Religous Freedom in the Military

Some interesting reading about the Christianisation of the U.S. Military. Army Spc. Jeremy Hall is in the U.S. Army. He is an atheist. He needed a bodyguard to protect him because of that.

In March, Hall filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Defense and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, among others. In the suit, Hall claims his rights to religious freedom under the First Amendment were violated and suggests that the United States military has become a Christian organization.

“I think it’s utterly and totally wrong. Unconstitutional,” Hall said.

Hall said there is a pattern of discrimination against non-Christians in the military.

Two years ago on Thanksgiving Day, after refusing to pray at his table, Hall said he was told to go sit somewhere else. In another incident, when he was nearly killed during an attack on his Humvee, he said another soldier asked him, “Do you believe in Jesus now?”

Hall isn’t seeking compensation in his lawsuit — just the guarantee of religious freedom in the military. Eventually, Hall was sent home early from Iraq and later returned to Fort Riley in Junction City, Kansas, to complete his tour of duty.

He also said he missed out on promotions because he is an atheist.

“I was told because I can’t put my personal beliefs aside and pray with troops I wouldn’t make a good leader,” Hall said.

You might think this is isolated, but I’ve read a number of stories like this, and it doesn’t surprise me one bit. Don’t have time to comment now, but I’m sure you all will.






94 replies
  1. 1
    jake says:

    “Our Pentagon, our Pentacostalgon, is refusing to realize that when you put the uniform on, there’s only one religious faith: patriotism,” Weinstein said.

    Win.

  2. 2
    calipygian says:

    I spent 20 years in the Navy and, maybe it was my particular job specialty (linguist), but I didn’t see very much in the way of what Hall describes, and I’m a pretty hardcore non-religious person and thus sensitive to that kind of stuff.

    There are plenty of atheists, agnostics, pagans, non-believers, Jews and fairly open homos, more, in fact than hard core, you-are-going-to-hell Christians in my job field.

    Sometimes I find it hard to reconcile what Hall and Weinstein went through because I never saw it.

    I think the closest I came was that I didn’t get a dog tag in boot camp 20 years ago that had my proper religious preference on it. They insisted I couldn’t get “atheist”, so I had to settle for “no preference”. As soon as I got out of boot camp I sent it back and got a proper one.

  3. 3
    Redhand says:

    The problem is particularly bad at the Air Force Academy. Can’t cite you anything just now, but there have been a number of articles about it. What’s really disturbing is that this mentality is tolerated in a school for military leaders, not just the rank and file. Gives “God is my Co-Pilot” a whole new meaning.

    As for this poor ground pounder, didn’t he know “There are no atheists in foxholes”? Sorry for the sick joke, but the emphasis on “leadership” and religion lies at the core of the problem here too: “I was told because I can’t put my personal beliefs aside and pray with troops I wouldn’t make a good leader.”

  4. 4
    Xenos says:

    There seem to be a number of leadership problems with the Air Force brass. Gates has taken some steps to turn that branch around, but it may make sense to fold the air force into some larger structure to deal with entrenched cultural problems.

    This problem is not limited to just the US – the aggression, individualism, and recklessness needed to be a good fighter pilot, for example, seems to lead to poor officer quality. A lot of third-world coups have been launched by air force officers who see themselves as an elite within their own country’s armed forces.

  5. 5
    slippy hussein toad says:

    the aggression, individualism, and recklessness needed to be a good fighter pilot, for example, seems to lead to poor officer quality.

    Are you attacking JOHN MCCAIN’S INTELLIGENCE?

    (re-reads)

    Oh, wait. You’re not! You said “good fighter pilot.” My bad.

  6. 6
    Edmund Dantes says:

    When did you stop serving? A lot of the documented things that have gone on point to the past 10-15 years being a groundswell of the Christianization of the military. It was something that sort of existed before, but it only really took hold recently.

  7. 7
    maxbaer (not the original) says:

    Well, Bush said it was a Crusade. Can’t have Jews, atheists and Muslims getting in the way of reclaiming the Holy Land oil.

  8. 8
    RSA says:

    Another religious story, via PZ Myers, with the headline Student Who Took Religious Icon Getting Death Threats.

    The religious icon was a consecrated host, smuggled out of Mass without having been ingested. You know, I thought that Christianity didn’t have anything to compare to the outrage that the Muslim world displayed over the Danish cartoons of Mohammed a few years ago. I was wrong.

  9. 9
    Halteclere says:

    The problem is particularly bad at the Air Force Academy.

    I have always assumed that much of this (which I have noticed also) is due to the Air Force Acadamy being located in Colorado Springs, CO. James Dobson’s powerful fundamentalist Christain Focus on the Family organization is also based in Colorado Springs, CO. I’m not optimistic that FOTF is not doing all it can to infiltrate the Acadamy with it’s brand of fundamentalism.

