Sunday, December 09, 2012

Cadet quits West Point in protest of "overt religiosity."

Courtesy of Raw Story:  

When Blake Page announced this week that he was quitting West Point a few months before graduation, citing the overt religiosity on campus, he raised recurring questions about the pervasiveness and impact of evangelical Christianity within the ranks of the US military. 

“I do not wish to be in any way associated with an institution which willfully disregards the Constitution of the United States of America by enforcing policies which run counter to the same,” Mr. Page wrote in his letter of resignation to the US Military Academy at West Point, in New York. 

He cites, among other things, routine prayers at mandatory events for cadets and the practice of awarding off-campus passes and credit to students who take part in religious retreats and chapel choirs. These activities, in turn, foster “open disrespect of non-religious new cadets,” Page argued, adding that he had been told at West Point that it was not possible for people to have morals without believing in God. 

This is not the first time such charges have been leveled within a military training academy. The US Air Force Academy came under similar criticism in 2005 for conferring preferential treatment on cadets who were evangelical Christians and promoting proselytizing in the ranks. 

Of course this story fits right in with the one I posted on Friday concerning the chaplains, and soldiers, who identified themselves as "Government paid missionaries." And is also reminiscent of the one which I think really brought this issue to the public's attention, the Bible verses on gun sights story of 2010.

You know what I think is new is NOT the pervasiveness of an evangelical presence in the military (Though I am convinced it increased rather dramatically during the Bush years), but rather a lack of tolerance for that presence among the youth of this country who are now confronting it for the first time.

Personally I think that we will see evangelicals lose their access to these young men and women as they are confronted with more and more cadets and recruits who are better educated about the variety of religions in the world, more aware of the issue concerning the separation of church and state, and less tolerant of proselytizing.

And, as Martha Stewart might say, that's a good thing.

25 comments:

  1. Anonymous6:51 AM

    I was sent to a military high school as a teenage "disciplinary problem" in the 60's. The bible thumping aspect of the military has been around forever. Mandatory chapel, grace before meals, etc. You did it, or they made your life miserable.

    It's just on steroids now, and hopefully they eventually hang themselves with the extra rope.

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  2. Anonymous7:03 AM

    Considering the religious right's views on rape and women's reproductive rights, it would be interesting to see whether or not there is any correlation between the religious right's involvement in the military and the incidents of rape and/or abuse of females in the military.

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  3. Anonymous8:43 AM

    Congrats and thanls to the cadet who quit. I am proud of him.
    This shit has got to stop.

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    Replies
    1. In what way will it stop by him quitting?

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    2. Leland8:11 AM

      By getting it out into the light of day, mialuppa. No, one voice probably won't make a difference, but as the numbers go up....

      Delete
  4. A cousin was the best and brightest his family produced. He flew the F-15s and eventually succumbed to a strange cancer he probably got on the job. He wasn’t Evangelical like the rest of the family (including missionaries), so he was removed from the family record; they don’t mention him.

    I’m sure that backfired with a lot of people who knew him.

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  5. Anonymous8:55 AM

    I so agree w/the cadet doing this - good for him! I'm sick and disgusted w/religion being jammed down our throats in government, which includes the military of every branch. No wonder we are becoming more and more of a non-christian country.

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  6. hedgewytch9:01 AM

    West Point in particular has ALWAYS been a place to create "christian warriors". But since the Bush/Cheney years they took their philosophy on steroids and don't even bother to try to keep it low key. I hope this whole thing explodes and ends up destroying "that bastion of military greatness" that is known as West Point.

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    1. It won't.

      He would have done better to take that discipline he's supposed to be learning, bite the bullet and his tongue and graduate. Then AFTER graduation, toss all of that shit at the fan. Expose it all.

      Now? He'll be portrayed as weak and quitting because he couldn't take it. They'll probably throw in academic and behavior problems.

      Delete
    2. Anonymous11:21 AM

      It was determined he wouldn't be commissioned after graduation due to his struggle with depression. Quitting West Point was the only way he felt he could make a difference on the church-state issue.

      Delete
  7. I think you're wrong.

    While there is a portion of youth that rejects it, there is also a portion of youth that embraces it fanatically. And unfortunately the fanatical youth will be the ones going to this nation's military academies and advancing to lead our armed forces. And that that eschew it will not. Like this young man.

    This young man are the kind of men we NEED to be leading our armed forces. We need these young people leading our military so that we do not continue to read about the incidents of cruelty that we do. (That cruelty being justified by those committing it because the perpetrators are God's chosen and the victims deserving it because...they are not. In the opinion of the perpetrators.)

