Faith on the Front Lines

Today is Veterans Day. I grew up an Army brat. After Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, and the Fourth of July, the … Continued

Today is Veterans Day. I grew up an Army brat. After Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, and the Fourth of July, the two days we remembered in our family were Veterans Day and Memorial Day. My father, Lt. General William W. “Buffalo Bill” Quinn, a West Point graduate, would recount stories of how important it was to support and remember those who had fought for our country.

My father was a great patriot. An Episcopalian, he was also a religious man. “God and Country” were not just words to him. This was his credo.

During World War II he served as the G2 or Intelligence Officer for the Seventh Army in Germany. He was there the day the Army liberated Dachau, one of the most infamous of the Nazi Concentration camps. He had his staff photographer take pictures of what they saw when they arrived and he had scrapbooks made up of those unimaginably horrific images.

I was only four when he came back from the war. Until then I had believed most fervently in God, praying every night for him to bless my father and all of those at war, my mother, my family my dog, Blitzkrieg, and even my doll Polly. Seeing those scrapbooks completely shattered my belief in that God. How could there be a loving God who would allow such atrocities to be committed by humans on each other. My father’s pained explanations did not assuage my doubts or rage.

From then on, I refused to say my prayers or sing “Jesus Loves Me.” I stopped going to Sunday school, developing a mysterious stomach ailment around 9 a.m. each week. When the long anticipated movie “Alice in Wonderland” opened at the State Theater in Arlington, Virginia, one Sunday afternoon, my father told me that if I was too sick to go to Sunday School then I was clearly too sick to go to the opening of the movie about my lifelong heroine. I didn’t believe he was serious. I didn’t go to Sunday School. He was serious. He refused to allow me to go to the movie, the biggest social event of the year. Unfortunately for him, it backfired. Then I really was convinced there was no such thing as God. Needless to say my father was devastated by my lack of belief.

Six years later, my father was back at war. We were stationed in Tokyo where he was assigned to the staff of General Douglas MacArthur. He was sent to the front lines of Korea, given his own regiment and within months was a war hero, nicknamed Buffalo Bill, and appearing on the pages of Stars and Stripes with frequency.

I was so distraught over the danger he faced every day that I ended up in the pediatric ward of Tokyo General Hospital unable to eat or drink, placed on an IV and not allowed to see my mother for months. (The doctor in charge of the ward had deemed it too distracting for the nursing staff to have the parents visit their sick children. Only if you were dying were your parents allowed to visit.)

The hospital was filled with wounded and dying soldiers from Korea, a daily reminder to me my father’s perilous situation.

This was a defining moment for me. I wanted to pray for him but I couldn’t. Once again I didn’t believe that a God who could allow these young soldiers, some only six years older than I was, to be mutilated and die so brutally.

One day I was given a special treat. I was given a small allowance for candy and a nurse took me in my wheelchair down to the hospital PX. Prolonging my excursion I looked in all of the cases to see what was for sale. And then I saw it; a small plastic iridescent cross on a stand. It cost exactly to the penny what I had to spend on candy. I don’t know what made me do it but I bought the cross and got the nurse to send it to my father in Korea. Even if I couldn’t believe, I knew that it would give him enormous comfort and solace to think that I did. I got the most beautiful letter back from him thanking me for my gift. Later, when he returned safely to us in the States after his tour of duty was over, he told me that that was the most important thing anyone had ever given him. He said that he kept it with him always while he was fighting and that it got him through the war. I was happy about that though a bit guilty since I felt I had given it to him under somewhat false pretenses.

Our battles over religion through the years never really ended. Even as he lay dying in his hospital room at Walter Reed Army hospital at age 93, he held my hand and prayed to God, essentially willing me to believe.

When I was choosing what he should wear to be buried in I found the iridescent cross I had given him in his desk drawer. He had kept it all of those years. I slipped it into the breast pocket of his suit.

Today, he lies buried at Arlington National Cemetery, my cross over his heart.

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We welcome comments from all of you in the military about your own faith experiences and we will be reaching out to the military.com audience as well for their contributions. We feel that questions of faith are fundamental to the military, especially in the crucible of war where faith is tested most arduously. Do you believe there are no atheists in foxholes? We want to know your thoughts. We hope that you will share them with us by posting comments below.

