back to article Plague of US preachers falsely claim to be Navy SEALs

Yet another curious effect of the modern internet media world became apparent this week: the syndrome – particularly common among American clergymen – of falsely claiming to be a former US Navy SEAL has risen to prominence, as the risk of being exposed as such a liar has risen severely. The chest badge worn by qualified US …


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  1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. SuperTim


      I like the delicious irony that a preacher can claim he was a gummint-killer-for-hire and that somehow gives him kudos. Peace be with you my child........Bracka Bracka Bracka

    2. DrXym Silver badge

      Well obviously

      Religion is a cheap and easy way for someone unqualified in other regards to get a step up and command authority over others. It doesn't mean for a second they're a better person, indeed you'd think people would run a mile from someone who says voices in his head are telling him to do things.

      It does not surprise me at all that so many get exposed as hypocrites, wife beaters, frauds, embezzlers, liars, crooks, paedophiles, panderers or homosexuals while railing against those things from the pulpit.

    3. Sam Liddicott

      and the rest

      Don't forget all the non-religion freaks who like to put whole nations to fire and the sword, we've had more deaths from those in recent history than the religious freaks.

      The bigger mistake is artificial constraint on the meaning of "religion" - which doesn't have to be theisticly based and often isn't.

      "thinking I'm right regardless" is a common religion, and one sometimes draped with ideas of god.

    4. ArmanX


      I would amend that statement just a bit... "You just can't trust folk." It's not the religion that does it. People are crummy, end of story. Being a pastor just gives you a bit of limelight, so that when you screw up, it goes on the national news instead of just being town gossip.

      Not saying that religious people don't do all kinds of rotten things, just that they don't do much more than your average human.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Prejudice template

      @Sarah Davis: "you just can't trust <insert hated group>, they're always starting wars, or stoning rape victims, or fiddling with children, or being part of the hitler youth, making wild claims, or lying about something or other - warn your kids, never except a lift from <insert hated group>, and never believe anything they say"

      Very nasty - although I've heard this kind of hate speech many times, it still always shocks me. The irony of seeming to oppose Hitler's philosophies whilst repeating many of the accusations he made against the Jews is a colourful touch.

      Not a single one of these statements about *any* people group can be justified. Fomenting hatred and prejudice like this is nothing short of shameful.

      [To the moderator - shouldn't hate speech postings be rejected?]

      1. copsewood
        Dead Vulture

        hate speech

        No harm using the report button, I think that one qualifies.

      2. The Beer Monster

        I think

        that Sarah wasn't being serious, that you missed the "I'll get my coat" icon and if you want to get offended, there's the thread about the nudist for you.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          I second the beer monster

          I think some people have seriously broken reading machines here.

          That wasnt offensive, it was posted with an appropriate icon to indicate its tone *and* was presented as nothing more than an opinion.

          Not really surprising that some people found themselves to be victimised by it....

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Paedophilia isn't funny

          @The Beer Monster: "I think that Sarah wasn't being serious"

          Sarah's statement was simply offensive - there wasn't a hint of humour in it. And some things simply shouldn't be said flippantly, particularly allegations of sexual offences against children. If we pass over this kind of talk as 'humorous', we give free rein to ugly prejudice, oppression, and intimidation. Perhaps it seems funnier if you've never experienced it.

          1. Steve X
            Thumb Down


            Sarah's statement wasn't offensive. It was satirical.

            You chose to be offended by it.

            Not the same thing, and no reason to censor it. Shame on El Reg.

          2. The Beer Monster

            Never experienced what?

            Prejudice, oppression, intimidation or paedophilia? Three out of four.

            Everything Sarah mentioned has been committed by the clergy and that's a fact. The Daily Heil type comment with the "oh, they're all like that, trust none of them" slant was blatantly tongue in cheek.

            It obviously offended you, but didn't offend me or others. Different strokes and all that. Still doesn't make either of us the moral arbiter for everyone.

          3. Shakje

            Well I guess that all comes back to what is in the purview of humour?

