US atheist soldiers â€˜are at war’ with Christian extremists
A SECOND member of the US military is suing the Department of Defence, claiming he was forced to attend military events where fundamentalist Christian prayers violated his constitutional rights.
According to this report, the action has been brought against the DoD and US Defence Secretary Robert Gates by army medic Dustin Chalker, a decorated Iraq combat veteran and atheist. It follows the case brought earlier by army specialist Jeremy Hall. Chalker joined the Army in 2002 and earned the Combat Medic Badge and a Purple Heart in Iraq.
Chalker’s experience with religious coercion by his chain of command is pervasive in today’s US military under the Bush Administration, according to Michael L “Mikey” Weinstein, founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.
Weinstein says extremist Christians are engaging in a widespread pattern of unconstitutional sectarian activity in all branches of the military, the Coast Guard, and reserves like the National Guard.
As of mid-September, the MRFF had collected more than 9,100 reports about such activities at a rate of 80 to 100 per week. By far most of those complaining – 96 percent – come from other Christian service or reserve members who are being targeted because “they are not Christian enough,” in Weinstein’s words.
In fact, sectarian activities in the military pose a domestic national security threat that the country ignores at its peril.
What will it take to get Americans to wake up and see what’s going on?
The religious extremists involved are known as Christian Dominionists and Christian Reconstructionists, among other names. They do not acknowledge any separation of church and state, and aim to remake this country as a Christian theocracy – the Christian counterparts of the Taliban/Al Qaeda nexus. Weinstein says they are active on all 737 U.S. military bases around the world.
Weinstein, a 1977 honours graduate of the US Air Force Academy added:
Dominionist Christians want to waterboard everyone into accepting their worldview.
According to this excellent blog, Chalker also alleges that the Campus Crusade for Christ has special, preferential status within the military. The CCC operates on many U.S. military bases, and is permitted to proselytize with impunity. It has a strongly creationist agenda.
CCC explains its targeting of basic training camps thus:
Young recruits are under great pressure as they enter the military at their initial training gateways. The demands of drill instructions push recruits and cadets to the edge. This is why they are most open to the ‘good news’ …
The MRFF and its co-plaintiffs have met with outright hostility since bringing their cases. Last month, Hall found on his cell phone a message laced with sexual and racial obscenities in which the caller threatens to kill Hall and rape his wife and mother.
Weinstein is only too familiar with the pattern.
I get eight to 12 death threats a week. The tires of my cars have been slashed, the windows of my home have been blown out. I find dead animals on my porch.
His house and family are under constant security protection.
I’m at war right now.
Photo ackowledgement: Noreckoning Blogspot.