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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. Former Marine

    Hall is a whiner...plain and simple...get over it. If he was good enough for promotion he would have gotten it no matter what his beliefs are. He's playing up to all you civilian bleeding hearts and to other military members who can't hack it. He will leave the military better than it is now...because he will be gone.

    July 7, 2008 at 7:46 pm |
  2. d z

    Look at these comments.............pretty obvious that this country is full of well meaning people. The politicians are only cardboard cut outs and have no real power to direct anything

    July 7, 2008 at 7:39 pm |
  3. Aaron

    This country was NOT based on Christian principles. That is an erroneous belief that has been expounded by the Christian right. Actually, this country is based on Roman-Greco law. In matter of fact, many of the founding fathers were not Christian; they were theists. Some of them did NOT believe Jesus was a God. Again, this country was NOT based on Christian principles

    July 7, 2008 at 7:38 pm |
  4. JC

    Christian extremists love to spread their will and the word of god anyway they can, even if it means degrading other people or religions. This is something that shouldn't be tolerated. This is a group of people that thinks they are better than everyone else because of how they view god and the world around them.

    July 7, 2008 at 7:37 pm |
  5. CaseyJPS

    Religion has no place in the military, nor does it have any place in any aspect of our government.

    I believe in fate and I believe everything happens for a reason ( a positive reason). Religion is a dangerous. It is little more than systematic brainwashing and has more to do with power and manipulation than it has to do with God, if at all.

    Ministers (including military ministers) are little more than shepherd's leading a flock around. A flock who can't think for themselves because they are so bewildered, or afraid and insecure. Why do millions of so-called Christians continue to discriminate and judge and condemn people such as Army Specialist Jeremy Hall?

    July 7, 2008 at 7:35 pm |
  6. Bugsy

    Isn't that the point of fighting in Iraq to preserve our freedoms, including religious freedom? O wait, I forgot – the war was about oil. Nevermind, carry on.

    July 7, 2008 at 7:31 pm |
  7. Jonathan, Hartford, CT

    This is nothing new and it is NOT limited to the military. Ignorance and tolerance do not mix. If you are an atheist, people mistakenly assume that you worship the devil. We are living in the Dark Ages of American sensibility. For those who think that a Christian theocracy is not possible in America, think again!

    July 7, 2008 at 7:30 pm |
  8. Matt

    I'm glad to see him standing up for himself, and his right to believe what he chooses. Atheists are among the most distrusted and disliked people in America, and the only reason for that is that people have been taught to hate us by their own religious leaders (and frequently by the texts of their religions as well).

    As an atheist, the utter hypocrisy of Americans never ceases to amaze me; we crow about what a wonderful free country we are, and how we accept everyone with open arms... unless they don't believe in their God and Jesus. Then you better watch your back!

    I don't believe in gods. I don't believe in an afterlife. I don't push my beliefs on anyone; on the contrary, I fully support everyone's right to decide for themselves what is real and important to them. I believe people make their own decisions and are responsible for their actions. I believe that everyone has a responsibility to their community and country to live a productive, constructive life, and to be a good person and do right by others. That is what being an atheist means to me: living a life free of supernatural obligation or influences and choosing of my own free will to be a good man. I wish Mr. Hall the best, and hope he goes on to live a great, fulfilling life the way he chooses to.

    July 7, 2008 at 7:25 pm |
  9. Sandra Chung

    To John Patterson: The US was NOT founded on Christianity, and repeating that falsehood over and over again will not make it so. The Founding Fathers were Deists, not Christians. Also, you might want to read Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli. Read some history. Only one man, out of the 56 signers of the Declaration, was a practicing parson.

    It's this lie, constantly repeated that targets people who aren't Christians in the US.

    Freedom of religion meant to practice, or NOT, as one sees fit.

    July 7, 2008 at 7:20 pm |
  10. Scott

    Of course they don't want atheists. Atheists, by definition, are unwilling to blindly surrender themselves without question, to alleged powers beyond their own control. Do I hear a "Sir, yes sir!" ???