  10. 10
    calipygian says:

    When did you stop serving? A lot of the documented things that have gone on point to the past 10-15 years being a groundswell of the Christianization of the military. It was something that sort of existed before, but it only really took hold recently.

    I got my retired ID last week. And I have read the stories in the newspaper about the Christianization of the military, but like I said, except in rare instances, never saw or experienced it.

  11. 11
    Raphael says:

    “and suggests that the United States military has become a Christian organization.”

    You mean they’ve abandoned alcohol, swearing, and extramarital sex?

  12. 12
    pharniel says:

    my wife was in the navy for a bit, and she said that pretty much all the really religious folks (which she was one of, but dropped out early on college) were in the air force or the army.
    mostly the air force.

    I have a feeling it’s branch related, since we havn’t heard the weirdness out of the navy or the marnines, but mostly the air force and a side of the army.

  13. 13
    Lee says:

    I was in the Marines 84-92, really did not see much of this at all.

    Lots of odd ducks, not many bible-thumpers.

  14. 14
    Napoleon Dyno says:

    Hey–I just graduated from West Point aka Fundamentalist Training Academy! To do well there, all a cadet had to do was profess to be born again and you’d be safe from honor boards, walking the area and low military development grades. Our comm thought it was his mission to ensure all of us had accepted JESUS in our lives. I had to put up a front just to be accepted in my company. But now I am FREE

  15. 15
    Xenos says:

    Webster Cook says he smuggled a Eucharist, a small bread wafer that to Catholics symbolic of the Body of Christ after a priest blesses it, out of mass, didn’t eat it as he was supposed to do, but instead walked with it.

    I expect that the reporter got some complaints after slipping that bit of anti-Catholicism into the article. The best defense of against the imposition of Christianism as a state religion is that you instantly start to trip up against all sort of sectarian disputes like this.

  16. 16
    calipygian says:

    My immediate commander was EXTREMELY religious. Home schooled kids, wife that didn’t work and wore “modest” clothes (read: plain grey dresses), he was a pastor, etc.

    I was a pretty militant and open agnostic/soft atheist and a loud mouthed Democrat.

    He was one of the most open minded and decent men I have ever known, and whatever he REALLY thought, he never let it affect his judgement or let his hyper-religiosity manifest itself as intolerence for other points of view.

    Over the last five years, there are several times I screwed up (self-inflicted wounds and victim of circumstance) and he could have really, severely nailed me to a wall, to the point of kicking me out of the military with 17 plus years in.

    But he didn’t.

    I have a lot of respect for him.

    And there is some of this weirdness in the Navy.

    But I suspect that it has more to do with “Rum, Sodomy and the Lash” style tradition than trying to make people into Jesus Freak Wingnuts.

  17. 17
    littlebird says:

    I’m thinking that the weirdness is a fairly recent development in the air force, as well. Air Force brat from the 80s and 90s here, and I think that in 18 years I knew 2 families that took religion to its creepy extremes. Granted, I knew more enlisted than officers, but the Lt.s I knew were your average ‘Christmas and Easter’ types. Frankly, got hassled more by John Q. Baptist in Dayton and Hampton than I ever did by anyone on base.

  18. 18
    Cathy W says:

    Calipygian, I’ve been following this story for quite a while – Mikey Weinstein’s group has been active for two years or so, as a response to his son’s experience at the Air Force Academy. So far, most of the reports of inappropriate religious pressure have come out of the Air Force and Army, with substantially fewer incidents in the Navy and Marines (the Marine who was passing out Bible coins was something of a fluke there). So you may be entirely correct that you didn’t observe a lot of Christianization in the Navy, but the experience of someone in the Army or Air Force might be completely different. Even within the Army or Air Force, someone’s experience might come down to how much BS an individual CO is willing to tolerate.

  19. 19
    machine says:

    I was Army from 80 – 87 and didn’t see or experience institutionalized religious pressure at all. There were a few instances of the “pray with me now” types but that’s it.

    Seems odd for the rank and file of his unit to set SPC Hall apart simply because of religious persuasion. There’s gotta be more to this story.

  20. 20
    Dave_Violence says:

    “Seems odd for the rank and file of his unit to set SPC Hall apart simply because of religious persuasion. There’s gotta be more to this story.”

    Considering the strict anti-proslyzing rules explicit to the US military, there is a lot more to it.

  21. 21
    calipygian says:

    So you may be entirely correct that you didn’t observe a lot of Christianization in the Navy, but the experience of someone in the Army or Air Force might be completely different. Even within the Army or Air Force, someone’s experience might come down to how much BS an individual CO is willing to tolerate.