About

Sally Quinn Sally Quinn is the founding editor of OnFaith.
  • numi

    Read JOZEVZ carefully kids, if you can get through it.This is your brain on drugs. Beware.

  • James

    Ms. Quinn–

  • Mike D

    The church services here in Iraq are always full, regardless of the denomination. They are also more diverse than what I’ve experienced back in the states.In my experience military chaplains are the cream of the crop. They are used to dealing with people of different faiths or no faith at all, so they are very good at just listening when that is what is required. There is a marked difference between a chaplain and a civilian priest or minister. They have a way of removing the bs when addressing the congregation and relating to everyone on a personal level. Faith makes separation from family and safety more bearable. Knowing there is a plan and purpose for everyone and everything is comforting.

  • Mike D

    The church services here in Iraq are always full, regardless of the denomination. They are also more diverse than what I’ve experienced back in the states.In my experience military chaplains are the cream of the crop. They are used to dealing with people of different faiths or no faith at all, so they are very good at just listening when that is what is required. There is a marked difference between a chaplain and a civilian priest or minister. They have a way of removing the bs when addressing the congregation and relating to everyone on a personal level. Faith makes separation from family and safety more bearable. Knowing there is a plan and purpose for everyone and everything is comforting.-US Marine

  • megan

    Mike D.Saying a special prayer for you today.Thank you for your service to our country.

  • AJdelosReyes CA-USA

    .What there was not much of was in your choice of a cross to send to your father, I bet you would have chosen an ankh if your father was of that ancient Egyptian religion, or worry beads, or Solomon’s seal, etc., if of such faith. What “compelled” you was your need to firmed up your relationship with your father, to reach across the distance that physically separated you, and just probably to invoke the God he believes in for his protection–with that God’s talisman.Your beautiful life’s anecdote proves again the power endowed to those who have faith: their belief is a life sustaining force, on individual, inter-individual, and social levels. That, be there a or many or no god at all. For this is a matter of faith, one that can respose on a deity or an ideology/philosophy or a way of life. These latter must, of course, meld and fused into one’s faith IDEALLY. As happened to your father (based on what you wrote about him), and may yet happen to you (“yet” here refers to time that remains to be).I wish it for you, as you wished it for your father.

  • brian mcc, the arctic

    Faith on the front lines. A new series to address the ancient reality of war as hell. Your father, as well as mine, has survived the horror of combat. Pops would never speak of what he did or saw in France and Germany, and I asked many times. I stopped asking when he began to describe what he experienced on the beach of Normandy, but broke down in tears and silence. He was wounded twice, before they let him return home. Since Iraq, he seems to have talked more about his time in the infantry, since the air force rejected his application. We have talked about torture, and faith. How a young man of 19 years old walked down a street in France, when the shooting stopped, the soldier to his right and to his left were shot dead. There is only the devil in war. There might be a cross in your pocket or around your neck, and maybe an archangel to guide you in chaos. My family has fought during WWI, the Irish conflict, and WWII. Army, Air Force and Marines. Some of them did not survive, others returned wounded. All were decorated. If you are facing deployment, get intimate with your guardian angel, the only help you can possibly rely upon in hell.

  • Sue

    Sally, thank you for your honest reflections and for sharing these memories of your father. We have children who are now ages 6, 10, and 11. And, we pray for them and with them, as they are learning about what faith is to them personally. Why there is pain and suffering in our world is one of life’s difficult questions. Even more than that is ‘why must we all die?’ Separation from those we love is the most painful of all realities. One can choose to either believe in a loving God who shares and understands our pain and longs too for it to end, or a God who is capricious and vengeful (if God is like that, why is there ANY good in this world), or no God at all. To me, it takes the highest level of ‘faith’ to look at the world and see it as a random coincidence, that ‘something’ appeared from ‘nothing’ without a divine cause. And, there are many (most) religions in the world that believe God is vengeful and ready to squash all of us like bugs for one misstep. Yet, the God of your father’s faith understands pain, suffering and separation at its deepest levels. That cross you felt compelled to buy is the place of greatest pain ever known on this earth. God chose to love us, when he didn’t need to. All he wants is for us to return that. Most of us spend our lives trying to escape the reality of pain. Perhaps God is asking us that rather than blaming him for the pain in this world, to instead walk through it, and understand that he shares it. It is a mystery that we aren’t meant to completely understand. Yet, that cross your father held to without fear is what fully brought him into God’s presence at his last breath. May we all be freed to embrace the reality of pain, and even in pain to see a God that weeps and suffers with us.thank you again, Sally, for your honest thoughts. May you one day live eternally in the presence of a God who loves you, and an earthly father who has gone before you.