    July 7, 2008 at 7:20 pm |
  11. Kevin - Spokane

    Like so many labels today, the term "Christian" now carries huge baggage. Sad. I am a person of faith, however, I am not at all surprised that so many would reject religion altogether given that religion seems to justify the most horrendous atrocities. Notice I said "religion"...as opposed to faith. Religion is a human invention. Faith is not. Religion puts human attributes to God. Faith does not. I'll take the honest doubter or non-believer over the self-righteous certainty of the so-called 'Believer" any day of the week. That the military would use Christianity to rationalize its nationalistic violence should come as no surprise. Governments throughtout history have used religion to further its ends, which is why our founding fathers wrote the separation of church and state into our foundational document, the Constitution. Government and organized religion are oil and water.

    July 7, 2008 at 7:16 pm |
  12. Brad

    I'm in the Army, and yes there are instances when Christianity does seem forced upon you. But, these instances are usually at formations for the changing of commanders, or when a high ranking person retires. This is the choice of the person that the formation is for, no matter their religion, they can choose to have an invocation to start the ceremony, or they can deny it. I can't speak on what happened when SPC Hall was deployed, but I can speak on my experience. I work in a hospital, and like all hospitals, there is a non-denominational chapel inside. And the person in charge of the chapel is the chaplain, note here, that any religous leader; a preacher, a rabii, or whatever can be a chaplain. Every unit has a chaplain, but the purpose is not to force religion down the soldiers throats, the chaplains are used more for counseling, and guidance, wheter that be religous guidance or not. While it was a messed up situation for SPC Hall, and nothing like that should happen to anyone, no matter their beliefs. But in my experience, I can't say that I've ever witnessed any religous persecution, and I do believe that the miltary is trying its best to prevent this.
    My name is Brad, and I'm an agnostic.

    July 7, 2008 at 7:08 pm |
  13. Mike

    Tim said it best. Belief in a personal God is laughable. Read what Einstein had to say about organized religion. There is a sucker born every minute, amongst the religious 2 are born every minute!

    July 7, 2008 at 7:08 pm |
  14. Mike

    This is not just a military issue :-{ This persecution is everywhere. It is not always life threatening but has all the symptoms of racial bias and homophobia etc. Even if there are laws in place, freedom from religion simply is not tolerated in this country. Existing laws a are not enforced and sometimes blatantly ignored by people sworn to uphold these laws Like the president. His father was even quoted as saying atheist

    If you do not pray with us you will be singled out and ostracized. They have words and phases and tricks like this and make it sound like a good thing when in fact they are persecuting and discriminating in their practice.

    Religious Faith based groups are now able to discriminate legally and faith based groups receive favoritism and funding from government. The term faith based should be an immediate disqualifier for government funding. Faith based groups teach and practice discrimination and hate. It is amazing that any gay person would want to belong to an organization that actively persecutes them. The way the present a woman’s roll in society is in direct contradiction to Americana law. Yet our leaders ask god to bless America. I could go on all day with examples of why religion has absolutely no place in government.

    If I had one wish it would be to protect children from religion until they were 25. just like they do with porn. Luckily we do not have religious hormones so this should rid the world this nonsense in a couple of generations. Now that’s one abstinence only program that would work. Oh ya, and please stop the war on science.

    July 7, 2008 at 7:08 pm |
  15. Mike

    I have to say I am impressed and surprised by the tolerant stance of most of the respondants here.

    This soldier has shown a strength that most people will never know. What kind of selfless and noble person would put their life on the line for a nation that despises him?

    To add a bit of perspective, Christians, Jews and Muslims may go into battle, content in the knowledge that if they die, they have another life, indeed a better life, ahead of them after death. This man wagered what he believes to be the only life he will ever have. Does that take courage? It definitely takes a lot more courage than I have, and certainly more courage than can be claimed by old rich men in air conditioned office buildings who create the plans to send primarily underprivileged young people halfway around the planet to die for what seems increasingly to be no good reason at all.

    July 7, 2008 at 7:07 pm |
  16. James Dylan

    This is why the Chinese constitution states; the freedom to practice any religion and the freedom to practice none. Our constitution fell drastically short here. But what could you expect from Christians who spend so much time as solicitors. Has a Buddhist ever knocked on your door saying the end of the world is coming and you must take Jesus as your savior to avert hell? As Nietzsche would say any Christian who didn't become a priest, reverend or monk is completely intellectually incompetent; to risk eternal damnation for temporary comfort is a person who can't count to three. And because of their stupidity doesn't deserve any punishment that their Christianity promises.

