Is There A War On Religion In The Military?
One of the most controversial military subjects in today;s society is how religion is perceived by the Department Of Defense in terms of how it is looked upon from a grand perspective with military rules and regulations down to the individual Soldier Sailor, Airman, US Marine and US Coast Guardsman. Are we being attacked from within the military and having the core values usurped by religion?
IS ONE SOLDIER’S GOD MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANOTHER’S?
We have seen stories written about Indians, Muslims, Christians and Jews being recognized in the military a discussion about uniforms, the desire to take training days off because they are conducted on religious days of observance, the issues pertaining to religious hate crimes and more. Is there a solution? The American military has always been one of uniformity and teamwork but can those ideals survive in an environment when individuals want to be recognized based on their individual religious views?
DOES MILITARY AND RELIGION MIX?
According to www.Esquire.Com one perspective is that they do not. As quoted by Esquire.Com “The military and religion do not mix, nor should they. When a religious man has power over another, and therefore has the ability to force his views, the intent of the Founding Fathers is betrayed. Any who advocate for military preaching are betraying our nation’s Founding Fathers.”
Is this true and do you believe it? The discussion of one man forcing his views over an another as in making a rule or creating change such as allowing a certain headress to become part of the uniform you are sending a message that one person is more important than the rest and then exceptions continune to become the norm and not the exception where uniformity is
is crucial to the culture of the US Military.
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AND THE MILITARY.
As discussed by Militaryreligiousfreedom.Org there are some in depth perspectives about how the separation of church was at the very forefront of the Founding Father of the United States and how important it was for America to not allow the cross over of these two important areas. According to a recent article that our Constitution was created based on democracy and not one of religion. As quoted from their website “Our founding fathers set up a government based on democratic principles, not religious principles. Our Constitution is secular. There is no mention of Christianity or any other religion.”
Furthermore it is also cited by Militaryreligiousfreedom.org “It is important to note several things,
#1. The presidential oath of office, the only oath specified in the Constitution, does not contain the phrase “So help me, God” or show any requirement to swear on a bible.
#2. The pledge of allegiance written in 1892 did not contain, “under god.” until it was added by Congress in 1954.
#3. Most significantly the 1797 Treaty with Tripoli, negotiated under President Washington, unanimously approved by the Senate and signed by President Adams, declares, “The government of the United States is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”
The founding fathers, many of who were religious gentlemen, created a secular government for very specific reasons.
#1. They were very conscious of the pitfalls the church-state alliances had fostered in Europe, the reasons for many to depart and forge a new path in the new world.
#2. They looked back to our early American colonial period where some colonies officially established churches and taxed all citizens to support them regardless of whether they were members of the church or not.
Among the many things that make this country unique are the liberties guaranteed in our Constitution, including religious freedom. Because we live in this pluralistic society set up by our founders, people of all faiths or no faith are welcome and we as Americans enjoy more religious freedom than any other people in the world. Simply stated, our founders understood two very simple and important things:
#1. That the separation of church and state would allow all faiths to flourish.
#2. That in matters of religion our government would be set up to remain neutral.”
So with this being said does it appear that our military has regressed and is not in line with our very own US Consititution? Giving US Military personnel the right to display, wear or take on the appearance of a connection to their religion seem like a departure from our US government not following its own mandate?
GENERAL NORTON A SCHWARTZ ON RELIGION ON 911.
As quoted on September 1st, 2011 by General Schwartz
“Maintaining Government Neutrality Regarding Religion.” In this memo he states, ” Leaders at all levels must balance Constitutional protections for an individuals free exercise of religion or other personal beliefs and its prohibition against governmental establishment of religion”. Further ” They must avoid the actual or apparent use of their position to promote their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates or to extend preferential treatment for any religion.”
RELIGION AT THE CORE OF THE US MILITARY.
Without exception military lies at the heart of the US Military. It is part of its culture and its heritage from the prayers spoke in a squad bays, the beliefs fostered and expressed during a barrage, the need to feel a connection to something greater that will help get one through difficult times like a battle or a war. Religion and the US military permeates our history from the movies we watch to the stories we read. American culture has been connected with war since its independence in 1776 and the religions of those who fought then and the many wars and battles since the founding of our country. There are also chapters and verses from the Bible alone that have been adopted into US Military culture. A few examples of these Psalms and texts are listed below.
One of the most famous of Biblical Psalms, 144:1 has been quoted numerous times by the men and women of the military. The reason for this is that it speaks to the men and women of the US military giving them added strength as they experience the enemy on the battlefield and need that added faith to get them through difficult times. Without their religious convictions Biblical passages like would never be expressed.
Psalm 144King James Version (KJV)
144 Blessed be the Lord my strength which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight:
2 My goodness, and my fortress; my high tower, and my deliverer; my shield, and he in whom I trust; who subdueth my people under me.
3 Lord, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that thou makest account of him!
4 Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away.
5 Bow thy heavens, O Lord, and come down: touch the mountains, and they shall smoke.
6 Cast forth lightning, and scatter them: shoot out thine arrows, and destroy them.
We Will Never Forget – I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. Without exception the US military is has and will always be about never leaving our men and women on the battlefield. It serves at the heart of who we are as Americans and as soldiers. And should we lose a brother or sister we as Americans have taken vows, expressed the deepest and most sincere feelings about never forgetting them and keeping their cups always filled at times of gather. Although the chair might be empty we always remember those we have lost and could not be with us a feeling rooted in our religious beliefs and backgrounds.
