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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. Kyle

    For people who say they were in the military , and it wasn;t an issue–was that beofre Dubya?? He's the one that went along with the neo-cons plan to con poor whites into voting against their own best interests, subscribing to "faith-based" initiatives (and "science"), and, to fight wars that they also have to pay for.....Let me ask you this..if you're evangelical-if there were no heaven involved, would you be so dedicated? Honestly, lets just say Jesus came to you and said, "Hey, I was wrong about the heaven stuff..youd have to be a saint like me to get in. Sorry. But, you still love me anyway, and watn to follow my good works dont you? Even if there's bno reward for you–even being a millionaire televangelist". Now go out an feed the poor!!

    July 8, 2008 at 3:36 am |
  2. Kyle

    This has been going on forever...dont you remember the hearings about Pat Tillman? They even told his mother that "since he wasn';t a Christian, he would be 'worm food"". It's disgusting. Some of the founding fathers were atheist/agnostic. This is NOT a "christian country". I am SICK of faith-based anything (W/GOVT $$) (Doesnt anyone remember Jesus in the Temple "Get your money out of my father's house!".? (Yes, I had catechism) . I wish people would just keep their religion in their home and their church/temple/mosque. Unless you want ot be a religious dictatorshi[ like Saudi Arabia. We ALMOST are!

    July 8, 2008 at 3:30 am |
  3. S Ahmed

    It is unfortunate that SPC Hall had to suffer from the religious bigotry from a certain few while serving in the Army, and has every right to sue the leadership at DOD for failing to protect his rights. However, I find it extremely hard to believe he was passed over for promotion due to his religious beliefs. I've served in the US Air force, and never in my entire enlisted career have I ever felt being discriminated due to my religious beliefs (I am a practicing Muslim). This is one organization where most if not all members, regardless of race/sex/religion stand side by side and are willing to sacrifice to protect their brothers in arms.

    Pentagon on the other hand needs to do a better job to eradicate those few mindless zealot and religious bigots, who are discrediting the entire military. They also need to amend the Oath of Enlistment which ends with "So help me God". Even though individuals are given an option to skip that part, according to Federal Regulations, the entire oath has to be read.

    July 8, 2008 at 2:55 am |
  4. jack

    I believe that one should be able to live ones' life as one should so chose, unless his/her actions should bring about a negative to others or the environment*. That is true freedom towards which we should all strive to acheive.

    * = Effects on the environment and others are based on not takeing this statment too far as most left wing liberals usualy do. Common sense applies!

    July 8, 2008 at 12:59 am |
  5. Lsinger

    Lee Collins writes: "if he were close to me while in the war in Iraq I would want him to get away from me as far as possible. I would not eat at the same table or be in the same Humvee.
    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."

    Listen to yourself, Lee- Why would you want not want toeat at the same table, etc, if not for the fact that he doesn't believe the same thing as you and then you have the absolutely idiotic nerve to say it's not religious descrimination.

    July 8, 2008 at 12:47 am |
  6. Paul Oliver

    I'm afraid it's a plan from the Christian fundamentalists to have more and more of their "men" become politicians and enter the military. They know that this is the best way to hold power.
    It's sad. This country is going back to the middle ages.
    With the end of this terrible government I was hoping that the next president would be a person of reason. No need to say that seeing Obama advertising his religiosity disappoints and depresses me.

    July 8, 2008 at 12:31 am |
  7. simian

    "America was founded on Christian principles"... oh boo hoo... this is such a ridiculous lie that Christians love to trumpet, mostly having convinced themselves of it without learning any history to back it up. It simply isn't true – just look at Article 11 of the Treaty of Tripoli, unanimously approved by the 5th congress, which stated in no uncertain terms that "the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion." Stop saying that it was! Repeating a falsehood over and over again does not make it true. If it did, god would exist by now!

    July 8, 2008 at 12:30 am |
  8. robert

    I am a Jewish Army officer with 20 years of active service as both an officer and enlisted Soldier. I have never seen religious discrimination in the military, but you can't go around the Army with a thin skin.

    I have deployed 5 times, Kuwait, Bosnia, Kosovo, and two Iraq tours. When I was in Company command in Kosovo two of my NCOs were Muslim. One of them was promoted twice since then and was the 1SG of the Company I was with on my last tour in Iraq.

    Every one in my chain of command knew my non-christian religious beliefs and never discriminated against me. When I told the Chaplin my religious beliefs they always ensured I had religious items, literature etc that was for my religion.

    Plenty of Soldiers had Athiest or Agnostic or No pref on their ID Tags (Dog tags), I even had one Soldier on my first Iraq Tour have FSM for Flying Spaghetti Monster on his ID tags.

    Finally, the Army has a system in place for soldiers to report religious discrimination (to include athiests) at every Company, BN, BDE and Division and Corps level. Every Soldier sits through quarterly training and see's dozens of posters telling them how to report discrimination.

    I frankly dont believe the SPC was discriminated against and if he was he certainly didn't handle it properly.

    July 8, 2008 at 12:29 am |
  9. Jose

    I believed that it is basic in every organization,public or private, that they have a grievance machinery wherein their employees can air or ventilate their grievance and seek remedy thereof.This procedure is designed to enable an organization to work smoothly and orderly like the military. Also, it will avoid trial by publicity in any case presented before the body as the case will be resolved based on the merits of the case. While undisputably religious freedom in this instant case is a basic constitutional right of the complainant yet in the absence of any evidence or sufficient proof that their is a transgression or infringement of his constitutional right we should not prejudged the military (officials) guilty of violating such right. Also, in our jurisprudence to allege is one thing while to prove is another thing.

    July 8, 2008 at 12:22 am |
  10. Dami

    I don't see why army specialist Jeremy should make a big deal about this situation.I understand that he may feel odd and left out but why try to stop people from living in the religious way they believe in. This soldiers are men that have also sacrificed their entire lives to serve the nation and they should be allowed to practice their religion. They are in a profession where nothing is certain, so i wouldn't blame them if they want to serve their God who has kept them alive till this day. The way I see it is that they are the ones being persecuted, they are the ones about to be denied serving their God freely. What has the army specialist Jeremy got to lose, he has no religion....why not let others practice theirs.

    I would also like to mention that America is founded on Christian principles, and some of the founding fathers and past presidents looked up to God during their lifetime to help make many of the decisions that are the foundation of this great nation today.

    So many people have capitalized on the separation of church and state to interfere in the Christian religion. The separation of church and state should not affect the freedom of true Christ-like Christians to live their Christian lives.

    July 8, 2008 at 12:20 am |
  11. I have no words

    for how sick this makes me. Think about it, we probably wouldn't even be in a war if there was no religion. Things would be different and there wouldn't be so much hate.

    Those who shove religion down anyones throat needs to be taken out and shot.

    July 8, 2008 at 12:18 am |
  12. darnell

    you think thats bad. i was honorable discharge from the idaho army national guard,for be mulism. my chain on comm. know about,but did nothing about. i told everyone. but there is more to the story then that. but that was one of the major thing,i was discharge for.

    July 8, 2008 at 12:18 am |
  13. Tom

    This person is looking for an audience and we are obviously giving him one. The majority of the military does not really pay much attention to what an individual does or does not worship. You can be a Christian, Jew, Muslim, Atheist, or even worshiper of rocks. It simply isn't not a major conversation item. Members of the military are free to worship or not worship. It is not a factor on annual evaulations and has no bearing on promotions. Believe it or not, the military focuses its time and energy on things like team building, learning how to fight and win, cultural and civil awareness and yes, how to survive in the worst imaginable situations. They do not have time to worry about what one soldier does or does not worship. This guy was likely a sub-standard soldier and instead of looking in the mirror he is claiming that the "teacher doesn't like me." When is 15 minutes is up, I will tune into your show again. Thanks.

    July 8, 2008 at 12:16 am |
  14. Bruce Browne Master Chief USN Retireds

    David is correct, this guys is a three dollar bill, in twenty years in the US Navy, I not only didn't see anything like this or even heard of anything like this. This guy is trying to make a name for himself. No one in the military cares about your religion or lack of it...

    David July 7th, 2008 3:37 pm ET

    This is a little far from how things were for me. I was a LCpl in the Marines, and was also an athiest. I was never discriminated against, ever. I went to church twice in boot camp because i was bored. my dog tags said athiest on them. I was in several debates with people in the fleet about why i felt the way i did. This kid is obviously very weak mentally if he is so easily convinced his beliefes are wrong. Maybe the regular army is a fundamentalists christian organization, but in the Marine Infantry no such problems exist.

