For years, I've heard hints of religious fundamentalism running rampant in the American military. Beyond the forced prayer, I've seen accusations of promotions being withheld, less favored duties assigned, requests for help stonewalled. This week, we got a solid example of this being highlighted by (former) West Point Cadet Blake Page, who has left West Point because of this discrimination and written about it on Huffington Post.
The core of his complaint comes down to this:
While there are certainly numerous problems with the developmental program at West Point and all service academies, the tipping point of my decision to resign was the realization that countless officers here and throughout the military are guilty of blatantly violating the oaths they swore to defend the Constitution. 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. These transgressions are nearly always committed in the name of fundamentalist evangelical Christianity. The sparse leaders who object to these egregious violations are relegated to the position of silent bystanders, because they understand all too well the potential ramifications of publicly expressing their loyalty to the laws of our country. These are strong words that I do not use lightly, but after years of clear personal observation I am certain that they are true.
And he's right. Putting religion into our military in such a manner is unconstitutional. But the people doing it don't care. I'm not sure even the ones who understand that they're violating the Constitution actually care that they are. Good for Page for making such a big sacrifice in order to take a stand and call attention to such an egregious desecration of our Constitution and accompanying freedoms, by the very people who get the most credit for defending it, mostly because they are literally sworn to defend it.
And shame on every single member of our Armed Forces who cares more about pushing their religion than respecting the religion, or lack thereof, of their fellow soldiers. They should be ashamed of themselves, and do not deserve the honor that normally, and otherwise deservedly, comes with their service to our country.