Conservative Media Claim ‘Persecution’ of Christians in the Military, but Actual Soldiers Call Bullshit

Shocking news. I hope you’re sitting down.

Being a conservative and a Christian marks you for persecution in today’s military.

So claims FOX News Radio journalist Todd Starnes. So says Master Sergeant Nathan Sommers, a member of the U.S. Army Band. And so parrots Ret. Navy Commander John Bennett Wells, who is representing Sommers:

[Wells] said there is no doubt in his mind that the U.S. military is discriminating against Christians — and specifically his client. “There’s no question about it,” Wells told Fox News. “Because he is religious, because he feels that homosexual conduct is wrong for religious reasons, he is basically being persecuted.”

What got Sommers in hot water with his superiors? It wasn’t one thing in particular, but a string of behaviors, opinions, and utterances over time. For instance:

  • His private car, frequently seen on the military base, was festooned with bumper stickers that read, among other things, “NOBAMA,” NOPE2012,” and “The Road to Bankruptcy is Paved with Ass-Fault” (the latter featured the image of a donkey).
  • At one point, Sommers took to social media to share his anti-gay and anti-leftwing disgust, tweeting “Lordy, Lordy, it’s faggot Tuesday. The lefty loons and Obamabots are out in full force.”
  • Sommers claims he was also reprimanded over certain books he read backstage in uniform, written by right-wingers such as Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and David Limbaugh.
  • When he was promoted to Master Sergeant, he served Chick-fil-A sandwiches as a political statement, because the fast-food chain’s Chief Operating Officer and founder’s son had famously declared himself in favor of “traditional marriage” and against equal rights for gay couples. Sommers tweeted: “In honor of DADT repeal, and Obama/Holder’s refusal to enforce DOMA act, I’m serving Chick-fil-A at my MSG promo reception for Army today.”

Nathan Sommers’ promotion took place last September. So his open beliefs notwithstanding, the Army thought enough of the man to give his career a lift. Not exactly prima facie evidence of “persecution,” is it?

Sommers may need a refresher course on U.S. Armed Forces rules and regulations, which stipulate that public disparagement of anyone up the chain of command, the Commander-in-Chief in the White House obviously included, is conduct unbecoming a wearer of the uniform. The military document that FOX’s Todd Starnes makes much of having uncovered states simply:

“As a Soldier you must be cognizant of the fact that your statements can be perceived by the general public and other service members to be of a nature bordering on disrespect to the President of the United States.”

By all reasonable accounts, this should have been a non-story, and it didn’t seem to get much immediate traction when Starnes broke it late last week. But by and by, the “Christian persecution” angle picked up steam via the Drudge Report, National Review, Sean Hannity’s radio show, and hundreds of other news outlets.

In case I somehow missed a legitimate reason for concern, I asked a couple of military men I know for their take.

This is where I get to introduce you to a guy I met and became very good friends with some five or six years ago — an evangelical theologian and preacher named Benjamin Corey. Corey, who is now a doctoral candidate in the field of Missiology, is a former Technical Sergeant who served as a Military Education Instructor from 1995 to 2004.

Here’s his perspective:

Military personnel are under a different set of laws (the Uniform Code of Military Justice), which has a completely different standard on things that would be unheard of under U.S. law. For example, you cannot give money to a political candidate; cannot attend protests in work uniform; can go to jail for consensual adultery (even if one member is single, and the other is legally separated, etc). So, what they’re talking about isn’t that outlandish to me.

I bet there is more to the story and that this guy was a loudmouth, and that it was causing co-workers to be miserable.

Sommers pretty much admits exactly that when he recalls a meeting with a superior officer:

“He explained to me that homosexual soldiers were now afraid of me,” Sommers said. “He showed me a letter from an Army Band colleague that demanded that I publicly apologize (to) the band for my statements and that I should be removed from positions of leadership and influence.”

Says Corey:

If [Sommers] was causing workplace tension, something that affects our ability to be prepared to fight wars, [the officer] actually did the right thing. In a military setting, workplace cohesion is more important than an individual. It’s just different than in the civilian world.

