Note from Dan: The following was penned by Justin True, an ex-Marine and member of the Southern Virginia Atheists.
By Justin True
Last week West Point senior cadet Blake Page dropped out of the military academy because he’s an atheist and he was sick of overbearing religious pressure brought upon cadets there. The Army military academy in New York’s Hudson Valley is not alone in that ignoble tradition; it’s arguably worse at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., and it likely happens at the Navel Academy in Annapolis, Md., as well.
That struck a chord with me. The issue of having true freedom in our country is being pushed by all facets of religion and its leaders. The fact that they aren’t the majority, and they have to stand up and shout like the rest of us to be heard is upsetting and a delusional war being fought on every societal front.
After reading the second article linked above, it astounds me that the very people who fight for our freedoms and rights seem to not truly hold them at all. If we are to truly have religious freedom, and if we are truly a secular government, a public servant or soldier should not have to fight such religious pressure and resign from anything.
In the article, Mr. Kerry states, “I think you have to be very, very careful about keeping religion and politics separate.” It’s a pity there aren’t more elected officials that feel this way.
Let’s face it, this country has no shortage of elected theocrats pushing a religious agenda in our faces. They are quite proud of this because they believe in a god who’s led them to certain “principles.”
Among them is ex-Sen. Rick Santorum, who placed second in the Republican presidential primaries this year. Another is Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who was nearly elected to the U.S. Senate. Mourdock believes a pregnancy resulting from rape is a “gift” from god and that rape victims should just “accept” that “gift” rather than have an abortion. A third is Rep. Todd Akin, R-Missouri, who doesn’t (or didn’t) believe god allows “truly” raped women to become pregnant.
It’s no coincidence that all three of the above failed to be elected to the offices they were seeking. Their beliefs are insane. In spite of that, the pressure continues on people like Blake Page. He and others who who do not wish to have gods in their life, and who do not believe in the Christian deities or traditions, are being marginalized. This is happening in a nation in which more than a few forefathers were agnostics or nonbelievers.
They were the people behind the wording in the First Amendment to the Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
Where are the rights of those people? Do they ever get a chance to make laws respecting their nonreligion? They deserve those rights. It’s right there in the Constitution, in amendment No. 1.
So where in the hell did our secular government go? People like Billy Graham, Pat Robertson, and Jerry Falwell, stole it “like a thief in the night.” They stole it through fear and persuasion and by stealing the money from their churches and lining the pockets of politicians, making these politicians puppets for their religion, and puppets to ensure the fear is spread to keep the pews full and their pockets fuller.
Taking a line from the late great author, and champion of human rights, Christopher Hitchens, it’s a pity there is no hell for these charlatans to go to.
I don’t understand how our military leaders and our leaders of this government can say they stand up for our freedoms, stand up for our free speech, stand up for freedom of religion, but in the same breath they cram their religious belief down the throats of society.
We have a great and strong military, and in this military we have many brave men and women who serve this country with the tenacity and diligence that we expect from the finest fighting force in the world. I don’t just say that because I feel I have to, I say that because I served with these men and women, and I trained with military services in other countries.
I have seen the competition on the friendly side; we are the best fighting force on this Earth, period. It has people of all religious backgrounds, and people without a religious background. Why should a strong, intelligent young man like the former cadet, Blake Page, have to leave West Point in the middle of his senior year, withdraw from his education, and halt his progress at being a part of the superior fighting force that we have today?
Because of harassment, and religious bullying among the Christian faction at his school, he had to withdraw and hopes to finish his education elsewhere to escape the religious hounds and their hate-filled indoctrination. When asked about how events were promoted within West Point by his superiors, Page, said, “It was always Christian, Christian, Christian.” As an Atheist, felt the need and the desire to have his moral needs supported by a secular community, which our government and military should be, but is not. Far from it.
I remember being a young, agnostic Marine, in boot camp. I would go to church services on Sundays to get away from the drill instructors. Thinking about it now, I can honestly say that I only had religion pushed on me once during my four years in service. But I wouldn’t go as far as saying I was offended by the action. I would say that it was rather funny. Most officers in the military that call themselves chaplains will “pull rank” to get you to stop asking why their religion is so illogical and unnecessary to our society today.
For the men in the article, I would have to say that religion has affected their life, and it sure has impacted their personal and professional lives. Why? Religion is an overly asserted theory that seems to slip into their everyday lives for no reason other than it can. People are still afraid to let go of a tradition regardless of how harmful it is to society, no matter how much it retards growth and knowledge, we still have the masses fearing the what if when science directly proves what this life really is. Sam Harris, asks us, “What does religion assert that science hasn’t already proven?” I say nothing. No heaven above us, no hell below us.
Religion in our government has taken an ugly and drastic turn in the recent years. That needs to stop. It begs the question, why did our Founding Fathers start this country in the first place? Religious freedom was one of them. In those laws set forth, it doesn’t protect religion solely; it protects those of us who do not hold religion to be a plausible explanation for our existence here on this Earth.
Having religious freedom in this country means that you can believe what you want, but you cannot dictate what others should believe. We do not all have to believe the same thing, but we should agree to give each other respect, and let each other enjoy our human rights and our freedoms given to us by men and women who have served this country. Women and men who served this country with different thoughts, views, opinions, sexual orientations, and religion or lack thereof.
The weight of religion is crushing our freedoms as United States citizens. We need to realize that.