Option for U.S. Troops: Go to Christian Concert or Be Punished

If you want any proof that non-Christians are discriminated against in the military, Chris Rodda has an incredible story to share.

First, some background:

For the past several years, two U.S. Army posts in Virginia, Fort Eustis and Fort Lee, have been putting on a series of what are called Commanding General’s Spiritual Fitness Concerts…

These are (not surprisingly) concerts featuring Christian bands.

But at least they’re not mandatory, right?

Well… there’s the problem.

According to one of the 80 soldiers who didn’t want to attend the concert:

We started marching to the theater. At that point two Muslim soldiers fell out of formation on their own. Student leadership tried to convince them to fall back in and that a choice will be presented to us once we reach the theater.

Those of us that chose not to attend (about 80, or a little less that half) were marched back to the company area. At that point the NCO issued us a punishment. We were to be on lock-down in the company (not released from duty), could not go anywhere on post (no PX, no library, etc). We were to go to strictly to the barracks and contact maintenance. If we were caught sitting in our rooms, in our beds, or having/handling electronics (cell phones, laptops, games) and doing anything other than maintenance, we would further have our weekend passes revoked and continue barracks maintenance for the entirety of the weekend. At that point the implied message was clear in my mind “we gave you a choice to either satisfy us or disappoint us. Since you chose to disappoint us you will now have your freedoms suspended and contact chores while the rest of your buddies are enjoying a concert.”

So, if you don’t want to be punished, you go to the show. It’s not technically forced, but the alternative is unequivocally horrible, and the punishment is directed to anyone who doesn’t want to hear the Christian proselytizing.

That’s not the only issue here. Rodda also points out the cost of these events — your tax money pays for these concerts and they don’t come cheap:

These concerts aren’t just small events with local Christian bands. We’re talking about the top, nationally-known, award-winning Christian artists, with headline acts costing anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000, and even many of the opening acts being in the $10,000 range.

The cost of these concerts led [the Military Religious Freedom Foundation's] research department to start looking at some of the DoD contracts for other “spiritual fitness” events and programs, and what we found was astounding. One contract, for example, awarded to an outside consulting firm to provide “spiritual fitness” services, was for $3.5 million.

If they’re trimming the Defense budget, here’s an easy place to start. There’s no reason our money should be used to promote Christianity and punish those who don’t want to hear it.

  • gwen

    It looks like the FFRF needs to get involved here. One of these guys need to get in contact with them…pronto!

  • JD

    I’ve heard of the US military being co-opted by the religious right, but I hadn’t heard of anything like this. I don’t understand why it took two years to complain about it though. The HuffPo article suggests that it’s against regulations, there should be a way to report this.

  • Danish Atheist

    Positively scary. Isn’t this a human rights issue? Or even an issue of constitutional rights?

  • gski

    Officers commanding an army capable of destroying civilization, don’t understand or don’t believe in the constitution, choosing to put their personal interests first. That’s just great.

  • DHB

    If you think the FFRF needs to get involved with something, why not take the initiative and make them aware of it.

  • Bob

    Wow, the fundamental dishonesty is staggering. It’s not proselytizing, it’s just a concert.

    When did we turn the corner and enter full-bore CrazyLand?

  • muggle

    gski, that’s the point that sends chills up your spine alongside how non-Christians (or probably even the wrong brand of Christian; I believe MRFF actually gets a large number of complaints from Christians) signing up to defend said constitution are treated. Instead of our thanks, they get mistreated and abused for not being of the “right” religion.

    gwen, I wouldn’t be surprised if they did because FFRF has supported MRFF from its beginning. When Mikey Weinstein first stood up to defend his son at the Military Academy in Colorado Springs (how the whole thing got started), they wrote an in-depth article on it for Freethought Today and have interviewed him on their radio program. They’ve helped him get established but, in any case, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation is nothing to sneeze at and is helping. They’re necessary to stop this sort of thing and worthy of a few dollars of support. Unless, of course, we do want an army consisting of Christian soldiers.

  • rbray18

    um,what exactly would they be doing at a CHRISTIAN concert but proselytizing?
    singing Eminem songs?

  • Ben

    singing Eminem songs?

    Only the ones that make fun of gays.