            I can understand if you've been a victim, but I don't know if it's a fair condescension. Do you watch violent TV or films which minimise the human impact and get entertained by them? How do you think the people in Palestine would feel about that? You like Tom and Jerry? How do you think the people who got beaten as kids feel about that?

            Look, I'm probably not the sort of person you like because I'm ardently for free speech. I'd far rather that arguments were out in the open rather than shut up in little local communities where they fester into something twice as ugly. I think that the German laws against Nazi symbolism are silly at best. I even disagree with laws about holocaust denial, although the people who ascribe to it are singularly disgusting. You know what? Flippant comments are what makes things bearable. Put it this way, do you think that words have more power if they're laughed off or if they're criticised, or (special option number three) pushed to the bottom of the pile and treated like the pox?

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            pot, kettle, black

            "particularly allegations of sexual offences against children"

            If you are going to be so pedantic over the use of language, please do not downgrade real, documented examples of sexual offences to "allegations"

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Hate speech ?

        While "they are always" is an exaggeration, it can't be denied that these things did and do happen and often with the support or the encouragement of the organization they represented.

        "The irony of seeming to oppose Hitler's philosophies whilst repeating many of the accusations he made against the Jews is a colourful touch."

        The irony of you conflating lies told by Hitler compared to documented examples of the things mentioned above is a colourful touch.

        It didn't foment hatred. Merely mockery. Better than being stoned, abused or just lied to.

  2. Kevin7

    Title needed

    Don't they reckon that if that all the blokes who claimed they've served in the SAS stood on each other's shoulders, the man on top could piss on the moon?

    1. Trygve Henriksen
      Thumb Up

      and if he really was SAS...

      He probably would do it, too...

      Unless it's Bear Grylles, as he would probably be too busy trying to make a bonfire or finding a totally unnecessary peril to navigate.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Up

          spotted a mole

          Wish he'd drive past my garden occasionally, I've got lots of little furry candidates for that treatment. Especially since the farmer across the way retired & doesn't go huntin' varmint with a pickaxe any more...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          but you've grown up now ?

          "my mate's dad was Paras and SAS. And a boxer. I forget what else"

          Bulshitter is the word your looking for.

          The ability to kill blind defenceless creatures is not a pre-requisite for being an action man.

      2. Anonymous Coward


        Bear Grylls wasn't in the real SAS. He was in the TA equivalent. He just doesn't like drawing attention to that bit.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Up

          Re: Except

          .....Bear Grylls wasn't in the real SAS. He was in the TA equivalent. He just doesn't like drawing attention to that bit.

          Nor does he draw attention to the fact that he goes and sleeps in a nice comfy hotel with his film crew while pretending to be sleeping inside a dead camel or something (as I recall he's a Jesus freak as well? looks like a pattern forming)

          1. Trygve Henriksen


            Teaching Assistant?

            I figured out a long time ago that his SAS credentials were 'less than perfect'.

            for one, he can't do cross-country skiing or much at all that has to do with arctic climate.

            And the REAL SAS trains with the Norwegian special forces every winter.

            (Most SEAL teams also train in Norway now and then. )

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Real SAS

              "And the REAL SAS trains with the Norwegian special forces every winter."

              What, all of them? Even boat troop? Why would they do that?

              1. Trygve Henriksen

                Boat troops?

                That would be the SBS, not the SAS...

                And they show up occasionally, too.

                (But they're more interested in RIBs than skies, though)

              2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          TA SAS

          They arent quite like the rest of the TA.... Nothing too shameful in being 21/ 23 SAS.

          1. Anonymous Coward


            "TA SAS - They arent quite like the rest of the TA.... Nothing too shameful in being 21/ 23 SAS"

            Except it's people like Bear Grylls who get in. Says it all.

            1. david wilson


              >>"Except it's people like Bear Grylls who get in. Says it all."

              A guy I know was also in 21/23, and ended up becoming a (very down-to-earth) clergyman in later life, but doesn't talk about his history.

              If it wasn't for people asking why he did tours as an army padre, I'm not sure how many people who didn't know him at the time would know he'd ever been anything other than a vicar.

              Judging a whole group on the basis of a few people who bang their own drum a bit loudly after they leave may be a little severe.

