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Letter: Evangelicals in the military

Re “Finally, fairness for military women” (Monitor editorial, Dec. 26):

The Pentagon’s treatment of women over the decades is no mystery. This version was initiated last midcentury. Many credit the evangelical activist and leader of the Young Americans for Freedom, Richard Viguerie. He and many of his followers created a sea change in Republican Party fundraising and ground strategy.

The evangelical portion developed into a robust movement that penetrated military culture beginning in the 1980s and 1990s. A Triangle Institute study in 1999 noted that with initialization of the volunteer force, the officer corps became ever more Republican. A growing evangelical accompaniment was threaded through this conservative growth that influenced the atmosphere of policy. In personnel matters, women were always a shadow of manpower.

Over the past decade there have been a number of stories about proselytizing in Afghanistan and or Iraq. Earlier than this, the evangelical former deputy undersecretary of defense, Lt. General William Boykin, cast the war in Iraq in biblical terms. There have been lawsuits claiming religious harassment and pressure on soldiers. A former Regan White House counsel has characterized this evangelical-military stance as a form of tyranny and persecution.

The wider contextual impact has been enormous. Evangelical “enthusiasm” and the conservatively correct Republican deportment helped engender uncritical acceptance of powerful corporate sponsored think-tank strategies and programs, among them outsourcing and privatization. Private military corporations are becoming competitive with the U.S. military. The professional journals all note the loss of capacity in many areas; now even core functions are being encroached upon. Public space is eroding.

PAUL R. CAMACHO

Concord

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