Corey’s been there himself:

In 1996 I got in trouble for having an anti-Clinton statement on my personal home answering machine. I was given a direct order to remove it, and I did. They were right. I was 19 and just learning the ropes.

Regarding the Nathan Sommers affair, he dismisses the “spin” of FOX News:

I do not believe that Christians or conservatives in the military are persecuted. In fact, unless military culture has changed drastically since I retired in ’04, which I don’t believe it has, it’s liberals who are persecuted. Military culture is extremely red and conservative, with very little tolerance for liberals.

I also contacted another source I know well personally, a senior military officer with almost a quarter century of U.S. Air Force active duty, Reserve, and National Guard experience. Mitchell (not his real name) is a Lieutenant Colonel who’s getting ready to deploy for a sixth time. Though raised in an evangelical Christian nest, he considers himself an agnostic.

Here’s Mitchell’s take:

When we are in uniform, we represent the military. Anything we do or say that is contrary to military laws, regulations, and policies, regardless of our personal beliefs, is subject to punishment. We can voice our opinions up the chain of command, but making anti-homosexual comments and derogatory comments about the President in public are not acceptable. Everyone in the military is trained regularly on this.

But surely, even in uniform, you’re allowed to read a book by Sean Hannity or any other hyper-partisan lying sack of shit professional agitator of your choosing, whether the author is on the left or on the right? Aye, says Mitchell.

Reading right-wing books shouldn’t be a problem. I suspect there is more to the story. There was a right-wing conspiracy fanatic in my Guard unit that read those books but also had to explain to everyone what he had just read, as if it was truth… They found a medical reason to discharge him.

Serving Chick-fil-A shouldn’t be a problem either. Publicly explaining his reasons for serving Chick-fil-A sandwiches probably was.

I’ll give Corey the last word on the so-called persecution of Christians in the military:

Any formal function — large meetings called “Commander’s Calls,” award ceremonies, recognition dinners, etc. — are all opened in prayer by a chaplain, most commonly a Christian chaplain. So I’m hard-pressed to say there are anti-Christian sentiments in the military… An atheist would have a much more persuasive argument [alleging anti-atheist bias] considering all the times they’re forced to sit through group prayer. And I say that as an evangelical Christian.

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

P.S.: Anyone wishing to discuss Christianity’s role in the U.S. military should read this incredible story from Harper’s Magazine, tellingly titled “Jesus Killed Mohammed.” It reveals how a loose cadre of high-ranking officers has orchestrated

… a quiet coup within the armed forces: not of generals encroaching on civilian rule but of religious authority displacing the military’s once staunchly secular code. Not a conspiracy but a cultural transformation, achieved gradually through promotions and prayer meetings, with personal faith replacing protocol according to the best intentions of commanders who conflate God with country. They see themselves not as subversives but as spiritual warriors — “ambassadors for Christ in uniform.”

Read the whole thing… but you might want to duct-tape your lower jaw to your face first.

(images via Lew Rockwell, Ojai Post, and Vietnam Veteran Wives)

About Terry Firma

Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry is the founder and Main Mischief Maker of Moral Compass, a site that pokes fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards.

  • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com/ MargueriteF

    I’m not a soldier and never have been, but even I was pretty clear on the fact that soldiers probably should not engage in “public disparagement of anyone up the chain of command, the Commander-in-Chief in the White House obviously included.” Having a “Nobama” sticker doesn’t sound prudent or smart– it’s basically like dissing your boss, isn’t it?

    But I think Corey and Mitchell are probably right. It sounds like the guy was basically being an ass, and probably causing gay and liberal soldiers around him to feel harassed. Sommers didn’t just serve Chick-Fil-A sandwiches; he had to tweet about his reasons for doing so. He doesn’t just oppose Obama; he has to have a car “festooned” with anti-Obama bumper stickers. Odds are he’s been loud and obnoxious about his opinions and has caused problems. Feeling privately that “homosexual conduct is wrong for religious reasons” might make you a jerk, but doesn’t have an impact on your job. But when you’ve been loud enough about it that gay soldiers are actually afraid of you, then it becomes a big issue. You can’t work well with others when your speech and behavior have given them a reason to fear you. And in the military, working with others as a unit is crucially important.

