Every once in a while, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) stumbles into a story that's so crazy that even we have a hard time believing it's true, and, it just happened again. But, before getting into this story, I would be remiss in not extending, on behalf of MRFF, a sincere thank you to former Navy chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt, without whose recent actions we never would have paid attention to an organization whose members include some of the most bizarre and dangerous chaplains we have ever come across in the U.S. military.
For those who don't remember the story of Gordon Klingenschmitt, he's the ex-chaplain who made headlines a few years ago for his publicity stunts for Jesus, such as holding a hunger strike over military chaplains being able to pray in Jesus' name. Klingenschmitt claimed, and continues to claim, that he was booted out of the Navy because of the form of his prayers, when, in reality, he deliberately got himself court-martialed by disobeying a direct order not to appear in uniform at a political rally, an activity that is strictly prohibited by military regulations. But, Klingenschmitt needed to get himself court-martialed in order to embark on his new career as a martyr, and seizing the opportunity to disobey this direct order would do the trick, so he did it.
So, here's how Gordon Klingenschmitt led MRFF into the astonishing story that follows. About a month ago, both MRFF and Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) began receiving a lot of emails about Klingenscmitt using a photo of himself in his Navy uniform and identifying himself as "Chaplain" in order to promote political causes and solicit money, a perceivable violation of Title 18 of the U.S. Code, so MRFF and AU decided to issue a joint letter to the Chief of Naval Operations requesting an investigation into Klingenschmitt's current activities. This letter led Klingenschmitt to do two things. One was to issue an imprecatory prayer calling on his followers to essentially pray for the deaths of AU's Barry Lynn and MRFF's Mikey Weinstein and their families. The other was to post a very strange disclaimer on his website, in which he called Lynn and Weinstein "bone-heads," and defended his right to call himself "Chaplain," stating that he has a current endorsement as a "Chaplain and Evangelist to America" from the Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches (CFGC). It was this statement that led MRFF to take a closer look at the CFGC, a chaplain endorsing agency headed by retired Army colonel and chaplain Jim Ammerman, and authorized by the Department of Defense to provide the ecclesiastical endorsement required by the military for all military chaplains, with several hundred of its chaplains currently serving in all branches of the military.
Right off the bat, MRFF found the expected stuff -- which alone provides ample reason to demand that the DoD revoke the chaplain endorsing authority of Jim Ammerman and the CFGC.
CFGC should be disqualified as an endorsing agency because of its repeated denigration of all other religions and Christian denominations that aren't Charismatic or Pentecostal, which is completely contrary to Department of Defense Instruction Number 1304.28.
They go after Muslims, Wiccans, and other minority religions, of course.
For example, the CFGC's September 2006 newsletter included an article titled "Can a Good Muslim be a Good American?," which gave 10 reasons why the answer is "no," including:
"Because he cannot accept the American Constitution since it is based on Biblical principles and he believes the Bible to be corrupt." and "Because when we declare 'one nation under God,' the Christian's God is loving and kind, while Allah is never referred to as heavenly father, nor is he ever called love in the Quran's 99 excellent names."
Based on reasons such as these, the article concludes that:
"Therefore after much study and deliberation, perhaps we should be very suspicious of all muslims in this country. They obviously cannot be both 'good' Muslims and good Americans."
And Jim Ammerman was also the chaplain endorser who revoked the CFGC endorsement of Don Larsen, the chaplain who converted from Christianity to Wicca. Endorsing agencies have an agreement to keep the current endorsement of a chaplain who is converting to another religion in effect while the chaplain is in the process of obtaining their endorsement from their new religion or denomination, but CFGC refused to extend this courtesy in the case of Chaplain Larsen. This is what Ammerman said about Wicca and Chaplain Larsen, from a Washington Post article by Alan Cooperman.
"Jim Ammerman, a retired Army colonel who is president and founder of the Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches, acknowledges that there is a longstanding agreement among endorsers not to summarily pull the papers of a chaplain who wants to make a valid switch.