    We need a military that is moral and just without religion. We do not need a military that is controlled by a small cadre of right wing fundamentalists

    We need this young man IN our military. HIs resignation is a tragedy. And I suspect not the last.

    But the bigger tragedy is that....no one at West Point, in the military or in our government will care. They will simply spin his decision as that of someone weak and unacceptable. They'll say he was a poor student, on academic probation, had behavior problems or was lacking in some essential way. They'll say he wasn't fit to be an officer or a West Point Grad. Wait and see. They'll minimize the damage and make it all go away.

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    1. Anonymous4:05 PM

      He was not on academic probation. He was clinically depressed. His father died earlier in the year and he has been struggling with that along with other issues. The military determined he was not fit to commission as an officer. It was after that he decided to quit/ or was told to leave, I'm not clear. Normally if a cadet leaves after the first day of their Junior year, they still owe the military service or repay their education (not cheap, believe me). This man is a Senior and the military determined he owed nothing because he was being dismissed for mental health reasons. I'm well aware of the religious issue in the military, but I'm not very clear of how much of that was the real issue in this case.

      Elizabeth 44

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    2. And there you have. They're saying he has mental problems. Pay no attention to that cadet. This isn't the cadet you should be listening to. Nothing to see here. Move along now.

      Kinda exactly what I said would happen. He's discredited.

      Delete
  8. Smirnonn10:38 AM

    Hey, sure, let's combine the military and religion. What could possibly go wrong? I mean, it's not like there's ever been such a thing as a crusade.

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  9. Anonymous10:40 AM

    I remember as a freshman at Ithaca College just walking around on campus and being AGGRESSIVELY solicited by various on campus Christian groups who at first tried to just say benign things like "Are you interested in making the world a better place?" and stuff to draw you into conversation; if you stupidly stopped to talk to them they aggressively pressed loads of pamphlets on you, pressured you to join their Christian groups on campus, and then, when you politely (and with genuine respect and love in your heart for other religious beliefs) said, "No, thank you," they TARGETED you from that point on at lunchlines and mealtimes until you told them to back the fuck off.

    This wasn't a Xtian university; in fact, the largest and most popular major at Ithaca College back then was "recreation major", i.e. party all the time.

    I remember feeling really awful about the whole thing, having always been a sincere spiritual seeker who, at the same time, is an analytical engineer's daughter who is SKEPTICAL in the original sense of what being a skeptic means (look up the Greek origins if you're interested.) These people were nasty and out of line, and they are given free reign on all the country's campuses. You tell them "Not interested, but wish you well," and they should leave you alone, right? Nope. Except aggressive "profiling" as a potential "New recruit." How many millions of college students are dealing with this and not talking about it, feeling possibly that, because they themselves are Christian, it's not a good idea to complain?

    FUCKING PIECES OF SHIT. Education should definitely allow students many opportunities for socializing. But pressuring students to "join up" to Xtianist groups or else you get harrassed for a long time? Not cool. And definitely out of place on any military campus. That's a fucking no brainer.

    Media Insider aka Jennifer

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  10. Anonymous10:57 AM

    There is an excellent documentary out that goes into this a bit. It is James Carroll's "Constantnes's Sword" Well worth watching. I'm sure Netflix would have it.

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  11. My friend's grandson was an arrogant, rude, party lovin', gun-lovin', minority-hatin', church hatin', dirty talkin' little high school jock. He joined the Army upon graduation and is stationed in NY state.

    Ran into him a couple years back at a holiday gathering. He is now an arrogant, rude, party lovin', gun-lovin', minority-hatin', dirty talkin' self-described "born again" Christian. He now hates anyone who doesn't share his "religion" and constantly spouts what he thinks are bible quotes supporting his ministry of hatred. From what I gathered, they attend services on the base.

    I was shocked at his metamorphosis and wouldn't have believed someone like him would ever adopt a religion, any religion, had I not witnessed it first hand. It scared me that this kind of a guy is an integral part of our military and that he doesn't appear to be alone in his thinking on that base.

    Many years ago one of my brothers with some similar traits went in the Navy and came home knowing how to say "yes, sir" and "no ma'am" as well as a tad more respect for his fellow man in general. I sometimes think I wish had my old country back too.

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  12. Anonymous11:37 AM

    Unfortunately much of the Christian doctrine goes hand in hand with the military codes of obedience and honor. Many a wayward young teen has been "broken" by being sent to military school. There was a prominent academy in my hometown and I knew some of the cadets and they were "set on the right course" through a firm application of both discipline and religion. Missing chapel on Wednesday and/or Sunday was a complete no-no and cadets doing so received demerits and work duty, and the parents were informed of their actions.