  • Troglodyke

    Wow, the fundamental dishonesty is staggering. It’s not proselytizing, it’s just a concert

    Seriously? OK. I’ll put aside my incredulousness for a second and be open to the idea that it’s just songs about Jesus–no prosaic “preaching.”

    How do you defend the punishment for those who chose not to attend? THAT’S the main problem here.

    I have lost count of the number of times on this site the following words have been said, in some permutation or another: “I don’t care what you believe, but don’t force it on me.” Hemant says it ad nauseum, as do many commenters here. It’s a universal atheist theme.

    Are you seriously going to argue that the U.S. military did not overstep its boundaries by punishing non-attendees?

  • Bill

    I was quite impressed to see that ‘just under half’ chose not to go. Of course, they won’t all be atheists by a long a shot, but that’s a good proportion who reject this sort of happy-clappy spiritual bullshit

  • qwertyuiop

    So what else is new? The military doesn’t like having to obey equality laws by not discriminating against gays, now they don’t want to obey the constitution and separate church and state. Is anyone surprised? After all, they’ve got all the guns so the law doesn’t apply to them apparently.

  • mouse

    To be fair, it’s entirely possible this little “exercise” had it’s roots in keeping an eye on an entire company more than proselytizing (disclaimer: I still think it’s wrong, regardless).

    I received a medical discharge from the Navy back in 1996 while I was still in my “A school”. There was, as there always is on training bases, a small group of us getting discharged simultaneously and awaiting our paperwork. None of us had done anything wrong by anyone’s standards, not even the military’s. We just had medical problems that meant our stay in the Navy was over.

    Nonetheless, the whole lot of us were transferred from our regular barracks back to the “booter” barracks that we’d originally lived in when we were fresh out of boot camp. In this barracks you lose all of the privileges you’ve earned thus far: wearing civies, later liberty hours (i.e. curfew for us should ahve been midnight instead of 9pm), being allowed to drink (if you’re 21) or smoke.

    No exception was made for our group due to circumstances. We were just dumped in with the booters, treated like crap by the NCOs in charge of the barracks, and denied any opportunity to take our requests up the chain of command. We filed chit after chit only to have them returned unsigned: a strict no-no in Navy parlance. At the time they had to at least sign and deny the request.

    Eventually the only thing that worked was a call to our congressmen. No joke. We had to get U.S. congress involved, and since several of us were from California, someone on Barbara Boxer’s staff is who made the call.

    After that, though we stayed in the same barracks, we maintained the privileges we’d previously earned through honored service (which in this case means behaving and getting good grades in our electronics classes). They simply issued us new “liberty cards” that denoted what we were allowed to do (every student on base had them) and the problem was solved.

    But the point is that this unfair treatment had nothing to do with punishing us, though it certainly seemed so at the time. It did have to do with lazy management; we were on our way home (on average it took 8-12 weeks to get your discharge papers) so they just wanted us all in one place. They didn’t think about the fact that they seemed to be punishing formerly good sailors for getting sick. They just didn’t think.

    So yeah, the Christian indoctrination may not have been intentional. It may have just been a babysitting job gone awry through lazy and unthinking management, just like everywhere else in corporate America.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    mouse – with regard to “So yeah, the Christian indoctrination may not have been intentional.”: The $3,500,000 contract leads me to believe otherwise. I think you’re being entirely too generous.

  • http://www.raywhiting.com/MyLife Raytheist

    I’m not at all surprised. When I was in USAF Basic Training (Lackland AFB) and Tech School (Shepherd AFB) it was standard practice on Sunday mornings: you could either go to chapel (your choice of whatever was made available) or you stay in the dorm and clean it. No option for alternative “communing with nature”, personal reflection time, or whatever; it was just go to established religious offerings or clean the barracks. That was in 1972. It was wrong back then and still wrong today. If religious service members get “personal time” for their religion (which I don’t have a problem with), non-believers should also have equivalent personal time (to read, write letters home, go to the gym, or other personal edification activity/hobby). Then get the entire troop together to clean the barracks or tackle other duties.

  • http://allusiveatheist.blogspot.com T Ray

    The military is bureaucratic and political. Low participation in morale events makes the management look bad. If someone of sufficient rank expresses an interest in having a good turnout then middle management is going to get out the stick and carrot. The idea of your subordinates making you look bad to your superiors would be infuriating.