"'But if it's not a valid thing, all bets are off,' Ammerman says, adding that Wiccans "run around naked in the woods" and "draw blood with a dagger" in their ceremonies. 'You can't do that in the military. It's against good order and discipline.'"
The CFGC is also clearly anti-Catholic, describing Catholics in its July 2007 newsletter as being "bound by traditions and ceremonies, and without a real thirst for the truth."
MRFF could have stopped there, and almost did, but then we stumbled upon an Army major named James F. Linzey, one of the military chaplains currently endorsed by Ammerman and the CFGC, and that's where we found ourselves entering what seemed like another universe.
What we found was that both Maj. Linzey and Jim Ammerman belong to a Topeka, Kansas based organization called the Prophecy Club, and have been speakers at Prophecy Club events and put out videos through this organization. Finding out that Maj. Linzey had made the local news when, in New Orleans with the National Guard after Hurricane Katrina, he performed an exorcism to cast the demons from the city was nothing compared to this.
The Prophecy Club promotes a plethora of conspiracy theories against the U.S. government -- everything from 9-11 being a government conspiracy to the entire U.S. government being an illegal government founded by the Illuminati and satanists. Among the many Prophecy Club conspiracy theories is one claiming that the mainstream Protestant churches in America have been taken over by demonic world bankers as part of their diabolical plan to control the world. This one is a favorite of Linzey, who proclaimed in a Prophecy Club event video:
"Remember, the demons believe in Jesus Christ. They believe in the truth -- see that's Jesus Christ -- and they tremble. And so the demons inside these greedy world bankers are trembling that Americans would come to find the truth about what they're all about. They are as scared as little tiny mice running up and down the curtains in the cathedrals. Now, they're in the cathedrals. They're in the churches. They're controlling pulpits. That's how mainstream Protestantism has declined. Because they invaded the churches, and the mainstream Protestant churches stopped hearing the truth. So they want to squelch the truth by taking over the church. Now, this is not in my notes, but I was inspired by God because these are demonic, dastardly creatures from the pit of hell, and we need to stomp them out."
Other Prophecy Club videos say similar things about mainstream Protestants. For example, they have a video declaring that all translations of the Bible other than the KJV are the work of Satan to confuse people, so any Protestant denominations using these Bibles are deluded.
Looking further into the Prophecy Club and its videos, we kept coming across references to an old video by Jim Ammerman titled "Imminent Military Takeover of the U.S.A.," which was reportedly circulating among militia groups. Thanks to a friend of MRFF, we were able to get a copy. The date of this video is 1999, but its message -- carried on by Ammerman's protégé Maj. Linzey -- has not changed.
The following was the promo for one of Maj. Linzey's several appearances on a radio show called "The Edge."
"Major James F. Linzey; U.S. Army Officer, Chaplain, and director of Operation Freedom, exposes how the satanic forces in the U.S. Government allow illegal immigration, giving access to terrorists to invade America's heartland. Find out the myths and lies, and how illegal immigration effects the politics, domestic issues, national security, and terrorist ring in the United States, and you can do about it. Get your questions in early. It's going to be hot!
"He will expose unknown satanic forces and how they are using illegal immigration to:
* Affect American politics
* Sway Domestic issues
* Destroy National Security
* Create a Terrorist Ring which could start an internal revolution."
A good part of this two hour interview was about another of Maj. Linzey's pet conspiracy theories -- a communist takeover of the U.S. in which the U.S. government is complicit. According to Linzey, the Chinese are going to to take over the United States with the help of Mexico. He claims that Chinese soldiers are already in Mexico training the Mexicans for an invasion into the United States to reclaim the Southwest for Mexico. In typical fashion, Linzey, like his mentor Jim Ammerman and other Prophecy Club members, claims to have inside information from government officials that there is a government conspiracy and/or cover-up going on.
