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"The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement."

The answer to the question asked in my headline is: Not Hard at All.

"My goal has been to meet them when they're at their absolute worst, when they're coldest and the most tired and the most hungry that they're going to be because the more difficult the circumstances the more receptive the average person becomes to issues of faith." — Army Ranger School Chaplain

The reporting this morning by NBC News on the conspiracy-laden extremism uncovered in secret Facebook groups exclusively for current and former members of the United States military’s Special Operations Forces begins:

“They're the most elite, lethally trained members of the U.S. military, widely considered the best of the best. And yet in secret Facebook groups exclusively for special operations forces that were accessed by NBC News, they share misinformation about a ‘stolen" 2020 election, disparaging and racist comments about America's political leadership and even QAnon conspiracy theories.’”

The undeniable connection between the religion of Christian nationalism and the conspiracy theories that fueled the January 6 insurrection is blatantly apparent in the civilian world,

NBC’s exposé of this disturbing and threatening element among these elite troops — an element that would post such wild imaginings as aides to former Vice President Mike Pence being part of a "Concerted effort by the thieves and pedophiles walking the hallowed halls of the peoples government" to undermine former President Trump — is missing one integral piece: RELIGION.

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This crucial piece of the puzzle, which Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) founder and president Mikey Weinstein described in a recent post as the “mothership” — the “fundamentalist Christian nationalism” that hovers over and facilitates the other forms of extremism — is starkly absent from the reporting by major news outlets like NBC News. 

The undeniable connection between the religion of Christian nationalism and the conspiracy theories that fueled the January 6 insurrection is blatantly apparent in the civilian world, with banners and flags carried by the rioters sporting such sentiments as "Jesus is my Savior, Trump is my President,” and "Trump is President, Christ is King,” and the large wooden cross carried to the Capitol, as much a focal point as the gallows set up to hang the vice president. To these uniquely American “Christians,” Trump was the savior of America, a modern-day King Cyrus, and a perceived attack on their president is nothing less than an assault upon their religion.

This connection has been reported on by smaller news outlets — see “The Coup & The Military-Christian Nationalist Industrial Complex” from Crooks and Liars, “The Religious Right’s Rhetoric Fueled the Insurrection,” from The American Prospect, and “The Religious Right’s Rhetoric Fueled the Insurrection” from the St. Louis Post Dispatch, pieces written respectively by Paul Rosenberg, Randall Balmer, and Peter Montgomery, some of the most knowledgeable experts in the field of American religion.

This connection between a militant brand of Christianity and conspiracy-driven extremism exists not only in the civilian world, but even more disturbingly throughout our military — see “The Coup & The Military-Christian Nationalist Industrial Complex” by Paul Rosenberg on Crooks and Liars — and the Special Operations Forces is a hotbed for this nefarious activity.

I’ll leave you with a short video clip, showing how a former Army Ranger chaplain indoctrinated the Ranger trainees that he preyed upon — using tactics such as waiting until they had gone two days without food or three days without sleep to make his move.

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How easy is it to indoctrinate the cream of the crop of the U.S. military into a particular way of thinking? As easy as this chaplain makes it sound. And how far is the leap from a belief in a fundamentalist nationalist version of Christianity to a belief in “thieves and pedophiles walking the hallowed halls of the peoples government”? Not far at all.

Chris Rodda
MRFF