Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Compulsory religion in the military

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is working to oppose the Christianization of the armed forces in the USA, a process which has increased significantly in the past decade.  They spurred an investigation at the Air Force Academy in Colorado that found, for example:
Among other things, it revealed that the commandant of cadets taught the entire incoming class a "J for Jesus" hand signal, that the football coach had draped a "Team Jesus" banner across the academy locker room, and that more than 250 faculty members and senior officers signed a campus newspaper advertisement that proclaimed: "We believe that Jesus Christ is the only real hope for the world."

A group member writes:

He calls it the "fundamentalist Christian parachurch-military-corporate-proselytizing complex," a mouthful by which he means holy warriors in contempt of the constitutional barrier between church and state.
And Weinstein is absolutely right!  I really like the last paragraph in this article, too.  And I thought this reader comment was excellent: 
I am currently an Air Force officer, and was previously enlisted in both the Air Force AND the Army. I can attest to the need for Mike Weinstein's work. I consider myself a secular Christian, however the degree to which fundamentally Christian religiosity pervades the military is abhorrent to me as an officer, a civil libertarian, and an American. I fully and enthusiastically support an individual's right to observe their religion, except where it compromises the capability of the military to execute its mission.
I support Mike's work, for there IS a pervasive and large fundamentalist Christian element in the military, which retains attitudes and creates an atmosphere that, unless changed, I fear will create a day that mission planning will devolve to the inanity of "God's Will will see us to success". While I say that only half in jest, the basic point is that religion, by its very definition, involves relinquishing reason and logic to faith, ergo abandoning critical thought on matters controlled by one's faith. If the overwhelming majority of serving Christians were able to remain open-minded and critically thinking on topics spoken to by their religion, rather than dogmatic, there would be far fewer issues created by religion in the military than there are. Unfortunately, dogma usually prevails.
I would contend that the degree to which Christian proselytizing is both tolerated and tacitly encouraged by fundamentalist Christian officers and NCOs within the military creates an atmosphere of intimidation, and chills the airing of candid perspectives on issues - which is vital to successful policy development, mission planning, and daily operations - for fear of somehow offending the religious sensibilities of more senior personnel, with the attendant negative impact to one's career. Such an atmosphere fully compromises every other facet of effective military planning and operations, and we as Americans, tax-payers, and possibly relatives of, or actively serving members of the military should be not be willing to tolerate any compromises that may potentially cost us treasure and blood.

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