"I've got friends who work for the CIA and the FBI and I know things from the inside. Now, the CIA several months ago, arrested four Chinese military soldiers who came across the Mexico-Texan border with a dirty bomb and the CIA has them in custody."
Maj. Linzey also went into all the conspiracy theory stuff about the "masonic, Illuminati wackos" who have gotten into government office by deception, and the 9-11 conspiracy theory stuff, but it's his statements inciting the taking up of arms against the government that are most disturbing.
Linzey first talked about his "friend, Jim Gilcrest, who's heading up the Minuteman Project," promoting the group with statements like this:
"I'm trying to avoid saying we need to take up arms and go take care of it ourselves, but it appears that we might be needing to head this way."
He also promoted militias in general because there will be "blood bath" when the "invasion from the south" and battle with foreign U.N. forces and the Chinese in the U.S. commences.
"I suggest that Americans get their arms to be ready to defend themselves and their own homes when they come knocking on your door, demanding your food, demanding your money, and raping your wives. The U.N. troops will be here to start patrolling the cities, the streets, the highways, and we will be under, basically, European rule."
Among his other fear-mongering claims are that there are detention camps already set up by the U.S. government for "patriots" who won't go along with the government's agenda, that these detention camps are equipped with facilities to kill the detainees by gassing the "patriots," and that the government already has a list of the "patriots."
This radio show is also one where Maj. Linzey directly stated that his military chaplain endorser Jim Ammerman knows exactly what he's out there doing.
When the interviewer asked Linzey:
"If what you are saying is true, wouldn't the government -- if the government is any way culpable to some of these events -- wouldn't they want to not have you, say go on a speaking tour or anywhere else, or even be on this show?
"Would they not want me to? Well, you know, probably not. Now -- but that doesn't matter. As long as I'm abiding within the law, I can say that I'm speaking as Jim Linzey, not in my official capacity as an officer or military chaplain, then I prefaced it right, and I can proceed. And Col. Jim Ammerman -- he's my endorser -- and he knows exactly what I'm doing, and, so, that's it."
But, of course, Jim Ammerman would approve of what Maj. Linzey is spewing. Ammerman's own "Imminent Military Takeover of the U.S.A." video contains the same kind of seditious incitement, which, no doubt, accounts for its popularity among militia groups.
A good part of Ammerman's video consists of the insane Prophecy Club conspiracy theory stuff about the Illuminati, the world bank, the U.N., FEMA, government run concentration camps, foreign troops already being positioned within the U.S., etc. -- just about every conspiracy theory currently spewed by the Prophecy Club except for 9-11, because that hadn't happened yet when the video was made.
But, all this conspiracy theory stuff is, of course, necessary to induce the fear of things like the imminent threat of martial law being declared in America -- the things that drive the militia groups. The following are a few quotes from Ammerman's video to give an idea of its tone.
"As far as free America is concerned, we are in the death throes of America -- a free America. Most of our freedoms are gone. We're basically operating in a police state, and you'll see this as we go along. Martial law has not yet been declared, but it could be at any time. It could be this very night. It's that imminent. And we already have more foreign troops -- and I'll give you the numbers -- in this land -- in the forty-eight states -- than we have our own military left here that's not been shipped somewhere overseas, so the takeover could happen at any given hour -- not a month away or anything."
Referring to a questionnaire allegedly given to U.S. Marines, Ammerman claimed:
"You get down to the last question and it said, 'If America should choose to disarm its citizens and they refused, would you shoot American civilians?' And they were supposed to answer it yes or no. And some answered yes. Would you believe they were put in a special detachment for special training and were given a United Nations I.D. card when they finished the training. That's pretty serious stuff, isn't it? They were placed under United Nations control because they would shoot civilians."
He follows this by relating what happened when he told a group in Texas about this U.N. force, which is supposedly made up of troops from up to thirteen nations, and also includes police officers from many cities:
"Some of those east Texas rednecks came up and said, 'You know, they probably haven't thought about it, chaplain, but we'll shoot those foreigners in our country quicker, just like they'll shoot us quicker. And we'd hate to shoot one of our own soldier or marine sons, but we won't bat an eye to shoot those foreigners when they come in to take our home.' And I said, 'Good for you.'"