    July 7, 2008 at 7:03 pm |
  17. Tia

    As an atheist, I can tell you it's not easy to be open with it. Even out of the military. I put a bumper sticker on my car and people put gum on my car in the grocery store parking lot. Or spit on it. Or write horrible things in the dust. Or flip me off in traffic. Or yell at me in traffic. The feet are constantly removed from my Darwin fish to turn it back in to a regular fish. I had to take these things off of my car as I feared for the safety of my child. When my child tells people that I don't believe in God, they feel the need to try to teach my child how to be religious, even though I've taught her all of those things myself in preparation for her to make up her own mind when she is of the proper age.
    If it's this hard to be an atheist in the real world, I can't imagine being an open atheist in a testosterone-packed gun-toting military world. I'd fear for my life then, too.

    July 7, 2008 at 7:01 pm |
  18. Bryan Rafalko

    Individual soldiers should be allowed to 'proselytize' colleagues just like Jehovah's witnesses are allowed to knock on my door. Of course, the discussion is always short – and needless to say, I have not become a Jehovah's witness. Likewise, proselytizing fundamentalists have to accept the 'no – back off and do your job' reply of their atheist and non-christian counterparts.

    Sadly – that the Military has become an arm of fundamentalist "Christian" jihadism is no surprise under the theocratic administration of George W. Bush. Under the "leadership" of 'W' the worst President in modern American history our leadership in the world, as well as our cerebral fortitude as thinking citizens has been seriously corroded.

    Sadly, we are more or less, a formerly great nation.

    July 7, 2008 at 7:00 pm |
  19. Ralph

    Just like American public schools, the military is an extension of the American government, and as such, MUST maintain the separation of church and state. Requiring no support of one religion versus any other (or no religion at all) is something that the government has always stood upon, that is, until Bush et al came into office. It is a disturbing intrusion into the personal choice of all Americans when any government agency aligns itself with religion.

    Ralph

    July 7, 2008 at 6:56 pm |
  20. Larry

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

    Did I say that? All I've heard is that the soldier said he was; I'm just waiting for the proof that his life was threatened and by whom. BTW, I do not consider the threatening the life of anyone is okay.

    July 7, 2008 at 6:53 pm |
  21. Patrick

    "was founded on christian principles"

    If I had a nickel every time some religious nut said that....

    No it wasn't... it was founded on principles of religious tolerance and freedom of religion.

    So if I want to be a pagan I can....

    🙂

    July 7, 2008 at 6:48 pm |
  22. Steve! Hoppe

    to John Patterson,
    you have no idea what you are talking about. If you read the Tripoli Doctrine, it very plainly states that this country was NOT found on Christian principles. Quite the opposite. A good portion of our founding fathers did not hold themselves as Christians.

    July 7, 2008 at 6:48 pm |
  23. Sandi

    Anyone – military or not – should be able to practice whatever religion they chose as long as they are not harming someone else (such as 14 yr. old girls.) To say that if you are an American, you must be a Christian because the USA was founded by Christians is a misstatement of facts. Look up information on William Penn and Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson even had his "own Bible" in which he edited out those verses he did not believe. William Penn took the practice of freedom FROM religion very seriously. That's the very reason so many early immigrants came to this place, which was to become the US of A. They were fleeing countries which MANDATED the religion one had to believe!

    The US military should be the LAST place a US citizen should have to encounter religious persecution!

    July 7, 2008 at 6:43 pm |
  24. jason

    i agree that this soldier has a right to believe or not believe whatever he wants, but he seems like a bit of cry baby to make such a stink about it.

    July 7, 2008 at 6:39 pm |
  25. sherrie

    Serioulsy Lee Collins? Do you think that an atheist's view would get you blown up in Iraq...that God would allow your death due to this man's disbelief? It seems to be a true christian would sit with an outcast, including an atheist, in true jesus-like fashion. You sound so angry and bitter. Its great to have a strong faith, but out of step to be so intolerant of others..its not political correctedness, its in line with Jesus' teachings..whom you seemingly claim to follow.

    July 7, 2008 at 6:38 pm |
  26. Eric

    As much as one might think that its not true, it is.
    The military says its one way but its more often than not its quite the other.

    Its kinda hard not to be discriminated against when you are in the minority on anything. My experience was the same. After 6 years in the service I learned that even in the NCO ranks there is a mentality that will quickly single you at as a heathen, pagan and even worst a non-conformist that doesn't care about his brothers if you make it known that you are not a Christian and and in particular don't believe the same way.
    Yep, you don't want think it isn't true but its best to just keep your mouth shut if you want to survive much less thrive as a servicemen.
    There is little room for intellectual discussion on anything as a Soldier.
    There is an old saying in the Service, "Let you be the one"
    And You Don't.

    While Soldiers do give up every right they have as civilians they are Protected and Punished under the UCMJ. However, this does not afford them any protection whatsoever until an investigation is completed and a ruling is made. They can also be punished as Civilians under local law as well as the UCMJ.
    A Soldier must always face double jeopardy in more ways than one.

    July 7, 2008 at 6:36 pm |
  27. Craig

    Like the old saying goes,"There are no Atheist in fox holes". Well we now know what that really meant. Christian's don't want them there or anywhere it seems. I am a American and I do believe there is NO god so I guess I am a Atheist. I love this country and believe it is still the best in the world. But when I hear stories like this I question how long we will remain the best. We are becoming a country of hypocrites and fools. We are no longer a Democracy but a Idiocracy. When faith is king there is no place for reason. A war without reason is a unwinable war and a war of fools. George W Bush is the commander and chef of these fools that believe that you must believe in an all loving God to be able to pick up a gun a kill another human being that does not believe in your god or in any god. I know many Christians that if they had a chance would kill a Atheist in the name of their God. But I have never came across a Atheist that would kill a Christian or any other human because they do believe in a God.

    All I can say is"Dear God, Please save me from your followers".

    AMEN!

    July 7, 2008 at 6:34 pm |
  28. Sharon from Indy

    Randi:
    There is a reformation going on within the Christian faith in America and this young generation is piloting the change. For too long the Right Wing has used the Christian faith as a tool for fear and power. Jeremy Hall is only one incident where the freedom of religion has been abused as a source of power for fundamentalist Christianity.

    Please remember the Christian Right does not speak for all Christians. Fundamentalism has its own agenda and doesn't really have anything to do with the true meaning of Christianity.

    Televangelists and self-assigned religious leaders are not the leaders of Christianity. The insanity of manipulating wedge issues (i.e. homosexuality, abortion, stem cell, etc.) has turned away many young people because of the hypocrisy of what the fundamentalist think are modern day prophets.

    Mr. Hall: Please understand the majority of Christians believe you have the right to practice whatever you chose even within the military. Good luck with your suit.

    July 7, 2008 at 6:32 pm |
  29. Travis

    My lifestyle and my religion encourages me to allow all others to believe as they may. My religion does encourage helping others to find truth, but never forcing others and especially not persecuting them for their beliefs.
    I personally don't understand why an athiest would ever risk his life. It doesn't make sense to me. I'd hold on to every minute and second I had if I believed that it was all just going to end.
    I am sure that many jews, muslims, mormons, or jehovah's witnesses have been persecuted in the military, it just doesn't show up on CNN because the athiest and the homosexual have become CNN's symbol of mainstream America.

    July 7, 2008 at 6:31 pm |
  30. Larry

    Atheists have beliefs? Well I guess that they probably don't all have the same beliefs, just as not all Xians hold the same beliefs. Myself, I'm Buddhist; more of a spiritual philosophy than an organized religion and even we do not all share the same philosophies.

    How much of the Civil Rights movement was a Religious Rights movement, since the leaders were/are tied to the church? Could an african-american atheist find a place in the 60's?

    July 7, 2008 at 6:30 pm |
  31. Folke

    No wonder so few Jews join the U.S. military!

    July 7, 2008 at 6:27 pm |
  32. Ray

    Every time this issue comes up some try to misportray it as a situation where someone is trying to prevent someone else from praying. That is not the issue! The issue is that those in the military who don't believe are routinely subjected to prayers, claims that in order to be a leader you have to be a spiritual person, etc. To those who are doing so, stop changing the issue. Hats off to Specialist Hall and Mikey Weinstein.

    July 7, 2008 at 6:27 pm |
  33. Allan

    I was in the Army. Please, if you were in the service but it was not recent, do not assume that the way things were is the way things are. They are absolutely not, in regards to this particular story especially.