  • Sue

    Sally, thank you for your honest reflections and for sharing these memories of your father. We have children who are now ages 6, 10, and 11. And, we pray for them and with them, as they are learning about what faith is to them personally. Why there is pain and suffering in our world is one of life’s difficult questions. Even more than that is ‘why must we all die?’ Separation from those we love is the most painful of all realities. One can choose to either believe in a loving God who shares and understands our pain and longs too for it to end, or a God who is capricious and vengeful (if God is like that, why is there ANY good in this world), or no God at all. To me, it takes the highest level of ‘faith’ to look at the world and see it as a random coincidence, that ‘something’ appeared from ‘nothing’ without a divine cause. And, there are many (most) religions in the world that believe God is vengeful and ready to squash all of us like bugs for one misstep. Yet, the God of your father’s faith understands pain, suffering and separation at its deepest levels. That cross you felt compelled to buy is the place of greatest pain ever known on this earth. God chose to love us, when he didn’t need to. All he wants is for us to return that. Most of us spend our lives trying to escape the reality of pain. Perhaps God is asking us that rather than blaming him for the pain in this world, to instead walk through it, and understand that he shares it. It is a mystery that we aren’t meant to completely understand. Yet, that cross your father held to without fear is what fully brought him into God’s presence at his last breath. May we all be freed to embrace the reality of pain, and even in pain to see a God that weeps and suffers with us.thank you again, Sally, for your honest thoughts. May you one day live eternally in the presence of a God who loves you, and an earthly father who has gone before you.

  • elizabeth

    “I don’t know what made me do it but I bought the cross and got the nurse to send it to my father in Korea.”Clearly, this act was an impulse. You had not struggled or thought long on how to please your father. But this snap purchase gave long term desired results that brought much comfort and meaning to your father.Have you considered the Holy Spirit may have prompted your purchase in answer to your father’s prayers and the prayers of the people who loved him and knew he was troubled by his relationship with you. Often in answer to prayer, God will give something tangible to hold onto as a reminder of His love.It is significant of God’s love for you too. It is His work to reconcile us to Him and to each other through great and small acts of love.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Victoria, Victoria, Victoria,Unbelievable, you have time to count the personal pronouns in a person’s commentary but have no time for the essentials in your life i.e. the deprogramming of your warmongering religion. And have you ever counted the personal pronouns in your own commentaries??

  • Former Lieutenant

    I spent six years on active duty as a Naval Officer, between 2000-2006, four of which were onboard ships. Every night at sea a Christian prayer was broadcast over the loudspeakers to all spaces onboard. I always found this practice to be inappropriate. I appreciate freedom of religion and freedom of belief, but this forced public prayer is very anti-secular. If the United States is founded on the principle of a strong separation between church and state, then why are prayers of any form made a ritual onboard ships? Truly, most military members are classified as Christians, but not once did I hear a Jewish or Muslim prayer spoken to the crew. Public prayer has no place onboard Navy ships. If ships establish bible study groups amongst crew members because there is interest, that is one thing, but it is another to force all sailors to listen to a prayer each night. This is a practice which should be abolished and discouraged, as it has no place in a secular state.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    God (if this Singularity exists) bless our military and US Army brats around the globe.And Sally thanks for sharing your story on this very hallowed Day!!!

