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'Django Unchained' Christians Evangelizing Military Youth on the Taxpayer’s Dime

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Quentin Tarantino deals in tawdry fiction writ large, bloody, and outrageous, as is the case with his latest Best Picture Oscar-nominated exploitation epic, " Django Unchained." Even he would be cowed by the pathetic tale of woe that follows.

From the onset of Operation Enduring Freedom in October 2001, U.S. military servicemembers and their families have borne the tragic brunt of prolonged operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Herculean task at hand, spanning the full spectrum of human endurance, from coping with multiple deployments to the hopelessly bleak, inhospitable frontlines of the War on Terror hasn't fallen on war fighters alone. Indeed, the oozing sores of perpetual anxiety, debilitating depression, and other extreme disorders have proven themselves across military and civilian communities to be communicable diseases, affecting servicemembers and their dependents alike. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder has become a household word across the nation, as active-duty servicemembers, for the first time in a generation, are more likely to fall on their own swords and take their own lives than face death in a war zone. This national tragedy continues to play out despite the phasing out of the U.S. role in Iraq and a sharp drop in troop levels in Afghanistan.

Some of the most acute psychological torment has fallen heaviest on servicemembers' children. Speaking as a veteran "military brat" from a family with a long and proud multigenerational tradition of service in our nation's armed forces, I can surely empathize with these youth in terms of the trials that they face. 

Enter Tarantinoesque fiction - except it's real.

It came as a sickening jolt of shock when we at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) learned that a group of savagely opportunistic fundamentalist Christian vultures known as " Club Beyond" are using taxpayer dollars - let me emphasize that point one more time: TAXPAYER DOLLARS - and Department of Defense property to aggressively prey on these youth, as well as advertising their activities via the official Army.mil website. Club Beyond's mission, in their own words, is to "'celebrate life with military kids, introducing them to the life giver, Jesus Christ, and helping them to become more like him,' while offering youth a chance build meaningful relationships." [italics added]. All of the foregoing would be just fine and dandy if only the United States military was not subject to the United States Constitution - but it is. Thus, the just-mentioned "sickening jolt."

In other words, Club Beyond's nefariously unconstitutional modus operandi is the outright, incontestable proselytization and religious indoctrination of vulnerable youth perceived to be "unchurched." Club Beyond is a sectarian enterprise with global reach. It's a subsidiary of a raging fundamentalist Christian parachurch organization called " Military Community Youth Ministries" (MCYM). MCYM offers, get this, "well chaperoned" weekly 90 minute club meetings, retreats, and Bible Study courses facilitated by "staff and volunteers [that] love young people and are available to journey with them through the hard challenges of adolescence, providing positive role models and exhibiting Christ-like behavior." Uh huh. Want some more?

Ok. Well, one of the ways that Club Beyond shows its "love" for these captive audiences is by hosting so-called "Purity Conferences," events where the widely debunked abstinence-only movement is, ahem, propagated. In fact, this year's Valentine's Day was the occasion for one such "Virginity Ball," an event called "Can't Lose." At this "ball," rather than receiving a realistic sexual education, youth enmeshed in a cannonade of hormonal tides of teenage passion are schooled solely in the ways of puritanical self-denial. The "virginity movement" has long been exposed as a transparent, fundamentalist Christian campaign that perniciously undermines reproductive health and cloaks old-school misogyny of the very worst kind in mawkish rhetoric regarding "preserving yourself for your future husband." Yep. That'll work for sure.