    • Malcolm McLean

      Some people tried to get Clinton kicked out because adultery (and putting subordinates who rebuff your sexual advances on photocopying whilst giving the compliant ones nice jobs) is illegal under military law, and he was C in C. But it turned out that this wasn’t possible, the President is an exception. So no, “military officers may not disparage their superiors in public” doesn’t “obviously include the President”. He’s a special case.

      If a serving officer accuses the President of incompetence over the deficit, that’s not the same as accusing the man two ranks up in his direct line of command of asking for the wrong type of armoured vehicle.

      • 3lemenope

        So no, “military officers may not disparage their superiors in public” doesn’t “obviously include the President”. He’s a special case.

        The rules don’t apply to the President because he or she is a civilian. Hence “civilian control of the military”. Because, however, he or she is C-in-C of the military, they are in the chain of command, and so rules about disparaging officers in one’s chain of command still apply to members of the military when criticizing the President.

        • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

          I don’t know where everyone else works, but I have only rarely disparaged the people I worked for or the people higher up in the corporate structure. And I was sorry I had said it every time I did. It’s bad practice. Some things you keep to yourself. If you have a legitimate beef, then there are ways to address that. But feeling entitled to badmouth the people you work just makes you look petty and entitled and doesn’t change anything. People may nod and agree but that’s just so they won’t have to participate. they really just think that people who do that are idiots.

        • Malcolm McLean

          You might be right. However there’s a clear difference between criticising Obama for his budget deficit and criticising your sergeant for running down the squad’s beer money kitty. You need to know quite a bit about military law to know if the president is an exception or not, he’s usually a special case.

          • C Peterson

            No, there’s no difference at all. If you’re in the military (which the President is not) you are subject to the UCMJ, which all soldiers know, and which all soldiers are trained in. You don’t need to be a military justice lawyer in a case like this.

            The President is not an exception, nor a special case. Civilians can be in the military chain-of-command.

            • TheG

              There have been plenty of Commanders in Chief that were also officers. Some members of Congress still are.

              I wonder what the protocol is for that.

              • C Peterson

                Retired officers, I think. An active duty officer can’t run for office under the UCMJ. And there is a large body of case law that firmly establishes the President (and the Secretary of Defense) are completely civilian, that neither are subject to military law, and that the position of Commander-in-Chief is civilian.

          • RobMcCune

            You need to know quite a bit about military law to know if the president is an exception or not, he’s usually a special case.

            Repeating it doesn’t make it true, try clicking your heals together 3 times. That might work.

          • C.L. Honeycutt

            According to military law, there is no difference. This was clear before you ever posted here. Please learn how to read and stop pretending that waving your Courtier’s hankie is fooling anyone.

          • Mario Strada

            In any case, this guy was not criticizing the president for his budgetary woes, but for existing. a “Nobama” sticker is not exactly a political argument. It’s an insult.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        It doesn’t matter what kind of apologetics-style tricks you try to play, it’s very well known that the rules of conduct for military personnel as regards their superiors DOES include the President.

      • RobMcCune

        Some people tried to get Clinton kicked out because adultery … is illegal under military law, and he was C in C.

        First, you can’t just “kick out” president, there is an impeachment process defined in the constitution. Second, the president is a civilian under the constitution, and so is not subject to the UCMJ, meaning violating it does not qualify as a high crime or misdemeanor required to impeach the president. Third this was not listed as such in the articles of impeachment that were passed by the House of Representatives.

        But it turned out that this wasn’t possible, the President is an exception.

        Not only is it not possible, it never happened. Look into the facts before you try do any reasoning, because you’re just compounding your errors by making stuff up as you go.

        So no, “military officers may not disparage their superiors in public” doesn’t “obviously include the President”. He’s a special case.

        Not only is this wrong by being entirely of your own invention, but it’s an non sequitur. If the president were granted a special exception under the UCMJ (which he isn’t for the aforementioned reasons) it would not follow that he is an exception in all cases, especially in rules are being violated by those who are not the president.

        • UWIR

          If the president is an exception in one case, then it is natural to entertain the hypothesis that he is an exception in another case. While this doesn’t show that it doesn’t include the president, it does show that it doesn’t obviously include the president.

