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Anderson Cooper 360 tonight on a soldier suing the govt for religious discriminiation... 
7th-Jul-2008 05:32 pm
The U.S. Christian military?

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?

See the full report on AC360 tonight at 10PM.
* Nothing like reading the damned bible to make an atheist out of a person.
7th-Jul-2008 09:51 pm (UTC)
Heh. No, because it happened to me.

Not death threats, fortunately, but quite a bit of discrimination and harassment. Unfortunately, I don't think anything short of disbanding the army and starting all over again with people who know that they can't force christianity on everyone is going to work.

And then we'd have a really, really small army, because I'd say it's probably 95% of the people there think that way.

Just as an example, the group I was in bent over backwards to make sure that we weren't on the road for christian holidays, but when some of the jewish members started to ask why our travel was arranged so carefully around easter when none of them had been home for passover for years, some unpleasant things came out. One senior person (if you read my journal back then, it was Promise Keeper Jim) said "I don't see how that's my problem," and one of his little disciples suggested that it was time for them to "come to the light and find a true belief. Then you won't be away from your family on the days that are important to you."

And don't even get me started on the things I heard during basic training.
7th-Jul-2008 10:25 pm (UTC) - not exactly the golden rule!
Every member of the Military has the right to believe whatever he/she wants without religious discrimination.

Proselytize? Not on duty, off duty first amendment applies to everyone.
WWJD? What Would Jesus Do? Well I guess I would have thought that this would be a no brainer. Jesus would not threaten someone's life for not believing.

7th-Jul-2008 10:34 pm (UTC)
..if the government decides that they only want "christians" dying in the war, then hey, they can have em...
just saying..
7th-Jul-2008 11:10 pm (UTC)
Navy boot camp was like that for me. If I opted not to attend whatever service they had on Sunday, I was more than welcome to be assigned various other duties instead.
8th-Jul-2008 12:22 am (UTC)
Nothing like reading the damned bible to make an atheist out of a person.

Worked for me! Well, it took a couple reads to really sink in.
8th-Jul-2008 03:43 am (UTC)
Heh, attending Catholic High School did it for me, though I did read the book a couple of times while there. Now I know it better than most fundies I meet.

8th-Jul-2008 02:20 pm (UTC)
I think religion is always pushed on people. The army is no different. This is one of those things I don't get. Why one cares what another believes. Does it hurt you? Does it affect you? No. It doesn't. I see more "christians" pushing their beliefs and their religion on people far more than I see atheist standing on street corners pushing their beliefs on people. If people would worry as much about their lives as they do another's, this world would be a much better place to live. But that would just be to much work for people, right? Funny thing is, these so called christians pushing their beliefs and religion in everyone's face are by no means abiding by the bible or god. Thou shall not judge... yea, I rarely see that being practiced. It amazes me how much people pick and choose what they "practice" and "preach" from the bible.
8th-Jul-2008 09:07 pm (UTC)
Believe it or not, atheism can also be pushed on people, as it was in Communist countries (I live in a post-communist country myself, so I remember that period). Now, first a medieval king forced Christianity on our pagan ancestors, then we were conquered by Muslim invaders, and Islam was forced on part of the population, and in the end the Communists tried to force atheism on both Cristians and Muslims. Can you imagine the mess? Well, at least there isn't a single really DOMINANT belief or disbelief in my country now. As for myself, I somehow manage to be mostly a Christian of the local variety, partly a pagan of some indefinite kind, and partly an agnostic. I am not a very good Christian, but I wasn't a very good atheist too! And on top of all I am in love with a Muslim man, and the diference in religion doesn't bother me. So I'm all for the freedom of belief, and can't stand the fanatics of any religion!
Darina from Bulgaria
8th-Jul-2008 04:54 pm (UTC)
Been hearing about this on some alternative religion boards for a while. If you aren't xtian, you're a pariah, and you are probably an Enemy of the State.
But remember, the xtians are persecuted. No, really. Especially the proselytizers. Grrrrr.
8th-Jul-2008 11:52 pm (UTC)
I thought you might like these quotes. They seem appropriate to this post.

"I'm completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death." ~George Carlin

"It is the position of some theists that their right to freedom OF religion is abridged when they are not allowed to violate the rationalists' right to freedom FROM religion." ~James T. Green

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