    I spent the last seven years in a “joint” unit that was about 50 percent Army, 35 percent Air Force and about 15 percent Navy with the odd (and I mean very odd in all senses of the word) Marine, so I’ve actually had more exposure to other services than my own, so I dont really know what’s going on in the Navy/Marine Corps these days.

    And like I said, I come from a job specialty that is famous for its “different” people.

    But you are right – what it comes down to is personality. Quite frankly, is Hall right when a Chaplain comes into his meeting and tells them to believe or be courtmartialed? You bet. That Chaplain is just cruising for an EO complaint and I would have given it to him. I worked around too many mid-ranking officers to have TOO much respect for them.

    I’m sure the situation is different in the “line” units, where people aren’t as open minded.

  22. 22
    jake says:

    “We don’t know 100% what Mr. Cooks motivation was,” said Susan Fani a spokesperson with the local Catholic diocese. “However, if anything were to qualify as a hate crime, to us this seems like this might be it.”

    Jesus Christ on a cracker. Hate crime? Really? Apparently this daft cow has her head so far up her ass she’s never heard any of the shit people say about the R.C.

    Take this respectful treatise on the Holy Eucharist frinstance.

  23. 23
    El Cid says:

    I love the fact that somebody can say ‘Where’s your Jesus now, Soldier boy’ and actually mean it.

  24. 24
    cleek says:

    “haaallp! haaalllp! he didn’t eat his cracker! hate crime! hate crime! haaalllp!”

  25. 25
    kwAwk says:

    I have to wonder if this isn’t a bit of SPC Hall’s fault. Some athiests, and I probably used to be one of them, are so intent on having their own beliefs respected that they disrespect the beliefs of others in the process.

    If you are sitting around the Thanksgiving dinner table and others around you want to say grace, you should just bow your head and visualize Jessica Alba naked and respect their beliefs for a few seconds before beginning dinner. It doesn’t hurt.

    For a lot of people prayer is very meaningful and important, so just respect that and move on. If you object to having a prayer at a table enough that your tablemates insist you sit elsewhere that doesn’t reflect good on you, unless they were asking you to be the one who gave the prayer, which would be a different story.

  26. 26
    Cassidy says:

    I don’t think the “Christianization of the Army” is accurate. It may be a by default reaction, but overall it isn’t institutional.

    What’s being seen is a combination of several factors:

    1) Army Chaplains tend to come from more fundamentalist denominations.

    2) The Army religious groups have gotten mroe active in the Army Community, as part of the safety net while we are deployed.

    3) The Army Chaplains have gotten more involved in the daily lives of Soldiers.

  27. 27
    Cassidy says:

    I don’t think the “Christianization of the Army” is accurate. It may be a by default reaction, but overall it isn’t institutional.

    What’s being seen is a combination of several factors:

    1) Army Chaplains tend to come from more fundamentalist denominations.

    2) The Army religious groups have gotten mroe active in the Army Community, as part of the safety net while we are deployed.

    3) The Army Chaplains have gotten more involved in the daily lives of Soldiers.

  28. 28
    Cassidy says:

    Some athiests, and I probably used to be one of them, are so intent on having their own beliefs respected that they disrespect the beliefs of others in the process.

    The Wiccans are the most fun to screw with.

  29. 29
    calipygian says:

    If you are sitting around the Thanksgiving dinner table and others around you want to say grace, you should just bow your head and visualize Jessica Alba naked and respect their beliefs for a few seconds before beginning dinner. It doesn’t hurt

    If those Christians are sitting around an Iraqi table during an Eid al-Fitr feast, they should just recite the Hadith and shut up.

    It doesn’t work like that. I NEVER bowed my head during prayer or an invocation at an event. In fact, I used to look around pretty blatently to see who else didn’t bow their head in prayer (more people than you would think). But, if I was eating with Christians and they did a little prayer and shook the chicken bones over their meals before they ate in my presence, I at least gave them the courtesy of not eating myself during the prayer.

  30. 30
    Cassidy says:

    I at least gave them the courtesy of not eating myself

    Christians appreciate your lack of cannibalistic tendencies.

  31. 31
    PaulW says:

    kwAwk Says:

    I have to wonder if this isn’t a bit of SPC Hall’s fault. Some athiests, and I probably used to be one of them, are so intent on having their own beliefs respected that they disrespect the beliefs of others in the process.

    From what I’ve read of the incidents, it seems the evangelicals were going out of their way at times to rub it in Hall’s face. It may be Hall stood up from time to time to shout “God is Ded HA HA HA” but I don’t see that.

    By teh by, we just need more Quakers and Buddhists in the armed forces. I’m just sayin.

