BREAKING: MRFF MAJOR MEDIA ALERT
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West Point cadet quits over religion
Thursday, December 6, 2012
Former Cadet Blake Page tells CNN’s Soledad O’Brien he left West Point because of Christian proselytizing.
MRFF FEATURED ON HUFFPOST
Republican Strategist Calls West Point a ‘Religious Institute’ on HuffPost Live
Thursday, December 6, 2012
Selected Article Excerpt:
As the Senior Research Director at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), I’ve known for quite a while about the incidents of religious discrimination that led to West Point Cadet Blake Page’s decision to resign from the Academy — a decision that’s getting quite a bit of attention since Page’s post on Huffington Post, “Why I Don’t Want to Be a West Point Graduate.” I’ve also been reading the comments on Page’s post and elsewhere, some of which are from people saying that Page’s decision to resign means he didn’t belong at West Point in the first place — claiming that his resignation showed that he wouldn’t make a good leader anyway. But on Tuesday, when Page appeared on HuffPost Live to explain why he’s resigning from the Academy, Shirley Husar gave a different reason for thinking that Page didn’t belong at West Point. Husar, identified in the HuffPost Live segment as a Republican Strategist, unwittingly confirmed exactly what Blake Page is trying to make everybody understand.
Here’s what Husar said to Page:
“It looks like this was a really bad marriage for you, like you got in bed with someone and it didn’t work out to well for you. But I don’t understand why you have to go public in such a way. I mean, this is a religious institute and there are people who are Christians who believe in prayer and people need prayer in this country right now.”
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Cadet Quits, Cites Overt Religion at West Point
MRFF FEATURED BY NBC NEWS
West Point cadet quits, cites ‘criminal’ behavior of officers
HUFFPOST LIVE (VIDEO):
Five months from graduation, Blake Page has left West Point on the grounds that its policies, including mandatory prayer, disregard students’ religious freedoms.
MRFF FEATURED ON FRONT PAGE OF MILITARY.COM
West Pointer Quits Over Proselytizing
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Selected Article Excerpts:
A West Point cadet slated to graduate this year will instead be heading home without a degree after resigning to make a point about religious proselytizing at the acclaimed military academy.
Instead of a degree and commission, in fact, Blake Page could be going back to Minnesota with a bill to reimburse the government hundreds of thousands of dollars for tuition, he said.
“There’s a lot on the line here for me, but I can’t take this … anymore,” Cadet Blake Page said in a telephone interview today. “The officers here have blown me off. They don’t want to do the right thing.”
At West Point, the former Army enlisted man became a leader in cadet efforts to end illegal Christian proselytizing at the academy and favoritism shown by faculty and administrators toward Christians. Page is president of the West Point Secular Student Alliance.
Mikey Weinstein, an Air Force Academy graduate and founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation,likened Page’s actions to those of Rosa Parks, the African-American woman whose refusal to give up her bus seat to a white person in 1955 became one of the milestones of the Civil Rights movement.
- Page said he got acquainted with the MRFF after writing an article entitled “Secular Students of the Military: West Point,” for Patheos.com. A friend told him he should contact the organization and soon he established a campus branch of MRFF.“I’m a pretty bold person, but there’s no way in hell I would have done any of this if I didn’t have the support of a good lawyer at my back. [Weinstein] makes it possible that there’s someone out there to defend me,” he said.West Point is not alone in dealing with this issue. The problem has also arisen at the other service academies. Illegal proselytizing and favoritism are not authorized and officially condemned by school and Pentagon officials, but it has been an ongoing issue at the schools.
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Why I Don’t Want to Be a West Point Graduate
By Blake Page, Cadet and Director of MRFF Affairs at West Point
Monday, December 3, 2012
Selected Article Excerpts:
- The title West Point Graduate carries a great deal of weight in this world. Those who earn it are given a “golden ticket” and wear a “ring of power” which will certainly carry them to successful careers with doors flung open in the military, in business, even in personal relationships; as so many are seduced by the historic prestige of the United States Military Academy. All of these things seem enticing, but for me personally they are not worth it.
- While there are certainly numerous problems with the developmental program at West Point and all service academies, the tipping point of my decision to resign was the realization that countless officers here and throughout the military are guilty of blatantly violating the oaths they swore to defend the Constitution.
- These transgressions are nearly always committed in the name of fundamentalist evangelical Christianity.The sparse leaders who object to these egregious violations are relegated to the position of silent bystanders, because they understand all too well the potential ramifications of publically expressing their loyalty to the laws of our country. These are strong words that I do not use lightly, but after years of clear personal observation I am certain that they are true. The following excerpt is from my official letter of resignation from West Point:I do not wish to be in any way associated with an institution which willfully disregards the Constitution of the United States of America by enforcing policies which run counter to the same. Examples of these policies include mandatory prayer, the maintenance of the 3rd Regiment Shield, awarding extra passes to Plebes who take part in religious retreats and chapel choirs, as well as informal policies such as the open disrespect of non-religious new cadets and incentivizing participation in religious activities through the chain of command.
- The existence of decades of legal precedent and policies prohibiting this pervasive religious bigotry has not stopped it from happening in the past, and will most certainly not stop it from happening in the future so long as the many who oppose it remain too timid to stand up and be counted. I am making this stand in the hope that others will follow by whatever means they must. Perhaps now some of the 136 cadets, faculty and staff at West Point that are represented by the MRFF may find the courage to make themselves heard.
- It is pathetic that so many leaders in the military are comfortable with both subtly and brutally discriminating against non-religious members. Perhaps with enough external pressure brought to bear by continued civil rights activism, America’s military leadership will one day soon be forced to realize that non-religious soldiers are not enemies of the state to be shunned, ridiculed and marginalized, but rather patriotic, honorable Americans to be respected as equals.