MRFF ACTION ALERT – End the Military’s Discrimination against Non-Religious Service Members


End the Military’s Discrimination against Non-Religious Service Members

The US military fails to provide Equal Opportunity for non-religious service members.

We are forced to participate in religious rituals during official ceremonies. This is not free exercise, this is forced exercise. Worship belongs in voluntary services, not in mandatory formations. This is unconstitutional establishment of an official preference for religion over non-religion.

We are forced to take an unconstitutional religious test for “Spiritual Fitness”. Those who fail the test are forced to take remedial training instructing them to go to church and pray. This proselytization by the US military is forced onto us against our will.

These policies create a hostile environment, division, and resentment within the military, destroying morale and threatening national security.

Help us reach our goal of 5,000 signatures by October 31, 2011!


DISCLAIMER: The Military Religious Freedom Foundation site provides external links as a convenience to our users. The appearance of external hyperlinks on the MRFF website does not constitute endorsement by MRFF of the linked websites, or the information, products or services contained therein. MRFF does not exercise any editorial control over what you may find at these locations.

NOTE: MRFF webmasters have been made aware of difficulties which users are experiencing when attempting to sign the above petition. The problem is a false “Error” message which appears after confirming one’s email address rather than a page confirming successful registration with

If, after attempting to register your email with the “We the People” Petition website, you are confronted with the “Our Apologies [Under Construction]” page please navigate back to the petition page to sign it.

The following was written by MRFF client Spc. Dustin Chalker:

The White House is Listening. Speak up now!

On September 1, 2011 the White House announced a new web-based petition program called We the People. From
“Individuals will be able to create or sign a petition that calls for action by the federal government on a range of issues.  If a petition gathers enough support (i.e., signatures) it will be reviewed by a standing group of White House staff, routed to any other appropriate offices and generate an official, on-the-record response.”

This outstanding new program facilitates the often-forgotten First Amendment right “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

“How many signatures? Initially petitions that gather more than 5,000 signatures in 30 days will be reviewed and answered.”
Earlier today (October 3) the 5000 signature threshold was increased
to 25000, but don’t worry! I started a petition to “End the Military’s
Discrimination against Non-Religious Service Members”
on October 1! At present, it appears that older petitions are being grandfathered with the original 5000 signature requirement. Even if this changes, let’s rock the White House and blast through whatever ceiling they set!

This may be the single most influential thing you can do to help non-religious service members, and it’s easy! The account sign-up process is very fast (though a little buggy for some users) and has the added benefit that you can sign other petitions once you’re registered. There are petitions to restore the original Pledge of Allegiance “One Nation, Indivisible” and national motto “E Pluribus Unum.” When you’re done with all of that, share! Post the short link ( to your Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.

Aside from the broader request to end discrimination, this petition addresses two specific issues: the forced ceremonial religious rituals in mandatory military formations and the unconstitutional religious test for “Spiritual Fitness” (and the related proselytization they call “training”). These fundamentalists currently enjoy a privileged dominion over us, ordering our respectful and silent participation in their worship services and actively instructing us to go to church and pray under the color of military authority. Your signature could change all of that, so please, take a stand for our right to serve this nation without facing coercive religious domination.

Thank you in advance to everyone who takes the time to join this ongoing effort to support and defend the Constitution. I have tried repeatedly, and all internal remedies have failed, to include the Inspector General, Equal Opportunity program, and individual requests for accommodation through the chain of command. The Constitution’s last line of defense is We the People.

Dustin Chalker

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  1. Ted Schiffman

    Help those in serious need.

  2. Everett G Sillers

    Freedom of religion includes freedom from religion.

  3. Ariel J. Thomann, M.D.

    Dear Mister President:

    Please do all that is in your power to preserve the wall of separation between church and state.

    Please go back over your “Farrand’s Records” and refresh your memory. Most of our Founding Fathers were indeed religious (primarily Christians). But they knew that their religion (or lack thereof) must not be part of the government they fought to create for themselves, and for their children and ours.

    Thank you,

    Ariel J. Thomann, M.D.

  4. Geralyn

    Dear Dustin,
    At present there are 4500-ish signatures. Are we to understand 5,000 by OCT 31st will get this petition a review & response, but any future petitions now require 25,000 signatures? That’s a major leap.



  5. Travis

    I too am in the military, active duty. Please understand that I am not trolling or trying to incite riots. I genuinely would like to understand the concerns that you have. Just looking for understanding, and hopefully relevant discussion. If, after that discussion I am willing to help any way that I can.

    1. “We are forced to participate in religious rituals during official ceremonies. This is not free exercise, this is forced exercise.”

    Is this geared more toward “invocation or prayer” during commanders calls or promotions, or are there other official ceremonies that include religious rituals of which I am unaware? Please, the more examples the better.

    I agree that Worship should not be conducted during official ceremonies, but there are largely varying definitions over what Worship means to every individual. Could you give a few other types of official ceremonies that contain worship? Or how Worship is incorporated into them?

    2. “This is unconstitutional establishment of an official preference for religion over non-religion.”

    I would like to refrain for the moment in comment on preference for a religion v/s preference for non-religion. Should those that reply choose to do so in a appropriate, professional, understanding way, I would like to discuss that as well.

    3. “We are forced to take an unconstitutional religious test for “Spiritual Fitness”.”

    Do you know if this test is standardized or a local development? I have not taken any spiritual fitness tests that discuss religion in the slightest. I have taken a few “Spiritual Fitness for Duty” tests, but they were completely non-religious in nature. The questions I have seen have been more in line with the a more psychological/philosophical/moral definition of human spirit. Again these are just my experiences. Please, If you could either give me an example of the religious questions, or simply send me a copy of the test, I would appreciate it.

    4. “Those who fail the test are forced to take remedial training instructing them to go to church and pray. This proselytization by the US military is forced onto us against our will.”

    Simply holding Spiritual Readiness briefings in an otherwise religious building during a CC call is not forcing a religion. It is currently ridiculous to me to see it any other way, the building is there, why not use it? Being sent to church to learn spirituality and to pray would be an unlawful order (I AM NOT A LAWYER, DO NOT ACT ON THAT STATEMENT) and should (normally) be addressed through appropriate chains of command. In my opinion, You are correct, if you are told/ordered/directed to go to any house of worship, prayer, religious function, with the express purpose of being taught religious ways to become Spiritually fit, it is WRONG.

    The only question I have here is what are they telling you to do? Is it Commanders Call that happens to be in the chapel, and the chaplain is going to say a few words? Is the only option given for you to see some sort of “spiritual advisor” or are there other options to help you maintain spiritual fitness? (Chaplain? Mental Health? If these are the only options that are being offered/ordered, then there seems to be a genuine concern. There are many ways to take care of your “Spiritual Fitness”, or “Spiritual Readiness” that do not involve religion. I myself find my spiritual readiness, my spiritual fitness, my resiliency, through knowing myself, in time spent with my family, and in nature. (Nope, I don’t worship nature or myself, I do worship my family though.

    It has been my experience that most people who are religious see religion as the only way to Spiritual Fitness. This is normally because they cannot, in their Own Lives or experience, become spiritually Fit without their religion. Many people can be spiritually ready and not believe in anything at all (even spirituality).

    5. “These policies create a hostile environment, division, and resentment within the military (unit), destroying morale and threatening national security” I choose to withhold judgments for this one final sentence.

    Please remember, I am honestly trying to understand , not troll or start a fight. Thank You for taking the time to answer my HUGE message.

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