Actor Stephen Baldwin, the youngest member of the famous Baldwin brothers, is no longer playing Pauly Shore’s sidekick in comedy masterpieces like Biodome. He has a much more serious calling these days.
Baldwin became a right-wing, born-again Christian after the 9/11 attacks, and now is the star of Operation Straight Up (OSU), an evangelical entertainment troupe that actively proselytizes amongactive-duty members of the US military. As an officialarm of the Defense Department’s America Supports You program, OSU plans to mail copies of the controversial apocalyptic video game, Left Behind: Eternal Forces to soldiers serving in Iraq. OSU is also scheduled to embark on a "Military Crusade in Iraq" in the near future.
"We feel the forces of heaven have encouraged us to perform multiple crusades that will sweep through this war torn region," OSU declares on its website about its planned trip to Iraq. "We’ll hold the onlyreligious crusade of its size in the dangerous land of Iraq."
The Defense Department’s Chaplain’s Office, which oversees OSU’s activities, has not responded to calls seeking comment.
"The constitution has been assaulted and brutalized," Mikey Weinstein, former Reagan Administration White House counsel, ex-Air Force judge advocate (JAG), and founder of the
On the surface, OSU appears as a traditional entertainment troupe that brings cheer to American troops around the globe. Founded by champion kickboxer Jonathan Spinks, OSU performs comedy, acrobatic stunts and strongman displays. Its roster of entertainers includes a former WNBA star, the Flying Wallendas, a ventriloquist, and former boxing champ Evander Holyfield. "We make no bones about the fact that we are speaking directly to the soldiers of the greatest fighting force of in the world," OSU proclaims. "No ‘mamsie pamsie’ stuff here!"
But behind OSU’s anodyne promises of wholesome fun for military families, the organization promotes an apocalyptic brand of evangelical Christianity to active duty US soldiers serving in Muslim-dominated regions of the Middle East. Displayed prominently onthe "What We Believe" section of OSU’s website is a passage from the Book of Revelations (Revelation 19:20; 20:10-15) that has become the bedrock of the Christian right’s End Times theology: "The devil and his angels, the beast and the false prophet, and whosoever is not found written in the Book of Life, shall be consigned to everlasting punishment in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."