          • RobMcCune

            If the president is an exception in one case, then it is natural to entertain the hypothesis that he is an exception in another case.

            Keyword there is “If”. Since there is no exception to be had since the laws in question do not apply, then we really can’t say it’s natural to form that hypothesis.

            While this doesn’t show that it doesn’t include the president, it does show that it doesn’t obviouslyinclude the president.

            It? Please clarify.

    • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

      Conservatives who work in arts and entertainment play the persecution card all the time. Never mind that plenty of them are working nonstop as actors, musicians, singers, etc. Meanwhile we never hear this belly-aching from liberals who work in highly conservative work environments (banking, etc.) and those exist too (I worked with plenty of them). There’s an entitlement mentality among modern conservatives. It’s easy enough to avoid political conversations. I had to do it all the time at day jobs because I knew that what was going to be said in front of me would make me sick. So I just didn’t talk about it. I have no patience with conservatives who can’t do the same during work hours.

      • baal

        Thankfully at my work place I can get up and go for a few minute walk when the conservatives start talking. It’s not the politics I mind so much as the factual errors and bad science talking points (“gee, sure is cold today guess global warming is a liberal hoax” vs. “benevolent dictators make for the best run countries”).

        • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

          Exactly. I really hate when people act as if there is a “correct” answer to the role of government. Jefferson and Adams couldn’t resolve that and they are far superior to the idiots who hold elected office today. There’s certainly room for disagreement about that, but I hate it when I hear things that are factually wrong and I also know that correcting them does no good whatsoever. I say this based on the experience of showing someone that they are wrong, having them agree, and then hearing them spout the same lies a few days later. It’s really not worth the effort most of the time.

          • Billy Bob

            Sounds like my dad. I’ve learned to spot when someone can’t be reasoned with. I usually just ignore them once I find out.

        • SinginDiva721

          I hate it when they say global warming is hoax because it happens to be cold one day. Those people tend to be real quiet when it’s 100 fucking degrees outside too.
          I also point out that while it may be cold here, elsewhere it’s actually unusually hot and some places are experiencing weather conditions that they have never experienced before.

          • UWIR

            Do you hate it just as much as when a single piece of evidence is presented as proof of global warming?

        • Mario Strada

          I have become a master at deflecting hateful, bigoted arguments when some of my clients just assume that I too am the same brand of bigot they are.
          I wish I could tell them to get the fuck out of the phone and never email me again, but I have to make a living. I don’t choose my clients as much as would like to be able to.
          But I don’t have to listen or feign agreement with their bullshit.

  • http://chaoskeptic.blogspot.com Rev. Ouabache

    At this point we have to conclude that Starnes is a flat-out liar with zero credibility. This isn’t the first time he has twisted the facts of a story about Christian “persecution”.

  • EuropeanCommunist

    I just finished reading the Jesus Killed Mohammad article. Scary, very scary…

    • LesterBallard

      I’d never read that article; thanks for depressing the ever living fuck out of me. I didn’t re-enlist in the USMC mostly because of the religious types, but it was nothing like that.

  • LesterBallard

    These guys would fold like a cheap suit if they faced real persecution.

  • Usman Bello

    “FOX News Radio journalist Todd Starnes”

    Boy, the usage of the term “journalist” continues to get used more and more loosely as time goes by.

    • Carpinions

      Shamity has used it to describe himself. I think that pretty much soils the term for all time.

  • http://reconciled.me Matt Smith

    As a Christian, libertarian leaning conservative and vet, I find the original article an embarrassment. Everyone in the military knows that you don’t disparage the president. He’s the Commander-in-Chief. You don’t bad mouth your CO and you don’t bad mouth the president. You’re taught that very quickly and thoroughly in boot camp. Articles like this make us seem petty. It’s grasping at straws. Also, Sean Hannity called this soldier a hero. Being in the Army doesn’t give you a default hero rating. This guy played the flute in the band. Unless he’s Ron Burgundy, he’s no hero.

    • Miss_Beara

      It cheapens real heroes.

