16. Summary

    Don't use nukes, but USA must keep them to maintain the power balance in the world. Even USA gives up nukes, villain nations will never give them up. They rather bomb everything than letting a good guy takes control. And USA needs to stay as the mightiest so the bully countries won't oppress weaker ones. Why USA is a good guy: it concerns the well-being of everyone on earth. But who knew Captain America would go down by immorality? The American tragedy.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:39 am |
    • Frogist

      Just saw Captain America this weekend... I have no problem with him going down... by immorality or otherwise!

      August 4, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • Peace2All


      Yeah... he went down, however did ya' stay through the credits at the end...?

      Because if ya' did, then you know he is coming back in the 'Avengers.' Yes, ole capt. America will be back with Iron Man(Robert Downey, jr.) , Thor, etc...

      Should be a good one if you are into the comic book hero types.



      August 4, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Peace2All: I'd like it if he went down even more if he was played by Jensen Ackles! Ooh boy that man is hott! Anyways...
      Yes, I stayed thru the credits! Cannot wait for The Avengers. I am not the biggest Robert Downey Jr fan but it will be fun watching Tony Stark goof around with Thor. A friend of mine said there might also be an appearance by Bruce Banner... now that would be amazing!

      August 4, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • Peace2All


      BTW-Left you posting quoting the article from 'truthout.org. Please go find it under the thread where you said you had no access to the article because of your connection.


      August 4, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
  17. Mark from Middle River

    Interesting. When the first Atomic Bomb was tested J.Robert Oppenheimer, Jewish son to Jewish parents, remarked later that it brought to mind words from the Bhagavad Gita:

    "Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."

    August 4, 2011 at 6:35 am |
    • Peace2All

      Hello Mark ! Hope that you are well.

      Not sure where you were going with this quote, but I will add that having read some of the context behind that statement made, was a basically "Oh sh-it... what have we done" !


      August 4, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  18. Summary

    The Christian Western Civilization did all the thinking, studying, struggling, revolutions and reformations for the rest of the world, so that all we need is to receive their wisdom and orderliness. Now the West is going down with immoral secularism, the outlook of the game is drastically changing. God punishes godless nations/civilizations.

    Certain villains get lessons only by forced halting by external forces. Unarmed police gets no respect by criminals. USA and Israel must maintain the superior military capacity to protect the world from collapse. The evil mankind of Planet Earth never gives you break to be duh. Stop being naive.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:33 am |
    • Sherminator

      To bad god is imaginary and you people watch to much television which is given you a distortion of modern America. If you want to believe in fairy tales go to church, synagogue, temple, monastery, mosque or watch a Disney movie.

      August 4, 2011 at 9:03 am |
    • Summary

      American non-believers are evil and stupid. They have no morality for watching Disney all the time.

      August 5, 2011 at 4:45 am |
  19. Summary

    Summary: The Bible makes any readers and appliers the best kind of warriors on earth. It gives the reasons why we fight, whom we should deal with and how, when to take up arms and when not to. It enables one to fight against any injustice and bullies. Naive Americans became so immoral they lost sane judgment. Please give up your real estate to your creditors.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:32 am |
    • William Demuth

      But it makes Chritians unable to prevent their own crucifiction?

      Strange indeed.

      August 4, 2011 at 8:34 am |
    • Pauline

      The bible teaches really good ways to kill and burn animals for no reason other than to make god happy. Soldiers could learn a lot of killing and maiming techniques from the bible.

      August 4, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • Summary

      The above Pauline is a fake. The Bible alone set up the justice in the world, none of the raw barbaric Westerners.

      August 5, 2011 at 4:43 am |
  20. HisStory

    Military can never maintain strength without a strong sense of purpose and moral discipline. The US Air Force needs the Bible education. Filthy language is bad for brains; it's a miracle US military survived this far.

    August 4, 2011 at 6:30 am |
    • William Demuth

      Where do you live? I want to make sure your hellhole is targeted for 10 megatons.

      August 4, 2011 at 8:33 am |
    • Peace2All


      ..."Military can never maintain strength without a strong sense of purpose and moral discipline."

      I'm reasonably o.k. with that statement, of course depending on what you mean exactly. Overall... o.k.

      ..." The US Air Force needs the Bible education. "

      This however is ridiculous.


      August 4, 2011 at 11:20 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.