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. Michaël

    The United States of America, once home of liberty, is slowly becoming a fascists country. Now that the USSR is gone, there is no alternative of society so the USA elites are free to handle things the way they want now that they dominate the world. They dont need to prove anything right now, they dont need to prove any moral or social value of liberty, because they are the only one that has a model to offer and Christianity is playing a big role in this. The institution of, if you prefer.

    Like USSR lost it's principle of liberty and democracy at a point, the USA is, much more slowly, losing the same things and one will will have to face such consequence.

    This is sad for you.

    July 8, 2008 at 10:16 pm |
  2. JR - NC

    I did my time in the Marine Corps. We had all likes. But this type of behavior was never acceptable. I can't speak for the Army, Navy, or the Air Force but in the Marine Corps if they wanted you to have a religion then they would have issued it to you. Our country was founded on religious freedom so anyone who degrades anyone on thier personal beliefs are no better than the Taliban that we fight.

    So to those that made fun of, herased, talk about Army Spc J. Hall then you are no better than the religious fanactics that you deal with on a daily bases. Shame on you all.

    Army Spc Jeremy Hall, just leave them Army Losers and come join the Marine Corps. We are Uncle Sam's Misguided Children and we don't care who you beleive in.

    Siper Fi
    JR – Retired Devil Dog

    July 8, 2008 at 10:15 pm |
  3. Chris

    I'm not sure I follow this story. One cannot be a follower of God and kill others. Most of these military individuals are Christians in organization alone. They really don't understand their faith, or lack of it. If they did understand, the Army would be very small.

    July 8, 2008 at 10:09 pm |
  4. Nate

    Trudy in Peoria, the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Department of Defense and Department of the Army Regulations do guarantee Spc Hall's and everyother service-memeber's right to freedom of religion (including absence thereof). Spc. Hall is claiming that the former Secretary of Defense failed to uphold those laws and protect his rights. Of course, he wouldn't be the first person to ever make a false claim (to be fair he could be telling the truth too) or to be exploited by people with an agenda. It will be interesting to see the results of the court case. Usually lawyers only put their client on TV when they have no case.

    July 8, 2008 at 10:01 pm |
  5. Jan

    Toby Mac is a Christian author who seeks to prove a presupposition within his own Christian belief system. Go to the true source – read quotes by the following people (Google it) * George Washington * Thomas Jefferson * John Adams * Abraham Lincoln * James Madison (considered the author of the U.S. Constitution) and while you are at it look up the term 'Deism in the United States'.

    You will find that all of these men said things that might offend you if you are a modern day Evangelical Christian. Research it, and think for yourself. I don't need to be spoon fed 'the truth' thru someone else. The United States was founded by 'Godly men' but not necessarily Christian men in the strict term.

    July 8, 2008 at 10:00 pm |
  6. Dean

    What a disturbing article. These "Evangelical Christians" are what has absolutely ruined our country. Evangelicals – you think you are superior to everyone and all other religions. You are actually some of the most disgusting, intolerant, ignorant and hypocritical people on the face of the earth. You quite literally are no better that the very people you call "terrorists".

    If you are really religious, you should be just the opposite. You should be tolerant of other peoples beliefs and respect them. You should not hate someone just because they are not like you. That is a true sign of ignorance.

    Look at what this country has sunk to. Our "Christian" military, in a non-christial land fighting a crusade. You would have think we would have learned from our history, but unfortunately we have nothing better to do that to hate each other and live in a state of constant war because of our inolerance.

    Look at the worlds history. How many wars have been fought over religion. It is the root of most of the worlds problems, and unfortunately our "Christian" administration and "Christian" military, teh most powerful military in history, are falling right in line.

    I admire people who are athiests. They are usually the most tolerant and some of the nicest people on the face of the earth.

    You "Evangelicals" disgust me!!

    July 8, 2008 at 9:59 pm |
  7. Pete

    This soldier is a patriot and acting under the protections our constitution grants him....or at least that's how it should be....for a true American... not some weak minded religious freaks.

