Military Entanglement With Religion

The Center for Inquiry has produced a report called For God and Country: Religious Fundamentalism in the U.S. Military. It collects recent stories of breakdowns in the armed forces regarding the church/state wall of separation and makes some seemingly sensible recommendations:

Over the past decade there have been multiple news reports highlighting an intensified tension regarding what constitutes proper religious expression in the United States Armed Forces. However, there has been a scarce amount of thorough research examining the connection between these reports and, going further, proposing possible solutions. As a result, there has been a lack of information with which to stoke social and political will for change.

In this position paper, James Parco provides compelling evidence there has been a disturbing expansion and entrenchment of Christian fundamentalism in the U.S. military, a cultural force which remains at times both tacitly and overtly endorsed by senior military leaders. Parco supports his claim by presenting a number of case studies demonstrating a clear pattern of unconstitutional religiously sectarian behavior. He then analyzes the merits of the competing philosophical perspectives on the proper role of religious expression by men and women in uniform.

Parco concludes the report with recommendations that those in power should implement immediately in order to fully protect the U.S. military’s necessarily secular foundation and the religious freedom of all who volunteer to serve.

I would be shocked — pleased and shocked — if many of these recommendations were actually implemented any time soon. This is a problem that isn’t going away quickly.

(The report’s author, by the way, is a retired Lt. Colonel.)

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