Jerry Falwell's Liberty University Training Death Robot Operators For Jesus
For dedicated Christianists, every aspect of life is a kind of worship, from raising a family to getting an education to raining AGM-114 Hellfire missiles onto the enemies of the United States and maybe the occasional wedding party. So it's not really too much of a surprise to read David Swanson'sarticle in Sojourners about the drone-pilot training program at Liberty University, the Lynchburg, Virginia school and cash machine founded by Jerry Falwell. The school has had a program to train "Christ-centered aviators" for over a decade, with tracks for commercial pilots, Military aviation, flight attendants, aircraft, maintenance, and our favorite, "Missionary Aviation." The newest program to help Christians reach out their hand and touch the face of God is Liberty's Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) program, which started in 2011 and prepares young people to operate civilian or military drones, on whatever missions God sees a need for.
Now, you might at this point raise your hand and say, Excuse me, what does God need with unmanned weapons systems? But that is only because you are a filthy heathen drunk on gay weddings and loco-weed, so you do not get to ask that. Drones are here to stay, and they are going to be a big part of aviation, and God doesn't want a big industry like unmanned aircraft to develop without His children getting in on the action, according to Liberty School of Aeronautics dean Dave Young, who said in a 2012 article that since these exciting new machines could be abused by someone without a superior understanding of ethics,
“Our mission is to produce graduates who are not only skilled, but who are going to go out in the world as strong Christians,”
Associate Dean John Marselus agreed, saying “We want to have graduates serving the Lord in this area of aviation.” Neither went into any detail on exactly how sitting at a computer and remotely flying an aircraft does the Lord any good, but that just gets back to that whole thing about how everything a Christian does is a form of praise, like monks tending vineyards and all that, only in this case it also involves advanced tactical systems.
Swanson did ask Young whether he thought using drones in military operations could really be considered Christian.
“I can only offer my perspective as a Christian,” he replied. “UAS are like any other aerial vehicle that can be used for a variety of missions including law enforcement, aerial surveillance, search and rescue, and crop spraying as well as for military reasons. As a former military combat aviator, I believe that UAS can be employed just like a manned aircraft and that there should not be a distinction between the two.”
So if good Christians can drop napalm or daisy cutters or cluster bombs from wing mounts on an F-15E, God's probably fine with a few missiles being fired from an MQ-9 Reaper, too!
Besides, explained Tim Carentz, a Liberty U graduate employed by the Air Force, "it’s biblical to have a national pride."
"I believe authorities are put in place with the approval of God," Carentz assured me. "If he didn’t want them there, he could easily remove them."
Kind of makes you wonder why we even bother with elections, doesn't it? Carentz also thinks the military is an awesome place for evangelists:
"If there were no Christians in the military, how would they instill love and discipline?" he said. "There are people pulled right from the ghetto who have nothing and who come into the military. And maybe their first supervisor is a Christian, and he takes them to the foot of the cross and leads them to Christianity, and they share that with their family, and you save generations."
Those poor ghettoz people! Thank goodness we have a military to help them come to Jesus! Oh, yeah, what about the job of killing people with robots? Is that still Christian?
"I can understand why some support [them], and I can understand why others don’t support [them]. Our job is to pray," said Carentz, "and to understand that things will continue to get worse until Christ returns."
Also, would you please please stop with all the questions please? Jesus is ON this. There's good money in drones, you know.
Another Air Force veteran and Liberty graduate, Richard Emery, thought that military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq were too much driven by revenge, and not enough by Christian love. As an example, he mentioned his discomfort at encountering a picture of Osama bin Laden in an on-base urinal. Emery thought it would be better for America to help Afghans "get saved" than to kill them. That humanitarian motivation is sort of undercut by Emery's prescription for wrapping up the war in Afghanistan:
Emery proposed the nuclear bombing of Japan as a model for how Afghanistan should be handled. “It was painful, but we dropped a couple of atomic weapons and they quit fighting, and now Japan is one of our closest allies.”
We were sort of hoping the piece would end with Swanson finding a page in Emery's notebook that had "Exterminate the brutes!" scrawled across it, but that was maybe a bit too much to hope for. Still, it's good to have confirmation that Liberty University is turning out militarists who are steeped in Christian ethics.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.