    July 8, 2008 at 9:58 pm |
  8. David

    I am a LCpl in the US Marine Corps Reserve. I talked to some of my buddies and they have never heard of anything like this. Nor has either of my grandfathers who served in WW II, both of whom knew atheists in their respective units. In fact, 90% of my LAR unit is atheist or agnostic. We discuss our beliefs but no one is judged by them. I believe this instance to be a mostly isolated event not handled correctly by the Specialist's chain of command. As a Christian myself, ANY intolerance of any kind would not be acceptable in my fire team, or any unit I command as I progress from enlisted to officer. All of the fellow Marines, sailors, soldiers, and airmen (active duty and reserve alike) I have spoken to agree to the same. Again I do not say it didn't happen here, but I believe to be a mostly isolated instance.

    July 8, 2008 at 9:56 pm |
  9. Greg S. in Chicago

    I have to say that I am pleasantly surprised by the large number of Christian bloggers who are speaking out against the discrimination – if it is true. Sadly, I do believe the soldier was treated badly for his belief – just look at how no atheist could be a contender for President. Ridiculous. Are we electing a President or a Pope?

    I wouldn't assume that he was pushing his atheism as one reader commented. Nobody has made that claim – and it sounds like that reader is one of those people who freely talks about his religion, but then finds it "annoying" to hear someone respond that they don't share their belief. It is those Christians – who have no tolerance for others – who, to me, seem ignorant of Jesus' teachings. How encouraging it is, therefore, to see so many bloggers who identified themselves as Christian practice what they "preach."

    July 8, 2008 at 9:55 pm |
  10. Michael

    Great article -so nice to see someone shedding light on this topic. How sad that people in our military are acting like religious nuts – I totally believe the stories of harrassment and other acts against atheists in the military – if there is one person of higher rank with a crazy religious mind set you can bet they will proseltize when ever they can!

    Shame on the military – those who serve our country deserve better

    July 8, 2008 at 9:54 pm |
  11. james hairston

    i challenge this article! The military does not care if he is athiest!
    His troopmates may indeed care of his lack of faith. If he is denied
    leadership positions that may be indeed because his comrades have no faith in him and would not want to be led by him!

    It is easy to sensationalize this story. It has the gripping Athiest
    vs. Christianity story line. The guy can't be promoted because the
    "Man" is against him.

    There is more to the story than the sensationalism! Dig deeper
    and report back CNN!

    My take, frustrated man, two tours in the military and he thinks every
    one should be tolerant of his atheism! Why does everyone have to
    be tolerant? He is the one airing out his religious conviction. It is
    best he keeps his own mouth shut!

    July 8, 2008 at 9:52 pm |
  12. Trudy in Peoria

    Intolerance of Atheists, or Muslims, or Gays, or any other ethnic difference is fueled by insecurity of some Christians in their own faith. They can say they are secure, but they are kidding themselves. This soldier was right, and he has every right to be an atheist in the military. Nowhere in the USCOMJ does it say that a soldier has to be a Christian. Anyone who thinks Hall doesn't have a valid case, needs to read the Bible again, and the U.S. Bill of rights. He has every right to be an atheist and a soldier. I'm behind him 100%.

    July 8, 2008 at 9:49 pm |
  13. Eric

    Wake up world, everybody needs God right now before it is too late.
    Don't be discouraged, keep your Christian faith strong, because we as christians know, that God is coming back at any time.
    By the way, we Christians know we are ready to go Heaven at any time for eternal life.

    July 8, 2008 at 9:45 pm |
  14. Aaron

    The military is NOT a Christian organization and war is not a Christian practice. To suggest otherwise is to be oblivious of God's will and the spirit of Christianity.

    July 8, 2008 at 9:39 pm |
  15. Nate

    Just because Spc. Hall told Anderson Cooper he was discriminated against does not mean he was discriminated against.

    Where are the comments from the people Hall says mistreated him? I'll bet their lawyer is telling them to keep quite and let the truth come out in court.

    Mr. Weinstein is exploiting this confused young man for his own agenda. I am surprised that a man with the credentials of Mr. Weinstein would stoop to such a low.