    There may not have been a religious agenda anywhere in the chain of command. It may have been as simple, and retarded, as maintaining flattering statistics. Poor turnout may also have been viewed as an insult to the talent.

    That being said, religious motivations seem equally, maybe more, likely.

    When I was in, back in the 80s, few servicemen I knew had much of an idea what islam was. But even then, chapel attendance was rewarding in that the alternative was barracks cleaning or maintenance. Also, in the training environment, chapel was about the only place and time you could stop being a robot, sing some songs and express some emotion. I think I was christian at the time but not a flocker. I managed to discover an outdoor chapel (mostly used for weddings) where I could go be alone to commune with… whatever. I always felt like the AF was just fulfilling its obligation to not step on our rights. There was a religious nudge though it wasn’t necessarily deliberate. Supposedly chaplains were available for most faiths but I was not curious enough to investigate that claim. But, of course, anywhere you have the faithful you also have the danger of self-righteous agendas.

    9-11 put islam on everybody’s radar. Keep in mind that most enlistees are not turning down or leaving great private sector jobs so they can fulfill their patriotic duty. Some? Definitely yes. But not most. Also keep in mind that it’s a lot easier to kill someone if you regard them as sub-human or threatening. De-humanizing your enemy and their culture is a coping mechanism. So is rationalizing the superiority of your own position. As such, anyone that self-identifies as christian and is tasked with identifying and killing islamic extremists is likely to reinforce the value of their own christian faith. It shouldn’t be hard to see how believing god is on your side can make non-christians contemptible.

    My observations are subjective and I’m employing some speculation. But whether NCO in the story was a vindictive bureaucrat, self-righteous bible thumper or both we shouldn’t be surprised that candor and independence are being discouraged. Oh, it’s unfair. But if you’ve been in the military it is hard to expect anything else.

    The bigger story is the budget for spiritual fitness. I may waffle a bit here. While I would love for everyone to rise above superstition and religion, how can I suggest that religious military personal don’t deserve to have their morale considered? It’s hard to reconcile the amounts of money being spent. Would Toby Keith or John Mayer charge that much? More likely it would be free or at cost. Are fees paid directly to business entities or are they directed through tax-free ministries? Christian soldiers need love too but something here smells rotten. I would love to see this investigated. Somebody get Maddow on the phone.

  • alkonost

    I served in the U.S. Army prior to 9/11. During that time, I dealt with some discrimination due to my lack of belief. It was especially bad during training.

    Aside from ridicule and hatred from my assigned battle buddy (because I didn’t go to church), my drill sergeants forced me to go to an overtly religious Christmas concert. I felt uncomfortable declaring “No Religious Preference” for my dog tags, and someone made a snide remark when a few others and myself did so. You had to state that preference in public, in front of your entire unit. For an organization famous for its bureaucratic red tape, that was the one time we couldn’t write our preferences down on paper, so everyone knew about your faith, or lack thereof.

    After training, my units had a few mandatory prayer/ pancake breakfasts, which the chaplains organized. After one of them, my unit had me help clean up. At least those breakfasts only happened once in a blue moon. Sigh… Some of the discrimination came from individual soldiers, but not all of it. In any case, you usually live with the same people you work with, and in close quarters. Things can get pretty rough. For an Army of One, many of them sure had their priorities screwed up.

  • Nerdette

    My husband went to Fort Eustis a couple of time this year (he just retired this month, so I am happily forgetting all details about his military career), but he did bring home a story about how they had been tested on their “spiritual fitness.” I remember having a discussion with him about how they snaked god into the questions, and wondering if that was legal. I’ll show him the article when he gets home and see what he says. If I recall, he tested very, very low :)

  • Silent Service

    Raytheist,

    It was the same when I went through in ’88. It’s still the same today. Sunday morning, pick a place of worship and go, or clean the barracks. Back then I just went to the Protestant generic service and put up with it, today I’d demand to use the library to study. Probably create a whole stir of problems too, but I took a while to grow up enough to realize some fights are worth the trouble.