  32. 32

    … aka Fundamentalist Training Academy!

    Heh. FTA? I remember when it meant something else.

    The Army is an entirely different experience in a combat unit. I can’t speak to this issue because we had too many draftees in our unit for anyone to threaten another soldier over something like religion. Bringing back the draft to our modern military would straighten this kind of nonsense out very quickly. Most draftees don’t give a fuck about a ruined military career. I suspect NCOs and Officers would be a bit more cautious around a guy who doesn’t have career aspirations and carries live ammo. Funny that.

  33. 33
    Face says:

    Who cares? So the grunts worship a carpenter with Birks and a mullet? Yawn.

  34. 34
    calipygian says:

    Christians appreciate your lack of cannibalistic tendencies.

    No they don’t. Ever hear of transubstantiation?

  35. 35
    cleek says:

    No they don’t. Ever hear of transubstantiation?

    now if they could just get to work on substantiation…

  36. 36
    b. hussein canuckistani says:

    If you are sitting around the Thanksgiving dinner table and others around you want to say grace, you should just bow your head and visualize Jessica Alba naked and respect their beliefs for a few seconds before beginning dinner. It doesn’t hurt.

    That’s what atheism is all about – keeping your fucking mouth shut and act like a Christian because no one wants to know that you don’t love Baby Jeebus.

  37. 37
    Grand Moff Texan says:

    Eventually, Hall was sent home early from Iraq and later returned to Fort Riley in Junction City, Kansas, to complete his tour of duty.

    Which is just Darwin’s way of weeding out anyone stupid enough to be religious.
    .

  38. 38
    kwAwk says:

    calipygian Says:

    If those Christians are sitting around an Iraqi table during an Eid al-Fitr feast, they should just recite the Hadith and shut up.

    It doesn’t work like that. I NEVER bowed my head during prayer or an invocation at an event. In fact, I used to look around pretty blatently to see who else didn’t bow their head in prayer (more people than you would think). But, if I was eating with Christians and they did a little prayer and shook the chicken bones over their meals before they ate in my presence, I at least gave them the courtesy of not eating myself during the prayer.

    I guess as I’ve gotten older I’ve become less inclined to wear my atheism on my sleeve. Perhaps I’ve just read too many Vonnegut books.

    If somebody were kind enough to invite me into their home to participate in their ‘Eid al-Fitr feast’ I would be kind enough to respect their customs. I might decline to participate in reciting of the Koran as that would disrespect my religion and theirs, but I certainly wouldn’t raise objections to their doing so.

  39. 39
    Grand Moff Texan says:

    James Dobson’s powerful fundamentalist Christain Focus on the Family organization is also based in Colorado Springs, CO.

    That is so gay.
    .

  40. 40
    kwAwk says:

    Cassidy Says:

    The Wiccans are the most fun to screw with.

    Wicca? Isn’t that the religion that was invented in the 1950’s based upon Dungeons and Dragons?

  41. 41
    Punchy says:

    you should just bow your head and visualize Jessica Alba naked

    Must I keep my hand(s) on the table?

  42. 42
    Grand Moff Texan says:

    Student Who Took Religious Icon Getting Death Threats

    By Cheryl Getuiza
    FOX 35 NEWS

    ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35, Orlando) –A UCF student claims he’s getting death threats for messing with something sacred.

    Webster Cook says he smuggled a Eucharist, a small bread wafer that to Catholics symbolic of the Body of Christ after a priest blesses it, out of mass, didn’t eat it as he was supposed to do, but instead walked with it.

    Catholics worldwide became furious.

    The Catholic Church: rape a small boy, we’ll protect you. Steal a fucking cookie and we’ll murder your ass.
    .

  43. 43
    Grand Moff Texan says:

    Isn’t that the religion that was invented in the 1950’s based upon Dungeons and Dragons?

    Actually, a lot of it comes from some laudanum-sucking psycho who was part of the Welsh separatist movement of the 1760’s.
    .

  44. 44
    Halteclere says:

    Wicca? Isn’t that the religion that was invented in the 1950’s based upon Dungeons and Dragons?

    If you are a Wiccan do you get to play with 10-sided dice?

  45. 45
    Zifnab says:

    Our comm thought it was his mission to ensure all of us had accepted JESUS in our lives. I had to put up a front just to be accepted in my company. But now I am FREE

    So is the military pumping out religious wackos or just hardened cynics? I always have to wonder how that dynamic works. Take a dyed-in-the-wool Bible Belter and put him in Colorado Springs, you can probably turn him into a frothing fundie. Take a Unitarian from Vermont or a Presbyterian from New Jersey or a Catholic from Maryland or just your white bread atheist, and I doubt you’ll get the same results. I guess it depends on who’s going in.