    • Carpinions

      I’ve never been in the military and while I generally agree and understand your point, not speaking about Sommers specifically even band members do still have to be trained and carry a weapon. A friend of mine is a MN national guardsmen in the band for his unit and did a tour in Iraq. He always caught crap for “just being in the band” from some coworkers when he had to be away from the job for the NG on certain weekends, and I didn’t like it when they did that. My friend still went out on patrol, he was laden with 120 lbs of field equipment in 120 degree weather, carried a rifle, etc.

      • http://reconciled.me Matt Smith

        Your probably right but the article was just ridiculous and so is Hannity.

  • Rain

    Drudge has no shame at all. He actually “war mongers” on his page sometimes. Just like the old “yellow journalism”.

    • smalltownamy

      When has Drudge ever been about anything but garnering attention for Drudge?

      • Rain

        Exactly right. That and posting unflattering photos of people he doesn’t like. And promoting Alex Jones all the time.

    • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

      Drudge is a self-loathing closeted gay man. Of course he posts things like this on his site. (source: Brock, David. Blinded by the Right. New York: Crown Books, 2002)

  • Tyrrlin Flamestrike

    *sigh* As a former Active Duty Bandsmember, I’m completely disgusted with this Soldier’s behavior. I mean, you have to be pretty head-up-your-fourth-point-of-contact to be blind to the fact that if you’re going to be in an artistic job (such as the Band for FSM’s sake!), you’re going to be dealing with people who don’t fall into the cookie-cutter vision of the perfect white, heterosexual, Soldier. The Bands I served in were very careful (usually) to balance the military mentality with the need for artistic and individual expression necessary to be a great musician. He kinda reminds me of some of my former college classmates: homophobes who were in the Theatre program. It just boggles the mind.

    Also, as it’s been posted before, anyone who’s spent any length of time in the Service has received training on the UCMJ and should be very well aware that Soldiers *give up* certain constitutional rights (such as free speech, freedom of movement, etc) when they raise their right hand. Sommers is not exempt from these restrictions, and should “suck it up and drive on” or get out of the military.

    *facepalms*

    • smalltownamy

      I wonder if he’s so afraid that someone might assume that he’s gay because he’s in the band that he’s become a homophobe. Or maybe he’s “protesting too much” because he’s not so sure of his sexuality. Either way, it seems clear that his conduct has been less than becoming and he (and Fox News, et al) aren’t familiar with the rules.

    • Guest

      Maybe if they taught the definitions of the words “persecution” and “privilege” while training the UCMJ, it might help in avoiding these types of issues? Just a thought.

  • DougI

    They’re obviously persecuted. They want to be a fully Christian army and have nifty slogans like “God With Us” on their belt buckles.

    • ShoeUnited

      I heard that phrase was pretty popular in Europe about 70 years ago.

  • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

    No one can prevent you from feeling anything. We do, however, expect you to treat everyone fairly in spite of those feelings. No one cares if you think it’s okay to be gay or not. Seriously, it’s none of anyone else’s business. What we expect is for you to realize that gay people are human beings too and have the same rights that you do. So feel whatever you want and stop acting persecuted because you can’t force your feelings on everyone else. If you are being denied promotions for your religion or being prevented from practicing your religion, then you have a case and you should bring that up. But not being allowed to inflict your bigotry on others is not the same as being persecuted for your beliefs.

  • C Peterson

    Assholes tend to experience some persecution. It kind of goes with the territory. This guy’s problem is that the military doesn’t have a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy for assholes. Wouldn’t work anyway… assholes don’t need to be asked, since they can’t stop telling.

  • Octoberfurst

    I served in the Marine Corps from 1977 to 1981 and we were told we would get into trouble if we publicly disparaged the Commander in Chief. But yet the military, and I think especially the Marine Corps, is a very, very conservative organization. Liberals were NOT liked and right-wing evangelical Christianity was the religion of choice for many Marines that I knew. (Myself included back then.) I doubt anything has changed and I have heard it has gotten worse.

  • Rodney Barnes

    Yea, religious persecution. I made the decision to join the CoS (not Scientology, folks. The other CoS) while in the military, was very open about it and I was not harangued. All of a sudden, some asshole from the most popular religion in the western world is being persecuted. This guy should probably be drummed out for making false statements. Lying is also something the military doesn’t put up with.