He then bolstered his claims with the typical line about having "inside" information, in this case obtained from a former head of the police academy in Fort Worth, Texas who had gone through this secret U.N. training, allegedly taking place at Fort Polk. According to Ammerman, this police official told him that because of what he had seen, he was resigning from his position and moving back to North Carolina to gather up his family, and said that "If they come after us in those hills -- we used to shoot the feds that came in to get the moonshine, and we'll shoot these other feds just as quick.'"
Ammerman's video, of course, included a healthy dose of Christian nationalism, as well as a bit of anti-semitism. Referring to Abraham bargaining with God about how many righteous people had to be found in Sodom to spare the city, Ammerman said:
"Why, you know, father Abraham started out at fifty and got way down. He might have gotten down to three, but he didn't go that far. You know, that's where jewing down came from. He's the father of the Jews, and he jewed God down. Well, I wish I had some of that ability. I seem to have to always pay full price."
He also claimed that the United States was God's second try to found a nation to carry out the "Great Commission" -- to make disciples of all nations -- after Israel failed to do it:
"I believe that two nations, and two nations only, in all of history have been raised up by the hand of God. One is Israel. Father Abraham was told, 'I will bless you so that you will be a blessing.' Well. first of all, Abraham's clan did not accept the blessing that was sent, even as God promised, therefore God said, 'I have a fallback position. I will raise up a nation that will carry out the Great Commission' -- and that's us."
Ammerman's anti-American, Prophecy Club ideology and extremist ideas clearly spill over into the CFGC's newsletters, which raises the question of why, unless they agree with these ideas, have none of the several hundred military chaplains currently endorsed by the CFGC left this endorsing agency.
Here's an example from the CFGC's September 2008 newsletter in which Ammerman, using a fake Abraham Lincoln quote, implies that all of the Democratic senators who were running for president in the last election should be executed for voting against making English America's official language:
"Four of you voting against English as America's Official Language were Presidential Candidates: Senator Biden, Senator Clinton, Senator Dodd and Senator Obama -- four Senators vying to lead America, but won't, or don't, have the courage to cast a vote in favor of English as America's Official Language when 91% of American Citizens want English officially designated as our language.
"This is the second time in the last several months this list of Senators have disgraced themselves as 'political hacks -- unworthy as Senators, and certainly unqualified to serve as President of the United States.
"If America is as angry as I am, you will realize a backlash so stunning it will literally 'rock you out of your socks'... and preferably totally out of the United States Senate."
The article ends with this completely fabricated Lincoln quote, essentially calling for the arrest and execution of four United States senators, one of whom is now our president:
"President Abraham Lincoln said: 'Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damages morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, quickly tried and hanged!!!'"
As already mentioned, MRFF will be demanding that the DoD revoke the chaplain endorsing authority of Jim Ammerman and the CFGC, as Mikey Weinstein makes very clear:
"Jim Ammerman and his virulently anti-American parachurch cabal called the Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches is a filthy, bigoted, fundamentalist Christian blight upon our country and the United States Constitution. Ammerman and the CFGC are the very same type of far right wing extremists which our nation's Dept. of Homeland Security warned all Americans about just a few weeks ago relative to domestic terrorism. The fact that the CFGC apparently has two hundred U.S. military uniformed chaplains in all four service branches under their complete command and control represents a national security threat to our nation internally just as significantly as fundamentalist Islamic terror groups represent to our nation externally. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation now demands that Secretary Robert Gates immediately strip the CFGC of its special power and authority to be the singular endorsing agency for these 200 military chaplains. Further, MRFF demands that Gates subject these offending chaplains, and the no doubt multitudes of those who permitted them to enter the armed forces, to expeditious trial by general courts martial pursuant to the Uniform Code of Military Justice."