  • BGone

    “Faith On The Front Lines.” No doubt about it.There’s only one way to find out what combat is all about and that’s to do it. All the words ever coined in their innumerable possible combinations fall way short of the experience. Those who have done it are always reluctant to talk about it therefore anyone who talks about it is suspect which is about all that can safely be said.There is zero time for praying. Enough said.God is the most frequently heard word while Devil is the only supernatural being to answer the call.Soldiers fight for their very lives. Kill or be killed is the business at hand and nothing more. The perception that only the fellow next to you has your well being in mind is commonplace, (fighting for God and country is rubbish). The strongest of human bonds are those between combat mates. “The key to survival is having and being a good mate” is the Brits way of saying it, (sort of like life in general).The above applies to wars past. Iraq looks nothing like anything before to me. There is that nagging “combat fatigue” thing that seems to be several X compared to past wars. It’s surely trying to tell us something. Is praying the solution to that problem? Maybe pride of the Marines Reverend Doctor Pat Robertson can tell us all about it? Praying rather than fighting that is.War is the situation where two or more groups of people attempt to send each other to hell as quickly as they can. Thus Devil both should and does care. God certainly doesn’t seem to care even though God is the most common word heard, along with some others words banned hereabouts. Ask anyone who’s been there. And if they answer then they probably weren’t really there.

  • victoria

    i dont know if sally’s aware of the incredibly self centered slant of her writings- so much so, that i actually bothered to count how many times she said, I, me, and my. 61 times. 61. its a bit much

  • BGone

    Jacob Jozevz On: ALL Humates are Sons and Daughters of the Creator not Jesus et al:To that I can add that HE had a really good set of,, ah,, really filled out a sweater, enough to make a lot women jealous. And other telltale signs too.Pictures of the alleged “Hebrew Messiah” at

  • BGone

    Religion + Government = Square peg + Round HoleWar = Forcing Square peg into Round hole using soldier’s heads as hammersEnd “official” religion = End warGod wouldn’t be caught dead on a battle field but those who claim to represent God requisition the battle field in the name of God. It’s really Devil they represent. Ms Sally Fileds knew better well ahead of the curve, avoided the torture of Sunday school.For the rest of you students there’s The road to hell is paved with the corpses of dead soldiers who died on the battle field. They died in the name of God while uttering the word God. Only too late do they realize it was Devil that answered their call. When it comes to kill or be killed Devil is the only reliable supernatural being.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Victoria, Victoria, Victoria,Hmmm, still not doing the essentials of life i.e. deprogramming your warmongering religion but simply deflecting your obvious problem.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Be Gone,I see Satan is still your webmaster. How come you believe in ugly, wingie, talking, flying, fictional thingies but not the pretty version??

  • Jerry

    Read the Bible lady. God killed, yes killed, nations of people. But that’s not the God you serve, is it?

  • Jerry

    Read the Bible lady. God killed, yes killed, nations of people. But that’s not the God you serve, is it?

  • Jerry

    Read the Bible lady. God killed, yes killed, nations of people. But that’s not the God you serve, is it?

  • Jerry

    Read the Bible lady. God killed, yes killed, nations of people. But that’s not the God you serve, is it?

  • Bill (not Clinton)

    Funny. I remember a different Sally Quinn. It was in the late ’90s and she had a propensity to get on talk shows like Larry King and profess her distraught indignity to the sexual vulgarities of then President William Jefferson Clinton. Those were heady days in Washington for Ms. Quinn. She was cast as one of the few quintessential social goddesses of Washington. To get into one of her coveted dinner parties took a little more than the glad handing of a Christian cross necklace. The mushy father/come lately appreciative daughter story above doesn’t quite mesh with the public vitriol she belched over someone else’s marital mishap. I remember it left me wondering if her comfortable house in the nation’s capital had any closets at all.

  • Garbage collector

    Concerned The Christian Now Liberated:How come you are an ugly, wingie, talking, thing?? Oh well into the bag.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Garbage Collector,Because I am a “pwtfft”. At least the Sisters of St. Francis told me so. Apparently you did not get a good performance review!!!

  • Luke

    Ah I see, all the bad stuff is the Devil and all the good stuff is God. Glad we cleared that up. No gray area there, eh? Devil = war. Crosses = God. Funny, I have a friend who is a Satanist (says it on his dog tags) who was lucky enough to be stationed in Germany (he’s a computer geek), then again I have another friend who is gay and fought in Iraq, and has thus returned to the states with severe PTSD. I guess God only shines on the cross-bearers. Too bad they are fighting for the freedom of all – they don’t get any blessings. I don’t know what other proof you really need.

