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July 8th, 2008
07:16 PM ET

The U.S. Christian military?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/07/art.soldiers.pray.jpg]
Randi Kaye
AC360° Correspondent

Is the United States Military becoming a Christian organization? That’s what one U.S. soldier tells us.

I met Army Specialist Jeremy Hall in Kansas City a few weeks ago. He’s based at Fort Riley, in Junction City, Kansas about an hour away.

At 24, he’s a remarkable young man determined to complete one final mission. That is to win a lawsuit against the federal government.

Specialist Hall is suing the Department of Defense and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for failing to protect his religious freedom. He says the military discriminates against non-Christians and his rights under the First Amendment were denied.

Hall has served two tours in Iraq as a gunner. He’s back at Fort Riley now only because he says his life was threatened after it became public he is an atheist.

“I don’t believe in God, luck, fate, or anything supernatural,” Hall told me.

It wasn’t always that way. Hall grew up reading the Bible every night and saying grace at dinner. Then, after his first tour of duty, he met some friends who were atheist and decided to read the Bible again. He read the whole Bible, and had so many unanswered questions, he says, he decided to embrace atheism.

In the army, he says, that cost him dearly.

Hall says he was denied a promotion because of his beliefs, and felt his life was in jeopardy. He says the army assigned him a full-time bodyguard because of threats.

At Thanksgiving, Hall refused to pray with his table and says an officer told him to go sit somewhere else.

Also, after he was nearly killed when his humvee was attacked, he says a fellow soldier asked him, “do you believe in Jesus now?”

Hall says he was ostracized because he didn’t embrace fundamentalist Christianity.

We checked and religious discrimination is against military policy.

Bill Carr, the man in charge of military personnel policy at the Pentagon, told me, “if an atheist chose to follow their convictions, absolutely, that's acceptable. And that's a point of religious accommodation in department policy, one may hold whatever faith, or may hold no faith.”

Hall doesn’t want money from the military. He just wants soldiers to be guaranteed religious freedom. He plans to leave the army next year, as soon as he can, and wants to leave it a better place than when he first joined it, he says.

What do you think? Should military members be allowed to proselytize? Do you believe the Pentagon when it says this isn’t happening?

Editor's note: See Randi's full report on AC360 tonight at 10PM.


Filed under: Keeping Them Honest • Randi Kaye • Religion
soundoff (312 Responses)
  1. Todd

    I think this is mostly likely a frivolous lawsuit. I don't think he was forced to participate in religious activities and believe in God.

    Everyone has passionate beliefs that are going to differ from others. Do you think that if they were all atheists and there was a Christian in the mix it would be different? I Think Not.

    People's beliefs have been joked about and challenged for years. God/No God, War/No War, Giants/Eagles, Coke/Pepsi.

    Shouldn't all people passionately believe something?

    Stop being so sensitive.....

    July 7, 2008 at 5:44 pm |
  2. Victor in Saanich, B.C. Canada

    Let's see....... Religions and the military......... Kill, Kill....HMMM!
    Since time started to say the least!!
    One would think atheism would be a road for promotion!!

    July 7, 2008 at 5:42 pm |
  3. Dave

    I think I speak for just about everyone when I say that no soldier, or American for that matter, should be discriminated against for their faith or lack of faith.

    I also think it is silly to expect the Military not to have a strong Christian influence. Last time I checked, Christians make up the majority of the Military population. I am not saying that this gives Christians in the Military the right to do whatever they want to do, but I think the strict philosophy of separation of church and state in the midst of an environment where young men and women are putting their lives up for others is simply foolish.

    For many, faith is something that makes up the very core of our lives. And while discrimination should be harshly punished, we should never create an environment where the core values of faith can not be practiced. Even when that faith happens to be classified as the majority.

    July 7, 2008 at 5:37 pm |
  4. Phil

    Roger:

    Mencken was incorrect in his assesment.
    It should be:
    "Human beings are the greatest fomentor of hate the world has ever known."

