Specialist Jeremy Hall and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) filed a lawsuit today against Major Freddy J. Welborn and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
In essense, Hall is arguing that he was denied a promotion because he is an atheist.
Hall alleges he was denied his constitutional right to hold a meeting to discuss atheism while he was deployed in Iraq with his military police unit. He says in the new complaint that his promotion was blocked after the commander of the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley sent an e-mail post-wide saying Hall had sued.
According to the lawsuit, Hall was counseled by his platoon sergeant after being informed that his promotion was blocked. He says the sergeant explained that Hall would be “unable to put aside his personal convictions and pray with his troops” and would have trouble bonding with them if promoted to a leadership position.
Welborn is the man who stopped Hall from holding an atheist meeting. According to the lawsuit, Welborn also “threatened to file military charges against Hall and to block his re-enlistment.”
MRFF President Mikey Weinstein says this:
“It is beyond despicable, indeed wholly unlawful, that the United States Army is actively attempting to destroy the professional career of one of its decorated young fighting soldiers, with 2 completed combat tours in Iraq, simply because he had the rare courage to stand up for his Constitutional rights and guarantees of separation of church and state against a superior officer who was forcefully attempting to intimidate him into accepting fundamentalist Christianity.”
I can’t find the official lawsuit document online, but it’s Case No. 08-CV-2098-JWL-DJW.