PUT ON THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD!
Below is the Bible passage taken from Ephesians 6, 13-17 which is the foundation of warriors in the field that has gone back centuries to our modern military day.
13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
When American was attached on 911 her Fireman, Police, First Responders many of whom were former military did the first thing they knew to do: They rushed to the scene and did their jobs. Ingrained in these heroes above their own personal safety they went to save lives of others. They put the men and women of the Twin Towers ahead of their own, running to the scene to make every effort to save lives. As a cornerstone of American values and ones deeply ingrained in our military is putting the lives of our brothers and sisters ahead of our own even when it mean self sacrifice. It is keeping the faith as is often the quote that is the building block of America and why we as a culture are reminded daily of how important faith is to the foundation of this country.
THOUGH I WALK THROUGH THE VALLEY…
Who at what point has not heard the beginning of this all too famous Biblical statement. Either you are in a crack US Marine platoon, part of the US Army highly evolved artillery or airborne division or you are stuck in some god forsaken place in a sloppy and disgusting foxhole you still need a little faith that you will get through this madness and get home safely. It takes faith and belief you can do it. Sometimes you just need to feel like you are the biggest, baddest mother in the valley to accomplish this feat.
MILITARY AND RELIGION AT THE HEART OF THE AMERICAN CULTURE.
Movies like Uncommon Valor, Saving Private Ryan, Blackhawk Down, We Were Soldiers, Hacksaw Ridge and many more centered on your battle buddy, your fellow soldier, your brother and relying on him and him you in the harshest of environments. For the commons soldier you looked for any means to survive and being shoulder to shoulder on the firing line, in a fox hole praying to get home safely or simply looking for any reassurance from your faith that no harm would come to you and everyone could go home when it was over has been every part of the American culture from fighting the British Redcoats, surviving in Hell Holes in the Civil War, over the fields of France during World War Two, on the hills of Korea and in the jungles of Vietnam. There have certainly been more like Fallujah, Baghdad, Kuwait and so many more where America has been.
“On the battlefield, the military pledges to leave no soldier behind. As a nation, let it be our pledge that when they return home, we leave no veteran behind.” Dan Lipinski
American movies have also chronicled our heritage and connection tot he military and each has told a story often with a direct correlation to a religious connection or faith expressed.
How a conscientious observer, Desmond Doss, against all odds and efforts to prevent a man from being an Army Medic, wages into battle without a single weapon and successfully saves the lives of over 70 men in his command earning him the Medal Of Honor, the first one by a conscientious observer ever.
A father wages a personal and very private effort to save his son and his fellow soldiers, with the assistance of his son’s remaining A-Team from a Cambodian POW camp years after the war had ended.
After a Delta Force, 75th Ranger Battlalion raid into a dark and heavily armed Bakara Market in downtown Mogadishu encounters heavy enemy action and the downing of several Blackhawks both Delta Operator and 75th Ranger work as a team to successfully extract pilots and crew from downed crash sites against all odds.
We Were Soldiers
A film featuring Mel Gibson as Colonel Hal Moore whose Troopers of the 7th Cav, surrounded, successfully fought off attacks from North Vietnamese soldiers over the course of days and was able to retrieve all his men and leave the field of battle with honor.
Throughout American films and their association with military films there are notable quotes that have also become part of the American Military conscience.
Chris Kyle – In the film adaptation, Kyle is visibly moved by his first shot and later mentions meeting his maker and justifying each shot he took. He writes that he spent a lot of time praying during difficult times.
God of our fathers, who by land and sea have ever led us to victory, please continue your inspiring guidance in this the greatest of all conflicts. Strengthen my soul so that the weakening instinct of self-preservation, which besets all of us in battle, shall not blind me of my duty to my own manhood, to the glory of my calling, and to my responsibility to my fellow soldiers. Grant to our armed forces that disciplined valor and mutual confidence which insures success in war. Let me not mourn for the men who have died fighting, but rather let me be glad that such heroes have lived. If it be my lot to die, let me do so with courage and honor in a manner which will bring the greatest harm to the enemy, and please, oh Lord, protect and guide those I shall leave behind. Give us the victory, Lord.” General George Patton
“Military power wins battles, but spiritual power wins wars.” General George Marshall
SO WHAT IS THE RELIGIOUS MILITARY ANSWER?
On a personal note religious expression in the military is one that would be fundamentally based on a democracy but in the military it is not a democracy. The orders given, the laws given and governed, the decisions of senior leadership is not one based on free rights. They are not. When you signed the papers and took the Oath to Defend The Constitution you gave up your rights and that was of your own volition and free will. No one said you could;t go to Church, a Mosque or Synogogue. They are simply stating that you don’t get the power to decide what you do when it comes to not following the orders of the officers and command appointed over you. You made that choice. Now is not the time to stand out as an individual unless it is in the course of following orders and doing your job. You are not special and no matter what you feel is right or wrong no one cares what your opinion is while you serve in the US military. You have a job. Do it and don’t make it some personal need to demonstrate how important you think your religion is. If you don;t like the rules don’t join because it only hurts the fabric of the US military when you do.
Maybe America ought to come first for a change.