    July 7, 2008 at 5:34 pm |
  5. Army Soldier

    I am an American Soldier with 27 years of service. I am not a religious person, and my dog tags say No Preference. I have never been exposed to any kind of religious discrimination, but then I have never put myself out there as non-religious.

    My experience is that religion is present and practiced, but not forced. Most 'events' like dinners, ceremonies, etc., have a chaplain or assistant offering an invocation and benediction, which I have always perceived as non-denominational. Reference is made to God, but no more than that. Each person will get from it what they choose. For me, I tend to look around and see the various practices of others, be it bowing their heads, praying, making the sign of the cross, or looking around like me.

    It is against the principles and regulations of the military to overtly try and push or require religion from anyone. That being said, individuals may not always follow those rules, and they deserve to be disciplined if their behavior is offensive to anyone. This should be the same as any other behavior that is offensive to someone, be it through speech or action. The discipline can be as simple as telling the person that their behavior is unacceptable, or as far reaching as prosecution under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

    One of the interesting aspects was the reference to a violation of his First Amendment rights. Soldiers do not have First Amendment rights! They only have the rights granted to them by law and regulations.

    July 7, 2008 at 5:32 pm |
  6. Sasha

    I believe the War was named "Iraqui Freedom", yet we are unable to excercise that same freedom as citiznes of our country. America preaches freedom in all aspects, but only if we excersice it they way the government wants you to. Will we ever learn to let others be the way they want, even if we don't agree with them? This soldier was used and now he is being disposed of, marked as no longer wanted. They took what they wanted of him but once he didn't agree he is being dumped.

    July 7, 2008 at 5:31 pm |
  7. Spartyblaze

    Is it really a suprise, in a war that currently seems to have a such a religious (Christian vs. Muslim) base that our red, white and blue is affected by the cross?

    What a shame – and an embarrasment for the US armed forces that have put their lives and views to the side – to fight a war that as of recent appears to be little more than a vendetta started by a slight of hand.

    I'm still unsure how we refuse to learn how much violence religious views cause in the world today. How many complications – how many undue deaths.

    WAKE UP AMERICA!

    July 7, 2008 at 5:30 pm |
  8. trsgrv

    So someone asked him if he believed in Jesus. So what? Grow up.

    It's interesting that the same people who condemn open expression of Christianity are dumb silent when it comes to taxpayer subsidized radical islamic schools. They don't seem to object to religious expression in that venue.

    Anyone who is NOT Christian is never challenged on their open condemnation of Christianity via their own religions, or via atheism.

    What has become acceptable is silencing Christianity.

    July 7, 2008 at 5:30 pm |
  9. Phil

    Those who believe in this "religious tolerance" stuff are only kidding themselves. If someone does not want to eat with you for whatever reason they decide not to eat with you, then will you force them?

    July 7, 2008 at 5:30 pm |
  10. Suzie

    This is NOT the norm!!!!! My husband has people of all religions as well as atheiests and agnostics in his squadron. He has for 18 years now. There is more acceptance of personal beliefs than every before!! Our troops are made to sound like ultra Christian homophobes. Give these men and women more credit. Just as in society, there are a few bad apples. The commands do not recruit you to be a Christian nor do they look down on you if you aren't. They have SO many other things to worry about!!!

    July 7, 2008 at 5:29 pm |
  11. Patrick

    I was in the Air Force and came across several atheists, Wiccans, and other non-Christian beliefs. I never encountered any significant discrimination among military individuals. I don't doubt this guy's assertion that on a few occasions, someone made a comment to him about God or Jesus, but it's a stretch to say that he was denied a promotion because he's an atheist. Also, if you are at a table and make a big point about refusing to pray to "supernatural beliefs", well, I imagine that someone might ask you to sit somewhere else, especially if you're deployed and tension is high. I'm not particularly religious myself, but I keep my beliefs within, and I'm not offended by what other people want to believe. This guy could have done himself a big favor by keeping his mouth shut. Maybe Christians thought he was discriminating against THEM when he disrespected their dinner prayers.