    July 8, 2008 at 12:12 am |
  15. Bob

    I served in a special mission unit that required extensive background checks, psychological evaluations, and a Top Secret security clearance, just to get an interview. One of the questions I was asked by the 'shrink' was what religious preference I was. I told him, in no uncertain terms, that I was an atheist. He asked me if I had been in combat, I said yes. He asked if I prayed to God to help me in dire situations. I told him that I was more interested in figuring out how to get myself out of the situation instead of asking someone else – someone who wasn't physically there and who may or may not offer anything I could use – to help me out. Bottom line is that I was accepted in the unit. That doesn't sound like religous persecution to me.

    So I cannot agree with this young soldier that the military at large doesn't respect everyone's right to believe whatever it is one might believe. If that were the case I wouldn't have been accepted in this unit and would have been told to go back to where it was that I came from.

    It's my experience that the military is what you make of it. I would expect that there are more sides to this story than what this soldier is admitting to. There is something else going on here and it could be that the local leadership has a problem with his belief, I don't know. But I cannot agree that there is a pattern of religous persecution.

    July 8, 2008 at 12:11 am |
  16. Luisa A.

    As an atheist I understand where this man comes from. Since I decided that I was an atheist at heart I was faced with a world of discrimination and ignorance. I think that if there really is true freedom of religion then even those us who don't believe in a higher power should have the freedom to not only believe in what we believe in, but not be criticised or have religious views shoved in our faces. Imagine if we were walking around telling everyone that they should be atheist. How would you feel if you were the only religious person among a group of atheist? -- Well, that's our life every day.

    July 8, 2008 at 12:10 am |
  17. Luis Villanueva

    This guy is not about being atheist or anything. I was in Iraq in 91 and 2004, nine month tour and i had seen so many excuses from younger generation of military that will do anything just to get out. This one is no difference.

    July 7, 2008 at 11:58 pm |
  18. Larry

    If you don't want a God-based military then why don't you come down on those of the Jewish faith? I guess its easier to bash Christians, tho you don't say which Christians ( Catholic, Protestant, Anglican, Adventist, etc)

    July 7, 2008 at 11:31 pm |
  19. Vincent

    Once again, the militaristic contradictions surface. I ask this:

    For men and women willing to risk their lives to keep us safe, why should it matter if at the end of the day the issue a bit of thanks to God, Allah, Satan, Science, Zoroaster, or Buddah?

    It is okay to ask soldiers to take an oath to never back down, never retreat, defend against all enemies, foreign or domestic...but self-preservation and free-thinking individuals are ostracized?

    Atheism, when you boil it down, is a belief in something tangible...family, hard work, progress. Is the military against these basic ideals?

    July 7, 2008 at 11:04 pm |
  20. jay

    I am surpised by how many people who will willing condem a group of people for their lack of respect of one persons belief will turn around and be disrespectful themselves.
    Ignorance is ignorace whether they believe in God or choose not to. The people who treated Mr. Hall in this way should be repremanded and forced to study the Jesus they claim to follow.
    However, after 15 years in the military I have had conversations with with christian athiest agnostic, satinist, and spiritualist and never once had anyone claim to be mistreated. I do not think that that this story is typical of most interactions between believers and non belivers of any faith.

    July 7, 2008 at 11:03 pm |
  21. RC

    "Lee Collins July 7th, 2008 3:50 pm ET

    I don’t think that anything in the above story is religious discrimination . However if he were close to me while in the war in Iraq I would want him to get away from me as far as possible. I would not eat at the same table or be in the same Humvee.
    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"

    Well, I'm glad I don't have to deal with such a prejudiced, judgmental moron like yourself. The fact that while a 24 year old soldier is risking his life for this country is commendable, yet the high and mighty Christian (you) condemns him because he doesn't believe in god like you do. You likely go to church and pray for the safe return of our troops, but I would assume you're only worried about the good, Christian troops coming home. The statement you posted earlier was the most ridiculous garbage I've ever read and I would find it incredibly amusing if you passed away and discovered that god doesn't exist.

    By the way, if I recall correctly, isn't god supposed to be the only one who can pass judgment on people? Quit your discriminatory garbage and go back to fondling altar boys, you disgusting freak of nature.

    THERE IS NO GOD!!

    July 7, 2008 at 11:02 pm |
  22. Gerry C

    A good soldier, like a good Christian, shouldn't think too much. That's why the military and the megachurch are both rife with people who are happy to be told what to do. In fact, neither institution could operate efficiently with too many critical-thinking, outspoken members. So, while it's a shame that this young man was discriminated against because of his Atheism, it's certainly no surprise. He's better off not being in the Army anyway.

