THE WEEK MAGAZINE & YAHOO FRONT PAGE – The U.S. military has a problem with atheists

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When an active-duty Marine was given a Marine Corps training document describing “potential risk indicators” commanders should look for to prevent loss of life among service members, he found one checkbox that didn’t seem to fit. Among warning signs like substance abuse and prior suicide attempts was “lack or loss of spiritual faith.”

Concerned that this was a discriminatory policy, the Marine notified the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), a nonprofit dedicated to keeping religion separate from the U.S. military. The organization, which told me that it plans to sue the U.S. Marines unless the government backs off this policy, says this is the military’s latest effort to discriminate against service members who don’t believe in God.

Advocates for the policy say the military is simply doing everything it can to promote emotional well-being among troops, especially in the face of its growing suicide epidemic. (Last year, the U.S. military saw more active duty soldiers commit suicide than die in combat — 48 of them Marines.)

“The whole concept of judging service members based on their spirituality is completely unconstitutional,” says Mikey Weinstein, a former Air Force officer and founder and president of MRFF. “This country was founded on a very critical principle — the Founding Framers looked at the horrors that occurred throughout history by mixing religion and war, and they said, ‘We’re going to separate church and state.’ And that means they cannot test for religion in the military.”

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1 Comment

  1. Steve Pehnec

    I’m curious as to the religious beliefs, or not, of the 48 Marine suicides?

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