You may remember a couple years ago when the Army was forced to change its policy after reporting on this network revealed the “spiritual fitness test” required of soldiers that denigrated non-religious personnel. Now the Marines have been caught doing something quite similar. Official policy in at least two documents identifies those without religious belief as risky and dangerous.
Several days ago it was brought to our attention at MRFF that the United States Marine Corps (USMC) maintains in its doctrine that a “Lack or loss of spiritual faith” is just cause to increase scrutiny of any given Marine. This clause is present in at least two USMC publications, including Marine Corps Base Quantico’s Headquarters and Service Battalion Order 5100.29 and Training and Education Command Order 5100.1.
“Lack or loss of spiritual faith” is included as a “Guidance/moral compass issue” in both of these documents under a list of risk indicators for use by “leaders at all levels” to “identify and address risky behavior or events that may lead to risky behavior, as soon as possible.” This apparent character flaw is juxtaposed with such things as “lack of courage,” “history of psychiatric hospitalizations,” “past or current substance abuse history,” and being “anti-social.” In the simplest terms, it is the current official position of the United States Marine Corps that those who do not profess a religious belief or choose to leave their religion are to be considered a potential hazard to themselves and the Corps and be placed under greater scrutiny than their peers.
The documents go on to include directives on how to convene a “Force Preservation Council” with the mission to evaluate and assist Marines that are identified as high risk through the checklist of undesirable traits (such as lack of religion).
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation has filed a formal protest over this. We’ll see what happens now.
Like Dispatches on Facebook: