Over the weekend, the New York Times had a disturbing article about religious discrimination in the military. The target? Atheists, of course:
When Specialist Jeremy Hall held a meeting last July for atheists and freethinkers at Camp Speicher in Iraq, he was excited, he said, to see an officer attending.
But minutes into the talk, the officer, Maj. Freddy J. Welborn, began to berate Specialist Hall and another soldier about atheism, Specialist Hall wrote in a sworn statement. 'People like you are not holding up the Constitution and are going against what the founding fathers, who were Christians, wanted for America!' Major Welborn said, according to the statement.
Major Welborn told the soldiers he might bar them from re-enlistment and bring charges against them, according to the statement.
Hall has sued, but his experience is apparently not isolated:
Mikey Weinstein, a retired Air Force judge advocate general and founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said the official statistics masked the great number of those who do not report violations for fear of retribution. Since the Air Force Academy scandal began in 2004, Mr. Weinstein said, he has been contacted by more than 5,500 service members and, occasionally, military families about incidents of religious discrimination. He said 96 percent of the complainants were Christians, and the majority of those were Protestants.Given our current entanglements in the Middle East, the idea that the military might be encouraging rash proselytization might bring more trouble than just a few lawsuits from slighted heretics.
Complaints include prayers 'in Jesus’ name' at mandatory functions, which violates military regulations, and officers proselytizing subordinates to be 'born again.' After getting the complainants’ unit and command information, Mr. Weinstein said, he calls his contacts in the military to try to correct the situation.
'Religion is inextricably intertwined with their jobs,' Mr. Weinstein said. 'You’re promoted by who you pray with.'