    Also, a lot of commenters are making judgments already and the story has not even run yet. This is a disturbing trend of pre-judgment and is unfair to the story and all of those involved.

    Do some homework before the show on your own. Check out the web site for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. The great deal of current information there is absolutely shocking and should disturb everyone, since it involves a weakening of our armed services from within.

    If the (excuse the term) "generic" prayers and practices of the military's chaplains and officers were the same today as they were when I was in the service, then the MRFF would not exist.

    Unfortunately that is not the case, and it is a direct result of the lack of moral leadership from the very top, which has been replaced by the much more profitable, new version of hypocritical "kill them all before they kill us" American Christianity ("We're in a war for the moral soul of America", "Take back America for Jesus", etc.).

    By the way, the marine did not ask for a bodyguard, the military assigned him one, and they would not waste the manpower if they did not have evidence of a credible threat.

    I also don't think this is a waste of time, since the mission should be to perform the mission, and the military's mission has nothing to do with religion (unless you're a chaplain). If this is the tip of an iceberg, and I believe it is, then this show will be many people's first introduction to the fact that we do have a problem here.

    As most posters here have said, this is a nation of many religions, and no religion has any right to coerce any citizen to obey the standards or practices of that religion. All members of the military are covered by the Uniform Code of Military Conduct, and the First Amendment right of freedom of religion and from religion (to use the modern description) is included in that Code, as the Pentagon official stated in the description of this show.

    July 7, 2008 at 6:26 pm |
  34. Nicole

    I do not beleive this. My husband has been a soldier for over 10 years. We have been through numerous deployments the military, though harsh (it does take more than hugs and deep conversations to protect our freedom) has ALWAYS displayed tolerance. I think many poople in today's society, whine, A LOT. Personal I am tired of it. This soldier feels he is being discriminated against, well I am sorry he feels that way but honestly he is a soldier and should start acting like one. It sounds like he wants out of the military, I think the Army should cut their losses and let him go. I wouldnt want him in combat with my husband. Wheather you believe in God or not should not have a bearing on wheter you are a good soldier or not, it sounds like this man is the latter. I am proud of being an Army wife and I am dissapointed so many on this page are submitting comments agains the very people who protect thier freedoms, shame on you.

    July 7, 2008 at 6:24 pm |
  35. dwight huth

    Should the Military be able to profess their beliefs in an open square environment? No. They should not. The military works as a single unit made up many individuals that function and interact as one unit. When religion becomes a factor then because of the war that we are in, annomoticites get stirred up. When the unit then is engaged in combat these individuals may take the chance to "liberate" their unit from the "undersireable's". This will cause breakdowns that will tear the unit apart and cause un-neccessary causlities, thus effecting the overall mission succes and goal of the unit.

    Those that are doing the intimidating and harrassment of these military personel are not unlike the fundamentalist's abroad, except they don't or have not yet blown buildings up due to their fundamentalism.

    Those that keep their faith to theirself and work as a single unit are the real military. The others are looking after theirself and have no regard for any other person.

    If this continues to occur in the Military it will then spread back into the United States making this country a COE (Church of England) environment, which will cause more resentment for these individuals and possibly start w war here.

    This is because Rumsfeld (defered five times) was only looking out for his own personal interest's while in the defense department.

    I were the SoD I would summarily discharge any person's engaged in this activity and put them on a potential terrorist watch list.

    July 7, 2008 at 6:22 pm |
  36. Nick

    We are "asked" to pray before every mission and other ceremonies. A chaplain leads it. The chaplain's always (in my experience) Christian. All the religious material he distributes is Christian (including some en español). He prays using non-specific terms but it's all thinly veiled.
    I enjoy arguing religion with the people in my platoon, and I do not say that there is institutionalized religious bigotry, but chaplains have to go. Let mental health professionals deal with soldiers' mental health. I'll pray or not pray on my own.

    July 7, 2008 at 6:19 pm |
  37. dr. d jay

    Best place to be to defend your self or faith, you have a weapon so people she be scared for their own life if felt being harrassed. Military is life and death free zone.

    July 7, 2008 at 6:12 pm |
  38. Roweena D'Souza, Seattle

    This lawsuit is surprising, can he prove he was denied promotion due to his belifefs, I am sure there are a number of athiests in the US military... do they all feel the same way? If someone is so convinced that there is no God, why should they be swayed by other people's comments.?, Individualistic comments are personal opinion only... and cannot be attributed to an organization or country for that matter!

