Saturday, April 26, 2008

On Nation, Under God

It's a great country, isn't it?

I actually mean that, although sometimes what goes on makes you wonder. For instance, we have another example of what it's like living under theocratic rule. In Fort Riley, Kansas, a soldier has had to sue the Army because when he held a meeting for atheists and freethinkers, an officer attended, berated the atheists who organized the meeting, and threatened that they would not be promoted or even permitted to re-enlist:

Soldier Sues Army, Saying His Atheism Led to Threats

FORT RILEY, Kan. — When Specialist Jeremy Hall held a meeting last July for atheists and freethinkers at Camp Speicher in Iraq, he was excited, he said, to see an officer attending.

But minutes into the talk, the officer, Maj. Freddy J. Welborn, began to berate Specialist Hall and another soldier about atheism, Specialist Hall wrote in a sworn statement. “People like you are not holding up the Constitution and are going against what the founding fathers, who were Christians, wanted for America!” Major Welborn said, according to the statement.

Major Welborn told the soldiers he might bar them from re-enlistment and bring charges against them, according to the statement.

Now I'm pretty sure that to be an officer in the army you need to swear an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. And, having taken two constitutional law classes while I was in law school, there is no question in my mind that freedom of religion is one of our fundamental rights. At a bare minimum, the First Amendment prohibits the government from forcing you to subscribe to a religion, any religion. We've seen it at the Air Force Academy, but fortunately there is an organization dedicated to standing up to the rights of atheists in the military.

And maybe, just maybe, this brave soldier will win his case.


Blogger Chris said...

"I, _____ (SSAN), having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign or domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservations or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God." (DA Form 71, 1 August 1959, for officers.)

April 27, 2008 8:27 PM  

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