This afternoon I received a not-so-startling report from multiple fourth class (freshman) cadets at West Point who are current clients of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF). These cadets solicited my services as the Director of MRFF Affairs at West Point to find some way to ensure that they are no longer explicitly required to celebrate the religious holiday of their superiors’ choosing. I say not-so-startling because it is well understood that the command at West Point does not just recommend, encourage or support the exaltation of Christianity around this time of year, but requires it by force of policy under threat of reprimand for any who dissent. Some may attempt to mince words or parry my indictment with claims that Christianity is a philosophy and Christmas is a cultural tradition. Although those arguments lack intellectual integrity on several fronts, in this particular instance there is no way to obfuscate the truth of the matter, as the cadets in question were not simply made to dress Christmas trees or give presents, but were given direct orders to serenade their superiors with such classic songs as “O Holy Night” and “Joy to the World.” If there is a secular message in those songs it can only be heard in the absence of vocal accompaniment.
Although many have argued that “isolated incidents” such as the one described above are anomalous and not indicative of the command climate at large or of any systematic problem, I would like to point to the fact that each year in December, the Corps of Cadets is assembled in full dress uniform to celebrate Christmas Dinner. Christmas Dinner begins and ends with the standardmandatory prayer seen at every formal event, and following the meal they are required to sing, en masse, “The 12 Days of Christmas.” No, it is not a voluntary affair. All cadets at West Point, every year, must celebrate Christmas.
By now many readers may be wondering why I am being so uppity with my invocation of the First Amendment’s No Establishment Clause and my impassioned desire to see adherence to our Constitution in action. I care about this bedrock principle of American democracy because many others care about it; because we are all affected by the intrusion of religious authority into the government. There is no place for establishing the supremacy of one religion over all others in our country. Many American service members have had their fill of being told that the religious preference of the majority is superior to their personally held philosophical beliefs. Of course, no officer in authority would ever cite majority rule or long standing tradition as cause to defy the Constitution… except they have:
I have noted that the 3rd Regimental Shield and its accompanying narrative can be offensive to some cadets with secular beliefs, but not offensive for a majority of cadets at the United States Military Academy (USMA).
The above quotation is from the response to a recent Equal Opportunity investigation issued by Brigadier General Theodore Martin, the Commandant of Cadets. I would like to draw attention to the fact that it is most certainly more than “cadets with secular beliefs” that take issue with being taught to be leaders of our country’s armed forces under the brand of the Christian Crusades: Of our 161 current MRFF clients at West Point, more than 80 percent are practicing Christians.
Written By: Blake Pagecontinue to source article at huffingtonpost.com