US atheist soldiers ‘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.

From left, SGT Mike Aguilar, SPC Christopher Carr, SPC Jeremy Hall, SPC Tony Hernandez, and SPC Dustin Chalker

From left, SGT Mike Aguilar, SPC Christopher Carr, SPC Jeremy Hall, SPC Tony Hernandez, and SPC Dustin Chalker

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.

Weinstein warns:

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.

7 responses to “US atheist soldiers ‘are at war’ with Christian extremists”

  1. tony e says:

    I was ordered to attend Christmas service with a Jewish friend when I was in the British military. I explained that I was an atheist – I was told that there was not such thing. My Jewish mate was deeply offended that he was also forced to go. By the way, this was in 2002.

  2. Angela K says:

    Death threats, windows blown out…
    Amazing what the ‘love of an imaginary friend’ does to the brain – it removes all tolerance and common sense.

  3. Michael says:

    The Cancer Spreads

  4. valdemar says:

    Ah, yes, proof yet again that religion is the basis of moral behaviour, and that without it we would all start attacking and abusing one another. Erm…

  5. TERMINUS EST says:

    I would trust a soldier MORE if he told me he was an atheist. It would tell me that he was honest in his convictions.

    I would also honor him more. It would tell me that, even though he does not believe in the afterlife, he still has the courage to risk his life for what he believes in.

    They should pin medals on these men. They are bigger, braver heroes than than those soldiers that think they are getting eternal life and reward.

  6. JonnyGunn says:

    “They should pin medals on these men. They are bigger, braver heroes than than those soldiers that think they are getting eternal life and reward” TERMINUS EST

    Easy fella, I was 18yo atheist in Vietnam. None of my religious brothers that perished wanted to die, and I love them

    You can honor the duty bound atheist soldiers without dishonoring their brothers in arms.

  7. Sherry Baldwin says:

    Religion and freedom of it’s expression is the premise on which this country was founded. Certainly, everyone should be free to express their beliefs regarding God without being assaulted, physically or verbally without due process.
    So, Chalker and his buddies will have their day in court. They do not represent all peoples nor even a majority of people, however.
    So now that it’s almost Christmas, a celebration of Jesus’ birth, I will continue to pray to God for peace on earth and good will toward men.
    And I will pray for the courts to have wisdom in their decision. I will teach my kids to do the same.
    No one can legislate TRUTH.