Soldier alleges Military pattern of Christian bias

TOPEKA, Kan. – An atheist soldier suing over prayers at military formations claims a larger pattern of religious discrimination exists in the military, citing attempts to convert Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan and an evangelical bias in a suicide prevention manual.

The expanded lawsuit filed Monday by Spc. Dustin Chalker and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation in U.S. District Court in Kansas City also claims the military doesn’t take complaints of religious discrimination seriously enough.

The Defense Department has identified fewer than 50 complaints about alleged violations of religious freedoms during the past three years, with 1.4 million personnel in uniform, spokeswoman Eileen Lainez said.

She declined to comment on a pending lawsuit but noted that the military has policies against endorsing any religious view.

The revised lawsuit criticizes the Army’s 2008 manual on suicide prevention, quoting it as promoting “religiosity” as a necessary part of prevention and describing “connectivity to the divine” as “fundamental.”

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Quite a while ago I read an article in the American Legion (a Veteran’s magazine) that discussed a very similar problem. Apparently the problem is with Evangelical Christians and not Christians in general. They had a quote from a Catholic priest who was complaining about them. The Evangelicals, from the way I understood the article in the AL, where going out and being very in your face in trying to get people to convert.

I’m not entirely sure I agree with a secular military going in and distributing Bibles to an area that is not Christian. That’s a good way to alienate the people your country is trying to help. So to an extent I can understand the man’s complaint.

I spent a number of years in the service during Vietnam, and although i know of several cases of it happening, they were not frequent.

Given the power a commander or supervisor has over his subordinates in the military, it’s surprising it doesn’t happen more often.

Military people, I think, understand self-discipline, and are more likely to avoid abusing their power than civilians might be in the same circumstances.

I’ve heard of a few cases of people trying to force conversions in the military on CAF. Pray for the soldiers the world over!

What this Soldier and the organization want is for all Invocations, Benedictions, etc to be banned. I work in the US Army Chaplaincy, I’ve seen very few cases of actual violations of Religious Freedom, and those usually directed AGAINST Christians not by them. Most of our chaplains are very good at being pluralistic and it’s illegal for them to prozelytize. There are individual Soldiers who feel the need try to convert thier fellow service members, and that’s completely legal. It’s illegal for a Soldier to use thier grade or position to force religion on someone. IF THAT was what this “complaint” was about I’d agree, but what this “complaint” is about is the desire to wipe away 233 years of military history and tradition and do away with Invocations and Benedictions at military Ceremonies. NO ONE IS EVER FORCED TO PRAY IN THE ARMY at one of these ceremonies…not ever!

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