Fundamentalism in the Military

 Posted by on 31 March 2008 at 6:14 am  Politics, Religion
Mar 312008
 

US military accused of harboring fundamentalism:

Feb 13, 2008: Since his last combat deployment in Iraq, Jeremy Hall has had a rough time, getting shoved and threatened by his fellow soldiers.

The trouble started there when he would not pray in the mess hall.
“A senior ranking staff sergeant told me to leave and sit somewhere else because I refused to pray,” Hall, a 23-year-old US army specialist, told AFP. Later, Hall was confronted by a major for holding an authorized meeting of “atheists and freethinkers” on his base. The officer threatened to discipline him and block his re-enlistment. “He said: ‘You guys are being a problem and problems can be removed,’” Hall said. “He was yelling at us and stuff and at the very end he says, ‘I really love you guys, I want you to see the light.’”

Now Hall is suing the major and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, accusing them of breaching his constitutional rights. A campaign group, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, is waiting for the Pentagon to respond to a lawsuit filed in a Kansas federal court on Hall’s behalf. It alleges a “pernicious pattern and practice” of infringement of religious liberties in the military.

The group’s founder, former Air Force lawyer Mikey Weinstein, said he has documented 6,800 testimonies by military personnel — nearly all of them Christians — of sometimes punitive or humiliating attempts to make them accept a fundamentalist evangelical interpretation of Christianity.

“I am at war with those people who would create a fundamentalist Christian theocracy in the technologically most lethal organization ever created by our species, which is the United States armed forces,” he said.

He plans to add extra charges and possibly other lawsuits this month.

“It violates title seven of the US code for an employer to push their Biblical world view on an employee,” he said. “But it’s a trillion times worse when that is not just your shift manager at Starbucks but that is your military superior.”

He singles out one of the major Christian groups in the military, the Officers Christian Fellowship (OCF). The group represents 15,000 US military personnel around the world, according to its director, retired Air Force general Bruce Fister. “It is not the position of OCF to try and coerce people to believe what we believe,” Fister told AFP. OCF’s aim, as stated on its website, is to achieve “a spiritually transformed military, with ambassadors for Christ in uniform, empowered by the Holy Spirit.” It professes belief in “the eternal blessedness of the saved; and the everlasting, conscious punishment of the lost.”

Un-freaking-believable.

Update: The Military Religious Freedom Foundation can be found on the web at militaryreligiousfreedom.org.

   
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