The twitter feed posted a link to this article earlier and from there I found my way to Military.com's version of the story.  Both articles tell the same story, a kid dropping out over religious favoritism, and that is respectable in my eyes.  My problem is with the comments section of the second link.  I am in no way affiliated with the armed forces so my insight is limited, but after reading through that mess I was pretty outraged.  A sampling of the comments is as follows and generally follows the same theme.

"Good, you little waste of flesh. Take your heathen **** back to your grandmommy and figure out just how your going to pay us back. It amazes me that someone who believes in nothing can have such a strong stance on freedom of religion. You cannot tell me that I cannot believe in Christ just because you are around. It violates my freedom of religion and speach."

"Obviously a 'spoiled' little rich kid that always got his own way....**** HIM !! I wish the darft was back in so I could strap a field pack on his *** and show him the treal side to being a solider. Another ******* liberal !!!!!"

"I've met many like this. Unfortunately, he'll probably end up a grumpy old man that wasted his youth thinking he was smarter than all generations preceeding him....yet amounting to nothing."

-And the most bothersome-

"The Constitution allows for Freedom "OF" Religion, not Freedom "From" Religion. Just because someone shared his/her beliefs with this young man does not make it a crime. Keep in mind this article is only his side of the story and you never have the full story with only one side. "


Are all of the service branches filled with this type of mindset?  And more importantly, how can you get people to see that "freedom from religion" is covered by and just as important as "freedom of religion"?

Also what do you all think of his decision to drop out at this stage of his education?

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Disclaimer

These views are of my own and only mine and do not reflect the views of United States Military in any way or circumstances

 

"Are all of the service branches filled with this type of mindset?"


You have to remember the majority of the military bases are in the South so majority of the members come from the bible belt. Hence why its very conservative and christian.


"Also what do you all think of his decision to drop out at this stage of his education?"


He is an idiot, what more can you say. He ran when the tough got tougher. He had the chance to fight on the institutionalized oppression of religious nuts shoving their views down other's with the use of rank and power. But he ran. As an academy graduate, his military career would have taken him so far up the ranks in the military.


Like I said this military culture that is pro right republican and pro christian, is not something that came just from yesterday. Year and year and decades of recruitment because of the location of our military bases. This culture will take time to change and if the open minded and secular military officers are not there to guide the changes, then nothing will happen.


He didn't hurt his chances, he hurt the chances of those 18 or 19 year old Privates and Private First class Atheist military members who will not have a someone with a high rank to stand up for them. Instead they will be subjected to w/e their religious commanding officer is going to shove down their throat.

What base were you at for basic?  I live in the bible belt so I know how grueling it is to beat your head on the same wall for years.  It takes its toll and I see why he did it.  That said, I'm more of a fighter and would never quit on an issue like this.  I like the idea of having a commanding officer that can fight for those too low to be heard, but how likely is it that an openly atheist person can climb that ladder?

I didn't go to basic. I went to Officer Candidate School.


Honestly no one really cares unless you are trying shove your religious views or anti theistic views down someone's throat. Most people really don't care about religion or anything and the one's that do don't really make too much of a big deal. You will get those extreme religious ones, but the problem becomes is if they end up in power of position.

Be a good leader, take care of your men, show that you got what it takes to be a leader and you will automatically climb the ladders.

As an Officer, I tend to stay out of religious or political discussions in the work place

"He had the chance to fight on the institutionalized oppression of religious nuts shoving their views down other's (throats?) with the use of rank and power." sent by "religious nuts shoving their views down other's (throats?) with the use of rank and power."

And no one can see that?

When I was in basic training for the Army, I had a DI preach to us one day about how there are signs all around of the "end times" coming, and how we shouldn't risk our military careers on one-night-stands. Her main argument for that second topic was because, "when one orgasms during sex, one's soul is split and shared with the other person, so you'd better be damned sure you're willing to share your soul with them before having sex with them."


While I never directly experienced the mindset shown by the comments quoted above during my time in the military, I'm pretty sure my former DI would have been one among them.


I've always wondered at the concept of "freedom OF, not freedom FROM". How can one have freedom OF religion unless they also have freedom FROM religion? How is being forced to participate in or to be subjected to religion freedom?

It also gets rather absurd when you consider other rights. If we took freedom of speech the same way, no one would have the right to not talk. You'd have the right to bear arms, but not the right to not bear arms!

"Also what do you all think of his decision to drop out at this stage of his education?"