    Interestingly enough, many Christians are finding fault with out current Middle Eastern conflicts through their interpretation of the biblical principles of war. Many Christians prefer to label themselves as pacifists due to their interpretation of the New Testament. Also, there are those Christians that feel that biblical doctrine justifies these wars. Even Christians as a group cannot agree on how the Bible should be interpreted regarding these current conflicts. This is often the case with the faithful regarding every war, but even more so with our new modern techniques of warfare and lack of a solid agenda or cause for these current conflicts.

    It seems historically that religion and the military have coexisted since warfare began and formed a pretty tight bond. The bible is full of warfare and passages pertaining to soldiers and conflict. They make a soldier's bible that offers different versions to the different branches of the military. Chaplains were on the front lines and in the trenches in most of our conflicts. Even those lacking faith become easy converts when looking death straight in the eye; what is that saying about there being no Atheists in foxholes?

    I don't think it's right, the pervasive nature of Christianity in our military, but it's been there through the ages and I doubt it will ever change.

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    1. Anonymous4:14 PM

      Military chaplains have changed a lot since WWII which is what I know about. The old chaplains were there to help soldiers/sailors with spiritual issues regardless of religion/nonreligion. They were proud to serve all the troops where-ever they were. So a Protestant chaplain would talk to a Buddhist member of the armed forces honoring their perspective. They had a general knowledge of all the major religions. The purpose was not converts, but helping. I wish there were real chaplains today. Many of our young troops could sure use someone to help them deal with the issues of war such as killing someone.

      Elizabeth 44

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    2. Anonymous6:07 PM

      THere was a time when "chaplins" in the miliraty were there to provide comfort and guidance to troops in crisis....i.e. dying, suffering from PTSd, or just in crisis from killing people. This has always been a valid service. However, when the religion goes beyond providing counseling and solace to those in need to indoctrination into a "religious crusade" by the religious right...i.e. the christian taliban.

      Delete
  13. Anonymous12:30 PM

    Does anyone know if this is pervasive among all branches of the military?

    I know this particular story involves the Army and I've heard many stories about what is happening on Army bases in the Middle East regarding forced attendance at religious events and concerts. I've also heard that the evangelical influence is very strong at the Air Force Academy, which is not surprising considering the overwhelming number of evangelical churches and organizations in Colorado Springs.

    Are there similar types of activities going on in the Navy and Marines? I haven't heard of this kind of pressure being put on young sailors and Marines and I was curious if it's throughout the military or more confined to the two other branches.

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    Replies
    1. Leland8:24 AM

      It was when I was in the Navy in the late 60's. Perhaps not as publicly rampant, but if the chaplain thought he could get away with it, it was certainly tried. They went berserk when I refused to accept any religion on my dog tags. Had to go to Captain's Mast (low level trial) because I refused to accept tags that listed a religion. Had to listen (until I walked out) to a chaplain running his fat mouth about things he hadn't a clue about. Sent me to Captain's Mast - again - because I refused to listen. I was so grateful we had a base commander who was one of those NOT part of the "conspiracy" or I would have gotten an "Undesirable Discharge" I am sure.

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  14. Anonymous12:33 PM

    I have a real problem with people that say they are 'christians'. The majority do not live their lives in 'that' manner. Take Sarah and Todd Palin. They lives of lies and fraud are the furthest thing from living a christian life as is taught in the various churches. They've had affairs, Todd is a pimp, Sarah has been proven to be a liar from the word go, they are terrible parents in that their children have all had major problems (pregnancy, arrests, drugs, booze, etc.) and they don't even attend church and haven't in years according to reports from Wasilla!

    What is a 'real' christian? The same as a 'real' Republican? They seem to match in my mind, but I've become very, very cynical over the recent past years. I was raised in a church, but am more on the side of being agnostic today. Horrible examples of 'christians' surrounded me throughout the years and they still do!!!

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  15. Anita Winecooler8:30 PM

    If I were this young man's mother, I'd be so proud he stood for his rights and didn't fall for their forced indoctrination/brainwashing experiment.

    Next, I'd like to see the Armed Forces Recruiting Bots and Relision mongers NOT be allowed on school property. If it's "career day" and presented among other options, I'm fine with it, but I just don't feel it belongs in public schools.

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  16. Anonymous6:40 AM

    This guy wasn't able to commission after graduation, so of course he would do something to get as much attention as possible! This happens all the time. This guy just happened to blame it on religion.

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