  • Gus Snarp

    Typical of bigoted, homophobic Christians everywhere these days, they define “persecution” as not being allowed to bully gay people.

    • Billy Bob

      Or simply, “Not being able to do whatever the hell they want”

  • mike

    There is a self fulfilling prophecy at work here. He is worried that he will be denied promotion to E-9 and eventually forced out of the Army. At 25 years of service and having just made E-8, that is going to happen anyway. I may be mistaken, but I don’t think that the band has a E-9 and their parent Command doesn’t select E-9′s from the band. Some careers in the military have built in ceilings. An E-8 in the band is way higher than I though possible.

    • Tyrrlin Flamestrike

      It’s rare, but there are E-9s in the band system.

    • http://confessionsfromthepeanutgallery.blogspot.com/ YankeeCynic

      E-9 now has to go through a Command-Select List, just like O-5s and O-6s have to go through. It’s no longer (at least in theory) based on who you know, but rather your qualifications as judged by an impartial board examining your evaluations, your schooling, and your general appearance (I.E. are you obviously overweight, do you meet the grooming standards, et cetera – surprising how many people don’t in their official photos).

      While the “Good Old Boy” system may exist for anything below command-select (I.E. getting picked for a prominent first sergeants position, which helps your record) E-9s can no longer just grease palms to get moved into an command sergeant major slot.

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    I have to say that as a liberal, gay atheist I just love the bill being considered by the House GOP. The one that would allow people to be as racist, xenophobic, sexist, and homophobic as they want to be as long as it is religiously motivated. Because religious beliefs no matter how disgusting have to be respected especially if they allow you to hate an entire group of people.

    • UWIR

      As a member of the Church of Punching Christians in the Nose, I find myself constantly facing religious persecution. I only hope that this bill will pass, so that I will be free to openly practice my religion.

  • JET

    Right wing fundamentalists in the U.S. Army, or the general population for that matter, have no idea what real persecution is. You would think that being in the military and being deployed (or hearing stories from someone who has been deployed) to somewhere in the middle east would give them an idea of what genuine persecution is. But no.
    Feeling “persecuted” seems to be the latest rallying cry of Christian supremacists who see their numbers dying out and their ideas being mocked as archaic and discriminatory. They don’t seem to understand that ideas don’t have rights and take it as a personal affront when anyone disagrees with them. I think they look for situations, or activly instigate situations, specifically to feed their persecution complex. It gives them “points” with their god, and they imagine themselves having a beer with their buddy Jesus someday and bragging that they too were persecuted for their faith.
    I have never been in the military or closely associated with it, but I have to wonder if the military doesn’t somehow attract people who have these kinds of beliefs to begin with. The idea of going off to fight Muslims or spreading the “American Christian ideology” throughout the world by force is probably very appealing to them. I’m not saying that every member of the military feels this way, but only that the right wing fundamentalist segment of our population would find the military more appealing than would a more liberal thinking individual.

  • Caprinions

    Another wannabe martyr looking for a problem to cause so he can play the victim. And of course, Faux is open for business and is plenty happy to supply the elephant tears for any lying, obnoxious, overbearing sack with a cliched story of having his undeserved deference abridged.

    That they even try to claim there’s persecution of Christians in the military is insulting. The press was writing stories about the rabidly evangelical majority in the Air Force back during Bush the Son’s first term. A majority who sees themselves as the hand of god, delivering divine justice to the Muslims from high altitude. Then there are the other very troubling developments from the Bush years and their endless lionizing of war, high-paid contractors, and pre-emptive conflict, like Force Ministries and the use of ex-marines to promote Christian summer camps for kids that have heavy military themes and tie being a Christian to carrying big guns for Jesus. I could give more examples, but those who have been in the services know, and if you’re a citizen that doesn’t, you best spend some time today reading up.

    Sommers sounds like a prick who can’t keep himself in check, and so he walks the thin line socially, letting a foot slip to the right as often as it seems safe to. Then when someone quite easily detects his motives and intent and refuses to put up with it, he throws himself on the floor and screams as if he’s been attacked. He’s like the pedestrians in Russia that walk up to manned, parked cars and flop onto them in the hopes someone will see them and give them aid so the “victim” can collect insurance money and sympathy.

