The U.S. military continues to allow officers to force soldiers under their command to take part in religious exercises, all in the name of “spiritual fitness.” Justin Griffith has the details, based on an email he received from an instructor at a post-boot camp school for medics, who describes what happened.
Directly following that training, we had a 45 minute training in master resiliency. This training includes spiritual fitness. Immediately following that training, we received about a 15 minute brief from the chaplain. The master resiliency trainer had mentioned he would be followed by the chaplain. When the chaplain entered, I removed myself and stood in the doorway. Plastic candles were handed out. I was giving the chaplain the benefit of the doubt. His first few statements included having something bigger than yourself in your life and NEEDING something divine. I immediately turned around and stood by the front door of the theater. From there I could hear the mass prayer as they turned on the candles, shut off the lights and bowed their heads. The chaplain prayed to his heavenly father.
The students were not given an opportunity to remove themselves. The entire theater was forced into a mass christian prayer. There could have been a break and those that did not want to pray could have remained in the lobby with me or in a formation outside.
I disagree that there should be an opt-out. Soldiers should not have to single themselves out from the rest of their unit by opting out of a religious ceremony; there just shouldn’t be such ceremonies as part of a mandatory training exercise.