    July 7, 2008 at 5:26 pm |
  12. Danny Banks

    I too am Christian. During my 24 year stint I was not harassed, but I did remain quite wile others were practicing their religious ceromonies. I did not understand, but I also did not disturb. Its their believe, as I have mine.

    Practise "Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you."

    I read that somewhere......

    July 7, 2008 at 5:26 pm |
  13. Todd

    i find this story very credible, i went through some unpleasantness with Xians in my basic training unit. i felt threatened on several occasions. i went to Buddhist and Xian services to get out of doing chores or being bored. You don't want to be singled out or feel alienated in such situations.

    Somethings viewers of this show should realize: One's religion/beliefs are NOT a choice. You can choose to go to church, but you can't choose actually believe that someone is listening to your prayers. Your life experiences lead you toward or away from faith.

    Hall WAS threatened. And he DID have a bodyguard. Stop denying just because it is unflattering of your religion. There are plenty of Xians who will threaten and carry out threats if you question their ridiculous beliefs. Having the audacity to not believe is enough to make them insecure.

    Larry, atheists have beliefs, just not in gods. i, for one, believe in freedom of religion and speech. i should be able to not go to church and not be threatened for not doing so.

    "Who does he think has keep him alive in the war? I can’t blame any of the other soldiers at all for their actions because mine would have been the same". – Lee

    His fellow soldiers, his body armor and his aim keep him alive.

    If you are reading this and find my sarcasm offensive... well now you have a sense of what life is like for anyone in the US who isn't Xian. But we don't have as big a club to back us up. One sign you are a member of a privileged class is feeling threatened when someone outside your class asserts their rights or equality.

    July 7, 2008 at 5:25 pm |
  14. Ryan

    During my time in the Army (2002-2006) I witnessed many events and circumstances very similar to what Spc. Hall described I had a couple of commanders who attempted to force the entire unit to attend church services. It is very common for chaplains to engage prosletizing by during mandatory, non-religious events such as the re-integration sessions troops go through after returning from combat.

    I could list specific events all day long but I suppose one of the best overall examples would be the dog-tags issued to every member of the military. The last line is for religious preference. If you do not hold to one of the major religions the only choice availible is "No Preference." I did indeed have a preference, a very strong one in fact. I had my own tags made at my own expense with "Atheist" on the bottom line.

    July 7, 2008 at 5:24 pm |
  15. Roger

    I believe that it was H. L. Mencken that so aptly advised: "religion is the greatest fomentor of hate the world has ever known". Let's hope that Specialist Hall is successful in his quest for justice.

    July 7, 2008 at 5:18 pm |
  16. andrew

    To the previous poster, of course soldiers should feel free to sit anywhere they want, but Mr. Hall claims that he was kicked out of a table due to his beliefs.

    That said, it is really a petty argument. Out of all Mr. Hall's claims in the story, the only possible sticking point is the denial of promotion due to his atheism which would be difficult to prove in court. All the other examples are but unfortunate cases of rude behavior.

    My personal experience as both a racial minority and an agnostic living in the bible belt is that as long as I kept quiet about my beliefs or lack there of I am able to function normally in life. Most of the Christians I've met are not overtly discrimatory but they do like to stick to their own and if you want to survive in this country and not burn bridges unfortunately the only viable option is to sit down and shut up.

    We agnostics/atheists have to be thankful that we live in the present time and not 300 years ago where in Mr. Hall will not only get kicked out of the military but also will probably be burning at the stakes.

    July 7, 2008 at 5:14 pm |
  17. Larry

    Well, so far all we've heard is one soldier's story; we certainly cannot make any conclusions or judgements based upon what one soldier & one correspondent have to say.

    July 7, 2008 at 5:14 pm |
  18. Jessica from Texas

    Here is yet another reason why organized religion is becoming a menace in the United States. I'm not saying that religion is a terrible thing, not in the least, for some it's a salvation...for others a guide, but for many, it's nothing more than something that is more often now getting tied into the news and interfering in places that it really shouldn't be. We have all questioned the religions of the world, and it's hard to swallow for some. Singling out a person who doesn't prescribe to the same flavor or life that you have isn't right. The Constitution is supposed to protect the citizens of this country, as well as soliders, from having to endure in things of this nature. This is just another point of reference for us to take that the separation of church and state is not only important but necessary in protecting all of us from beign tormented and ostracized.