    July 7, 2008 at 10:53 pm |
  23. craig

    Religious persecution has many forms and has been since man could form such ideas. The notion that if you are not with us you are against us is sickening. The whole of human history would have been a lot less bloody with religious tolerance. Most of the turmoil in the middle east and many aspects of the war we are in are because of religious views.

    July 7, 2008 at 10:41 pm |
  24. James

    Being in the military (USAF) myself, this is the first I heard of an atheist being attacked for his (non)beliefs. Being on the flightline with enough things to worry about, you'd think tsoldiers have better things to do than be nitpicky about someone's belief, like...I don't know, not getting blown to bits. However, being part of a belief that's ridculed daily for believing a "ghost man" and maliciously shown their mistakes ("Oh you're christian, but you drank a beer so obviously you're a HYPOCRITE lawl", "aren't you supposed to be perfect with that imaginary friend of yours?"). Probably no surprise that they (Christians) would snap and act bitter toward others, be they other christians or not. It's human nature, you can only take the abuse for so long. I, myself, am a christian (a bad one I think =(, I'm trying honest!), and I do believe people are given a choice that they can make, so long as they are willing to take the possible consquences that come with it and there are consquences for all decisions. But, I don't really expect anyone to believe me. This is just another day...

    July 7, 2008 at 10:39 pm |
  25. K.D.

    A reminder to people who believe this country was founded on "Christian Principles": the founding father's were Deists, among other things. That is, they did believe in one god, a creator of things, but they also believed that after creation was complete the creator left things alone.
    One more thing: patriotism does not have a prerequisite of religion, it just requires that one fight for their country and protect those that live there no matter what anyone's belief system.

    July 7, 2008 at 10:33 pm |
  26. Luis Villanueva

    You are trying to sue the Military? you are one of the most STUPID individual in the military community. You are already stupid for being an Atheist and dumb for trying to sue the U.S government. Trying to get an easy retirement? work for it dude. Shame on you and to your family.

    July 7, 2008 at 10:23 pm |
  27. Jen

    Who cares what religion you are or are not! I am sick of hearing about everyone's religion and their opinions of others who do not share the same beliefs. This country may have been founded on christianity, but the christians today are far different from the christians then. Everyone wants to force their ways upon others. If we took religion out of the world, it would be a better place. Look at the Middle East; the root of all problems is religion. My family is from Italy and devoted their lives to the catholic church. I am sure a lot of people have opinions about the catholic church, as do I. However, I respected their beliefs and moved on. I am not a religious person, but there is a cross hanging in my house. Why? Because it was important to the grandparents and again, I respected their beliefs and moved on. This world needs more tolerance or less religion.

    July 7, 2008 at 10:22 pm |
  28. john

    There is a saying "There are no atheists in fox holes." To be willing to put your life on the line I would sure hope you believe in an after life and a heaven. I respect this soldier's service and have nothing against him being an atheist but this is like going to a black panther meeting and saying you think Hitler was a cool guy. He shouldn't be kicked out or anything but rather just have been transferred to another area with new soldiers.

    July 7, 2008 at 10:20 pm |
  29. Julie

    I am a Christian & proud of it. Because I am a Christian, I feel compelled to pray for this young soldier. As an American, I know that religious freedom was one of the basic reasons our forefathers came to this great country. If we cannot guarantee the religious freedom of our own troops, how can we stop zealots like the Taliban? It's impossible. A lot of things happen in the military that are against DOA policy. Look at the Abu Ghraib scandal. Sexual harrassment at our military academies. Violent hazing that is thinly disguised as training. It begs the question: Where is the leadership? It also begs the question: Is this honor? I don't think so. For the record, the numerous vets in my family agree with me. WE NEED TO CLEAN-UP OUR ACT!

    July 7, 2008 at 10:19 pm |
  30. scott thompson, LaGrange Park. IL

    Not just the military is becoming a quasi-religious organ, but the mercenaries that the United States now employs, Blackwater, was founded by the Prince family and literally sees its involvement in Iraq as part of a "holy war." That isn't just nuts, it's frightening. Wake up, people, the dogmatic idealogues are taking over and it ain't gonna be pretty...

    July 7, 2008 at 10:17 pm |
  31. Tim

    Please, he is a drama queen and the ones who are acting all outraged over this are as well.

    Official policy is just what the DOD says it is. He simply is someone who likes to stick his fingers in the eyes of fellow soldiers who are religious so he can play the martyr when they respond.

    He knows there is a certain population of people who are anti-religious and anti-military, who yes, shockingly are one in the same who will join him on this grand soap opera that he has started.