  • Sven

    This is par for the course. I have 10 years Army experience as both enlisted and an officer. I’ve witnessed the following:

    -preferential commissioning of ROTC candidates from private Christian universities (more receive active duty commissions versus reserve duty).

    -soldiers caught in criminal activity (theft, fraud) being pardoned or having sentencing reduced due to their evangelical work.

    -soldiers duty assignments being biased to the benefit of hardcore Christians. For example, a friend of mine with a parallel career was never deployed once. I joked that this was due to his “Christian Mafia” connections. He laughed. Then I found out it was true. His branch manager (determines postings based off specialty) was a Brother-In-Christ.

    *As an extra bonus, the same friend spent 6 months in military detention for having sexually abused his 14yo stepdaughter. He was able to retain his rank and serve a few more additional years to retire.

    BTW…we keep in touch and I’ve sent him links to this page. His internet filter forbids access for the reason “violence”.

  • littlejohn

    Onward Christian Soldiers!
    Yet another reason not to enlist.

  • Steve

    A huge problem with the chaplain corps is that a majority of them are southern baptists. There are certainly chaplains who do their job as they are supposed to. But others just want to evangelize. Then you have some commanders who are “born again Christians” and the real trouble starts.

  • http://www.liarsforjesus.com Chris Rodda

    Hey everybody …

    This story is really getting around! Besides spreading to the blogs that usually pick up my pieces, like this blog, it’s now on blogs I’ve never even heard of. It’s had nearly 600 Facebook shares just from me cross-posting it on Huffington Post. It also caused another soldier who was there to come forward and agree to be interviewed.

    Regarding the comment that FFRF should get involved, I just want to explain MRFF’s relationship with other organizations. MRFF is the only organization that deals exclusively with church/state issues in the military, so we’re the organization best equipped to handle something like this concert thing. But we do often team up with other organizations on certain issues, and also refer people to each other if we think a different organization is more suited to that person’s particular case. We’ve also issued joint letters to the DoD with Americans United and other organizations, and right now we’re working on an amicus brief for one of FFRF’s cases. We’re all allies with a common goal who are in contact with each other, and support and assist each other wherever we can.

    What’s pretty encouraging is that even the band that performed at this concert objects to what happened to these soldiers. Someone tweeted the link to my piece to BarlowGirl, and band member Lauren Barlow responded, tweeting: “that’s horrible. We never knew that. We thought they had a choice. If we would have known we would have said something”

  • http://onestdv.blogspot.com OneSTDV

    I fully agree that mandatory attendance is completely wrong (though I have trouble getting sympathetic to Muslims). But I can’t really oppose the whole Christian undertone of our military.

    We live in a country where, simply due to demographics, are military is going to be almost entirely Christian. We’re sending these people off to war, to potentially die; if they want to convince themselves they’ll go to Heaven afterwards, if that makes them feel better, then so be it. They shouldn’t openly proselytize non-Christian members, but I’m not going to oppose a Christian concert or a prayer before meals – even if these are funded via taxpayer money.

  • p.s.

    (though I have trouble getting sympathetic to Muslims)

    excuse me? They are spilling the same blood as anyone else in the military. what is your problem? I really would like to know. Are they not “real” american’s, or do they not deserve the same rights as every other american? I would honestly think you were trolling if I hadn’t read some of your past posts.

  • Bob

    @Troglodyke:

    You misinterpreted my statement.

    The ‘fundamental dishonesty’ comment was directed at the military leaders who are likely to be rationalizing their ‘concert’ as not proselytizing.

  • Aegis

    “The present emphasis upon civil religion is a flagrant toying with the First Amendment. Various trends in national life suggest that a civil religion of the majority might find religious liberty something it did not care to preserve.”

    – Robert S Alley, in his book So Help Me God in 1972. I wonder if he had any idea how bad it was going to get.

  • mike c.

    Like Raytheist, when I was in Navy boot camp (1970), Sunday mornings were church or work. Since I rarely wanted to work extra, I took the opportunity to experience a different faith service for each Sunday. They were all hogwash, but interesting nonetheless.

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  • Luther

    My experience was different 1969 – 1970. Boot camp, jungle infantry training, then Korea.

    We had monthly “character guidance class” from the Chaplin. As company clerk I reported attendance quarterly – I reported rising attendance from about 90% to 93% during my rein.