  46. 46

    OT: When is a timetable not a timetable? When the Iraqis want one and we don’t:
    Iraq Wants Withdrawal Timetable In U.S. Pact

    BAGHDAD, July 8 — Iraq’s national security adviser said Tuesday that his government would not sign an agreement governing the future role of U.S. troops in Iraq unless it includes a timetable for their withdrawal…
    …”We would not accept any memorandum of understanding with [the U.S.] side that has no obvious and specific dates for the foreign troops’ withdrawal from Iraq,” Rubaie said.

    But that’s not what he really means according to the Bush administration:

    U.S. officials said the remarks, along with a similar statement Monday from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, were aimed at local and regional audiences and do not reflect fundamental disagreements with the Bush administration.

    White House spokesman Tony Fratto said specific withdrawal dates are not part of the talks. He added: “We have great confidence that the political leadership in Iraq would not take an action that would destabilize the country.”

    See; they’re just saying that for the rubes in Iraq. Move along, nothing to see here.

  47. 47
    Grand Moff Texan says:

    Here he is.

    Just goes to show how easy it is to start a religion.
    .

  48. 48
    libarbarian says:

    Wicca? Isn’t that the religion that was invented in the 1950’s based upon Dungeons and Dragons?

    No.

    But seriously, Yes!

  49. 49
    Notorious P.A.T. says:

    If somebody were kind enough to invite me into their home to participate in their ‘Eid al-Fitr feast’ I would be kind enough to respect their customs.

    Well yeah. There’s a difference for respecting someone’s customs during a single dinner, and being surrounded by religious zealouts who want to convert your belief system into theirs, day in and day out.

  50. 50
    4tehlulz says:

    The Catholic Church: rape a small boy, we’ll protect you. Steal a fucking cookie and we’ll murder your ass.

    Wait. Isn’t that the same thing?

  51. 51
    Chris Johnson says:

    Heh… talk about highlighting the wackier aspects of all this…

    So basically the problem is not that the guy was acting disrespectful at a Catholic Mass- that wouldn’t warrant death threats.

    The problem is, the guy has literally walked off with a bit of Christ’s corpse. He took a piece of Christ’s body and he WALKED OFF with it and is carrying it around, putting it in a little frame in his house to gawk at, who knows what he’s doing. He RAN OFF with a piece of Christ’s actual corpse.

    When everybody knows you’re supposed to EAT it as he asked.

    Sometimes the world is just a bit too weird for my blood…

  52. 52
    Yoder's Ghost says:

    “and suggests that the United States military has become a Christian organization.”

    You mean they’ve abandoned alcohol, swearing, and extramarital sex?

    How about, “you mean they’ve abandoned lethal violence” – cause I’d be all for that kind of Christianization.

    Oh, and plenty of xians drink and swear…

  53. 53
    kwAwk says:

    Halteclere Says:

    If you are a Wiccan do you get to play with 10-sided dice?

    Yes, normally. But if you advance to Wicca level IV you can use the 12 sided die. With +2 hit points.

  54. 54
    calipygian says:

    The problem is, the guy has literally walked off with a bit of Christ’s corpse. He took a piece of Christ’s body and he WALKED OFF with it and is carrying it around, putting it in a little frame in his house to gawk at, who knows what he’s doing. He RAN OFF with a piece of Christ’s actual corpse.

    When everybody knows you’re supposed to EAT it as he asked.

    Did someone do a DNA test on that piece of cracker to MAKE SURE that it was Christ and not someone/something else?

  55. 55
    Rome Again says:

    If you are sitting around the Thanksgiving dinner table and others around you want to say grace, you should just bow your head and visualize Jessica Alba naked and respect their beliefs for a few seconds before beginning dinner. It doesn’t hurt.

    So you’re saying that one who doesn’t pray should pretend to pray so that he can go along to get along? That’s cowardess. Personally when I am in such a situation, I close my mouth but I don’t bow my head. I refuse to make it appear that I am one of them.

    For a lot of people prayer is very meaningful and important, so just respect that and move on. If you object to having a prayer at a table enough that your tablemates insist you sit elsewhere that doesn’t reflect good on you, unless they were asking you to be the one who gave the prayer, which would be a different story.

    Respect what the masses are doing because it’s what everyone does? Again, cowardess. We recently discussed public prayer in the book of Matthew here, would you like me to cite it again? Read Matthew 6:1-6 and then tell me that not involving oneself in public prayer makes one look bad. In case you forgot, the path to hell is the WIDE one which many people walk.

  56. 56
    Rome Again says:

    Just goes to show how easy it is to start a religion.

    The Christian religion was started by one man too, just not the one you might be thinking of.

