News

West Point Military Academy warned: ‘Stop forcing religion on your cadets’

WHEN atheist Blake Page walked out of the West Point Military Academy in New York in November, he said in his letter of resignation:

I do not wish to be in any way associated with an institution which willfully disregards the Constitution of the United States of America by enforcing policies which run counter to the same.

Blake Page

Blake Page

Page, 24, who was President of West Point’s Secular Student Alliance, was referring to the oppressive religious ethos of West Point where, he said:

Countless officers here and throughout the military are guilty of blatantly violating the oaths they swore to defend the Constitution . . . through unconstitutional proselytism, discrimination against the non-religious and establishing formal policies to reward, encourage and even at times require sectarian religious participation.

Page served as an enlisted soldier in Korea for two years before his commanding officer recommended him for West Point. His story shines a spotlight into a military culture that, despite repeated exposes and lawsuits, continues to suffer from the evangelical zeal that ran amok under devout officers like General David Petraeus and fundamentalist chaplains like Gordon Klingenschmitt  (who attempted exorcism on a lesbian service member who requested his help after being raped).

Now, according to this report, West Point has been told by Americans United for the Separation of Church and State that it must purge religion completely. In a letter to West Point, the Washington-based group “that works to separate God from government” is demanding that West Point ends all prayers that are traditionally held during official school events.

The organisation wrote:

We have received several complaints about the United States Military Academy at West Point’s pattern of presenting prayers held throughout the four-year program of instruction. West Point’s inclusion of government-sponsored prayers at these events creates a pervasive atmosphere of religiosity and cannot be reconciled with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

It added:

Cadets are uniformly told that attendance at these events are required. Being forced to attend an event that includes a prayer is at the heart of the kind of religious coercion that the Constitution prohibits … The government does not have to physically force someone to utter a prayer or to genuflect before God in order to run afoul of that prohibition.

It then asked that the academy respond within 30 days.

Americans United Director Barry Lynn  said:

West Point cadets should be able to train for service in our nation’s military without having religion forced upon them. Academy officials must respect the religious liberty rights of all cadets, who should be free to make their own decisions about prayer without government coercion.

However, others support the prayers at the academy and state that Lynn’s organization is wrong in attempting to remove God from West Point.

Former Navy chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt is outraged:

Gordon Klingenschmitt

Gordon Klingenschmitt

Barry Lynn’s objective is to destroy Christianity in America. It has nothing to do with wanting to support the First Amendment under his understanding of it.

The crazy Klingenschmitt earlier this month told members of his Pray In Jesus Name Project that the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” had led to the “persecution” of Christians in the military.

Christian troops endure open homosexual harassment. Sexual harrassment [sic] is banned in the military, unless you’re a homosexual abusing a Christian, then it’s openly encouraged.

Klingenschmitt also argued that soldiers should be able to refuse to share a bunk with an openly gay soldier because otherwise they will be groped:

Imagine the horror of being ‘chosen’ as a bunkmate, and then being forced to endure ogling or groping without complaining.

Retired Lieutenant General William “Jerry” Boykin, who now serves as vice-president of Family Research Council, is also outraged by Lynn’s letter:

Prayer at West Point is a tradition. Because it is a tradition that derives from Christianity, Barry and others want to destroy that tradition because they are anti-Christian and want to erase any remnant of the influence of Christianity on our society.

West Point has confirmed that it has received Lynn’s letter, and states that prayers during academy events are completely voluntary.

 

12 Responses to “West Point Military Academy warned: ‘Stop forcing religion on your cadets’”

  1. JohnMWhite says:

    Following the Constitution is an effort to destroy Christianity now? Interesting. Can’t help but wonder what that makes the people who wrote the US Constitution…

  2. Broga says:

    The evangelical zealots just have to push to subdue everyone to their religious will. Then they get a reaction. Here they have just such a reaction. The damn has broken. I hope the water of freedom starts poring through.

  3. Trevor Blake says:

    On paper at least, no religious test is permissible to hold public office in the USA. In the UK there are clergy by law in the House of Lords. Strange then that religion is more popular in the USA than the UK.

  4. Sally says:

    I wouldn’t say that religion is ‘more popular in the USA.’ Religious attendance has fallen over the past decades, and most churches are full of the elderly, not the young. My own Brethren congregation has only 40 people, with only about 12 under 60 years of age, and only 8 under 50. Many of the older folks do not give at all, and the children do not. We think we have about 5 years before we fold.
    It is always fascinating to me that the military teaches these young men to kill ‘enemies’ in one class, then forces them to pray in the next. What are they praying for? Forgiveness for disobeying commandments? Praying for their own safety while they kill others, who may also be Christian? Praying that God forgets that they are killers of other people that HE created? Praying that their souls will be saved even though they are killers in waiting? Just how does a military person justify killing and being Christian at the same time? No wonder these young people suffer from mental disorders. One would ahve to be a bit insane in order to reconcile killing with any religion at all.

