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Thread: Atheist soldier sues Army for 'unconstitutional' discrimination

  1. #1
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    Atheist soldier sues Army for 'unconstitutional' discrimination

    [SIZE="5"]Atheist soldier sues Army for 'unconstitutional' discrimination[/SIZE]
    By Randi Kaye


    [IMG]http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/US/07/08/atheist.soldier/art.jeremy.hall.jpg[/IMG]
    Jeremy Hall

    KANSAS CITY, Kansas (CNN) -- Army Spc. Jeremy Hall was raised Baptist.

    Like many Christians, he said grace before dinner and read the Bible before bed. Four years ago when he was deployed to Iraq, he packed his Bible so he would feel closer to God.

    He served two tours of duty in Iraq and has a near perfect record. But somewhere between the tours, something changed. Hall, now 23, said he no longer believes in God, fate, luck or anything supernatural.

    Hall said he met some atheists who suggested he read the Bible again. After doing so, he said he had so many unanswered questions that he decided to become an atheist.

    His sudden lack of faith, he said, cost him his military career and put his life at risk. Hall said his life was threatened by other troops and the military assigned a full-time bodyguard to protect him out of fear for his safety. Video Watch why Hall says his lack of faith almost got him killed

    In March, Hall filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Defense and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, among others. In the suit, Hall claims his rights to religious freedom under the First Amendment were violated and suggests that the United States military has become a Christian organization.

    "I think it's utterly and totally wrong. Unconstitutional," Hall said.

    Hall said there is a pattern of discrimination against non-Christians in the military.

    Two years ago on Thanksgiving Day, after refusing to pray at his table, Hall said he was told to go sit somewhere else. In another incident, when he was nearly killed during an attack on his Humvee, he said another soldier asked him, "Do you believe in Jesus now?"

    Hall isn't seeking compensation in his lawsuit -- just the guarantee of religious freedom in the military. Eventually, Hall was sent home early from Iraq and later returned to Fort Riley in Junction City, Kansas, to complete his tour of duty.

    He also said he missed out on promotions because he is an atheist.

    "I was told because I can't put my personal beliefs aside and pray with troops I wouldn't make a good leader," Hall said.

    Michael Weinstein, a retired senior Air Force officer and founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, is suing along with Hall. Weinstein said he's been contacted by more than 8,000 members of the military, almost all of them complaining of pressure to embrace evangelical Christianity.

    "Our Pentagon, our Pentacostalgon, is refusing to realize that when you put the uniform on, there's only one religious faith: patriotism," Weinstein said.

    Religious discrimination is a violation of the First Amendment and is also against military policy. The Pentagon refused to discuss specifics of Hall's case -- citing the litigation. But Deputy Undersecretary Bill Carr said complaints of evangelizing are "relatively rare." He also said the Pentagon is not pushing one faith among troops.

    "If an atheist chose to follow their convictions, absolutely that's acceptable," said Carr. "And that's a point of religious accommodation in department policy, one may hold whatever faith, or may hold no faith."

    Weinstein said he doesn't buy it and points to a promotional video by a group called Christian Embassy. The video, which shows U.S. generals in uniform, was shot inside the Pentagon. The generals were subsequently reprimanded.

    Another group, the Officers' Christian Fellowship, has representatives on nearly all military bases worldwide. Its vision, which is spelled out on the organization's Web site, reads, "A spiritually transformed military, with ambassadors for Christ in uniform empowered by the Holy Spirit."

    Weinstein has a different interpretation.

    "Their purpose is to have Christian officers exercise Biblical leadership to raise up a godly army," he says.

    But Carr said the military's position is clear.

    "Proselytizing or advancing a religious conviction is not what the nation would have us do and it's not what the military does," Carr said.

    The U.S. Justice Department is expected to respond to Hall's lawsuit this week. In the meantime, he continues to work in the military police unit at Fort Riley and plans to leave as soon as his tour of duty expires next year.

  2. #2
    I'd really like to see a link from where this story is from, because it's absolutely retarded and doesn't make any sense.

  3. #3
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    [QUOTE=pauliec;2620224]I'd really like to see a link from where this story is from, because it's absolutely retarded and doesn't make any sense.[/QUOTE]

    [url]http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/07/08/atheist.soldier/index.html[/url]

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    [QUOTE=pauliec;2620224]I'd really like to see a link from where this story is from, because [B]it's absolutely retarded and doesn't make any sense[/B].[/QUOTE]

    Seems pretty clear to me...what exactly doesn't make any sense to you?