    July 7, 2008 at 5:12 pm |
  19. Rev. Chris

    As a former Christian evangelical and former Protestant minister, this story concerns me on several fronts. Mr. Hall is right to challenge an environment of coercion that is only the tip of the iceberg in the military. This is not about atheism. It is about what it means to be an intelligent American. Mr. Hall has been serving his country, and in stead of blindly following what he's been taught, he learns to think for himself and make an important life choice. If people want religion, in the military or in the nation, everyone knows where to go. There are herds of preachers. But where does someone go to ask the hard and searching questions, where their choices and decisions will be respected? That's not generally going to be in the military or, unfortunately, in many of our communities in this country.

    July 7, 2008 at 5:12 pm |
  20. Darrin Polischuk

    If CNN wants to dig into the real story here it will reveal the true depths of systemic discrimination in many aspects of the US Military and the current administrations culture of advancement
    How many Generals currently serving are non fundamentalist Christians?
    please open this up CNN...
    The US is a theocracy as much as the people they are fighting against
    kudos to this young man...

    d

    July 7, 2008 at 5:06 pm |
  21. Arachnae

    To Larry – so you think threatening the life of a non-believer is okay?

    July 7, 2008 at 5:06 pm |
  22. Clyde Farris

    It's a shame when myth becomes more important than reality – and even becomes reality.
    Someone above commented "How can your ‘beliefs’ be discriminated against if you don’t have any?" It' is what you believe that's the issue. Jeremy Hall has beliefs – belief in truth based on empirical evidence rather than on ancient stories and prejudices and he has the courage to stand up for what is right in the face of peer pressure and hostility. If more people read the Bible with the same critical analysis they apply to other literature, there would be more Jeremy Halls.

    July 7, 2008 at 5:06 pm |
  23. Ray

    I just don't understand the need of christians that everyone believe the same stories they do. In that sense they appear no different than fanaticaI muslims who demand the death of any who might insult their prophet. Essentially, it's just 'my way or the highway.' I applaud Hall for having the courage not to believe and not to stand down when challenged. We actually need more men and women like him.

    July 7, 2008 at 5:06 pm |
  24. BRIAN

    Why file a lawsuit against the federal government for religious discrimination when you have no religion.

    July 7, 2008 at 5:04 pm |
  25. Amy

    When I read articles like this, how I long for the good old days when Thomas Jefferson advocated for the separation of church and state.....

    July 7, 2008 at 5:02 pm |
  26. john galt

    When majority of our population is Christian, then majority of our army will be Christian too. Why hide the fact??? Why should we pretend that we are not a Christian nation?

    July 7, 2008 at 5:01 pm |
  27. Kristen- Philadelphia, PA

    This is an interesting article. I am a Christian and completely respect other people’s choices in whatever they choose to believe. It’s a shame this man was treated unfairly because of his choice to be an atheist. I do find it interesting that he does not complain about the atheists friends he met which caused him to re think his religion in the first place.

    Everyone serving right now is making a tremendous sacrifice for this country, it is not right to chastise someone for believing differently than yourself. While I am sure there are policies in place to prevent this type of discrimination sometimes what is written on paper does not translate into real life.

    I think people have a right to discuss religion and should be able to. But if you can not do it respectfully and leave it at the door when at the work place well maybe it shouldn’t be brought up at all.

    July 7, 2008 at 5:00 pm |
  28. adam

    To correct John Patterson's comment about this country being founded on Christian priciples...here is a quote from someone that truly knows what this country was founded on, Thomas Jefferson, the author of our constitution said this: "Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law." -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Dr. Thomas Cooper, February 10, 1814. Jefferson was also a self-declared atheist. Look it up.