              1. Anonymous Coward


                "A guy I know was also in 21/23, and ended up becoming a (very down-to-earth) clergyman in later life, but doesn't talk about his history."

                I do wonder about people who train to kill other people (because lets face it, that's kind of the point of an armed force) who then go on to be religious types.

                Being able to reconcile those two entirely opposing world views is, i'm afraid, good enough reason to distrust them.

                1. david wilson


                  >>"I do wonder about people who train to kill other people (because lets face it, that's kind of the point of an armed force) who then go on to be religious types."

                  Surely, having the ability to kill is ideally a means to an end, with the end hopefully being significantly one of defence - whether killing to prevent someone else killing innocent people, or even having armed forces as deterrents?

                  >>"Being able to reconcile those two entirely opposing world views is, i'm afraid, good enough reason to distrust them."

                  I do get where you're coming from, and someone who went from one extreme to another would make me wonder a bit as well, though the guy I'm thinking of couldn't really be called an extreme believer - from what I can tell, probably rather less so then most of his CofE congregation. I don't know what his attitude was earlier in life since I didn't know him then.

                  Also, it's not necessarily a case of reconciling two views as much as someone doing something at one point in their life and then at some point (possibly partly as a result, possibly some time later) deciding that they'd rather be doing something else.

                  Personally, I don't have any kind of belief, and I doubt I ever will.

                  I'm not really in a position to judge whether it's meaningfully less rational to be a believer and a part or full-time solider (whether at the same time, or at different times) than to simply be a believer.

                  It does seem that belief is often somewhat compartmentalised - many people seem to manage to combine beliefs with all kinds of professions where I could easily imagine the possibility of some kind of conflict.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    George W Bush,

    "well known for previously being photographed on the deck of a US Navy aircraft carrier clad in full naval aviator's equipment"

    To be fair, he had just been flown to the carrier in a two-seater. It's sort of required to wear that stuff when you're in a military jet, even if you're in the training seat on a publicity romp.

    1. Naughtyhorse


      If you want to bring 'fair' into it he should have been rendered down for more useful raw materials at birth.

      1. It wasnt me
        Thumb Up


        Genius. New keyboard please.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. hamcheeseandonion

    What if..........

    ...the preacher had covered himself in black boot polish and balanced a bright red beachball on his nose?

    <i thank you>

    Mine's the one with the fish in the pocket

    1. Anonymous Coward

      They may get away with it in Pakistan

      but they better not stick their noses into Canada!

      Mine's the one with the club in the pocket.

  5. Anonymous Coward


    I'm a Navy Seal and so is my wife.

    1. Stubar
      Thumb Up

      @ Lob

      Thanks for posting under "AC" as I now can't send the bill for my new keyboard!

  6. CraPo


    See ARRSE

    1. The Beer Monster


      Not tolerant of Walts. I seem to recall a big Walt outing a few years ago.

      1. neb


        ...can't bloody move there sometimes for someone finding another bloody walt!

        that balcony must have been friggin mahoosive, seeing as they all seem to have been second man on it!

  7. Anonymous Coward


    You just cant trust anything they say... When will people learn that they lie for a living?

  8. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    stolen valor

    That was an odd bill, lobbied for by folks who had harried Jeremy Boorda, then U.S. Chief of Naval Operations, into suicide over an inappropriate "Combat V" on a decoration. No, you shouldn't claim honors that you did not receive. Neither should you fart in elevators, but so far Congress hasn't passed a "Stolen Air" bill.

    I have been acquainted with at least a couple of fake veterans of the Vietnam War, though as far as I know the one fellow I knew who claimed to have served in the SEALs; told the truth.

    The combat-to-clergy transition is not unheard of, to be sure. To name one example off hand, Philip Berrigan served in the WW II before his conversion to pacifism and stint in the Josephites. For that matter, one can find on Connecticut Ave. in Washington, DC, a statue of Peter Muhlenberg, who took time out from the pulpit to command a regiment in the American Revolution.