    In reality, our First Chaplin showed up about once a quarter, I would round up 3-6 troops to listen, snooze etc. so he would have someone to talk to. I remember no religious content. Actually I remember nothing except he was a real “sky pilot”.

    Second Chaplin was a soldier who went to Chaplin school for a few months, spent all his time at the Officers’ club at a bigger base and telling S-3 how to fight the [non] war – he never bothered with Character Guidance Class and my stats just kept rising.

    I have a lot of other “War Stories”, equally life and death, but I will spare you.

    P.S. There was another Green Barret Chaplin, Catholic, he arranged several good fun picnics for the troops, all voluntary, good fun…no proselytizing in my recall. He had my respect. He could care less that I was atheist. He was often around and with the troops.

  • Michael Powe

    U2 is a Christian band. There is a whole subgenre of rap known as Christian Rap, with the likes of Emmanuel Jal (former child soldier in the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army) and DC Talk in it. If you guys don’t want your U2 tickets or Emmanuel Jal tickets, send them to me. Ian Anderson (lead singer and song writer for Jethro Tull) is an evangelical Christian and has been since the 1970s. I don’t know why you all assumed that all Christian bands are all like Amy Grant, i.e. they all suck … but evidently, you don’t know as much as you think you do.

    I looked at the lyrics for the BarlowGirls … out of six songs, one has a line “God forgive us” and one has a line “We’ve traded God for ashes.” The rest are generic rock ‘n’ roll songs that can be seen to be “Christian” if that’s what you’re looking for.

    I’m inclined to agree with the previous comment that these incidents are more about bureaucratic zealousness than proselytization. The whole notion of forcing them to go to the concert is so wrongheaded, it can only have been cooked up by head counters.

    Thanks.

    mp

  • The Honest Truth

    What this article does not state is that this is typical in a training environment. There are multiple times trainees can opt out. And the result is the same, back to the barracks for this treatment.

    This has nothing to do with a “religious concert”, this is standard for ANY EVENT someone or a group of people opt out of.

    Please get your facts straight and take your slanted view out of the picture.

  • Will

    Had similar shit happen while in the Navy – if these events are during working hours, you’re going, no ifs ands or buts – but they were never religious in nature (they were usually speeches by paraplegics who wanted to tell us not to drink and drive, etc).

    The fact that this was undoubtedly paid for by the gov’t is infuriating. Here’s hoping the affected soldiers get ahold of some legal counsel so this nonsense can be squashed.

  • runswithforks

    My husband, at a bootcamp graduation ceremony within the last year, was ordered to bow his head for the ceremonial prayer. ORDERED. He was sure to listen for the exact wording, cause he didn’t want to bow as he’s an atheist. This sort of thing is just disrespectful.

  • D Paul

    As a Christian Navy veteran of the Vietnam era, I am not surprised but still appalled.

  • http://www.gopetition.com/online/18938.html Hieronymus Fortesque Lickspittle

    This is unfortunately old news, very sad and true old news. It was common knowledge in the early 80s when I went through basic training that if you didn’t go to church on Sunday morning, your butt was not sleeping in late but cleaning the barracks that whole time.

  • Vanessa

    This has nothing to do with a “religious concert”, this is standard for ANY EVENT someone or a group of people opt out of.”

    No, this has everything to do with a “religious concert.” It is wrong and unconstitutional to punish those who do not share the same religious views. If it were a secular concert, then I might agree.

  • http://onestdv.blogspot.com OneSTDV

    excuse me? They are spilling the same blood as anyone else in the military. what is your problem? I really would like to know. Are they not “real” american’s, or do they not deserve the same rights as every other american?

    Those that defend this country have my respect.

    I’m merely referring to the grousing minority groups often engage in. They live in America, a Christian nation, and there are cultural consequences to that. Do I think the mandatory concert is 100% wrong? Yes, but basically stop complaining that everyone isn’t bending over backwards to make you feel welcome. You don’t want to attend a Christian concert – I’m sure Saudi Arabia would love to have you.

  • http://onestdv.blogspot.com OneSTDV

    Oh and since many will often get confused concerning my perspective – I’m a lifelong atheist and skeptic.