    July 7, 2008 at 4:59 pm |
  29. Felix

    This is in answer to John Patterson's comment... Why do we keep hearing this nonsense about this country being founded on Christian principles? It's time believers face it was not... the Pilgrims didn't come to set their own religion, but running away from religion. If anything, this country was founded on freedom.

    You want to talk about the Founding Fathers? Fine... Why did they make sure neither the Declaration of Independence nor the Constitution have any references to these supposed "Christian Principles?" Well, because they were not Christians (something deemed an anachronism during the Enlightenment) but rather Deists, they "believed" in a nature god, not in the Christian God. Have you ever read about Jefferson's Bible, where he removed all the supranatural passages? Do you know that "In God We Trust" is not the national motto (that would be "E Pluribus Unum", "Of many, one") and it was only added in the height of the Cold War, in the 1950s? That there was no Prayer Breakfast until about the same time?

    The idea of the Christian God would have been laughed at by most of the Founding Fathers and yet people keep repeating the US were founded on Christian principles...

    Read American history, read the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, read the biographies of the Founding Fathers and tell me that this country was founded on Christian principles... it was NOT!

    July 7, 2008 at 4:59 pm |
  30. Brad

    How can a war-making organization call itself Christian? Jesus was against violenece of any kind.

    July 7, 2008 at 4:56 pm |
  31. linda

    As a Born again Believer, and as a USA citizen, and very proud to be both, I have much simpathy for this young man. Many Christian beliefs have been slowly taken away and denied in this country, as the right to pray in schools, (this is my right and my children and grandchildrens) the constant battle over the Pledge of Allegience and the Ten Commandments. Maybe this did happen with a few soldiers but I cannot believe that the whole military takes this stand. My son served in the US AirForce for 6 yrs and I never heard of anythng like this forcing someone to believe one way or another, and as far as sueing the military, good luck to you...especially in this case...maybe you need to get alone with someone who really knows about Gods word so as to explain things to you...I don't even know you Mr. Hall, but I love you and I know God does...I will pray for your salvation. and thanks for serving our country, no matter what you believe in....May God Bless You whatever you decide to do....

    July 7, 2008 at 4:55 pm |
  32. Stan

    I get really annoyed with people treating Atheism an alternate belief. it is not.

    Religion is a blind faith belief, that defies all logic, in an undefined supernatural supreme being of some kind.

    Atheism is a logical understanding that no real evidence exists to support any religion or supernatrual belief.

    Personnally, I think a god is a wonderful idea, but that;s all it is, an idea, without a shred of evidence to support it.

    July 7, 2008 at 4:54 pm |
  33. JG

    I haven't seen this kind of discrimination in my military time, but I would not be surprised. Frankly, as an agnostic it's irritating to have to hear the veiled or not so veiled spiritual sermons at military functions, or to participate in prayers in formations, but I just go through the motions which I'm sure some of my theist counterparts do as well. I prefer to thank my battle buddy, my training, etc, when things go right, and forget about playing the blame game all together, it's much more effective.

    July 7, 2008 at 4:53 pm |
  34. Charles Mobus

    I get the impression we are there fighting for Oil and Israel. That makes it a Crusade. Are Crusades in our Constitution?

    July 7, 2008 at 4:50 pm |
  35. Dick

    You gotta be some kind of stupid to believe in fairy tales, and invisible perverts flaoting around in the clouds, watching your every move. But that's exactly what they want, a gullible nation ready to kill with the spread of a lie.

    July 7, 2008 at 4:50 pm |
  36. James

    I was sin the military for 8 years and my story is not much different than this. I was a catholic prior to joining the service. In fact went to confirmation. After 2 years I made a decision that if there was a GOD that the stuff I saw happen to people would have been avoided. Especially with kids. I have it reaffirmed every day the media tells of a kid baking in a car because their mom needed to be at a bar at 8am in the morning in SoCal. So I had by dog tags changed and my records changed.
    So this is where I differ from the current story. I never had one remark from anyone in my chain of command. I was in the Infantry and we very rarely talked about religion. We had some devout Christians in our unit but they were more of an outcast than I was. So I guess I'm saying this kid makes it a point to bring up his non-religion beliefs besides just tabling them. I still go to funerals and weddings for family members. I am even a god parent to both my Nice and Nephew. I just don’t pray or believe in God. I have high morals and beliefs on how my kids should be raised and how I treat others. I just don’t believe in God and no one questions me about it.