    July 8, 2008 at 9:35 pm |
  16. Eric

    This is discrimination for sure. A few so called atheists are now trying to dictate the religious freedoms of many from the sounds of it. It’s somewhat amusing, but the very definition of atheist means there has to some acknowledgement of a God to deny in the first place. Folks grow up, and leave those who believe alone too! I'm in the military, and I know these issues are handled appropriately. It's obvious somewhere down the line this guy got disgruntled at the military organization/leadership as a whole because he did not get something he "thought" he deserved from leadership in his unit. I can say that I have been discriminated against in the past for being a Christian in the military, but I was bigger than that. I overlooked the issues of a few. I’m still in, and my career is doing great. (Sorry to disappoint some of you.) If I wanted to sit down and eat lunch with your group would I be scorned if I bowed my head to pray or did not believe in your system or so called “patriotism”? I believe I would be… at least inwardly… but that’s ok right because we are a free country. Oh by the way, I can choose to eat lunch with whomever I want still, right? Of course I can. I don’t always have to eat with my unit. Remember, I’m in the military (15 years plus now), so don’t tell me this is not a true statement.

    Yes there are things in the military that can be perceived as “unfair,” and of course the military has problems like any organization. However, the military is fairer than other organizations in the government or private sector, so this whole law suit is really ridiculous! Yes I sound harsh, but it is what it is. Fairness is a perception, but I guess those few in our pampered society that support this kind of thing need to have their boo-boos kissed every time they scrape their knee. Now amongst everything else going on, the military has to expend resources and attention to this issue. Good job soldier! Take our nation’s attention away from what really matters which is winning the war through supporting our Iraqi and Afghani brothers in arms.

    I should address this change of beliefs based on a “few” friends? Spiritual insight can only be received if you were a born again Christian in the first place. Regardless of whose side you are on though, it’s obvious there will always be zombies who will change their mind based on the biased information of a few. If you are going to change your mind that’s fine, but get all the facts and angles. There are too many mindless sheep (Christian or not) whose minds have been rotted by the "boob tube," and there belief system will change with the wind based on the flavor of the month… especially if there is glory or something else in it for them.

    It sounds like some need to do a little real self examination no matter how much it hurts. This is just the kind of so called patriotism that diverts our nation from taking care of the weightier issues at home and abroad. Rome first rotted from the inside before they fell apart, but I guess that’s ok with everyone that supports this garbage! Way to look out for your country!

    July 8, 2008 at 9:34 pm |
  17. sheri

    As a conservative christian I assure you that I, nor anyone I know in my baptist church thinks they can see the future. Nor has my pastor, or any other pastor in whose church I have worshipped said we were all right, and everybody outside was all wrong. What they preach....and what the bble says.....is that we are all sinners in need of a savior!

    July 8, 2008 at 9:33 pm |
  18. Ed

    I have been on active duty for 16 years. Sadly, what the soldier alleges happens every day. I have been ostracized and have seen others ostracized for not standing and praying at, for example, the beginning of staff meetings. Mind you, I have never complained about the prayers. I'd like to sit silently and wait for my colleagues to finish their religious observance. Unfortunately, that's not enough for the evangelical Christian set. They claim deep offense and discrimination if you don't stand, squeeze your eyes shut and say amen. Let me conclude by saying that this is by no means official policy. Military chaplains understand and enforce the law and never impose their beliefs on anyone. I'm glad they are there to minister to those who actually want or need them. The inappropriate pressure, however, comes from peers who abuse those who don't believe and from the commanders who either place pressure on the service member themselves, or are complicit merely by looking the other way.

    July 8, 2008 at 9:33 pm |
  19. Melissa

    I find it hard to believe that he was discriminated against because of his beliefs. I personally have had troops that I supervised who have different beliefs than I do. I did not in any way hold it against them, because we are taught that everyone has freedom of religion. I think that in a war situation and environment you are literally in hell. The comment "do you believe in Jesus now" did not strike me as wrong, but as an example that God exists. Yes he believes different, but from a country that was initially founded on Jesus Christ, that soldier did good in making the comment. As a Christian myself, I don't get mad at this story because he doesn't believe, I look at it as another way of pushing God out of America and then complaining because of the way of the world. I was in the AF for 6 years and I have never discriminated as a leader to a non believer. It's one team, one fight! Officers that do lead prayer do that to keep their troops fighting. Please don't respond to their actions if you have not been over there fighting. Until you have, you don't know what those troops see, feel, or deal with. A prayer goes a long way and talking to God lets you know that someone is on your side....believer or not.

    July 8, 2008 at 9:31 pm |
  20. Sion

    By my personal experience, there is definitely pressure to be religious in the military.

    I left the Air Force Academy as a young woman in the mid-80's in part because of this (also because of the rampant chauvinism and homophobia....I was not surprised to hear of the various sexual assault charges at the AFA in the 90's!).

    During basic training, each evening we were to have "quiet personal time". If we chose to not attend religious services during that time and stay in our room, we were continually harrassed. The only way to get any "quiet" was to go to church/synagogue. I basically felt like I was being "tortured" to go to church.

    So yes, I firmly believe that while it may not be official military policy, it is an entrenched dogma in the ranks, and encouraged.

    July 8, 2008 at 9:27 pm |
  21. sheri

    John Adams wrote: " We have no government armed in power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our constitution was made ONLY FOR A REIGIOUS AND MORAL PEOPLE. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other. AND have you read the Mayflower compact people? How about the fact that Bible verses are etched in the stone over every federal building and mnument in Washington DC? And the very first Supreme Court Justice, John Jay, said that "Americans should select and prefer christians as their leaders." and what about William Penn and his holy experiment? I could go on and on and on.......

    July 8, 2008 at 9:27 pm |
  22. Jonathan from Texas

    I just wanted to address all the people who only took enough time to criticize this soldier for "show boating" and suing simply for being criticized by his fellow soldiers, and didn't actually read through the article in its full. the issue isn't the critcism. It's the fact that such a intolerant mentality was allowed to spread to such an extent without the military taking some sort of action. Sure, it is present throughout the country, but the amount of trouble it caused for this young man was disproportionate to what is normal and acceptable. Also, his career advancement was halted based purely on his beliefs, an officer literally telling him he wouldn't make a good leader because he wouldn't pray with other soldiers. I would ask everyone to write comment based on more than the article title.

    July 8, 2008 at 9:18 pm |
  23. Rob

    The U.S. Military a Christian organization? Ummm...as a veteran, I KNOW that is not the case. Yes, there are Christians in the military, as there are Jews, and Muslims, Wiccans, and everything else you can think of. AND, there are plenty of members who do not believe in God. If anything, it's harder for those who are religious and in the military.

    July 8, 2008 at 9:18 pm |
  24. sheri

    AND ANOTHER THING! If you doubt for a minute that our country's founding fathers were christians....you have not read their speeches or letters! Go and buy a book called "Under God," by Toby Mac and Michael Tait. It goes straight to the source!!!!!

    July 8, 2008 at 9:17 pm |
  25. sheri

    Just because one nut job postal worker gunned down a bunch of people does not mean that all mailmen are homicidal maniacs. Saying you are a christian and being a christian can be two different things. I think by definition if you met a mean, bigoted, prejudiced jerk who said he was a christian he would be wrong! We are called to love others and glorify God. We are called to have a PERSONAL relationship with Jesus Christ, and to be Christlike. Loving others into the kingdom of God. How can you have a heart of love and be as mean and unloving as those people were? YOU CAN'T!!!

    July 8, 2008 at 9:14 pm |
  26. Richard

    Every military function stats with prayer. Watch Armed Forces TV or listen to Armed Forces radio and it will only take a few minutes to know what faith the US Military is.

    USAF Ret

    July 8, 2008 at 9:14 pm |
  27. Rodney

    Freedom Of Religion ..... Should include Freedom From Religion.

    July 8, 2008 at 9:13 pm |
  28. Caroline

    As someone who used to belong to this dangerous subculture that believes everything is a sign from God, or can be twisted into a sign from the Almighty, all I have to say is, sometimes a rainbow is just a rainbow.

    If you read your Bible you'll find that there are very few true prophets in that book. Out of the millions of people born since time began, only a handfull are the ones whose predictions, for doom or blessing, can be trusted in the Bible stories. Nonetheless, the conservative Christians among us feel they are ALL blessed with the power to see the future-to see the "signs" and read God's will by interpreting them.

    It is a group think and a high. Having participated in many services in which someone in charge told us WE were ALL RIGHT and the outsiders were all wrong, it's a high that can only be beat with drugs, booze, or gambling.