  57. 57
    RSA says:

    I have to wonder if this isn’t a bit of SPC Hall’s fault. Some athiests, and I probably used to be one of them, are so intent on having their own beliefs respected that they disrespect the beliefs of others in the process.

    He could be the most outspoken asshole of an atheist imaginable, but if it didn’t affect his performance as a soldier, nothing that happened to him is at all his fault. Think about other possible disagreements soldiers might have: Yankees versus Red Sox, Ford versus Chevy, Windows versus Macintosh. Should anyone need a bodyguard for being obnoxiously outspoken about their opinions?

  58. 58
    Catsy says:

    Jesus Christ on a cracker.

    Well, yes, actually, that’s at the heart of all this lunacy.

    But come to think of it, wouldn’t that be a great name for the product if they decided to commercialize the Eucharist? “New strawberry-flavored Jesus Christ on a Cracker! Dip it in milk and watch the milk turn red! Now you too can part the red sea with this tasty snack!”

  59. 59
    Zifnab says:

    Halteclere Says:

    If you are a Wiccan do you get to play with 10-sided dice?

    Yes, normally. But if you advance to Wicca level IV you can use the 12 sided die. With +2 hit points.

    Aw, I thought we were talking Warlock: The Pretension, or at the least Revenant: The Ravishing

  60. 60
    fliegr says:

    In the course of my career went from flying jets in the Navy to flying them in the Air Force. I ran across some moderately religious types in the Nav, but only one I’d consider a fanatic, and he was mostly just in the throes of a homosexual panic. It wasn’t until I was flying with the AF that I had several individuals in my squadron who were downright wackos. They weren’t in-your-face about it, but one couple was unable to consummate their marriage because of their insane religious upbringings, and another was home schooling all eight kids to keep them from being tainted by popular culture. Don’t know what it is about the blue-suiters, but Jeebus has made some inroads.

  61. 61
    ThymeZone says:

    If the soldiers aren’t fighting for the right to exercise whatever religious beliefs they choose, including atheism … what are they fighting for?

    Onward Christian Soldiers?

  62. 62
    Tsulagi says:

    Don’t think problems are systemic so much as there’s just some hot spots of the evangelical Jeeeezzuuusss around. At least that was my experience and seems to be of those I know still serving.

    Air Force Academy in Dobsonland seems to be one of those hot spots. Some funny, and some not so funny, stories tend to come out of there. Too many of those dips see themselves as Jesus’ Top Gun.

  63. 63
    Dismayed Liberal says:

    Jesus Christ on a cracker.

    Actually, he’s in the cracker, not on it!

  64. 64
    OriGuy says:

    …who knows what he’s doing

    I know what they think he’s doing. A consecrated Host is a central part of a Black Mass, supposedly celebrated by medieval witches* and modern Satanists. He gave the Host back, and I’m sure he swiped it on a whim, but that’s what they are all worried about.

    *Not, I hasten to add, modern Wiccans.

  65. 65
    Evinfuilt says:

    I have always assumed that much of this (which I have noticed also) is due to the Air Force Acadamy being located in Colorado Springs, CO. James Dobson’s powerful fundamentalist Christain Focus on the Family organization is also based in Colorado Springs, CO. I’m not optimistic that FOTF is not doing all it can to infiltrate the Acadamy with it’s brand of fundamentalism.

    They are on the same end of town, with Focus on the Family just a couple miles or so from the Chapel (which is a beautiful building.)

    Everytime I drive through the Springs I’ve wanted to stop there, and see whats in that multi-million dollar building (Dobsons), its not humble by any stretch of the imagination.

  66. 66
    rachel says:

    jake Says:

    “We don’t know 100% what Mr. Cooks motivation was,” said Susan Fani a spokesperson with the local Catholic diocese. “However, if anything were to qualify as a hate crime, to us this seems like this might be it.”

    Jesus Christ on is a cracker.

    Fixed.

  67. 67
    Martin says:

    Jesus Christ on is a cracker.

    Fixed.

    Racist.

  68. 68
    Martin says:

    Some athiests are so intent on having their own beliefs respected that they disrespect the beliefs of others in the process.

    Hmm…

    Some Christians are so intent on having their own beliefs respected that they disrespect the beliefs of others in the process.

    The difference is that atheists don’t give them shit about it. But let’s not pretend that atheists are deserving of the treatment when they get uppity, okay.

  69. 69
    Dreggas says:

    kwAwk Says:

    Cassidy Says:

    The Wiccans are the most fun to screw with.

    Wicca? Isn’t that the religion that was invented in the 1950’s based upon Dungeons and Dragons?

    Errr no especially not since D&D didn’t start until the 70’s.

