The Military and Religion

Via The Questionable Authority

For an atheist in America, I have it pretty easy.  I live on a college campus where a significant minority if not a majority of the students are non-religious and I have parents who are willing to accept that their children may not share their religious views.  As such, I am pretty free to express my views, though I don’t usually make an issue of it.

Some don’t have it so lucky.  One such person would be SPC Jeremy Hall, a U.S. soldier currently stationed in Iraq who happens to be an atheist.  When he tried to form a meeting of non-Christian, the meeting was allegedly interrupted by a superior officer.

According to the court filing made by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation:

On August 7, 2007, plaintiff Hall attempted to conduct and participate in a meeting of individuals who consider themselves atheists, freethinkers, or adherents to non-Christian religions. With permission from an army chaplain, plaintiff Hall posted flyers around COB Speicher [an Army base located near Tikrit, Iraq] announcing the meeting. The meeting attendees included plaintiff Hall, other military personnel and nonmilitary personnel.

During the course of the meeting, defendant Welborne confronted the attendees, disrupted the meeting and interfered with the plaintiff Hall’s and the other attendees’ rights to discuss topics of their interests. During the confrontation, and because of plaintiff’s actions in organizing the meeting, defendant Welborne threatened plaintiff Hall with an action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and further threatened to prevent plaintiff Hall’s reenlistment in the United States Army.

This is a sad reminder that our country still has issues of tolerance to work through.  Obviously we are not as bad as some Muslim states where apostasy is punishable by death, but for a country that was founded in part upon the idea of religious freedom, instances like this one are disappointing.


About Meng Bomin

Real name Benjamin Main, I am a graduate of Grinnell College with a degree in Biological Chemistry.
This entry was posted in Current events, Opinions, Politics, Religion. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Military and Religion

  1. BobApril says:

    Obviously we are not as bad as some Muslim states where apostasy is punishable by death…

    Don’t be so sure. After reading about his story, I sent SPC Hall an e-mail in support. In his response, he mentioned that he has received threats of violence. Since he’s still over in the Middle East, any nutcase who takes lethal offense at his standing up for his rights certainly has access to military-grade weapons to express his displeasure. I can only hope that the Army is aware of the possibility, and taking steps to protect him.

  2. Ben says:

    Indeed, this is a terrible situation and it exposes some of the religious bigotry that festers under the surface where I live and perhaps more openly in other parts of the U.S.

    But I do think that it is worse in countries where simply converting away from Islam, be it to Christianity or to atheism is punishable by death by the state. While I’m certainly not trying to negate the struggles SPC Hall has had, I think we can be thankful that we do not have institutional persecution.

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