    July 7, 2008 at 4:49 pm |
  37. Eric

    It's unfortunate that Specialist Hall faced the kind of judgementalism he did, and even more unfortunate that such bigotry exists among the rank-and-file of the military in this day and age. In a situation where men and women are fighting for their lives, and depend entirely on the trust and rapport with their fellow soldiers to do so, even small seeds of malcontent can blossom into flowers of death when the pressure is on. Any kind of tension between the soliders should be dealt with in a way that is fair to each party involved, and that includes issues of religion and faith. However, open ostracization is destructive, shows of unacceptance are unacceptable. You don't have to like your fellow soldiers for their beliefs, but you must respect and support them. That means settling such differences in a quiet and judicious way.

    July 7, 2008 at 4:47 pm |
  38. Nancy

    M Jones – Couldn't have said it better myself. Thank you.

    July 7, 2008 at 4:46 pm |
  39. Jason

    Q: Should military members be allowed to proselytize?

    A: Without hesitation. They are fighting for that right along with others. Should they be able to do it to the point of harrasment? No, but to deny them the right to talk about their faith or even try to convice others of the same would be to deny them the very rights they are fighting for and so many have already given their lives for.

    Jason
    [godtalkradio]

    July 7, 2008 at 4:43 pm |
  40. joey r.

    The fellow soldier that ask Mr. Hall if he believed in Jesus after his near-death experience,
    For all the Christian soldiers in Iraq that lost their lives, believing in God that are now dead, now do YOU believe in Jesus?!
    True Christians don't force "religion/beliefs" onto people. Jesus didn't use coersion, why should Christians/Christian organizations do so to non-believers?

    July 7, 2008 at 4:43 pm |
  41. Teresa, Oh

    Being a long time believer, I have to say Jeremy Hall has totally been discriminated against. I applaud him for standing up for his non-religious beliefs. I'm ashamed of anyone that asked him to leave the table at Thanksgiving dinner or any dinner. I hope there was some other reason for his being denied any promotion. Hang tough Jeremy, you're in the right. As a believer: I ask ANYONE to please PROVE to Jeremy there is a GOD. : ) I wont hold my breath.

    @ PAUL FRANCIS: "Christians are called to share their faith freely and openly with non-believers, and to deny them that right is denying them their freedom of religion which is a constitutional right." Well, we all know christians sometimes get out of hand, especially when nonbelievers want no part of "God". While christians are told to share their faiths, the bible says to "kick the dust off your sandals and part" when someone refuses to listen. Jeremy was and is being treated very un-christianlike.

    July 7, 2008 at 4:40 pm |
  42. Chris

    How hypocritical of the soldiers condemning him for not being a Christian. The military is intended to fight for the rights of this country... one of the top rights is freedom of religion.

    July 7, 2008 at 4:39 pm |
  43. Casey

    To poster John Patterson, you are correct that this country was founded by Christians and they based some laws on Judeo/Christian principles. However, the fact that a group of Christians elected to add the separation of church and state to the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights is indisputable evidence that they were adamant that their religous beliefs should not govern the actions of others. Your comment (and the actions of the military leaders described in this article) ignore this truism.

    July 7, 2008 at 4:39 pm |
  44. Janie Lancaster

    I have a very hard time with any person who does not allow for ideas and ways of life other than their own. Our country was founded with freedom of religion as one of its basic rights. I am constantly amazed at the number of people who proudly claim to be American but are angry if you do not believe exactly as they believe. How can those protecting that right tread all over it?!?
    After 9/11 there was a small gathering to pay our respects to all those who died. The lady leading the prayer hoped that "they all found Jesus in time". In my opinion, this was very disrespectful to all the non-Christians who died and to those who participated in the gathering.
    I am responsible for all of the hurt and disappointment I have caused, my so called "sins". No one else is obligated to carry that burden for me. And no one has the right to critisize me because I do not put that off on to Jesus.
    Unlike Specialist Hall, I know that there is a Divine. (I do not say that "I beleive in God" since it makes him sound like Santa Clause or the Easter Bunny!) I just know there is a Divine based on personal experiences.
    However, Specialist Hall, I honor your right to stand by your beliefs. As a one time atheist, I hope you leave the door open for discussion and for possible experiences of your own. You'll be surprised how your points of view on many, many things can change with time!