    I am atheist, was in the Marines, and it was never an issue. And I am sure it wouldn't have been for this trouble making, little princess if he hadn't manufactured it.

    How about, not allowing your buttons to be so easily manipulated readers?

    July 7, 2008 at 10:17 pm |
  32. Chris

    Hm. My opinion is that everyone should respect each other's religious beliefs. Specialist Hall is certainly entitled to hold no religious belief at all, and the soldiers around him are just as entitled to worship how, where, and what they may.

    As for the dinner example, I would expect that while some soldiers say grace before their meal, Specialist Hall would be welcome to stay and not have to participate, but at least be silent and respectful during their time of worship before the meal. No person's belief should infringe on another's.

    July 7, 2008 at 10:02 pm |
  33. T. Kim from Alabama

    From an Army girlfriend: Soldiers should have the same freedoms they are fighting to protect, including religion.

    To the person who said "...if he were close to me while in the war in Iraq I would want him to get away from me as far as possible. I would not eat at the same table or be in the same Humvee." The problem a lot of people are having these days with the Christian church is that some of its followers are becoming more and more extreme. They fail to see that a person with different beliefs is still just that- a person. If that person chooses not to believe in the same higher power, that is their choice. No one should force their religion upon another.

    July 7, 2008 at 9:59 pm |
  34. Amy

    Some of your readers believe than atheists don´t believe in anything. Preposterous! Atheists believe they cannot know what is not knowable. Many believe in science, truth, beauty in nature, reason, freedom, fairness, equality, ethics, morality, the pursuit of knowledge, and kindness. It really gets my ire up when Christians think they have some sort of moral superiority over atheists because they believe in a god.

    July 7, 2008 at 9:58 pm |
  35. ms pj

    I am also a closeted atheist, known only to my immediate family. I am honest and moral, caring and loving. I'm not this way because a god tells me I need to be but because I know it's right. I need to do so because it is the right way to be, to maintain respect for myself and my world. When polled, Americans say Atheists are some of the least trusted people in this country. Is this just fear of the unknown or religious radicalism?

    My sympathy goes out to Mr Hall, as I have the same feelings and concerns living in the civilian world. Every day I deal with those who say "bless you" when I sneeze, tell me they are praying for me, that angels are watching me. Church signs all over tell me about the glory of the lord and my local newspaper condemn intellegent, scientific thinking or things deemed too "secular".

    Sometimes it is on the tip of my tongue to just say what I'm thinking but my fear of repercussions like Mr Hall has experienced, continues to hold me back. My daughter's friend who is gay and atheist said they would rather tell people they are gay. That really makes a statement, considering the history of how gay people have been treated in this country.

    I dream of moving to Europe where freethinking is accepted and encouraged and religious radicalism doesn't exist. I'm sure someone may comment that I should just go, but darn it, this is my country too! I was born and raised here. All my life I've heard exclaimed that this is the land of the free. I guess that only pertains to the religious...

    Kudos to Mr Hall for being strong enough to fight this fight for us. I wish him every success.

    July 7, 2008 at 9:58 pm |
  36. Christine

    This is what CNN really thinks is an important story? Who cares? A guy in the Army who doesn't like what people say to him? Grow up! Pull up your big boy pants and get over it. It's life, people don't have to like or accept your views and have the right to say so.

    July 7, 2008 at 9:56 pm |
  37. ellis

    It is an oxymoron to claim that the military is a Christian organization. Christ does not rquires his followers to kill their enemies. Rather, he requires compassion and self-sacrifice.

    The question appears to be meant to ensnare the reader.

    July 7, 2008 at 9:54 pm |
  38. Rose

    Let him stand before a fireing squad, or to beheaded then ask do you believe in God !!!! Or be tossed out of a plain 3000 feet up, then let`s see if he starts praying .
    My son has served two times in Iraq and is getting ready for a third time,with out God being with him and God`s Angels to protect him, where would he be .

    July 7, 2008 at 9:41 pm |
  39. Scott in Phoenix

    A god-based military has no place in the United States of America. Keep your gods to yourself and do your job. I support Jeremy Hall's lawsuit in its entirety.

    July 7, 2008 at 9:40 pm |
  40. Saroop

    This does not surprise me one bit. America is behind other Western countries in terms of separation of church and state. Only there during a presidential election must a candidate demonstrate religious worthiness in order to be elected, i.e. George Bush. Consider what would happen if a candidate stated they are not religious and instead relied on ethics, education, and common sense to make decisions – I would say they wouldn't even come close to being elected and it is ironic that the enemy the U.S. are fighting are also religious fundamentalist.