  • Sergeant O

    As a United States airman and a history major, I have come to appreciate the way that faith has played a major part in the survival of troops in dangerous situations. Faith helped many people in times of difficulty, in POW camps, and in the face of horrible atrocities such as the Holocaust. Faith provided an excellent relief from the burden of hopelessness, even if a troop didn’t survive. Faith helped many.Of course, so did morphine.

  • caesar

    Soldiers should not be forced through unjust pressure, to enter into conflicts which are not justified,such as Iraq,Afghanistan,which having brought but death destruction,on all sides.Yet by far the more on Iraq as Afghanistan,which venture into many hundreds of thousands being dead….the failings of such ill thougt ventures, must be put at the door of political parties,on both sides of the channel.There be those in the military,whom still retaining some working brain cells warned, the invasion of IRAQ as AfGHANISTN be folly,they being brushed aside by the texas cowboys,whom in had a political mentallity equal to the latter leaders of the Roman Empire. Becoming rotten with corruption,unable to hold the Empire together,but through military brutality.Which only speeded its decline,as the USA,we see same patern a bringing its downfall, political corruption, deceit, fraud, the nations domestic as international standing be dire.. the cold war with Russia, replaced by the threat of terrorism, both used as an cover,to avoid facing the appalling state of American domestic problems,as has long since be unfit to represent freedom, as democracy, on the internation stage….Over time USA govts having abandoned serving domestic as international law, such being replaced by military might, the result, an trail of destruction death worldwide….

  • Anonymous

    test

  • E Favorite

    Random thoughts on SQ’s essay – Totally non-religious, but with the same loving sentiments:1.As a child, I gave my mother a garish Christmas tree pin and my father a nice set of cufflinks. Along the way, I forgot I’d given them these gifts. They never forgot, though and later told me that they thought of me every time they wore them. I have them now.2.When my mother died, the funeral home director placed a rosary in her hands – something she was never seen holding when she was alive. One family member tucked a pack of cigarettes and a deck of cards in the coffin – much more appropriate mementos of her life.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Caesar,Time to emigrate to anywhere other the USA??? How about the Islamic terror theocracy of Iran???

  • victoria

    interesting comments caesar- i watched bill moyers the other day, he had thomas cahill on and the discussion was humna cruelty. bill asked mr cahill if there were any corollaries that could be drawn between the fall of the roman empire and american decline- (its a question from bill moyers folks, not a comment on the steength of america) and he answered that the similarity exists in that the roman empire began its decline when the poor and middle class were overburdened taxed to support the state, and the rich werent taxed at all. i thought it was pretty apt.

  • E favorite

    Theophilia – I don’t hate Christianity. I’m critical of it and there are also many aspects of it I love – the beautiful music, the lovely architecture, the warm community that some churches offer. I’d like to see Christianity survive with all of that intact, but without continued espousing of belief in invisible supernatural events and beings.Please notice that I didn’t personally attack you or Allen Clark. You, meanwhile, have called me “belligerent, biased, bigoted and brainless” and an “@ass.”I’m glad we both have the opportunity to discuss our opinions and feelings openly. We have our secular constitution to thank for that. And I assume neither of us would want to live in a theocracy, where critical remarks about the state religion could result in execution, instead of just a string of insults.

  • theophilia

    E Favorite-You’ve been a regular poster and I am a regular reader at ON FAITH. May I remind you your posts are archived?Best wishes.

  • E favorite

    Theophila – yes – I’m aware my posts are archived.If you have some of them handy, perhaps you could post or link to the ones that you think show me to be “belligerent, biased, bigoted and brainless” and an “@ss.” Also, does this mean that you don’t think my post in this particular section reflects me in my usual negative light?Are you a regular poster as well as a reader? I don’t recognize your name. Have you gone by another name here?If so, please let me know who you are.Thanks

  • theophilia

    E Favorite-I am a reader here. My life is too active to post regularly. I don’t need to find your old posts. You know your feelings and you know what brings you back to post daily hoping to find a Christian to ridicule, criticize, and draw into an argument.