  • Julianna

    The fact that the majority of American citizens are Christian does not make the United States a “Christian nation,” just a country with more Christians than non-Christians. The U.S. is no more a female nation than a Christian one.

  • Dan W

    This is a clear case of discrimination against non-Christians in the military, and the soldiers punished for not going to that concert (and who can blame them; I personally find Christian Rock to be shitty music) should sue.

    This sort of bullshit, in which the Christian majority in the military tries to make everyone go to their Christian events and uses government money to fund these activities, needs to stop.

  • p.s.

    I’m merely referring to the grousing minority groups often engage in.

    you have no idea how much grousing the muslims were doing in comparison to the other people who didn’t want to go. So again, what is your problem?

    They live in America, a Christian nation, and there are cultural consequences to that.

    No. America is a secular nation with a large population of christians. There is a difference. And cultural consequences are not the same as military consequences.
    I really do understand why they had a christian concert. I don’t think it’s a big deal. Like you, I also think the punishment was where they went wrong. But I don’t understand why you single out muslims here. it makes absolutely no sense.

    stop complaining that everyone isn’t bending over backwards to make you feel welcome

    Where did they say that? They weren’t asking for a muslim concert, they were asking not to attend the christian concert.

    You don’t want to attend a Christian concert – I’m sure Saudi Arabia would love to have you.

    What? I’m sorry, but that is the stupidest logic ever. If you don’t want to attend a christian concert, you shouldn’t attend the christian concert. Why is that so hard to understand? (incidentally, where should the atheists go?)

    Oh and since many will often get confused concerning my perspective – I’m a lifelong atheist and skeptic.

    I am perfectly aware that atheists and skeptics can be bigots too.

  • http://ncsecular.org/ Jennifer Lovejoy

    I am glad that this story is getting out there. I am appalled by this and it must stop. This is a clear violation of church and state. I have repeatedly posted this story on my fb page and will continue to do so and other stories like it until soldiers are not faced with this. We must all speak out and stand with those soldiers whose right are being violated.

  • http://olfroth.blogspot.com Ol’Froth

    Lawsuit

  • http://olfroth.blogspot.com Ol’Froth

    Should have added, since this is the military, the remedy for violating the soldiers rights is simple…

    The sergeant imposing the punishment is busted to private,

    His Lieutenent is busted to private.

    The lieutenent’s Captain is busted to private.

    The Captain’s Major is busted to private.

    The Major’s Lt. Colonel is busted to private.

    The Lt. Colonel’s Colonel is busted to private.

    The Colonel’s Brigader is busted to Private.

    Do that ONCE, and the problem is solved.

  • http://olfroth.blogspot.com Ol’Froth

    You don’t want to attend a Christian concert – I’m sure Saudi Arabia would love to have you.

    I don’t want to attened a moslem concert either.

  • MajPain

    Story is a hoax. The story and discriptions are 30-50 years behind the modern Army. For example, unless your in basic training, “weekend passes” aren’t in the modern vocabulary.

  • Kevin Benko

    This sort of thing sounds vaguely familiar to me.
    In 1987, I was a Sergeant in the military, about 9 months away from my discharge. I was also in a transitional stage from xtian to atheist. I declined to attend my unit’s xmas party, and also thought that it would be a waste of manpower to assign me “busy work” in lieu of attending the xmas party. (it’s more complicated than this, and involved security clearances and stuff… cold-war era nonsense).

    I made a quick call to the JAG’s office to question this (Hey! I was just asking a question). Within 3 hours, my unit’s commander calls me in his office and tells me that if I did not wish to attend the unit’s xmas party, I would not be required to do the busy work.

    Sure, I may have made a career-limiting move if I was intending on reenlisting (I was not), but I had also reinforced my reputation as “the sergeant with a pair of giant hairy-guys”.

    As I was in my religious transitional stage towards atheism, I was a bit “twitchy” about xmas at the time. And that probably had a bit to do with my attitude regarding this whole thing.

  • KWC

    T Ray – I do follow your reasoning, and I know that soldiers have to learn ways of thinking that we might not agree with in order to carry out their mission. However that does not mean the leadership has to reinforce that attitude deliberately when it is obvious that it grows on its own. As described by alkonost, this is much more a culture of forced Christianity.
    I wonder, reading the accounts of those of you who were in the military in the 70s and 80s, whether this has changed in the past 10 years from encouraging church attendance to forcing it. I think so.

