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Retro Posting

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sgt. Calvin Gibbs: How Mormon Is He?

I review a lot of news. I prefer to get the facts rather than lurid details so I stay away from tabloid stuff. However, the New York Times article, "Young Soldier Both Revered and Reviled" contains a disturbing fact and some lurid details.

Calvin Gibbs was raised Mormon. He is the soldier accused of being the ringleader of the five soldiers charged with unnecessary deaths in Afghanistan. Military news sticks to the facts indicating only that the soldiers have been charged and what the charges are.

There have been some shocking allegations against Gibbs. I'll wait for the legal and military verdicts. I won't examine them here. Inevitably, Gibbs' religion will probably be blamed.

I can't see into anyone's heart, but I'll list the religious indicators and comment on them. All quotes are from the New York Times article.


Not long before he was deployed to war zones overseas, Sergeant Gibbs was a struggling teenager in Billings. “No ambition,” said a neighbor. His father worked in maintenance for the Mormon church and his family was active in the faith. He barely attended high school, earning just 1 of 20 credits necessary to graduate. In his high school yearbook during his sophomore year, he wore a T-shirt bearing the brand of a skateboarding company, “Independent.”
This tells us more about Gibb's father than about Gibb's himself. His father would have had to be a reasonably strong Mormon to work for the Church. Gibb's was probably raised Mormon.

A strong Mormon would probably have more of a commitment to school. Following gospel teachings would have given him direction and probably some ambition as well.

I don't think his high school yearbook picture indicates anything at all.

Mr. Thomas, his brother Paul, Sergeant Gibbs and another friend were close as teenagers, frequently camping out on summer nights in Red Lodge, Mont., fishing, shooting BB guns and drinking beer.
Drinking beer is specifically against Mormon teachings. This is considered a significant violation of our beliefs.

Several soldiers recalled Sergeant Gibbs and Specialist Morlock tossing severed fingers in front of a soldier who had reported the widespread use of hashish within the unit. 
Using drugs such as hashish is also specifically against Mormon teachings. This is another significant violation.

Friends say all he ever wanted to be was a soldier.
Good Mormon boys aspire to be missionaries. Usually, boys go into the military if they aren't particularly good Mormons. Most good Mormons join the military after missionary service, often doing so as officers with language skills developed during a mission. There are exceptions of course. But, missionary service is considered more important than military service although military service is valued.

Sergeant Gibbs has refused to speak to military investigators. But during fingerprinting and photographing in May, he was required to show his tattoos.
Strong Mormons don't generally get tattoos. Church leaders have advised against them. This is considered defacing your body and your body is sacred.

Sgt. Gibbs is married to a soldier based in the United States, Pfc. Chelsy M. Gibbs. They were married in a Mormon church in Billings.
Good Mormons generally get married in a temple not a chapel. There is a temple in Billings. I'm assuming this report is correct and the Gibbs' were married by a local Mormon leader. If first married in a civil ceremony in a chapel, good Mormons have their initial marriage "sealed" in a temple. There is no indication the Gibbs were sealed.

The available evidence suggests Gibbs was a nominal Mormon not a strong one.

See update 11/11/10

2 comments:

  1. Thoughtful ChristianNovember 10, 2010 at 5:58 PM

    Do you really care more about him being a nominal Mormon than a strong one? I am appauled that this article defends a religion rather than a human being and his trials on earth. A religion is not what makes a person. Perhaps Calvin's faith in God has grown due to what he has had to go through. I believe that more importantly than anything else, Calvin has gone through a lot and with prayer and believing in God's plan for Calvin, things will work out according to our good Lord. I understand that you, Krista, must be a Mormon and are defending your religion. What I ask of you as a follower of Christ, is to be a christian and ask for God to protect over Calvin and truly believe that the Lord has a plan designed for Calvin. We are here as humans that are to support each other rather than tear each other down and dictate to what degree of a Mormon Calvin was. He may have had trying times with his faith but like I said before, God has a plan. And now he is stronger, as his faith has been challenged and he has reformed his relationship with God. Perhaps, this is part of God's plan. It's not any of us sinners (humans) place to judge how God's plan is carried out.

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  2. My thanks to "Thoughtful Christian" above. My November 11, 2010 posting will address the issues brought up. My response will go live at 10:00 AM Central time.

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