With my mind still racing from my last post on how America considered its military between the years 1973-89 a joke and the fact that I don’t like to write posts over 1,000 words if I can help it, I decided to continue my peaceful rampage on the subject. Rednecks weren’t the only ones who looked down on those serving in the armed forces between those years. So-called Christians were just as bad towards us. While unlike rednecks, they didn’t call us a joke, they did consider military personnel to be all a bunch of Godless heathens. Some even went as far as that the military should be a mission field in order to save their Godless souls.
When I declared that I wanted to enlist in the Marines when I was in high school, there was some rumblings in my local church about my desire to do so. A lot of the rumblings were started by my mother who thought I would be wasting my life by giving four years of it to my country added on by a documentary she watched in 1978, the year before I joined, which said that the Marine Corps was full of convicted murderers. I can safely say that during my four years of service, I never met anyone I would consider a murderer.
Apparently, there was going to be someone at my church who was going to talk to me about going into the military. I know it wasn’t the pastor because he was a former Navy corpsman who served with the marines. Regardless, that talk never happened and I enlisted. The real funny thing about that was that most of the older adults in the church were complimentary of me going in and all of them wished me good luck. It was my peers who thought I was crazy for taking four years out of my life and giving it to my country. They seemed to be more convinced that all of the ‘heathens’ who made up the US military were going to turn me from the Lord.
Thinking back, I have to give Linwood Community Church credit where it was due. They did seem to be the most supportive of me while I was serving. Even when I was home on leave for two weeks and didn’t shave the entire time, none of them made any comments about it. They all seemed to understand that I was just taking a break from military life and would go back to being a marine when that leave was up. However, I know of other churches that weren’t so supportive. I did go with a friend to another church in uniform and while I didn’t want any special fuss made about me, I was ignored and even looked upon with some sort of disdain by some of the so-called strong Christians in that church. A lot of Christian churches weren’t as welcoming to serving persons.
Ah, another amusing note from my past. I worked at a Christian summer camp during the three summers in my high school years. At a winter reunion after my final summer there, I announced to all my Christian colleagues that I had enlisted. When it was time to say the closing prayer, the camp leader prayed for the Lord to watch over me while I was in the Marines and that even there, I become a witness for Christ.
After my service was up, that church was still supportive of me, now a veteran. Though there were still some in the church who thought the military was evil. It was that other church I mentioned who seemed to be more patronizing towards me. Because of the fact that I did backslide while I was in, it was concrete proof for them that the military was evil. If I’m honest, a lot of so-called Christians did view armed forces personnel with disdain. They were evil and needed to be saved and that was their excuse for treating military persons like crap.
These days, I get comments from current and recently served military persons who say that their churches have been really supportive of them. One went as far as to apologize for me having such a bad experience with Christianity. I informed him that it was Christianity I had the problem with, just a lot of those who professed to be Christians. I am glad to hear that these days, Christians are supporting and not condemning those who serve their country. Maybe they have repented of their actions in the years between 1973-89.
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