    Actually, the more I look at what Bush (and his partners in crime, the conservative Christians) has done, the more I wonder if he's addicted to gambling. The financial markets sure feel like a bad bet that didn't pay off--for all of us.

    July 8, 2008 at 9:12 pm |
  29. Adrian

    I respect the fact that he has chosen to be an atheist. His personal folly, though, was not to seek God for wisdom, as the Bible instructs. I'm always astounded by people who say that don't believe in God and also indicate that they have read the Bible. But it's not automatic. Hebrews 11:6 tells us that it takes faith to please him. But we always have to question, then question again, analyze, then overanalyze. There is proof that there is a God, but because it takes faith that many people don't have to receive that truth, Christianity will always seem foolish. The discrimination that non-believers face is unjust, but that's what happens when you oppose something that uplifts people's belief in a greater good. Most people hate, whether for that greater good, or lesser evil, because they are afraid. Afraid of being proven wrong, or changing the way they think. I'm sold on Jesus Christ, so no atheist or Muslim or anyone else can shake that. The Body of Christ (Christians to you non-believers) must take a stand, and be as bold as atheist. They don't want the Ten Commandments on buildings, but I haven't heard any large protests of "In God We Trust" on money. Freedom of religion has been misinterpreted. It was so that Christians would be able to celebrate their faith in all aspects of life. God in our lives should never be secret or private. That's wrong. Separation of church and state was to prevent the government from doing what it does now: crack down on Christians, and giving preference to all other beliefs. That, also, is wrong.

    July 8, 2008 at 9:09 pm |
  30. Jack

    I worked in the Chaplains office when I was in the Navy. I was and still am an atheist in my beliefs. Although my beliefs enabled me to be non discriminant in providing services to soldiers, their dependents and DoD civilians of all faiths, I always got the hint from individuals that they would've liked me to be religious. A few would even press me into debates which I "professionally" did my best to avoid. Did I experience discrimination or social persecution? Not to the extent as Jeremy, but yes I did. Fact is ... if you are different at all in the military, you will be singled out. Heck a couple of Marine buddies got grilled for associating with me because I was a sailor. Shows how intolerant and conservative our armed forces are trained to be.

    July 8, 2008 at 9:09 pm |
  31. Nate

    Recourse for Soldiers and other service-members who feel discriminated against for race, religion, national orignin, etc., etc. : the Inspector General's Office; the Staff Judge Advocate (JAG); the Equal Opportunity Advisor(and office); the Chain of Command–including the right to see the Commanding General (an open door policy for those who feel they can't trust the lower levels of the command).

    Did Spc. Hall use any of these resources before bringing a lawsuit against the former SECDEF? Why is Mr. Weinstein trying to exploit this confused young man? I thought only lawyers who had no case put their clients on TV.

    July 8, 2008 at 9:07 pm |
  32. Bobbie

    I believe that this young man should be allowed to believe what he feels he wants to. He should be treated with respect. Are we not to love one another? No matter what? Mr. Hall is not unlike many, many other people – both male and female – who sometimes lose their faith and start questioning. Many get their faith back, some don't. And I certainly think that being in a war could perhaps shatter your beliefs. Especially if those beliefs were shaky to begin with. This is probably the first time this young man has had his faith tested. Mr. Hall needs to reread the Bible again, keep an open mind and ask for help in answers to his questions. ( Sometimes there are no answers, but you have to take things on faith. Like you have faith your son will come home from the store, or your spouse will arrive home from work every day.) Whether it's by prayer or speaking with religious leaders he should reach out. But he should not be disrepected because his faith has been shaken. If he is disrepected/mistreated, then it only shows him that Christians or Jews or whoever are narrowminded and sometimes cruel. Then why should he even want to associate with any of us?

    July 8, 2008 at 9:04 pm |
  33. frank

    I've been in the military for 23 years and these allegations are ridiculous. My only question is, what is the true catalyst behind his assertion of ecumenical pressure.

    July 8, 2008 at 9:02 pm |
  34. Jay

    This story is ridiculous. 15 years and counting on active duty and I can attest that this is not true in my personal experiences.