    Being a Catholic and raised in a non-christian country...I have often encountered such references... but never affected by them.

    July 7, 2008 at 6:09 pm |
  39. Mikke

    My ancestors were among those who came to this nation to get away from sectarianism and war as ways of life. Some 130 years later they fought the Revolution, then drafted the Bill of Rights, in their certainty that people must have absolute freedom of conscience, including the complete freedom to believe in no supernatural forces.

    It is absolutely clear that the "Founding Fathers" were nontheists–deists at best, but certainly not men who held puritanical, fundamentalist beliefs, and certainly not men who believed in any religious dogma, and certainly not men who would consider that to have a place in the conduct of American civil or political life.

    Jefferson's way of reading "the gospels" was with a pair of scissors. Washington refused to stay at church services through communion. And so on. This religious twisting of our nation's freedom of conscience into some support for anti-American oppression is appalling, and my ancestors–including Tom Paine–cry out to all to save this nation from Christians and any other religious people who don't understand the simple principle of ABSOLUTE SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE.

    I am also of of a long line of people who served this nation's military, with honor and distinction, and am qualified for the DAR. I never joined that organization because they require belief in god, which I will not pretend to. It is anti-American.

    July 7, 2008 at 6:08 pm |
  40. jay in japan

    i've been in the military for 9 years now and i've found an overall acceptance of all beliefs in each of my chain of commands. i've never seen any thing like the claims this soldier is making. maybe he just wants to get out. there are better ways to get out though than blaim others for your lack of conformity. the military is an overall conforming way of life and conformity, not suppression is needed for the safety of each unit. good luck in getting out mr. hall!

    July 7, 2008 at 6:04 pm |
  41. Steve

    The US Military is INFACT a Christian Military. When I was 18 years old I signed up to become a Marine, I never did become a Marine because at the time I was still very "unruly" and when a high ranking officer "got in my face" during the physical screening process I walked out.

    However, I did tell the Staff Sergent who was recruiting me that I did not believe in God. I explained my idea of what "God" is and told him I did not believe in organizaed religion because it is nothing more than a form of control. The Staff Sergent told me not to ever tell anyone my true beliefs about God and he then went on to describe what happens to people who do not believe in God. The Staff Sergent told me that when it was "lights out" I would definitely be targeted by other recruits.

    From my very limited experience with the U.S. Military I can say without doubt that they are a Christian organization- whether or not the Military portreys itself in this manner to the public.

    Best of luck to my friend with his lawsuit against the U.S. Military.

    July 7, 2008 at 6:01 pm |
  42. trsgrv

    So should the Christian families who are under attack from the non-Christians to remove the crosses from their family's graves in Arlington Cemetery feel similarly preyed upon?

    July 7, 2008 at 6:00 pm |
  43. Ace

    First off, this kind of behavior on the part of the military isn't limited to the Army. The Navy suffers from the "Christianity is the only Way" mentality as well.

    I was in the military's substance abuse rehibilitation program for alchohol dependance. The SARP program I was run like boot camp. Open bay berthing, constant audio and video survailance (even in berthing), daily counciling sessions with military councilors, and manditory attendance at daily AA meetings. The program is based off of AA; and requires, as part of treatment, the patients to accept a "higher power".

    As an athiest, I don't believe in God, Allah, luck, or any other type of dogma. When I was forced to explain my religious views, I was charged with non-compliance with the program. I was placed before a comittee and it was explained to me that my reason for being an alchoholic was because I didn't have faith in god; and that in order to continue with the program I would have to adopt a belief in a higher power. I was told that without god, I could never be cured. I was ordered to comply with the program, and in order to do so, I would have to choose a "higher power".

    I told the members of the comittee that I would not adopt religion because they told me to, that I could not be ordered to believe in religion, and that I found it very disrespectful to have someone else try to dictate my beliefs to me.

    I was discharged from the Navy two weeks later. Initially my discarge was to be "general under honorable conditions", for "SARP failure". When I made the comment that my discharge was for religious reasons, and that I planned to sue for wrongful termination, the JAG officer and a few others took a quick trip to the confrence room. When they came back, my discharge was changed to an "Honorable Discharge".