    As for christianization of the military, when I was at Ft. Jackson for BCT it was also, in many instances, Basic Christian Training. We had one wiccan that even a Drill Sgt. said, in front of the whole company was nothing but a satanist because the holy symbol was a pentacle. Nearly everyone was uber-religious, especially the “good ol’ boys” from the south who joined. There were no blanket parties for non-believers but there was plenty of pressure to “come to jesus”.

  70. 70
    Clutch414 says:

    I just hope one day we can get past this whole “MY FAIRY TALES ARE BETTER THAN YOUR FAIRY TALES” nonsense. We’ll be much better off.

  71. 71
    Z says:

    Wicca? Isn’t that the religion that was invented in the 1950’s based upon Dungeons and Dragons?

    Errr no especially not since D&D didn’t start until the 70’s.

    Well… both Wicca and D&D are based on Satan’s grand plan to destroy the universe by infiltrating and the warping young, impressionable minds that will, one day, control all technology with their powerful nerdiness. So, I can see how you might think Wicca was based on D&D.

  72. 72
    TenguPhule says:

    “I was told because I can’t put my personal beliefs aside and pray with troops I wouldn’t make a good leader,” Hall said.

    Of course we all know that good prayers like Bush make *GREAT* Leaders. Har Har.

  73. 73
    bago says:

    They see me rollin, my d10, and and now they all think I’m out there rolling with satan!

  74. 74
    Z says:

    Satan is bago’s copilot.

  75. 75

    I am friendly with one of the survivors of the USS Liberty. I learned he is an unbeliever like myself. He said he could not get his security clearance renewed without swearing an oath to Gawd. He had to lie to protect his Military Intelligence employment as opposed to honestly revealing he had no belief in an invisible Sky Daddy.

    F*cking sad.

  76. 76
    PaulB says:

    If somebody were kind enough to invite me into their home to participate in their ‘Eid al-Fitr feast’ I would be kind enough to respect their customs.

    Well, see, here’s the thing: it wasn’t “their” home in the scenario we’re discussing. It was just as much Hall’s home as it was “theirs.”

  77. 77
    BillB says:

    John, this reminds me of Pat Tillman, who was also I believe an atheist or an agnostic.

    If this guy is afraid for his safety in the “Christian” army, what about Tillman?

  78. 78
    The Other Andrew says:

    How long until someone steals one and sells it on eBay?

  79. 79
    Jeff says:

    The Other Andrew Says:
    How long until someone steals one and sells it on eBay?

    I’ll take the under on this weekend.

  80. 80
    Lee says:

    Beep Beep Beep

    Back the *#&(*# thread up.

    …but one couple was unable to consummate their marriage because of their insane religious upbringings.

    We need more information on this.

  81. 81
    Bey says:

    James Dobson’s powerful fundamentalist Christain Focus on the Family organization is also based in Colorado Springs, CO.

    I work at the Academy. Since I’m not a cadet, I’m not intimately familar with the spiritual goings-on in the Wing, but from a close observer standpoint the situation isn’t as prevalent as the reports make it sound. True, we are right across the highway from Focus on The Family and CoS is the home of New Life’s own Crystal Methodist, Ted Haggard. That makes our environment pretty evangelically saturated, but it seems to be a case of the AF following the surrounding culture, rather than a Children-Of-The-Corn hotbed of religious nuttery.

    Which is not to say there aren’t elements of that, just that it isn’t as widespread as you might imagine.

  82. 82
    liberal says:

    Rome Again wrote,

    We recently discussed public prayer in the book of Matthew here, would you like me to cite it again? Read Matthew 6:1-6 and then tell me that not involving oneself in public prayer makes one look bad.

    I don’t know why people don’t quote that one more often, especially 5-6.

  83. 83
    liberal says:

    LanceThruster wrote,

    He had to lie to protect his Military Intelligence employment as opposed to honestly revealing he had no belief in an invisible Sky Daddy Ceiling Cat.

    Fixed.

  84. 84

    The problem is, the guy has literally walked off with a bit of Christ’s corpse. He took a piece of Christ’s body and he WALKED OFF with it and is carrying it around, putting it in a little frame in his house to gawk at, who knows what he’s doing. He RAN OFF with a piece of Christ’s actual corpse.

    It’s a huge pity that Jesus Christ, Lord of Lords, God Almighty Himself, doesn’t seem to be able to take care of His own problems and needs anonymous death threaters to help Him….

  85. 85
    KevinD says:

    John, this reminds me of Pat Tillman, who was also I believe an atheist or an agnostic.

    If this guy is afraid for his safety in the “Christian” army, what about Tillman?