  • D.B.Blair

    Ultimately, to those who reject the God of the Bible, and the truths contained therein, there is nothing but despair to look forward to when the chips are down.

  • E favorite

    Theophila: “I don’t need to find your old posts”No you don’t, but I think you do have some obligation not to make accusations without backing them up. I think that might fall under “bearing false witness.”I like to think people reading here can easily see who has tried to draw whom into an argument.The whole point of this forum is to discuss religious views. Of course there will be differences in perspective among us.

  • theophilia

    Poor E Favorite- You are in bondage to this forum. Why are you frantic to get the next and last post? You know the contents of your own heart. I do not bear false witness. But you (an atheist) are compelled to make an accusation. (belligerent and biased bigot?)Take a break. Try very hard not to compulsively “have to answer” this post. Walk away from the computer. Break the addiction. It’s still a beautiful world. Get some help.Bye-Bye.

  • Allen Clark

    Everyone attempts to relate to those who write what we read and also to agree/disagree with the ideas expressed. Sally, I too as an Army “brat” was in that Tokyo General Hospital in 1952 in the pediatric ward with a stomach ailment. I too looked thru the hallway latticework at the men residing in the head injury ward. It was horrible.I still went to West Point and still volunteered for Vietnam and ended up a double leg amputee. But today my faith is stronger than ever and my understanding of my God deeper because I understand the free will allowed by my God and the great eternal struggle of good versus evil. My healing journey and my lay ministry to all our warriors is expressed at http://www.combatfaith.com. God allows the pain but does not ordain it. Because it is there and there are bad people who perpetrate it does not detract from the goodness nor the strength of my God to stop it, but the ultimate adversary of all mankind is the ultimate perpetrator and people such as General Quinn and I went off to fight the bad guys egged on by bad principles and emotions and motivations. This day after Veterans Day I am proud to be a veteran who fought against evil and I thank my God that I was blessed to be allowed to live on after that June 17, 2007 day at Dak To in Vietnam.

  • Allen Clark

    Just off by 40 years above post. I was wounded June 17, 1967. Showing an “old soldier’s” age.

  • CMSgt(R) Ken Chandler

    The faith of our fathers and mothers is the greatest gift they can give us. It’s an everlasting gift. When they choose to serve they give of themselves for those they know and those they don’t. Each generation grows either understanding that faith or never recieving the gift. As we look on the atrocities of man against man it is easy to say “How could a God allow this?”. What we should be asking is “God forgive us for letting it get so bad and thank you (God) for giving us free choice.” God never made us to be robots, but to become a part of His family. That’s so precious that He gave His only begotten Son to live a perfect example for us, be unjustly accused, and to take on His shoulders the penalties for sin, shed His blood in payment and die for us (in our places). It’s His ultimate love and sacrifice just as the Soldier, Sailor, Airman, Marine sheds their blood to bring a freedom for us and those we don’t know. “Without the shedding of blood there is no freedom.” “The only sacrifice worth giving was given by Jesus Christ when He shed his blood for your soul and by the GI who shed his blood for your freedom.” As your family sacrificed so much, see in their sacrifice that a loving God allows us the freedom of choice. We have that gift He’s offering to spend eternity with Him or we can reject it. Just like those who rejected Him committed such atrocities, we have the freedom to stop atrocities as well as the responsibility. It isn’t God’s fault that man kills man – it’s man and his responsibility. It isn’t God’s fault man didn’t protect man. It’s up to us to do by God’s example and thank Him for our freedoms and accept His gift. Your father did and set such a wonderful example in his sacrifice. Look to your father’s sacrifice in freeing those oppressed and thank God for him – I know I do. Think upon the good of God and ask Him to show you His love and the good He really does do in providing Godly men and women to sacrifice for all of us. And thank you for the message of your father that you’ve written. May God bless you and yours.