    I guess we'll have to wait and see whose "god" wins.

    Saroop Nagra (happy atheist) – Canada

    July 7, 2008 at 9:01 pm |
  41. hutchkc

    When I was in the military Christianity was strongly encouraged as many people have said in the various comments. This is a culture thing and not just military. At work I have a born again christian and a fundamentalist latter day saint. One used to leave me the "good news" pamphlets but finally got the hint after several months of me just throwing them in the trash. The FLDS is now doing the same by leaving me reading material on my desk. I cannot bring myself to believe in magical things like unicorns, gods, monsters, aliens, nor ghost. I am pretty sure if I left church of Satan pamphlets on their desk that there would be a major uproar and i would likely be fired or at least severely reprimanded.

    July 7, 2008 at 8:59 pm |
  42. Dan O'Connell

    Wow... a soldier fighting for "Freedom" is denied his right to be an atheist. This is typical of the so-called "Christians" we encounter today. I've even heard that some churches participating in the faith-based initiative illegally started by the Bush Administration years ago will deny people services if they don't see them in church. Talk about proselytizing with a carrot... a carrot paid for by all tax payers. I'm sure Jesus would have done the same thing... NOT!

    July 7, 2008 at 8:41 pm |
  43. vern-anaheim ,ca

    it is not right that the solider who was being threatened for being a atheist ,in this country we have complete freedom of religion and no one should be threatened or denied promotion because of it.i disagree with the young mans views but he has every right to believe as he does,if you don't believe that read the u.s. constitution

    July 7, 2008 at 8:32 pm |
  44. psh

    Its a fact. Atheists have to operate in the shadows of this country. Christians are free to talk shop any time they like. This country pays lip service to freedom of religion. It does not have it because the majority does not want it.

    July 7, 2008 at 8:30 pm |
  45. Chuck

    I served 20 years in the USMC. I am now retired and still have athiest stamped on my dogtags. Not one day did I face any problems from fellow Marines. Just do your job as you were trained too. Follow orders and earn the trust of the guy beside you. If you want to have problems, they will find you. As they say the squeaky wheel gets the greese. Well he is squeaking and now getting the attention he wants. Now, everyone around this soldier has to walk on egg shells because everything he will be asked to do or every order he is given will be reviewed as haraassment. What ever happened to do what your told to do and keep your mouth shut, just follow orders. If you can't take the heat get out of the fire or simply get out of the Army! Sounds like someone wants some money or just wants to write a book or make a movie and make some money.

    July 7, 2008 at 8:25 pm |
  46. Grover Syck

    The oath up on entering the military, at least when I entered in 1969, was to "preserve, defend, and protect the constitution of the United States". No where did it say anything about any religious view or book.

    Unfortunately, neither candidate has the kahunas to stand up and tell all concerned, that either they put religion back in its box, or take it with them when they are removed from the service. These men and women are there to do a job, not to be harassed by the extreme right fundamentalist.

    July 7, 2008 at 8:24 pm |
  47. ethan a. rogers

    i am an atheist and i believe his story i was raised in the church at a young age i realized that its all hogwash, so these army people should back off and allow Specialist Hall to believe whatever he wants to believe we have our First Amendment rights and you have the right to have faith or not to have faith its as simple as that!!!!! good luck specialist hall and know there are athiests out there who support you like me and there are millions of us!!!!!!

    July 7, 2008 at 8:18 pm |
  48. icademus

    As a 20 year veteran I am appalled at the way he was treated.

    I think it is a shame that the US Army ostracized anyone for their beliefs. For shame on anyone that agrees with the un-Christian way the Christians behaved.

    July 7, 2008 at 8:03 pm |
  49. Annie Kate

    I believe the soldier when he says he has been discriminated against because he is atheist. Keeping your beliefs to yourself and being allowed to do that might solve a lot of problems – Don't Ask Don't Tell is a good motto for this problem. I've never regarded it as anyone's business but my own what religious beliefs I may or may not hold.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    July 7, 2008 at 7:49 pm |
  50. Catherine

    When people pray just bow your head and think of something that pleases YOU. Just RESPECT the fact that this nation was built on spritual belief and GOD is on our money. If that's something you dont agree with there is other places in this world fo you to go. When in Rome do as the Romans.... Heard of that?

    July 7, 2008 at 7:48 pm |
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