    July 7, 2008 at 4:37 pm |
  45. HF in CA

    Soldiers in the past have died for the freedoms we so richly use. Some of those solidiers were atheists, some were not. Religious freedom allows for folks to believe in whatever they want and are free to change it whenever they want. This story seems a little fishy to me, seeing as how most Christians I know aren't so hate-filled as this article seems to suggest. But, for the sake of argument, let's say everything is correct.

    The only problem here is the promotion - which should not have relied on religious beliefs. If that is the case, the military needs some fixing up. But as for the incident at the table and all that, those who do believe in God should be allowed to discuss freely with one another, just like atheists are free to discuss with one another.

    July 7, 2008 at 4:36 pm |
  46. Susan

    So sad, so sad.
    The USA and Canada have given away everything our countries were founded on. Our forefathers escaped other countries so they would be free to practice Christian beliefs.
    And we sit idly back on our fat butts and let every other foreigner and immigrant enter our countries and take over our way of life. And now an Athiest wants special rights! Sorry to burst your bubble but athieism ISN'T a religion. You don't get special rights. If you want to be an athiest (which by the way means you believe in NOTHING, not just God) then I say, good for you, but don't you DARE oppose my right to practice what my forefathers fought and died for!
    Just try practicing Christianity in China or Iraq etc and see what it gets you!! Yet every day, people from those countries crowd into North America and expect to be able to practice their religions freely, and guess what, we let them. Because we are a bunch of pansy assed losers who stopped fighting for our countries and what we were origianlly founded on! I say if you want to practice your religion, go back to your country and do so! And let the rest of us get back to the intent of our forefathers!

    July 7, 2008 at 4:36 pm |
  47. Bruce

    Another example of religious bigotry. The majority of religious people do not expect everyone to believe as they do. However, there are unfortunately a significant number of the religious who go beyond rightfully expressing and acting on their believes and feel it neccessary to oppress and even hate those that are different. For Christians, it is an amazing response to Jesus and his divine guidance of love and treating everyone as you would like to be treated. Fundamentalism and fanaticism is the same abberation, whether it emanates from a Muslim, Christian, or atheistic believe system.

    July 7, 2008 at 4:32 pm |
  48. Jeff

    Want to see this in action? Just read the post by Lee Collins. How ignorant and frightening. He actual wrote, "Who does he think has keep him alive in the war.". I would ask Mr. Collins, who has kept the enemy alive in the war then? And by his faulty logic then the soldiers who have died were NOT kept alive by Jesus. This circular logic is too pervasive in this country. Use your brain people.

    July 7, 2008 at 4:32 pm |
  49. Frederico

    "Prayers endorsed/let by officers should not be allowed."
    – by Dan, posted on July 7th, 2008 3:27 pm ET

    I couldn't disagree more! That's why we have Chaplains at the military, as well as in the police. Soldiers, officers, they need all kind of support, including spiritual one (for the believers, of course). Chaplains are officers who not just "endorse" or "let" people pray: they conduct prayers, they provide spiritual support for those in need, Christians or not!! Again: if this soldier suffered any kind of persecution because of his atheism, then this should be investigated and the responsibles for that, punished. Period. But lets not condemn Chaplains for their work in the military.

    July 7, 2008 at 4:28 pm |
  50. Glenn B'more, Md.

    He has a right to believe in anything he wants to even if it's just himself. They shouldn't discriminate against him, he has his freedom of religion.

    July 7, 2008 at 4:27 pm |
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