    1. laird cummings

      Iron Mike & Irony

      The instructions around wearing the 'V' were entirely vague and obtuse at the time Boorda was awarded the medal in the first place, and it appears he wore it in good-faith understanding that it was appropriate. Instantally as it was questioned, he stopped wearing it.

      Ironically, one of his chief accusers, the late Col. Hackworth, was busted in a *indisputable* case of 'decoration inflation' - Not just a debatable add-on to a legitimately-awarded medal, but entire awards and qualifications* never issued to him, which he claimed on his proffesional CV and formed part of the basis of his self-promotional pitch as 'the most decorated soldier in America.'

      Misunderstanding instructions around a real event is one thing, but claiming credit for events and qualifications that never happened is something rather different.

      *Two false DFCs and the Ranger Tab. Hackworth hastily edited his bio to reflect correct awards after being called on it by CBS.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh god, I'm about to defend Dubya!!!

    " ........ comparatively lowly National Guard pilot "?

    Even though I'm not American, I think that is an unfair slur on the dedication and professionalism of the ANG pilots, who have proven over the years to be every bit as good as their full time colleagues. Bush himself was complimented on his high skill levels, and was reputed to be a "very fine interceptor pilot".

    Nowadays ANG pilots can, and do, fly in active duty theatres of war; that was not the case during the Vietnam War, and it was known that volunteering for ANG duty could help you avoid a call up to an active duty squadron. It is this that is the controversial element of Dubya's service, not his piloting skills.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      RE: Oh god, I'm about to defend Dubya!!!

      Here in the UK we don't expect our leaders to have done any form of national service, in fact we hardly expect them to have done anything of real worth at all prior to entering politics. Apart from Paddy Ashdown, I can't think of a UK politician that has real and extensive military experience. But in the States it can kill your political career to be dubbed either a draft-dodger or to have lied about your service. After Bush Snr used his military career as a WW2 naval bomber pilot to great affect during his campaigns, the anti-Bush crowd set out early to try and discredit Dubyha's service record, leading to the infamous Rathergate forgeries. The Bush followers got their revenge in kind when they slated John Kerry's dubious claim for a Purple Heart from Vietnam, and much was made of the fact that the closest the Obumbler has ever got to active duty was "mixing with bomb-makers like Bill Ayers".

      Obambi's recent actions are interesting - his Whitehouse team are claiming he doubled the number of SEALs on the Bin Laden raid to avoid them possibly getting cornered by Pakistani forces. The driver may have been that criticism of the failed Op Eagle Claw was a big nail in Jimmy Carter's presidential career. Looks like even non-military types want to look like assertive men-of-war going into an election cycle.

      1. Tim99 Silver badge

        Military service

        Er, PMs with combat experience since WW II- Churchill, Eden, Macmillan, Wilson, Heath and Callaghan. Douglas-Home was too young for WW I and too ill for WW II.

        It has been said of Heath's Cabinet that only Thatcher had not served in WW II, and this was why she had little concept of service, community and society...

        1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

          RE: Military service

          ".....Churchill, Eden, Macmillan, Wilson, Heath and Callaghan...." I was thinking more of our current crop of politicians, rather than those from a period where two World Wars meant it was compulsory to have done some form of service. In fact, IIRC, lawyers and juh-nah-lists are more likely to become politicians than any other profession here in the UK. The lawyers bit explains why politics seems to be 50% pointless blather, and the journalists bit explains why that 50% seems to entail nothing but hot air and hype.

      2. Anonymous Coward

        But how do you *really* feel about Obama?

        Bush: 8 years, biggest attack on US soil in history, invaded wrong country, bin Laden "not a priority."

        Obama: 2 years. Got bin Laden.

        You're right that the one thing they have in common is that neither served in combat. However, one styled himself the "war president" to get re-elected, by virtue of, you know, starting a huge unnecessary war, which to me is kind of like killing your parents and calling for clemency since you're now an orphan.

        The other got rid of one of the US' major antagonists about as neatly and cleanly as one can in this line of work, and snagged a wealth of intel in the process.

        If it was all about "the election cycle," this would have happened a lot closer to the election, don't you think?

        FAIL. Because.


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