Questionable Motives

August 21, 2010

Spiritual fitness?

You are a soldier in training. Your unit is marched to a christian concert where you are told you may or may not attend. About half choose not to attend, who are then marched back to barracks, locked down, and all are ordered to maintenance duty for the duration of the concert.

From Talk to Action:

For the past several years, two U.S. Army posts in Virginia, Fort Eustis and Fort Lee, have been putting on a series of what are called Commanding General’s Spiritual Fitness Concerts. “Spiritual fitness” is just the military’s new term for promoting religion, particularly evangelical Christianity.

Is this treatment unusual? Is it the case that the US military allows freedom of and from religion, or is the policy to routinely tip the table when it comes to ‘spiritual fitness’ and claim that the rolling ball is making a choice about its direction? What are they saying over at Dispatches from the culture wars?

From commentator Laen (27)

This is common in Basic, AIT, and army schools…airborne, wlc, air assault, and etc. All the concerts/shows/whatevers are commonly cover ups for christian activities. All christian bands pop, country, or the holiday shows…bleh the holiday shows. Oh and by the way while at the events you could get real food and drinks as opposed to just the chow hall garbage, that’s how they bolster the numbers to make it look like people want to go. Offer the concerts on one side and the food and drink on the other…see which gets more traffic then. Same with Sundays, go to church, some church, or clean the barracks.

From sdej (48) comes this comment:

I recently completed a year in Iraq. The first day I was in the unit I had to meet with the Chaplain as part of in-processing. I figured that would go pretty quickly. He asked me my religious preference and I answered none. Somehow that got translated as non-denominational christian and I got handed a stack of literature including a New Testament. While we were downrange, he sent out mass e-mails to the entire unit almost every day. There was no way to opt out. They didn’t always cross the line into proselytizing but often did. I managed to archive every one of those messages just in case I decide to do something about it.

The Army seems to think that spiritual fitness is an important and real thing, separate from mental or emotional fitness. It’s the default assumption and is codified in our FMs and ARs. I cannot thank the MRFF enough for the work they do.

Yet is it not the sworn duty of every officer in the US military to defend the Constitution – the entire Constitution including the First Amendment’s Establishment clause? Or are parts of that Constitution exempted from that oath if certain actions promote a specific kind of christian spiritual fitness? Should we hold officers to that oath or shouldn’t we?

I think some commanding officers need to have their dishonourable asses fired.

1 Comment »

  1. What surprises me here is that the people who complain about having to go to these events fail to see that their attendance is the reason for the event being forced upon them. I think I would choose to clean the barracks instead.

    The fact that religious people throw a party to ‘market’ their faith as a popular does not surprise me in the slightest – this is one of the biggest arguments I have with believers and non-believers.

    Attendance *is* used to gage the appropriateness of public and private organisational policy, therefore the right thing to do is not attend. And the more incentive there is to attend, the more ethical you are being by not attending. Attendance is the objective of nearly all religious events, ceremonies and surveys. The only people who should attend such events are those who do believe, but even then I am not sure whether believers actually do believe, or just say they believe because everyone else seems to be going, and they want to conform to the social pressure.

    I have had a similar argument with my own mother about this – who is not religious at all, yet still ticks the box on the national census as ‘Church of England’, because this is how she was brought up, and agrees broadly with the ‘good’ Christian morals. And whilst I agree with her in part that Christianity is better than Islamic law (which is a big issue in the UK), it does not make it ethically right to be counted with the religious. Doing so creates the barrier to social change – because each tick is a vote for the Church of England, from which public funding and legal decisions are made.

    The issue is not about whether one religion is better than another, or whether religion can be interpreted better or not – the issue is whether religion is relevant at all. And as always the first step in debunking a religion is to understand how a religion manipulates individuals in order to gain a higher social standing.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — August 22, 2010 @ 4:24 am | Reply

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