Alternet reports on Operation Straight Up (OSU), an evangelical entertainment troupe that, as an official part of the Defence Department's America Supports You programme, has the blessing of the administration. OSU actively proselytizes among active-duty US military personnel, and is about to mail out copies of the apocalyptic video game Left Behind: Eternal Forces to soldiers serving in Iraq.
OSU is also scheduled to embark on a "Military Crusade in Iraq" in the near future.
"We feel the forces of heaven have encouraged us to perform multiple crusades that will sweep through this war torn region," OSU declares on its website about its planned trip to Iraq. "We'll hold the only religious crusade of its size in the dangerous land of Iraq."
The Defense Department's Chaplain's Office, which oversees OSU's activities, has not responded to calls seeking comment.
"The constitution has been assaulted and brutalized," Mikey Weinstein, former Reagan Administration White House counsel, ex-Air Force judge advocate (JAG), and founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, told me. "Thanks to the influence of extreme Christian fundamentalism, the wall separating church and state is nothing but smoke and debris. And OSU is the IED that exploded the wall separating church and state in the Pentagon and throughout our military." Weinstein continued: "The fact that they would even consider taking their crusade to a Muslim country shows the threat to our national security and to the constitution and everyone that loves it."
Left Behind is especially interesting. In the game, players get to make believe they are commanders of an evangelical army in a post-apocalyptic American city, where they wage violent war against United Nations peacekeepers. When the game was first published, it garnered a storm of controversy, with Christian and other groups condemning it and demanding that Walmart pull it from the shelves.
Even Marvin Olasky, the evangelical publisher, intellectual author of "compassionate conservatism," and a force behind the George W. Bush Administration's White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives," denounced the Left Behind videogame.
The game is inspired by the best-selling pulp fiction series about the Tribulation following the Rapture. During the seven years of the Tribulation, surviving Christians battle everyone else in the Battle of Armageddon.
For more about Left Behind the series, see Wikipedia's article and Conservapedia's take on it. For a long, detailed, chapter-by-chapter critique from a Christian, see Fred Clark's review.