Letter to a Christian Young Man Regarding Joining the Military

The following letter was sent to a Christian young man I know who was considering joining the military. He hasn’t joined as of yet, and I hope and pray that he doesn’t. I am posting this letter publicly in the hope that it might persuade some Christian young men I don’t know from joining the military. This letter was published on February 13, 2009, on LewRockwell.com. At the end of the letter I included this appeal:

If any readers are veterans, consider themselves to be Christians, agree with the sentiments expressed in this letter, and would be willing to let me append their name, branch, and rank to any future use of this letter, please contact me at lmvance@laurencemvance.com. The fact that you “served” and I didn’t might be what is needed to help persuade some young man (or woman) to not join the military.

The names appended to this letter are those of Christian veterans who contacted me. I have listed the ranks just as they were given to me. If you are a Christian veteran and wish to have your name added, please contact me with your name, branch, and rank and I will add your information. If I have posted your name in error, made a mistake of some kind, or you wish to have your name removed, please contact me and I will remove or correct your information.


Dear ______:

I have been told that you are thinking about joining the military. I hope I am misinformed. I understand that you are having trouble finding a job, but think that, as a Christian young man, you are making a big mistake if you join today’s military.

First of all, you were raised in a Christian home and went to Christian schools your whole life. You will be needlessly exposed to much wickedness in the military. You will unnecessarily face temptations that you have never been exposed to. Why put yourself in this position? It is a fact that there is a network of brothels around the world to service U.S. troops stationed overseas. I know that you are a clean young man and have a girlfriend, but don’t deceive yourself into thinking that you can remain clean in the military. Because I write on war and military issues, I have scores of veterans, Christian and otherwise, who have written me that will back up everything I am saying.

Second, it is one thing to join the military out of a sense of patriotism, but how does joining the military for financial reasons make you any different than a mercenary? I know that sounds harsh, but would you consider joining the military if you had a good job right now?

Third, the senseless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have no end in sight. There is no guarantee that you will not be sent to Iraq, Afghanistan, or some other God-forsaken place where you could be in danger of losing life or limb. And for what?

Fourth, you can’t trust military recruiters. Like a car salesman, they are trying to make their monthly quota. They have been caught on tape lying to young men, even telling them that no troops were being sent to Iraq anymore. 

Fifth, I know that you have a very low opinion of the new president, Barack Obama. I share your opinion completely. As a member of the military, Obama would be your commander in chief. You could be sent anywhere to fight for Obama. Are you willing to fight and possibly die because Obama thinks it necessary to send American troops into some other war?

Sixth, in the military, you will be expected to blindly follow the orders of your officers. Independent thought is not tolerated. Please consider the words of U.S. Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler (1881–1940), a two-time Congressional Medal of Honor winner: “Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.” Major General Butler became disillusioned with military service and wrote a famous book called War Is a Racket in which he said: “War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.”

Seventh, the purpose of the U.S. military is to defend America. But not only is the military not being used in defense of the country, it is being used to guard the borders, patrol the coasts, and defend the shores of other countries. The purpose of the military has been perverted by the interventionist foreign policy of the United States. There are American troops stationed in 147 countries and 10 territories. I know this for a fact because I have researched this in official Department of Defense documents and written about it on many occasions. The current use of the military is contrary to the American Founding Fathers’ policy of nonintervention in the affairs of other countries.

Eighth, joining the military may have an adverse effect on your future family. I know that you have a girlfriend that you are very serious about. You should know that the breakup of marriages and relationships because of soldiers being deployed to Iraq and elsewhere is epidemic. Multiple duty tours and increased deployment terms are the death knell for stable families. What makes you think that the military will never send you away from your family for an extended period of time? You know that the possibility exists, so why gamble with your family? And then, as if being away from your family wasn’t bad enough on you and them, some soldiers come home with such physical and/or mental problems that they are unable to return to civilian life. Debt, doctors, and divorce lawyers soon consume their finances.

Ninth, joining the military means that you may be put into a position where you will have to kill or be killed. What guarantee do you have that you will be in a non-combat role? Can you in good conscience pull the trigger against any “enemy” that the U.S. government sends you thousands of miles away to kill?

And finally, you would have problems even if you went into the military as a chaplain. Taxpayer-supported chaplains have to serve two masters: God and the state. Compromise is inevitable. He that pays the piper calls the tune. To become a chaplain in the U.S. military, one must obtain an ecclesiastical endorsement from an organization approved by the Pentagon as an Endorsing Ecclesiastical Organization. According to the chaplain requirements, one of the things that the endorsement should certify is that a military chaplain should be “sensitive to religious pluralism and able to provide for the free exercise of religion by all military personnel, their family members and civilians who work for the Army.” I know that you are a conservative Christian and are averse to compromising your religious convictions. You will, however, be expected to do just that. As a chaplain, you would be expected to ask God to bless the actions of U.S. troops even if they were fighting in an unjust war. Can you in good conscience do this?

Please remember that if you join the military, there is no getting out until your enlistment period is up. I hope and pray that you don’t make the mistake of joining.