  • E Favorite

    Allan Clark: “But today my faith is stronger than ever and my understanding of my God deeper because I understand the free will allowed by my God and the great eternal struggle of good versus evil.”To me this sounds like the ultimate rationalization.Ken Chandler – I notice you have a lot of your statements in quotes, without mentioning who is being quoted. Are you distancing yourself from these ideas? Even when you supposedly are speaking for yourself, it sounds rote: “…He gave His only begotten Son to live a perfect example for us, be unjustly accused, and to take on His shoulders the penalties for sin, shed His blood in payment and die for us (in our places).”Of course, I recognize this as standard Christian teaching, which even as a believer didn’t make sense to me. How does one person’s death atone for another’s let alone for the entire human race. And what needed atoning for? Eve eating the apple? It seems like overkill. Plus, Jesus suffers a few hours, is dead only 3 days, then goes to live in heaven forever. Meanwhile, many others endure a lifetime of suffering, after which some of them go to hell forever (according to Christian doctrine) either because they never knew about Jesus or they declined to accept him as their savior (in some cases because they were born into other religions.)God works in mysterious ways? I’d say, so do people when trying to apply ancient stories to current life.

  • theophilia

    E Favorite-Aren’t you (in the smallest way) thankful that you live in freedom and have the opportunity almost daily to post your hatred of Christians and Christianity with no fear or loss?Would you really prefer living under a totalitarian regime (as many are suffering under as you read)?Today I celebrate your ability to make an @ss of yourself on a public board and I thank the men and women who have made the sacrifice to give you that right.God works in mysterious ways. Your ways are easily predicted: belligerent, biased, bigoted and brainless.

  • E favorite

    Here’s my very first personal criticism of you – and it’s very heartfelt:You don’t seem like a very nice person.And here’s a question:Are you Christian?

  • Rivershore

    I was in the desert. I will talk about it because i am a woman and a mother and women talk about things- it doesn’t mean I’m a faker.

  • Rivershore

    I was in the desert. I will talk about it because i am a woman and a mother and women talk about things- it doesn’t mean I’m a faker.

  • Rivershore

    I was in the desert. I will talk about it because i am a woman and a mother and women talk about things- it doesn’t mean I’m a faker.

  • Ed Paradis

    I was with the 101st in Viet Nam. I had been born a Cath, and had lost my way while over there. I realy was looking for some thing to beleive in.

  • Robert McLellan

    Sally, this was especially touching. I grew up in a dysfunctional military family in Canada… church was important but not much religion. Moving out as a young teenager, I spent a lot of time reading every kind of eastern philosophy, spent a dozen plus years as a Scientologist and eventually became a Christian and so often now feel connected to my childhood. There was a bit of foundation there after all. Most days I spend some time praying for my father, the retired soldier who doesn’t believe… and for soldiers everywhere who sacrifice more than I think God should ask of them and their families. Mostly I just thank Him that they are there. Today I’m thanking Him for your dad too.

  • Robert McLellan

    Sally, this was especially touching. I grew up in a dysfunctional military family in Canada… church was important but not much religion. Moving out as a young teenager, I spent a lot of time reading every kind of eastern philosophy, spent a dozen plus years as a Scientologist and eventually became a Christian and so often now feel connected to my childhood. There was a bit of foundation there after all. Most days I spend some time praying for my father, the retired soldier who doesn’t believe… and for soldiers everywhere who sacrifice more than I think God should ask of them and their families. Mostly I just thank Him that they are there. Today I’m thanking Him for your dad too.

  • Robert McLellan

    Sally, this was especially touching. I grew up in a dysfunctional military family in Canada… church was important but not much religion. Moving out as a young teenager, I spent a lot of time reading every kind of eastern philosophy, spent a dozen plus years as a Scientologist and eventually became a Christian and so often now feel connected to my childhood. There was a bit of foundation there after all. Most days I spend some time praying for my father, the retired soldier who doesn’t believe… and for soldiers everywhere who sacrifice more than I think God should ask of them and their families. Mostly I just thank Him that they are there. Today I’m thanking Him for your dad too.