  5. Stephen Mynett says:

    Sally. I have the same thoughts as you. Good quote: “It is always fascinating to me that the military teaches these young men to kill ‘enemies’ in one class, then forces them to pray in the next.”
    But th ereligious world is full of hippocrits, I remember a trip round the old prison in Fremantle, Australia, with my sister, who is badly infected with religion. In the prison chapel there was a list of the 10 commandments, one read: “Thou shalt do no murder”. A well versed get out for the a prison where the death sentence was regularly carried out.

  6. Broga says:

    @Sally: Like you I have wondered about how military chaplains reconcile their faith with their blessings on men and women of war and war machines dealing out death. In the UK the military has a big attraction for the clergy. They are given a fairly senior rank, usually a major I think, and the salary and perks to go with it. They don’t have the inconvenience of military training and instead have what seems to be a most comfortable tax funded life.

    I doubt whether what they believe and do impinges on them any more than it does on the paedophile clergy who infest the churches.

  7. Erp says:

    It should be pointed out that the former naval chaplain, Klingenschmitt, was reprimanded for being involved in a political protest in uniform against explicit orders (late 2006) and later involuntarily released form the navy (early 2007). That supportive Christian news sources chose to use a disgraced chaplain as a source is perhaps good (they couldn’t find one in good standing to agree with the policy?).

    The cadet prayer is on the Military Academy web site and is explicitly theist.

  8. jay says:

    “Klingenschmitt also argued that soldiers should be able to refuse to share a bunk with an openly gay soldier because otherwise they will be groped”

    To be consistent, would a woman be able to refuse to share a bunk with an openly heterosexual soldier?

  9. Marky Mark says:

    Christians in West Point !! Well how else will our corporate controlled government convince solders to enlist and kill for their greed and to control resources unless they use religion? These cadets have already been prepped since childhood that all other religions are wrong, and even evil. So its easy peazy to get these brainwashed poor folk to go kill and die for their religion in places where these resources are, over their country or any sense of logic. God, USMC, and country…in that order.

  10. Naturalist1 says:

    Hallelueya (or words to that effect) Goog (le) has delivered me to your domaine where I am witnessing the true word! I’ve been aware of the prostelization of our troops for years now and infrequently the disturbing transgerssions on the part of some Military wingnut is significant enough to make it to the MSM web sites (though never the nightly news). I’ve tried to comment (usually about #953 of a thousand, about ten minutes post posting) with little or no effect (50/50 pro and con HURLING #$%^CAPITALIZED WORDS at each other). I haven’t read anything about religeous bullying in the military lately and had hoped that the powers that be may have tempered their evangelical ways somewhat. Tonight I decided to ask the Google if there were any recent hits about religeon in the Military…. and here I am! Youch! Nothing’s changed. It’s still as creepy and unconstitutional as ever. A bunch of wack job zealouts coercing or convincing the wilfully uninformed that it’s OK to kill in the name of the Peacemaker. Here I am, apparently among like minded god-hating heathens seemingly in agreement with my SECULAR (I can hurl CAPS too) interpretation of the not-so-vague Constitution. and you are in agreement also that the wizzard(s) behind the curtain are equally god-hating (excepting the truely evangelical Psychopaths), simply doing their part for the economy of the deserving;larger, faster jets, longer yachts and better elevators for their garages. These actons provide the additonal benefit of chasing out of the military anyone who might be prone to occasional boughts of critical thinking and rational deliberation concerning the heinous acts He or She is being ordered to carry out. All of this under the guise of holiness, Patriotism and purity, not to be subjected to criticism by the non-believers (in evidence here). Jay, I had the same thought about soldiers infected with the gay that you had. Are the christian soldiers so concerned about their own self controll that they’re sure the gays are similarly inclined? Or could it be that they fear that they may be tempted to succumb to their own inner desires? It seems that many of these folk selectively edit both the Constitution and the bible and often find it difficult to distinguish between the two. I served in the US Navy 50 years ago, and although services were available to those who sought them out, I never felt pressured to attend, and never felt shamed or embarrased that I didn’t. But then that was before wars were fought by the ignorant (or in the case of Viet Nam, the conscripted, led by the ignorant) for the financial benefit of the Mongers. Thinking Soldiers ended the Draft. One of them is about to become Sec D. Lets hope he’s on the right (left) side of the religification of the Military. If you’ve taken the time to read all of this, Thanks