Some atheists took offense recently to a military chaplain’s quoting of the old saying, popularized by Dwight Eisenhower, “In battle, they learned the great truth that there are no atheists in foxholes.”1
Some atheists in the military have taken issue with Ike’s quotation, calling it a “bigoted, religious supremacist phrase.” One of them said, “Faith-based hate, is hate all the same.”
Meanwhile, constitutional attorney Ken Klukowski, who wrote about this in his article, “Military Censors Christian Chaplain, Atheists Call for Punishment” (Breitbart, 7/24/13), said the chaplain was completely within his first amendment rights of free speech and religious liberty.
Obviously, since there are professed unbelievers who serve in the military, the “truism” that there are no atheists in foxholes is not always true. Every man or woman who serves our country in the military, regardless of religious views or the lack thereof, deserves our respect.
But I must admit that the phrase “faith-based hate” galls me, because in reality I see so little of it. And I travel in mostly Christian circles, and have for years.
If I see hate, it’s not based in faith in Jesus Christ. Maybe it’s there, despite professed belief in Jesus — like leftovers from an ornery disposition that has not yet been changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I’m rereading To Kill a Mockingbird, and I note that the deep-seated racism is there, despite the professed Christianity of the townspeople. Yet the hero of the story, Atticus Finch, is also a man of Christian faith. He says, “This case, Tom Robinson’s case, is something that goes to the essence of a man’s conscience — Scout, I couldn’t go to church and worship God if I didn’t try to help that man.”
He adds, “The one that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”
In our time, people of faith, acting on their consciences shaped by the Judeo-Christian tradition are being accused of hate. “Hate” has got to be the most overused word of our time. If someone is politically incorrect in their views, they are often falsely accused of hate.
According to Webster’s, hate means “To feel great hostility or animosity toward.”
Some people assume Christians are hateful because we favor traditional marriage. We favor bringing babies to term. Does that make us hateful?
Does it not seem absurd to accuse conservative traditional Christians of faith-based hate, simply based on their views of morality (which we believe were revealed by God in the Bible) — and which have stood the test of centuries?
Is it faith-based hate when the Salvation Army, closely followed by the Baptists and the Catholics, are virtually always first on the scene of any disaster to help anyone in need?
Is it faith-based hate when the myriad of inner-city soup kitchens and rescue missions dish out food for the hungry out of love for Jesus? This happens daily by the millions.
Is it faith-based hate when the hundreds of pregnancy care centers lovingly provide alternatives for pregnant women, so that they can keep their babies? Many a young mother is extremely happy for those Christians who provided that lifeline to them in their time of need.
Is it faith-based hate when Christian education is provided at a greatly reduced price for inner city children? For example, look at all the Catholic schools in the ghetto, providing a lifeline and a future hope for children in need.
Is it faith-based hate, in our day of hookups and one night stands, when Christian abstinence groups warn people of the consequences of their lifestyles — where one night’s pleasure can lead to a lifelong disease?
Otherwise, someone might well say, “Why didn’t anybody warn me of this?” Open rebuke, says the Scriptures, is better than hidden love. And no it’s not faith-based hate when someone speaks the truth in love.
When the word hate gets bandied about to be applied to your opponents in the culture war, then it loses its meaning. Love is hate, and hate is love.
The Christian ideal is to love everybody, not that we all live up to it by any means. The idea of “faith-based hate,” when talking about active followers of Jesus Christ, is a contradiction.
Dr. Jerry Newcombe is a key archivist of the D. James Kennedy Legacy Library and a Christian TV producer. He has also written or co-written 23 books, including The Book That Made America: How the Bible Formed Our Nation and (with D. James Kennedy), What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? His views are his own. www.jerrynewcombe.com
- The origin of the quotation is uncertain. U. S. Military Chaplain William T. Cummings may have said it in a field sermon during the Battle of Bataan in 1942. Other sources credit Lieutenant Colonel Warren J. Clear, who was also at Bataan, or Lieutenant Colonel William Casey. But the phrase is most often attributed to war correspondent Ernie Pyle. It was also quoted by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in remarks broadcast from the White House as part of a February 7, 1954, American Legion Program. [↩]