    July 8, 2008 at 9:01 pm |
  35. Sara

    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.

    Amen....for lack of a better word.

    July 8, 2008 at 8:58 pm |
  36. JG

    Yeah Jimmy, you're completely right.. and as such then every soldier who has "no religious preference" on their dogtags should be removed from the service right? Guess what? If you did that you'd loose about 1/3 of the military.. because most of us with that on our dogtags.. fighting for your rights an liberty as well as that of the world by the way.. are in fact atheists and agnostics.

    how about you leave and go join some extremist religious group like... oh i don't know.. THE ENEMY???!!! Because you sound a lot like them.

    July 8, 2008 at 8:51 pm |
  37. Jan from California

    As an Ex-Pastor, I know how this soldier feels. I think the discrimination comes from other members of the military but not as a stated policy of the military. Unfortunately, this type of subtitle discrimination is very hard to prove. I always hear our country was founded on Christian principles. That is partially true. But may of those Christian men were also Masons which believe that one religion should not be promoted over another. We see the results when one religion becomes supreme and authoritative – IRAN. God help us to Keep this wonderful country really free for ALL.

    July 8, 2008 at 8:40 pm |
  38. deb

    I find this EXTREMELY hard to believe. I AM a Christian and although I pray and would hope for all to come to know the Lord, we do not FORCE the issue, it is a personal, heart issue that is between you and God. I have family members in the military-Navy,Army and Marines and none of them could relate to this story. I feel Mr Hall is dealing , or attempting to deal with some issues & convictions and instead of turning back to the loving God he once knew he is striking out in anger. By the picture,you can see it in his face. I will be praying for Jeremy and his family as I know this must be breaking their hearts.

    July 8, 2008 at 8:38 pm |
  39. Dave from Missouri

    Woah! This is media propaganda if I ever saw it. Why a front page story about an athiest in the military? Is it a ploy to get Christian voters to vote for war because then they would be supporting their faith via the military?
    In any case, the Pentagon and the U.S. military are about as Christian as:
    1) A Satanic seance using infants for human sacrifice.
    2) The Bank of England and a U.S. Robber Baron
    3) A baseball bat made out of depleted uranium made in Tawain by child labor.

    July 8, 2008 at 8:36 pm |
  40. Miguel A. Legaspi

    As a Retired Marine Corps DRILL INSTRUCTOR, we were UNDER INSTRUCTION from the Upper Chain of command that during Sunday Services, EVERY RECRUIT would go to a Religeous Service, ANY SERVICE, just as long as they went.

    Recruits were given this instruction on the very first Sunday of recruit Training. They were instructed that there were no Athiests in Foxholes.

    I was stationed at MCRD San Diego from 1995-97. C Company, 1st recruit training Bn.

    When I went to recruit training, I was given the same instruction.

    July 8, 2008 at 8:26 pm |
  41. Jarhead Zero

    I just recently left active duty with the USMC after 10 years of service as an officer. I have met some really idiotic and ignorant officers and find this guys claim really hard to believe. What I think is more likely is that this guy may have had a hard time following orders and doing his job and is using the religion issue as a way to divert attention to this. The couple of officers that I know were in a way "religious zealots" didn't try to hide their beliefs, but never once did I witness an incident where a person was singled out and discriminated against because he or she was a "non-believer". I hope in the end that all fact will come out. If the officer and other soldiers in his unit really did do what he is claiming then they should be held accountable.

    July 8, 2008 at 8:22 pm |
  42. David

    Christianity has become synonymous with bigotry. And unfortunately, history education in America fails to properly explain our nation's beginnings in religious freedom. I have no doubt the soldier was discriminated against. I get bigoted Christian emails every day!

    July 8, 2008 at 8:21 pm |
  43. Nate

    20 years of military service including time in war zones and not once have I faced discrimination or seen others face discrimination for their faith or lack thereof.

    I saw the young man on another news program and it appears his immaturity is the real sources of his problems and not his atheism.

    Sharing, discussing and debating beliefs is not proselytizing. It is what we in America do (Freedom of Speech). We restrict the rights of our service-members enough as it is. Do we take away their right to share, discuss and debate religious beliefs because one immature young man is confused?

