Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Compulsory Christian Religious Practices?

The military has had its share of religious suits recently. Here's a new one:

A soldier whose superior prevented him from holding a meeting for atheists and other non-Christians is suing the Defense Department, claiming it violated his right to religious freedom.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan., alleges a pattern of practices that discriminate against non-Christians in the military. It was filed Monday to coincide with the 220th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution.

The lawsuit names Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Maj. Paul Welborne as defendants.

According to the filing, Spec. Jeremy Hall, a soldier assigned to Fort Riley's 97th Military Police Battalion, received permission to distribute fliers around his base in Iraq for a meeting of atheists and non-Christians.

When he tried to convene the meeting, Hall claims, Welborne stepped in, threatening to file military charges against Hall and block his reenlistment.

Attempts to reach Welborne through an Army spokesman weren't immediately successful.

Earlier cases were also about something that is beginning to look like enforced Christianity of the fundie type. Remember how a Wiccan pentacle was initially determined not to adequately religious to be put on the tombstone of a Wiccan soldier who died in Iraq, the way crosses and crescents and so on are used? Then there was this case:

Separately, seven Army and Air Force officers, including four generals, face possible punishment for violating ethics rules by helping a Christian group in the production of a fundraising video.

A Pentagon inspector general's report released this month found the officers were interviewed in uniform and "in official and often identifiable Pentagon locations."

The report found that none of the officers received approval from superiors to participate in video interviews in an official capacity or in uniform. Air Force and Army officials are reviewing that report.

I'm not sure what the legal implications of all this pro-Christian bias might be but it looks to me an awful lot like promoting one religion within the government.