Backward Christian Soldiers

After reading a recent article about religious intolerance in the US military, I am in a surprisingly good mood. I’m in a good mood because one young American soldier, Specialist Jeremy Hall, has shown great courage and the ability to think critically.

He is an atheist, and has been on the receiving end of religiose discrimination and threats. Ironic that because of threats made against him — by soldiers and officers in his own unit — he was sent back to the US from Iraq, because it was too dangerous for him there.

He joined the Army to serve his country, to become a soldier fighting for American political gains, not to become a jihadist.

Painfully we find that the military is still crowded with idiots who think that Christianity is some sort of unassailable pedigree, a necessary quality for military success. Hall said of his former fellow GI’s, “They don’t trust you because they think you are unreliable and might break…” because he didn’t believe that God was on his side.

One of the dumbest things a person could possibly say or think is that “God is on our side.” History has shown that combatants on both sides of the battlefield have thought that God was on their side, and one side always lost; history also shows that military outcomes are based on things like strategy, logistics, training and often dumb luck. If I am on the battlefield, and it goes without saying therefore that my life is on the line, I would MUCH rather have someone beside me who is courageous and capable of rational, critical thinking instead of someone who thinks God is on his side.

Specialist Hall was in a firefight in Iraq in 2007, a gunner on a Humvee. The vehicle took several bullets in its protective shield. Afterward, when his commander asked whether he believed in God, Hall said, “No, but I believe in Plexiglas.” This is my kind of guy.

If religion is a system of beliefs or convictions, then why not consider atheism another system of beliefs and convictions? The first amendment guarantees that we as American citizens — and I was born within sight of the Washington Monument — are entitled to be free to believe what we want. If you believe in God, or some variety of gods, or not, that is your right. And my right.

This soldier is being berated, antagonized and threatened because he is different; this is nothing more than bullying. There’s something about this that reminds me of the “blanket party” given to Pvt. Pyle in the movie “Full Metal Jacket”. That was the scene in which the underachieving Pyle was punished by soldiers in his own unit for causing them to suffer for his shortcomings. Each soldier put a bar of soap in a sock, then in turn swung it and viciously hit Pyle in his bed, the action causing pain but supposedly leaving no marks; an exercise in group justice. The under-thinking soldiers in Hall’s unit are doing the same thing, punishing him for being different, and for not toeing the Christian line. In my view, standing up to them makes Hall a lion, and we’ve all seen what happened in the Colosseum when lions faced Christians; my money’s on the lions.

Hall and another soldier have accused a superior officer, Maj. Freddy J. Welborn, of berating and threatening them, and saying some pretty stupid things like, “People like you are not holding up the Constitution and are going against what the founding fathers, who were Christians, wanted for America!” Welborn denies it, saying “I’d love to tell my side of the story because it’s such a false story.” Like the New York judge who recently found the testimony of Sean Bell’s friends to have been less than plausible, I don’t accept Welborn’s refutations of Hall’s accusations.

If Maj. Welborn is guilty of lying about the accusations and threatening Hall and others like him, then Welborn is a very bad example of the Christian ideal, showing little reverence for tolerance or telling the truth. Is this the military’s version of Christianity, condoning not only intolerance and mendacity but also violence against others?

According to Eileen Lainez, a spokeswoman for the Defense Department, the armed forces have regulations that respect “the rights of others to their own religious beliefs, including the right to hold no beliefs.”

In an e-mail statement, Bill Carr, the Defense Department’s deputy under secretary for military personnel policy, said he “saw near universal compliance with the department’s policy.”

After having taught statistics for over ten years, I’d like to know what that means. Did Carr tour and inspect every U.S. military installation on Earth, and question every soldier, sailor and fly-boy? Did he talk to three soldiers and two said everything was fine? Since the reluctance to come forward, based on fears of retribution, is well-known, his statement is particularly vague and vapid. This is one of those low-risk comments that in his mind allows him to do nothing, and yet not look as if he did anything wrong.

Hall has shown leadership capabilities and courage, more so than Welborn and the other macho moron officer who threatened “to bust (Hall) in the mouth.” These men should be relieved of duty. They are rabid animals unfit to lead in a modern army, because a commanding officer should be able to lead by example, treating men with respect and recognizing that religious beliefs should not influence military decisions.

Hall said he enjoys being a team leader but has been told that having faith would make him a better leader.

“I will take care of my soldiers. Nowhere does it say I have to pray with my soldiers, but I do have to make sure my soldiers’ religious needs are met,” he said.

“Religion brings comfort to a lot of people,” he said. Hall was raised in a religious environment — one source said Protestant, while another source said Baptist — but concluded that faith was an unneeded encumbrance. “Personally, I don’t want it or need it. But I’m not going to get down on anybody else for it.”

Good for you, Specialist Hall. Keep your chin up, because you are doing the right thing.

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One Response to “Backward Christian Soldiers”

  1. God Says:

    I’m on your side!
    http://stuffgodhates.wordpress.com/

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