Sunday, February 14, 2010

Questions Raised Anew About Religion in Military

Religion and the military are two words that do not go hand in hand at times. And in this article it seems that the age old adage still holds true. The premise of the article centers on how Christianity is being used as a tool by the military to help soldier’s combat depression. They even enlisted former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw who explained how he used religion to help with his depression. However, some people feel as though this has gotten out of hand and that the military emphasize less on the restrictions of religion, primarily Christianity.

For example, in 2005 at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs Colorado, a coach decided to put a banner in the locker room labeled “Team Jesus”. While the Air Force has claimed religious neutrality in these situations, complaints still come in about how the situation feels as if religion is being forced onto the cadets. Specialist Dustin Chalker from Fort Detrick, Maryland is a just one plaintiff of many in a federal lawsuit against the military which accuses them of ignoring rules banning mandatory religious practices. While there has been a gain in trying to take religion out of the military; advocates for religion feel that without religion, the military losses a spiritual essence in itself.

The big question this article looks at is basically a religion in the workplace type situation. On one side we have the advocates for religion who believe that they are just practicing their faith and causing no harm. However, the other side views this as an invasion of their personal space causing them to feel uncomfortable within their workplace. Another question this article brings is whether soldier’s feelings are taken into consideration

Once again many soldiers come from different backgrounds and do not practice Christian teachings. However, with most American soldiers practicing Christianity it can feel overwhelming to the minority. This leads many to feel underappreciated and when they try to find their own group within the military they always come up short. Finally, the last broad question that comes into play is the reason for the article i.e. the anti-depression video.

The anti-depression video is a thirty minute film that stars Terry Bradshaw as he explains how religion helped him fight depression. While the video purpose is to combat depression and suicide amongst soldiers it seems to imply that Christianity is the primary driving force to defeat depression. This not only alienates some of the non-Christian soldiers but probably raises their depression in the process.

In terms of my opinion I believe that the military and religion should be kept separate. Just like don’t ask don’t tell, religion should be kept to oneself and their personal deity. In the end, the problem will be pacified and nobody will feel as if one religion is being favored over another.

1 comment:

jpeterson said...

Based on the article from which you were responding on, I can somewhat understand your position. I am taking a stab in the air, however, that you do not have military experience. The article is slow to point out that the military is far from just Christian and is far from advocating only Christianity. Like as the United States is majority Christian, the military is also majority Christian. But the military goes to great lengths to provide religious opportunities outside of Christianity. Having recently been in the military, I saw firsthand the opportunity provided for Muslims, Buddhists, Mormons, Catholics, Protestants, and so on and so forth. As far as the depression part goes, I am not an expert but I can tell you from experience while I was in Basic Training, that I personally saw soldiers who were not previously active in religious attendence attend religious services. Many, including myself, would use these opportunities as a time to get away from our rigorous activities. Now I am not speaking for all the other soldiers, but for myself these opportunities were stress-relievers and I definately never felt that any of my rights were being taken away, but rather that rights were being given to me.