    I hope Sommers gets the book thrown at him. The military needs more of that kind of “persecution” for over-bearing, unconstitutional, jingoistic, mendacious, and subversive Christian meddling. People with that kind of an attitude ruin cohesion so fast because it’s all about them or their group of buddies. It happens in many walks of life, but it’s probably worst in the military, an organization that already is high on adrenaline, thick heads, and weapons, but is meant to protect the nation, not become the licensed provider of violent fantasy enactment for theocratic fascists.

  • JA

    Christians persecuted in the military…what a joke. I remember riding in a van with about a dozen other officers a couple years ago and we were joking about the zombie apocalypse and somehow the subject of Hell came up (again, this was a purely joking around conversation). I can’t remember the exact statement that I replied to, but without thinking about it, I said, “Eh, I’m not religious, so I should be good.” Cue the conversation just stopping. Van falls silent for about 10 seconds with everyone else awkwardly looking around, and all I can think is, “Ah, fuck…” Fortunately, it was forgotten a few seconds later, but everyone that was in the van continued to give me sideways looks and act…different toward me after.

    Not to mention, coworkers semi-regularly questioned me on my beliefs and how I couldn’t believe in God. Civilians mind you, but a couple of them were retired personnel, including one retired Chief who asked me, and I am not making this up, “How can an intelligent young man like yourself reject God’s love if you’ve read the bible? I just don’t get it.” Had a lot of fun conversations with that guy, especially since he used pretty much every classic theistic argument: “Since you don’t believe in God, that means you think you’re God,” “You think you know better than God,” “Evolution is a religion,” “You worship random chance,” and others. And on a random topic, he refused to acknowledge that hermaphrodites exist because God wouldn’t do such a thing, even though I showed him several medical articles on it.

    Christians persecuted in the military my ass…

  • ricauc

    When I joined in 1993 as a medical officer I recalled a General listing his priorities as “god, country, Corp, family and self”. I turned to the guy next to me an said “that a screwed up list…where’s the constitution?”

  • http://confessionsfromthepeanutgallery.blogspot.com/ YankeeCynic

    I’ve always been pretty open about being an atheist during my time in the military. If conversation turns to religion I’ve always made it clear that I belong in the “none” category. My subordinates, peers, and superiors know about it. It’s on my Officer Record Brief that I send out when applying for new jobs and before I report to new units. So far, I haven’t run into any issues. I’ll debate with people a fair amount, though I’m always careful to make sure I’m not bringing my rank or position into the mix.

    I’ve had no problems in the six years I’ve been in. Part of that may have to do with the fact that I always strive to be the best at my job, and it’s reflected in my evaluations. I’ve never been singled out for being an atheist nor have I seen somebody suffer the same fate. The only time it ever really came up that I had atheist on my records was I moved units while I was an augmentee in Afghanistan, and the battalion sergeant major saw me walking out of the morning battlefield update briefing and read my nametape.

    “Hey, you’re CPT X, the new guy over in fires, right?”
    “Yes, Sergeant major. I’m excited to be here”
    “Hell yes, the atheist Australian who likes to blow stuff up. It’s crazy, and I LOVE IT!”

    He gave everyone crap, but if you did your job you were fine. I always made sure to do my job; hence, no problems.

  • Spuddie

    Behind every story about Christians being persecuted in the US is an obnoxious lying sack of shit with delusions of entitlement and privilege to act like a complete jerk.

  • UWIR

    Somehow, the idea that religious discrimination is wrong has become pervasive in our society. It’s ridiculous. Of course I discriminate against bigots, and that includes religious bigots. I see absolutely nothing wrong with that. We really need to speak out against anti-religious discrimination policies, because they’re a massive opportunity for religious bigots to claim the right to be bigots.

  • lewillia

    Gays outta the closet in the Military, Christians forced in the closet… that is fubar
    This article is nothing but BS self serving spin by the author. I’m positive for every atheist he finds in the military supporting his position, there are hundreds of persecuted Christians, afraid for their military careers if they exercise the very free speech they serve this country to protect. And yes, I served 8 years in the US Navy, so I do know something about attitudes in the military.


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