    It's almost a year later, and I have a good job, stable life, am not an alchoholic, and still an athiest. 😉

    July 7, 2008 at 5:58 pm |
  44. trsgrv

    Actually, hundreds of millions have been slaughtered via atheist governments (Hitler, Mao, and so on, while tens of thousands were murdered int he name of Christianity (witch hunts, Spanish Inquisition).

    So people asked him if he believed in Jesus? So what? Grow up. So, should the 5 year old child was was told she couldn't add her picture to the wall with the other 5 year olds because she wrote Jesus on her picture file a lawsuit?

    The 5 year old I have compassion for. The grown man, I do not.

    July 7, 2008 at 5:58 pm |
  45. Robert Dahl

    Paul Francis – you say "Sounds to me like the soldier was initially “proselytized” by other atheists in the army" but the article says "after his first tour of duty, he met some friends who were atheist and decided to read the Bible again". There is a big difference.

    Presumably his "friends" were people he freely chose to associate with, not part of his Army unit. Anyone can share their faith openly and honestly, but they cannot discriminate against someone who does not agree with their beliefs. That right is at the core of what we believe in as a nation. And, by the way, that is not based on "Christian" principles, but the writings of Enlightenment philosophers.

    July 7, 2008 at 5:55 pm |
  46. steve larson

    Oh, Please! None of you can possibly, seriously believe this story to be true! In this "new age" era of persecuting Christians for speaking up and out (as evidenced by many of the comments here) do you really believe this soldier was persecuted by the government for following the crowd? Really?

    Personaly, I do not believe there is any such thing as an atheist. Someone who claims to disbelieve in God is just making an issue out of nothing, an excuse to make noise. Let's see if I can follow this argument, " I do not believe God exists, therefore I am going to spend my life loudly claiming His non-existence"! Have any of you EVER met a quiet atheist? Puh-lease!

    I have no doubt that this soldier is suffering from some level of non-conformity and that his bunkees are suffering from him, but that he is being persecuted for being an atheist? Not likely!

    July 7, 2008 at 5:51 pm |
  47. GF, Los Angeles

    I have one thing to say regarding this matter:

    "When you understand why you reject all other Gods, you will understand why I reject yours as well."

    July 7, 2008 at 5:51 pm |
  48. Carl

    I believe that this story made the news, because most journalists are atheists. For instance, what is it that makes Jeremy Hall a remarkable young man?

    July 7, 2008 at 5:50 pm |
  49. Phil

    trsgrv said: "What has become acceptable is silencing Christianity."

    Good point and very true.

    July 7, 2008 at 5:48 pm |
  50. Les Barrett

    When I enlisted in the military in 1968, my beliefs could best be described as Christian. The military was, from my perspective, very fair about religion, and Christianity was encouraged but not pushed at my lowly level. They needed happy people at the bottom. Over 34 years, I progressed in rank and responsibility. I could tell that the Christian belief was pushed more and more the higher I got in rank and responsibility. I especially noticed the increase in pressure when I became an officer. The military was feeling less and less comfortable to me for this reason. I also started to notice that my advancement was less and less sure, no matter how good my job performance was. At one point, I could tell that not only was I not going to get promoted, but that they wanted to get rid of me. Even until the time I retired, I was still exploring faith. My big problem was that I did not attend church or openly profess my faith. While my peers were going into my boss's office to pray behind closed doors, I remained in my cubicle. The feeling that you are serving in the military of a foreign country becomes very strong when you realize you are not wanted.

    Since my retirement, I have had the leisure to study many aspects of the religious argument. I have come to the conclusion that nobody now and nobody before our time has ever had enough information to prove or disprove the existence of God, much less to define God, even less to determine the will of God, other than as science has provided us clues.

    I do not to classify myself as an agnostic. I don't like the term, although it makes a lot of sense as a definition of a person who does not know and knows that he does not know. I think the term carries some baggage in that it is interpreted as also carrying doubt. I have no doubt, except maybe that I doubt that anybody at all in the world actually understands the mind of God, even in a small way. I simply have arrived at the conclusion that the question of God is unknowable at this time and that we would better spend our time trying to solve the problems that plague humanity on our own.

    I think that 90% of all of humanity's problems can be solved by us. We can learn to deal with the other 10% better if we are honest about what we know and do not know.

    July 7, 2008 at 5:45 pm |
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