Religious Freedom

Dear Mikey,

What your organization does to protect the Constitution is impressive.

But, as a retired Navy guy I’m perplexed. The Air Force Academy is supposed to be there to prepare Air Force war fighters to be able to face any enemy that they are called on to attack. Military personnel of the United States are often called upon to face death in the pursuit of their responsibilities as war fighters. They are required to be brave and to display courage in the most arduous conditions. It is expected that they be courageous

(name withheld)


Dear (name withheld),

Thank you for taking the time to write us.

You bring up a perspective I’m intimately familiar with, as a former West Point cadet that faced similar issues as the USAFA cadets you mention. We ought to insist that the young men and women at our service academies stand up for their rights and defend them passionately. Unfortunately the consequences of doing so are often egregious harm to their class rank, peer reviews, assessments by superiors, social standing, and personal safety.

For more than a year prior to my colorful departure from USMA I stood up for myself and others. I requested and held meetings with the Chief of Chaplains, the Commandant, the Deputy Commandant and more. I initiated EO and IG investigations. I produced irrefutable evidence to support my varied complaints. The end-state of it all? Nothing. Nothing positive that is.

In our service academies and throughout our military there is a climate of privilege for Christians. That’s not a secret. What’s lesser known is the extent of trouble a nay-sayer can find themselves in for standing up. For me, I was told my complaints were invalid, had a LTC look me in the eye and tell me I would never be a good leader until I filled the hole in my heart, a full bird confidently notified me that there was no place for an atheist club at USMA (while there were 13 recognized and funded religious groups), I was threatened with non-judicial punishment for declining to take part in group prayers. As my efforts became more widely known I received threats of violence from my peers and superiors, was publicly harassed, had my personal property vandalized.

I’m not asking for sympathy or saying that these things were not worth it. For me they were worth the results I finally earned. What I am saying is asking our cadets to hazard losing the very thing they are at our academies to earn, their commission, is too much. How can we reasonably ask them to gamble a future career as a commissioned officer, where they will have legitimate authority to correct issues of religious intolerance, for the very remote possibility of seeing their complaints respected and addressed while still in school?

So in steps the MRFF. These cadets are doing the same thing now that they will be doing in the future as commissioned officers. They are finding the most powerful weapon they can get their hands on and using it judiciously in their own defense. They are calling for fire support while they are pinned down. I don’t see any shame in refusing to choose between a career or the constitution. It’s not a decision that anyone should have to make.

Again, thank you for reaching out to us. I hope I’ve answered your questions/concerns adequately.

Blake A. Page
Military Religious Freedom Foundation
Special Assistant to the President
Director of West Point Affairs


Blake,

Thank you for responding to my questions. Don’t get me wrong. I am not against your foundation. Not at all. I am perplexed, saddened, angered that there is a necessity for it to exist. From your email it seems like you did just what I am suggesting all military people should do when faced with violations of the Constitution.

I call people who try to force their beliefs down the throats of others; Ayatollah Christians. Anyone who illegally tries to force their beliefs down the throats of others are using ayatollah tactics. Whether they might be atheists, Jews, Hindus, whatever denomination of Christian. If the fundamental christians had their way they would replace the Constitution with the bible. Much the same as the ayatollahs worldwide want to only go by sharia law.

I consider the Constitution the only sacred book on the planet. I consider the bible a book of gruesome fairytales. The ideals in the Constitution are well worth dying for; they are HOLY. The ideas and actions described in the bible are, in my opinion, the cause of mass hysteria and insanity. An insanity which has produced all of the wars of mankind.

So, with all due RESPECT, Blake, I would have to disagree with your statement about “I don’t see any shame in refusing to choose between a career or the constitution”. This insidious infestation of ayatollah style christianity is anti-American and in my humble opinion, defending the Constitution should ALWAYS come first. If only the 36,000, whatever the number of cases your organization is working on all banded together, and shined the powerful spotlight of justice and ethics and Constitutional law
at the violators, I am positive that this problem could be solved. You mean to tell me that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the Chiefs of all the services, the Congress and the President are powerless to reign in these creeps?

I find that sooooo hard to believe.

Very Sad to have to write this,

(name withheld)


Dear (name withheld),

I think we are in agreement more than we disagree. When I said there’s no shame in refusing to make that choice, I meant refusing to compromise one for the other, and demanding both. I meant that cadets should have both a promising future and religious freedom in the present.

If each of our more than 36,000 clients were to simultaneously stand up and publicly identify themselves there would probably be swift changes, but how can we know that those changes would favor the constitution? With so much of our government and military leadership already compromised by Dominionists, the risks to our national security that already exist would only be exacerbated.

I personally do have serious doubts that the President, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, or Congress have the ability to squelch these issues. Openly engaging the threat of Dominion Christianity is political suicide. Regardless of what’s ethically sound, it’s not strategically sound from their perspective. Would we be better off with constitutionally literate leaders? Absolutely! Would we have any leaders left to defend our country from theocracy if an all-out confrontation were started? Probably not. The religious right has resources beyond ours by multiple orders of magnitude. Unfortunately, politics don’t always align with ethics. From where I sit, I can comfortably say I’d put it all on the line to defend the constitution, but I can’t be overly critical of others that don’t take the same stance. I’ve lost a great deal by making decisions that put the fight before my self interest. I don’t regret my decisions, but knowing personally what can be lost, I also can’t disparage others for choosing subtler means of resistance. Until this conflict escalates to include imprisonment or death, I can empathize with them.

-Blake

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