In Christ Jesus our Savior,

Laurence Vance



Auchtung, Matthew Glenn, Army, Captain, Intelligence Officer
Arnold, Chester; Marines, Sergeant
Babb, Paul; Army, Specialist E-4
Barletta, Don; Army, Sergeant E-5
Barnett, Gary; Army, PFC
Beadle, Mark; Marines, Corporal
Beaulieu, Tom; Air Force, Sergeant
Bentley, James; Navy, Sonar Technician
Berdanier, Ian; Marines, Enlisted
Berndt, Andrew; Marines, Sergeant
Bernier, Stephen; Air Force, SSGT
Biega, Bill; Army, Specialist E-6
Billman, Keith; Marines, Corporal
Blagg, James; Army, Colonel
Boyd, Kenneth; Marines, Corporal
Boyett, Joseph; Air Force, Colonel
Bradshaw, Kim; Marines, SSgt.
Brunner, Robert; Army, Sergeant E-5
Campie, Michael; Air Force, Captain
Cannon, Bruce; Navy, Electrician's Mate E-3
Carroll, Mark; Marines, Enlisted
Carroll, Jeffrey; Army, Specialist E-4
Case, Tim; Army, CW3
Cheney, David; Navy, FTG3
Cloyd, Jeff; Navy, Machinists Mate 3rd Class
Cole, William; Marines, Corporal
Cook, Leonard; Marines, Sergeant
Cranmer, Hal; Air Force, Major
Davis, Chad; Navy, YN2
Detzner, Bill; Army, Specialist Four
Dohoney, Nathan; Army, Sergeant
East, Brian; Army, Sgt.
Ely, Jack; Navy
Evanoff, Alexandra; Army, Specialist E-4
Evans, Scott; Navy, Chief Petty Officer
Fisher, David; Marines, Sergeant; Navy, Petty Officer 1st Class
Forrester, Keith; Army, Specialist
Gaddy, Michael; Army, Command Sergeant Major
Glaser, James; Marines, Sergeant
Golubski, Dianne; Air Force, Sergeant
Golubski, Frank; Air Force, Senior Airman
Gonzalez, John; Navy, Lieutenant
Grossklas, William; Army National Guard, Sergeant E5
Hagerty, Patrick; Marines, Corporal
Haines, David; Air Force, Tsgt E-6
Hamby, Randy; Air Force, Ssgt E-5
Harris, John T.; Navy, AT2
Hickman, Jerry L.; Marines, E-4
Holson, James; Army, Military Police Corps
Janness, Mark; Army, Specialist 4th Class
Jenkins, Ed; Navy, Builder 2nd Class E-5
Johnson, Angela; Army, E-2
Johnson, Charles; Navy, RM3
Jones, David; Navy, MM2
Jones, Eric; Navy, MM2 E-5
Jones, Jeffrey; Army, Specialist E-4
Kalisky, Pete; Air Force, Lt. Col Ret.
Kliesen, James; Army, Spec 5
Knapp, Fred; Marines, Enlisted
Knecht, David; Army, Captain
Landry, James; Navy, SN
Lewis, Daniel; Army, Sergeant E-5
Linnebur, Harold; Marines, Corporal
Lowe, Thomas; Navy, E-3
Ludwig, Mike; Army, SPC5
Marshall, Eric; Air Force, Senior Airman
Martin, Philip; Marines, Corporal
McCarthy, Thomas; Army, Specialist E-4
McCauley, Vincent; Marines, E-3
Metzger, William; Army Reserve, Chief Warrant Officer 3
Miller, Andrew; Air Force, Captain
Mitchell, Kurtis; Navy, HM3
Mitchell, Thomas S.; Army, Staff Sergeant
Moe, Leon; Army, Specialist 5th Class
Montgomery, Patrick; SGT E-5 Army
Moore, James; Army, Tech Sergeant
Moorhouse, David; Air Force, Sergeant
Moreland, Natalie Amos Yawn; Navy, Electrician's Mate 3rd Class
Morris, Eric; Army, Captain
Mullen, Linda; Marines, Sergeant
Nelson, Ken; Army, 1st Lieutenant
Norris, Gerald; Air Force, Sergeant
O'Brien, Sean; Navy, Machinist Mate E-5
Page, Lauren; Air Force, Master Sergeant
Pearson, James; Army, Captain
Pearson, Paul; Army, Sergeant
Peddicord, David; Air Force, Sergeant
Polomny, John; Navy, Electricians Mate 2nd Class
Potter, Eric; Air Force, Captain
Province, Travis; Marines, Corporal
Reith, Mike; Air Force, Major
Rice, J.D.; Air Force, Sergeant
Roda, John B.; Navy, GMG2
Rodriquez, Craig, Marines, Corporal
Rorie-Baety, Walt; Marines, Sergeant
Ross, Michael; Marines, Corporal
Ruppert, William; Navy, Electricians Mate 3rd class
Russell, Jim; Army, Specialist 4th Class
Ryken, Daniel; Army, Sergeant
Sacco, Ed; Army, Band
Schmatz, David; Army, Sergeant
Schoolfield, Jim; Navy, 2nd Class Petty Officer
Schuberg, Mark; Navy, Lieutenant
Scott, Jack; Navy, Machinist's Mate 2nd
Simpson, Richard; Air Force, Senior Airman
Snively, William; Army Reserve, E-6
Southorn, Jason; Army, Sergeant E-5
Stevens, Robert; Air Force, SSgt E-5
Stevens, Tim; Navy, Quarter Master 3rd Class
Stimeling, Brittin; Army, Specialist E-4
Stoppelbein, Joseph; Army, Captain
Sweigart, Steve; Marines, Sergeant
Tuuri, Michael; Navy, Electronics Technician Radar 2nd Class E-5
Venaglia, John; Army, Major
Vied, Joshua; Marines, Machine Gunner
Walters, David; Marines, Captain
Welling, Richard; Army, Major
Weltman, Craig; Coast Guard, Lieutenant
Whitfield, George; Marines, Corporal
Wigton, Richard; Marines, Corporal
Wilson, Greg; Marines, Captain
Woodard, Brian, Air Force, Sr. Airman
Zahringer, Kenneth; Air Force, Captain