    And OneSTDV, THIS IS NOT A CHRISTIAN NATION. It is unconstitutional for the US government to promote any particular religion in this country. Noticing that people are celebrating Christmas around you is one hell of a lot different from being forced by your government employer to listen to religious evangelizing as a government employee.

  • MacTurk

    could I point out that even in the British Army and Navy, and the Church of England is still the Established Church by the way, the standard command on Sundays before Church Parade is “Roman Catholics and others, FALL OUT”. “Others” then go off and either attend their own service or smoke or whatever. Any suggestion that such soldiers/sailors should do work would cause a mutiny.

    In fact, such compulsory attendance at Christian services was an underlying cause of the Indian Mutiny. From which the British Armed Forces learned not to do it again. Bismarck said “Sensible people learn from other people’s mistakes”. Sadly, it seems that the US military does not want to learn. There would be NO need for either the The Freedom From Religion Foundation or The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, if the officers of the US military respected their own Constitution(for a start) and their own rules and regulations. Unfortunately, there remains a pressing need for both those organisations.

    Ol’froth said “Should have added, since this is the military, the remedy for violating the soldiers rights is simple…

    The sergeant imposing the punishment is busted to private,
    His Lieutenent is busted to private.
    The lieutenent’s Captain is busted to private.
    The Captain’s Major is busted to private.
    The Major’s Lt. Colonel is busted to private.
    The Lt. Colonel’s Colonel is busted to private.
    The Colonel’s Brigader is busted to Private.

    Do that ONCE, and the problem is solved”.

    This is True(for a given value of TEAPOT).

    Chances of it happening; ZERO, sadly.

    This is an ongoing issue in the US military. Prominent examples include;

    a) The scandalous behavior in the Air Force Academy in Colorado involving proselytizing by Christian fundies.

    b) The idiots handing out vernacular Bibles in Afghanistan.

    c) Idiot General Boykin.

    These incidents have damaged the reputation of the US military services.

    These idiots are following a script of religious warfare, which puts them on the same side of the civilizational discourse as the Taliban and Al-Qaida.

  • Alan E.

    Don’t freak out too much, but OneNewsNow actually has some unbiased reporting (outside of the title of the article, maybe) on this incident.

    http://www.onenewsnow.com/Church/Default.aspx?id=1131988

    I was surprised that they didn’t even try to demonize those that chose to not attend (at least in this article).

  • PVT Anthony Smith

    Check it out dudes… this story is not a hoax, that’s some bullshit right there… this story is only making headlines because I stood up for me and the others who wished to be anonymous for fear of retribution, I stood up and used my name with no fear of anything they think they can throw at me… there are many more articles now pertaining to this event and it’s because I took the initiative once a friend contacted the MRFF, and I willingly went on record with the media… if you want to more about the story… the very real, true and disgusting story, you can “google” my name PVT ANTHONY SMITH or also try “googling” TROOPS PUNISHED RELIGIOUS” that’s what I did, and since I spoke up on Friday the articles have gone global on the web, thanks for all the support guys, it truly means a lot to me… also I want to note that I and another soldier tried to handle it in house, by going to the Equal Opportunity system in the Army… it was absolutely useless, not only did the majoriry of EO reps try to convince me that I only wanted to file an informal complaint that could be handled in house, but the first rep I spoke to actually tried to convince me that nothing happened and I didn’t want to file a complaint at all… as if I’m a child that is unsure of how I feel… it’s fucking disgusting that this is happening in our country and in the military that I volunteered to serve in… again, thank you all for the support, I really do appreciate it…

  • PVT Anthony Smith

    oh, and “MAJPAIN”, at Ft. Eustis, where this event took place… the old ass NCO’s do refer to them as Weekend Passes, although as students we refer to them as Pass Statuses and Privleges…

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  • Rahuljjh

    The military doesn’t like having to obey equality laws by not
    discriminating against gays, now they don’t want to obey the
    constitution and separate church and state. Is anyone surprised? After
    all, they’ve got all the guns so the law doesn’t apply to them
    apparently.
    San Jose Dentist
     

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