    July 8, 2008 at 8:19 pm |
  44. Teresa

    His story is crap. I have been in the military for 16 years and have never been discriminated against or harassed for not being religious. My I.D. tags which were issued to me through the military say Religion-no preference. I have never had bad ratings on my performance reports for not attending church. Some people will do or say anything to get their 5 minutes of fame. Everyone knows you can't sue the government!

    July 8, 2008 at 8:18 pm |
  45. Flag

    I think Hall is a poor excuse for a soldier. Atheists have no place in America. And the person that told him to go sit somewhere else after Hall refused to bow his head should have been SHOT! What a TOAD!

    July 8, 2008 at 8:16 pm |
  46. Rose from Southern Calif

    This soldier have every right under the constitution, he of all people. Remember he is a SOLDIER fighting for our freedom. And NOBODY even the government have not right to tell him different. Only the O Mighty God can.

    July 8, 2008 at 7:37 pm |
  47. jimmy velman

    The founding Fathers of our great Country acknowledged the Existence of GOD and signed on to a document that We, The People
    .Americans have inalienable rights given by GOD.
    An Atheist is anti-american and does not believe in the foundational
    truths on which our country has been blessed by Almight GOD.
    The Atheist should be denied American Citizenship and thrown out of our country. WE Americans sing and shout " GOD BLESS AMERICA.

    July 8, 2008 at 7:31 pm |
  48. MIke Bradley

    I am very impressed by the great majority of writing in this blog. As an atheist myself I have felt very isolated in the USA these last near 8 years. It is comforting to read so many well expressed entries here. I am however saddened that the possibility of running for a high political office in this country seems to be limited to those who openly claim to be such good Christians. A man of mixed blood and a woman are a wonderful step forward for sure but I wonder if we will see an Atheist succeed in running for President.

    I would also like to add that being 'atheist' isn't a belief, it is simply label for a lack of believing in myths and legends, that is all. It is not a label of a group that has anything in common. So when one person who happens to be atheist does or says something it has absolutely no bearing on what any other atheists thinks or feels. To infer otherwise would be like thinking someone who doesn't play tennis is like another person who doesn't play tennis!

    July 8, 2008 at 9:24 am |
  49. J.V.hodgson

    Go to your constitution and the right of freedom of religion. If he has been discriminated agaist on relgious grounds and a civil court(not military) ddems he has been so discriminated against then shame on the military machine that effected that discrimination.
    Personally, any form government or otherwise that asks for my religion is where I choose never to answer the question what ever the consequences... look again to your constitution on the right of non self incriminationand right to a trial by a jury of one,s peers.

    July 8, 2008 at 3:45 am |
  50. John

    I am upset that a few of the comments on here are against Atheism instead of supporting the inherent right to believe whatever one wants to believe. There are only a few who disagree with this freedom of religion claim; however, the few that do disagree, grossly misunderstand what freedom of religion is. It is an inherent right to believe what one wants to believe.

    After scanning for arguments against this case, I saw one argument that misunderstands or redefines that freedom of religion to be that it is not freedom to be an atheist. However, this equivocation/redefining concepts focuses just on the term without regard to its history and meaning in law. The meaning in law is that it is religious freedom, especially from any establishment of religious by the usa government. However, if one were just to focus on the equivocation/redefinition of the concept, then one could simply argue that Buddhism includes atheism and the practices of the government military does not protect this guy from practicing Buddhism. However, again, the whole concept is religious freedom not some narrow view and equivocation of the term and history.

    The other argument that bothered me was that "our forefathers" wanted to make this a Christian nation. However, "our forefathers" who formed our government, including Constitution, were mostly Deist - meaning that they did not believe in a God who interacts with humans, like Christians do. Furthermore, with the advancement of science, those "forefathers" would probably atheist, as Richard Dawkins has pointed out at times.

    Either way, the right to believe whatever one wants is something that is inherent from birth because it is internal and exists inside a person, for one. Either way, beliefs are somewhat minute, tangible, meaningless things, treating someone a certain way because of beliefs is not a minute nor meaningless thing, however. It is very unethical to treat anyone a certain way because of *BELIEFS*.

    I am sadden that there are arguments against someone believing whatever they want.

    July 8, 2008 at 3:37 am |
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