  • E Favorite

    Ed Paradis: I’m glad you found comfort when you needed it. You say, “There are no none belivers in combat, I don’t care where you are from, at one time in your combat life you WILL pray to God for his help.” But there are in fact “atheists in foxholes” – they are good soldiers, just like you, but they don’t believe in god. Please check out

  • Soja John Thaikattil, Sydney, Australia

    Dear Sally My response is belated. I must admit that it has been somewhat difficult for me to find the right words to respond to the honest and touching personal account of how you came to be an atheist as a child, about your great love for your father, and about his deep religious faith and his prayer that you would become a Christian. One thing becomes immediately clear – you were an extremely sensitive child who cared about the suffering of soldiers, the pain involved in war for all concerned, and the circumstances of your life were directly affected by the war. Evil after all baffles and confounds the most iron hearted of believers, and the evil of WW II is unparalleled in human history. So it is not at all surprising that it left a young child like you in despair. People react differently to suffering: it makes some deepen their faith, it makes others lose theirs. Who can say why some react in one way and the others in another? Life is a mystery indeed, and equally mysterious are God’s ways of leading people to Him!The gift of the cross you made to your father with the money given to buy candy has come back to you a million fold. Your father’s prayer may not be answered in the way he meant it – not yet – you becoming a Christian, but the risk you took hosting an On Faith forum on The Washington Post is an answer to your dad’s prayer for the benefits of this forum are incalculable. Your faith journey is ended only when you breathe your last. Who can say what is yet to come? You need only remain open to the leading of the Spirit of God as you are now and He will take care of the rest. I feel confident that your dad’s prayers for you to become a Christian is sure to be answered in God’s time and in God’s way. I keep you in my prayers too. And thanks once again for sharing something so deeply personal and thank you for the great work.Best wishes

  • Leo Solar

    Sally:I read your column, “Congress’ bullying pulpit” in the January 2, 2008, edition of The Palm Beach Post. How refreshing to see someone stand up to the way too powerful, Christian religion. I was born and raised a Catholic. I spent first grade in public school. Against my wishes, my mother enrolled me in Catholic school from second grade on. It’s strange how as a young child, I could sense something wrong.Well, I liked going to Catholic school at first. Since I came from a dysfunctional family, Catholic School fulfilled a need. I was young and impressionable and gobbled up every bit of propaganda that was pumped into my mind. I needed to belong, even in a subservient position. I was proud to be an altar boy, (the first in my grade, at the time) and felt good about receiving the sacraments. I believed fervently, everthing that I was told. I felt very secure, knowing that I was a good, obedient, Catholic.As I grew older and was beginning to be capable to form my own views on what I was being taught, I was starting to see the truth of what the Catholics were teaching. Gradually, I could no longer accept the lies I was being taught. I was still too young for my mind to put in proper perspective my concern about my education. Being in a very catholic environment, and with the brainwashing I had received, I felt extreme guilt for doubting the “very pious” Catholic Church. I felt like I was the heathen that I had been taught about. I felt like I was going to hell for not believing all the stories which were in fact, very unbelievable stories. I could not discuss this with anybody. I would have been embarrassed and ashamed for anybody to know that I felt the way I did. I became a closet atheist saddled with inner turmoil. After years of vacillating between guilt and truth, I finally freed myself of the catholic imposed demons that I had.The Catholic Church did not care about me or my, “salvation”. It was only interested in power and control. I was just a pawn. It had absolutely no qualms about filling my head with lies. I had as role models, quirky, wrinkled, neurotic old nuns whose only station in life was to worship Jesus. They didn’t know anything about life except to devote their entire life to serving Jesus. These were my teachers. They were in a different world, otherwise they would not have become nuns. It should be considered a crime of child abuse to expose young, vulnerable, children to people like that. I was only taught three things, incessantly… I owe everything to Jesus Christ, my saviour, who died on the cross to save me from my sins; If you’re not Catholic, you are going to hell; and I am a sinner. Although I had a good mind, I did poorly in school. I was disruptive and disobedient because I had no respect for the nuns or the priests and knew they were lying to me,and certainly sensed that I was getting a poor education. It was not until I got out of school and broke free of the Catholic hold on me, thatI was able to develop myself. The only productive year of education I had, was in first grade…the only year I spent in public sahoolIf it were a fair world, based on fairness, and not power, there would not be enough money in the world that the Catholic Church could compensate me, to atone for the damage they did to me.

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