I think it was reasonable enough if he intends to fight. If I imagine myself in that scenario it would come down to three questions:

  1. Is this my fight (and if not mine then whose)?
  2. Have I lost faith in this institution?
  3. Can I better effect change from the inside or the outside?

Question one would vary based on life circumstances, but in most cases I think it should be 'yes'.
Question two would likely be a 'yes' for me as well. The issues, as described, seem to be a failure of principles at an institutional level.
Question three, I honestly have no clue. Outside your liberty to speak your mind freely seems stronger, but inside you can build internal support for others who align with your position.

Another comment from the military page, if anything even worse than the two you quoted:

I personally cannot see how Cadet Page would have ever been recommended to attend West Point if he had no religious beliefs. Our academies and selection of anyone attending should at least have beliefs in Christianity. This should be the number one priority and placed on the initial application for all nominees. This great country was founded on Christian beliefs and why should we ever take this away from anyone. Those who choose not to believe should be put in a separate category and placed behind. God Bless America!!!!!!

There's really nothing to say here that would be printable.

There are a lot of dumb replies on there that seem to be more from retired individuals, a curmudgeony and rabidly-conservative bunch, and others no longer associated with the military (judging by names and content of comments). My experience has been that kind of behavior is not typical in the US Army. The military, in all branches, is one of the most diverse organizations in the world. I have had more exposure to so many different types of people and different mindsets in four short years than I have had in the previous 24. This is all also coming from someone who is climbing the enlisted side. It could be a very different situation on the officer side and it might vary from branch to branch. I've seen that officers treat each other far different than enlisted treat each other. I've also heard that there is pressure on officers to be seen as Christian, but that's only hearsay so I take it with a grain of salt.

The only thing that could be said to be in common with some of the comments expressed and what my time in the military has been is the question, "why did he quit?" In military culture, quitting is practically anathema. My first response was to wonder why he didn't just suck it up for a few more months, graduate, and then with the status of a West Point alum try to make a difference at the school through the rest of his military career and maybe even try to be an instructor there one day. Then again, I'm not in his situation. Maybe leaving was the better option. I really can't say, but on the face of it, I'm resistant to agreeing that it is.

The only way that we'll get people to see that pushing religion on others is equitable to not allowing a free exercise thereof is to establish emotional connections with these people. The more they can empathize with the wrongness of the injustice on the human level, then the more they will be willing to change. That's exactly what is happening with the homosexual community. They keep putting it out there that they are being hurt by what others are doing and slowly that is changing people's perceptions. Things will change more when not just when we speak with a louder voice, but when we speak with words that create a connection.

Disclaimer

These views are of my own and only mine and do not reflect the views of United States Military in any way or circumstances

I have lots of insight on this issue, but the post would be a novel. So let me boil it down to this:

Why now: once he graduates, he is under a different set of guidelines and has no way out. Further, with the "trouble" he has caused, any wishes for prime posts are gone and he basically gets the crap kicked out of him for four more years. After which he can say what he wishes but has no particular outlet.

Therefore, leaving now and being vocal about it now puts him in a position of power that he will not have at any other time.

And here is what he is truly pointing out, that West Point and the other academies feel that they are coming from a point of strength by embracing Christian fundamentalism, but in reality it is a point of weakness. His test will be on how effectively he can prove that fact.

In his letter to HuffPo Blake Page mentions "fundamentalist evangelical Christianity" is responsible for this--a sector of Christianity that does not even closely represent most Christians. Though Page is representing Atheists in this battle, he also stands for many others in the military, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and less hard leaning Xtian sects that make up the bulk of the population, including the population of West Point. Those folks have put up with this stuff for decades--but just because they have put up with it, doesn't make it right. (or an effective strategy for training our military commanders)

Some have pointed out that most of the bases are in the southern part of the US, but the recruits come from everywhere, not just the south.

This promises to be a divisive issue, we'll see how far the media takes it. I expect, in the end, that the military will come to understand that the willingness to die for your country does not always coincide with your willingness to die for your god. I wish Mr. Page well as he fights his battles. I feel confident he will prevail, but they will be long, hard battles.

And yes, All of the branches are affected, but I would say the Army and the Air Force have had more problems with it than the Navy, Marines, or Coast Guard.

Well done US military, out-doing your own stereotypes by at least 10%

For those good little Christians who are defending our good, Christian, American troops, you might want to share this, from good little Christians who don't share their respect:

And there's much, MUCH more --

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