AMERICANS UNITED – Cadet Coercion Condemned

Selected Article Excerpts:

  • It took a federal court ruling to stop mandatory worship at West Point and the other service academies. And now, more than 40 years later, Americans United is asking officials at West Point to take the next step and stop imposing prayer on cadets who don’t want to take part.
  • West Point became the focus of controversy recently after a cadet named Blake Page quit just months shy of graduation, charging that the institution is rife with fundamentalist Christian proselytizing.
  • Page, backed by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), made a round of media appearances. In the wake of his story, other cadets have been speaking out. Several of them contacted Americans United.
  • Klingenschmitt and other defenders of West Point’s prayer policy have tried to draft Jefferson as an ally. The argument was even employed by top military officials in 2010, after the Freedom From Religion Foundation protested nightly prayers on board Navy ships.
  • As usual, there is more to the story. Chris Rodda, author of the book Liars for Jesus: The Religious Right’s Alternate Version of American History and research director for the MRFF, notes that Jefferson merely signed off on a long list of regulations for naval officials that had been created by the John Adams administration in 1799.
  • West Point officials have also asserted that participation in events that open with prayer is voluntary. Americans United says this is not a persuasive argument and notes that many cadets want to attend the events – they just don’t want prayer imposed on them.

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