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January 20, 2009

Dear MRFF,

Attached is an Army Publicaton that we can finally applaud, quote, and perhaps send out to all the "Rick Warren" military types and even the new CINC. It was prepared by Chaplain (Major) L.E. Arnold and MSG Darlene Sullivan, Leadership Division, Human Resources Directorate, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel, HQ Department of the Army. Kudos to the Chaplain!

The title is "Consideration of Others" and here's a small selection of quotes related to religion that obviously need to be emphasized and re-emphasized military wide:

"Discussion Question: What is your definition of religious discrimination?

3. Religious discrimination is defined as: Any action, intended or unintended, that unlawfully or unjustly results in unequal treatment of a person or groups based on religion and for which distinctions are not rational considerations.

4. Religious discrimination, like other forms of discrimination, can take place in many ways. Some of the most common elements of religious discrimination are:

a. Discounting the religious beliefs of others. If a person doesn't have strong religious views, or if they have strong religious views different from yours, then it's really easy to say "My beliefs are important, yours really aren't." Or saying "You know that group over there, that's not really a religion." This type of discounting also occurs when an individual with weak religious beliefs criticizes or discounts the strongly held religious beliefs of others.

b. Religious jokes/slurs. Religious jokes and slurs are no different than ethnic, racial, or sexist jokes. It is important to be aware that religious jokes can harm unit cohesion. An example of a religious slur may be: Bible Thumper, Holy Roller, Jewing somebody down, bottom of the totem pole.

c. Compulsory services. Religious services cannot be compulsory. A unit prayer breakfast, for instance, might be categorized as a compulsory religious service if attendance is mandatory. If a soldier dies, the commander must consider whether to honor that soldier with a memorial service or a memorial ceremony. A memorial service is a religious gathering, and must be voluntary. A memorial ceremony is a unit gathering with a patriotic focus. It is a time where the unit can express its closure, grief, and appreciation for a fallen comrade. While Scriptures and prayers may be included, the ceremony must be military or patriotic in focus and design. A memorial ceremony may be mandatory.

d. Exclusionary prayer. Another way that one may discriminate is through exclusionary prayer, for example, closing a public prayer "In Jesus Name," or "In the Name of Allah."

e. Stereotyping people by their religion.

f. Not associating with people because of their religious beliefs.

g. Not making arrangements to provide alternative services. This is a failure to consider the religious or worship needs of all individuals in the unit.

h. Lack of concern. Oftentimes, individuals who belong to religious minorities are overlooked when scheduling or posting services. Also, at times, leaders may neglect their duty to provide whenever possible for the religious needs of soldiers within the constraints of the mission."

Click here to read the entire document


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