The Pasadena Sun has a great collection of various religious leaders’ thoughts on the mandatory Spiritual Fitness testing and training in the US Military.
Rev. Skip Lindeman – United Church of Christ:
Think about it: A guy takes the test and gets all A-grades on spirituality, and then says, “Gimme a gun so I can go kill as many of the enemy as I can!” Is that what a spiritual person does? How can anybody be spiritual, and then go blow another human being (i. e., child of God, made in the image of God) to smithereens? Please!
OK, that’s the philosophical issue; now, how about the discrimination issue? It is obviously discriminatory to those who deem themselves non-religious to be forced to take a spirituality test. And I’m not surprised that those complaining are saying that what goes on is “Christianity-lite.”…
Come on, Army. Be all that you can be. In America, that means you have to be fair. A spirituality test is not fair.
The Rev. Skip Lindeman
Rabbi Simcha Backman – Chabad Jewish Center
…But a separate test focused specifically on spiritual fitness that probes one’s religious beliefs and practices is, in my opinion, entirely out of place.
The modern U.S. military stands out as an institution of tremendous diversity, where individuals of many cultures, races, and religious beliefs converge for the one purpose of protecting our great country.
We must ensure that the military remains respectful of differing beliefs, and that it provides equal treatment to every person who takes up the noble calling of service.
The Army’s spiritual fitness exam may be well-intentioned, but it cannot be considered a fair indicator of one’s emotional health or mental stability — and it could be viewed as discriminatory. Plus, the results of such a test could be misconstrued or abused; for example, a bigoted, extremist officer might harass a new recruit who doesn’t adhere to ideas of “normal” religious behavior. I don’t think the military should be testing the spirituality of its members.
Rabbi Simcha Backman
Check out the full article, and spread it! There are many more religious leaders from a variety of faith backgrounds represented. Watch out for the one who seemed to buy into the BS (buried on the third or fourth page).
I was contacted by the LA Times (I guess they circulate articles to other venues too) to be a part of this collection. My comments specifically addressed the typical army line of defense. But I guess mine didn’t make the cut. So here they are:
(below the fold)
Justin Griffith – American Atheists
The U.S. military should not have spent $125 million taxpayer dollars on the ghastly spiritual litmus test for determining fitness. The creators of this test pretend that they are simply talking about ‘team spirit’ and ‘human spirit’ whenever journalists are around. This is because they know it’s illegal.
If any civilians out there have any doubt as to the religiosity of the mandatory Spiritual Fitness testing and training, educate yourself. I suggest you visit the Army’s very own “Virtual Spiritual Fitness Center” set up by the people who made this same test.
Military Director for American Atheists