Blake Page Quits West Point

Freethinkers have been watching the encroachment of evangelical Christianity on the American Armed forces with alarm. It’s why groups like the Military Religious Freedom Foundation exist. Few people have closer to the problem than Blake Page, a cadet at West Point who has contributed to Justin Griffith’s “Rock Beyond Belief” blog.

Page has now made a major sacrifice in order to bring attention to the problem of proselytizing in the military: he’s leaving West Point. From NBC News:

A West Point cadet publicly announced his decision to quit the prestigious military academy just months before graduating to protest what he sees as the illegal infusion of military procedures and events with fundamentalist Christian proselytizing.

To call attention to his move, senior Blake Page wrote a scathing commentary on West Point, published Monday in the Huffington Post.

“Countless officers here and throughout the military are guilty of blatantly violating the oaths they swore to defend the Constitution,” wrote Page, who was slated to graduate in May. “These men and women are criminals, complicit in light of day defiance of the Uniform Code of Military Justice through unconstitutional proselytism, discrimination against the non-religious and establishing formal policies to reward, encourage and even at times require sectarian religious participation.”

So Long, And Thanks For All The Memories (From Dan)
Being Agent Scully
All Cycles Come to an End
Atheists in the Evangelical Mind
  • kessy_athena

    Of course, it would undoubtedly help matters if more people from blue America decided to serve.

    • drax

      Kessy, have you got any evidence to show that red America outnumbers blue America in the armed forces? I know my experience is anecdotal, but that’s not what I saw while I was enlisted.

      The military has many many dark secrets, and does not appreciate bright lights being focused on them. Serving your country is a noble undertaking, but in my experience is frought with bullshit and stupidity.

      • kessy_athena

        Hmmm, actually, come to think of it, no I don’t. I was just going with the conventional wisdom. I wonder what the actual statistics are?

    • JamesK

      Let us know, Kessy, when all the Republicans who so love war are going to send their sons and daughters to serve in the military.

      How many sons does Mitt Romney have? How many of them served in the military? Have George W Bush’s and Dick Cheney’s children served in the military?

      • kessy_athena

        Errr, is there a reason you have a chip on your shoulder?

        In any case, I think you know that has more to do with social status then with politics.

    • Darwinian Disciple

      If he had stayed and graduated he could have done a lot of damage to the system from within.

      Glad he out!

  • vasaroti

    I’m curious about how he arrived at this decision, but in the end he may not have lost that much. He can enlist immediately, and OCS should be a cakewalk compared to West Point. At any rate, I hope he goes on to become an officer.

    About liberals not serving – a lot of young people aren’t affiliated with any party when they sign up. I wasn’t, and became a Democrat only after being stationed in Germany for a few years and asking myself “Why can’t the US take better care of its people?” Also, keep in mind that the demographics of those who sign up during a time of relative peace are much different than those who sign up during a time when we are actively engaged in at least one foreign hellhole, and when jobs are scarce.

    • JohnMWhite

      Sorry, you lost me with that last sentence. Time of relative what?

      • Kodie

        Back in my youth, guys in my school would join the military for all the skills they could learn and the college tuition reimbursement program.

        • JohnMWhite

          I remember that used to be a way to look at the military, I was just joking about the US’s newish state of eternal war. Though I think they have only had real peace for a handful of years of their existence.

  • Bill

    While standing on your priciples is all well and good, I don’t understand this decsision from an economic perspective. As I understand it, he will now be required to pay back his full tuition or enlist in order to pay it back. He’s months away from graduation, and instead will now find himself with no diploma and either a mound of debt or the life of an enlisted grunt. He could have toughed it out another few months and had a diploma from a prestigious school and the rank of second lieutenant.

    The millitary needs to fix it’s religion problem, but what’s that expression about cutting off your nose to spite something?

    • Irreverend Bastard

      “I don’t understand this decsision from an economic perspective.”

      Some things are more important than mere money.

      • Bill

        So it’s worth $200k to not deal with a few more months of discomfort before graduation?

        • Kodie

          The nail that sticks up will be hammered down.

        • JamesK

          For how much, BIll, will you stand being harassed, discriminated against and persecuted?

          Isn’t mixing war, violence and religious belief what the Taliban and Al Qaeda does? We should start acting like them?

    • kessy_athena

      I really really hate to play the cynic here, but according to CNN, the guy has some pretty serious personal problems, and has clinical depression, which apparently disqualifies him from being commissioned.

      • grumpygirl

        I enjoy reading HuffPo because their politics are the same as mine, but I don’t appreciate it when they don’t include the salient facts. I read about this yesterday, and saw there was some info being left out.

        I also think that those who REALLY want to change things will continue to serve, instead of giving up at the end. Now he just looks like a weenie who couldn’t take the heat in the kitchen.

        • kessy_athena

          *Never* trust someone whose stock in trade is telling you what you want to hear.

      • FO

        Does this make his points any less valid?
        Sometimes one with clinical depression (me) has just less to lose and is faster to lose respect and enthusiasm for an institution.
        At least he’s making himself useful.
        Further, being in a shitty, pole-up-the-ass environment where you are consistently bullied and threatened doesn’t certainly help your mood not the motivations that brought you to the army in the first place.

        • kessy_athena

          Of course it doesn’t make his points any less valid, and for me at least, it doesn’t cast any real doubt on his sincerity. If I thought he was just dicking around, I wouldn’t have any reservations about saying so. But like I said, in this instance, I hate playing the cynic.

      • JamesK

        you might want to keep in mind, Kessy, that it’s likely that his experiences in the military of having religious beliefs he doesn’t hold shoved down his throat by his superioers is what has triggered that clinical depression..

        • kessy_athena

          Guys, honest, I don’t think any less of the guy for being depressed. I’ve had major depressive disorder and been on disability because of it for over a decade. And I’ve been unhappy about the evangelicals plying the military for quite a while. But in regards to the specific question of why he resigned just before graduating when that seems to have involved a big financial penalty, that does seem to present an answer. Really, you don’t have to defend him to me, but the facts are the facts, even when they’re not as nice as we wish they were.

      • Custador

        That’s some selective reading you did right there.