    An officer in Tillman’s chain of command had this to say about Pat:

    In an interview with ESPN.com, Kauzlarich said: “When you die, I mean, there is supposedly a better life, right? Well, if you are an atheist and you don’t believe in anything, if you die, what is there to go to? Nothing. You are worm dirt. So for their son to die for nothing, and now he is no more — that is pretty hard to get your head around that. So I don’t know how an atheist thinks. I can only imagine that that would be pretty tough.”

    Asked by ESPN.com whether the Tillmans’ religious beliefs are a factor in the ongoing investigation, Kauzlarich said, “I think so. There is not a whole lot of trust in the system or faith in the system [by the Tillmans]. So that is my personal opinion, knowing what I know.”

    And let’s not forget this A-hole

  86. 86
    Rome Again says:

    As for christianization of the military, when I was at Ft. Jackson for BCT it was also, in many instances, Basic Christian Training. We had one wiccan that even a Drill Sgt. said, in front of the whole company was nothing but a satanist because the holy symbol was a pentacle

    And Generals wear STARS, how does he feel about that?

  87. 87
    Baseballgirl says:

    When I was in AF Basic (1985), not only did they discriminate against atheists (I am one) but non-smokers as well. The only way you ever got to go take a break was if you went out to smoke. I know people who actually started smoking just so they could go outside for a few minutes.

    On Sunday morning, you had the choice of going to church or staying in the dorm and doing chores. You couldn’t take a nap or read a book. You had to do chores or study. Period. Not only that but, everyone would know that you weren’t going to church and everyone would treat you like you were some sort of devil worshipper. Where do you think we were on Sunday morning? Even the only Jewish girl in my flight was sitting in the Protestant chapel with the rest of us.

  88. 88
    KevinD says:

    On Sunday morning, you had the choice of going to church or staying in the dorm and doing chores.

    Same here. In Army basic, 1984, I spent more time in Church then I ever had before or since.

  89. 89
    Nancy Irving says:

    There are atheists in foxholes, they just know better than to evangelize. If others find comfort in a great foxhole in the sky, let them. No need to push your nonbelief.

    Practically speaking, I hope this provides an out for soldiers who’ve already done three tours of duty in Iraq. “I’m an atheist, you’ll have to send me stateside.” But I wouldn’t get my hopes up.

  90. 90
    qkslvrwolf says:

    Just to add in my 2 cents.

    First, I went through AF OTS in 04, and there were more political fanaticism problems than religious ones, but the problem about chores vs church is essentially still there.

    Also, they always did the damn prayers before stuff, but it was “non-denominational”, so it was ok. Since only us atheists were being made uncomfortable, and we don’t count.

    I have a friend, female Lt who went to the academy. She’s not quite as uptight and aggresive about her atheism as I am about mine, but she said that the academy wasn’t quite as bad as it’s been made out to be. She does get hasselled by colonels on a regular basis, basically telling her she needs to get married, have kids, and let her thus-far imaginary husband take charge for her.

    Both of us have taken minor crap for not appending so help me god, but it’s low key. Certainly not as bad as I got from middle schoolers (who, when I was a kid, would regularly say that I must be a satanist and a horrible person.)

    Anyway…no real point, just sharing my experiences.

    I will tell you this: the air force is HORRIBLE at IT. Horrible. And it’s really mainly because they’ve convinced themselves through too many officers with cheap, 3rd rate MBAs that you can manage anything if you “know your people”, even if you have no idea what your people are talking about when they tell you stuff. This leads to MSgts snowing colonels while young Lts who know better protest, and reprimands for the Lts for saying bad things about the good MSgts.

  91. 91
    GOms says:

    “We train young men to drop fire on people, but their commanders won’t allow them to write “FUCK” on their airplane, because it’s obscene!” Kurtz – Apocalypse Now

    I know it is not PC to forbid certain beliefs, but lets ban anything that contains any gods…fuck I am tired of religion…tired, tired, tired of religion…

  92. 92
    Bedlam UK says:

    If you ever need a quote to show that Christians can be as mad as muslims regarding their faith:
    ( i reiterate can be, my parent are the loveliest Christians you could hope to meet )

    Fundies say the darndest things is a great site for viewing the nut jobs. It’s like the old visits to Bedlam Hospital in the 18th Century to see the mad people.

  93. 93
    Wowzers says:

    Grand Moff Texan, you’re talking out of your ass. Wicca has nothing to do with Morgannwg. The man you’re looking for is Gerald Gardner. Wicca actually has its origins in the same people who, ironically, originated Scouting. Look into Kibbo Kift or Woodcraft Indians.

  94. 94
    The Pale Scot says:

    Gee John,

    What line did I cross by proposing that there were other religions that were more relevant to the Military? As in Mithra and Odinism?

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