  5. #5
    [QUOTE=LI2OH;2620303]Seems pretty clear to me...what exactly doesn't make any sense to you?[/QUOTE]

    This part:

    [QUOTE]His sudden lack of faith, he said, cost him his military career and put his life at risk. Hall said his life was threatened by other troops and the military assigned a full-time bodyguard to protect him out of fear for his safety.[/QUOTE]

    If this story has legs, then our GIs in Iraq are more effed up than the soldier/addicts in Vietnam. How can we even afford to use a full-time bodyguard for another soldier? How does that work in combat?

    Also, aren't they any Jews in the military? And if this is so widespread, why haven't we heard anything about it until now?

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    [QUOTE=pauliec;2620314]This part:



    If this story has legs, then our GIs in Iraq are more effed up than the soldier/addicts in Vietnam. How can we even afford to use a full-time bodyguard for another soldier? How does that work in combat?

    Also, aren't they any Jews in the military? And if this is so widespread, why haven't we heard anything about it until now?[/QUOTE]

    all very good questions which need to be answered however I don't think his allegations or the story as it is written qualifies as "retarded" and while the veracity of his allegations needs to be verified I do not think they are nonsensical........

  7. #7
    [QUOTE=LI2OH;2620401]all very good questions which need to be answered however I don't think his allegations or the story as it is written qualifies as "retarded" and while the veracity of his allegations needs to be verified I do not think they are nonsensical........[/QUOTE]

    Noted. I retract the retarded statement.

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    [QUOTE=pauliec;2620314]

    Also, aren't they any Jews in the military? And if this is so widespread, why haven't we heard anything about it until now?[/QUOTE]

    probably because having a different faith is not quite as bad as having none, in their eyes. They probably wouldn't tolerate abuse against jews simply because they are jews, but would see little problem bashing atheists

    being an atheist in this society may be more difficult than being a homosexual :eek:

    serious :yes:

  9. #9
    [QUOTE=Mean Bro Green;2620454]probably because having a different faith is not quite as bad as having none, in their eyes. They probably wouldn't tolerate abuse against jews simply because they are jews, but would see little problem bashing atheists

    being an atheist in this society may be more difficult than being a homosexual :eek:

    serious :yes:[/QUOTE]

    I would think it would be worse, actually. That kind of hee-haw country routine blames Jews for the death of Christ.

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    [QUOTE=pauliec;2620478]I would think it would be worse, actually. That kind of hee-haw country routine blames Jews for the death of Christ.[/QUOTE]

    much harder to condone bashing jews in the federal government than a small handful of openly atheist people, IMO

  11. #11
    [QUOTE=pauliec;2620314]This part:



    If this story has legs, then our GIs in Iraq are more effed up than the soldier/addicts in Vietnam. How can we even afford to use a full-time bodyguard for another soldier? How does that work in combat?

    Also, aren't they any Jews in the military? And if this is so widespread, why haven't we heard anything about it until now?[/QUOTE]

    Paulie, I'm surprised that you got brain washed with stereotyping Nam vets as drug addicts...what a shame.

    [B]There is no difference in drug usage between Vietnam Veterans and non-Vietnam Veterans of the same age group (Source: Veterans Administration Study) [/B]

  12. #12
    [QUOTE=NIGHT STALKER;2621514]Paulie, I'm surprised that you got brain washed with stereotyping Nam vets as drug addicts...what a shame.

    [B]There is no difference in drug usage between Vietnam Veterans and non-Vietnam Veterans of the same age group (Source: Veterans Administration Study) [/B][/QUOTE]

    No, I know NS, I didn't mean all Vietnam soldiers were addicts.

    What I meant was, there were a few bad apples, of course, and if this story is true then this group of soldiers who threatened this man's life are just as screwed up as the soldiers who chose to abuse drugs while in Vietnam.

    No offense intended, of course. I didn't mean to come off as stereotyping.

  13. #13
    [QUOTE=pauliec;2621528]No, I know NS, I didn't mean all Vietnam soldiers were addicts.

    What I meant was, there were a few bad apples, of course, and if this story is true then this group of soldiers who threatened this man's life are just as screwed up as the soldiers who chose to abuse drugs while in Vietnam.

    No offense intended, of course. I didn't mean to come off as stereotyping.[/QUOTE]

    Thanks for clearing that up. I guess I misunderstand what you were implying. Grant it, when the war in Nam had come to a crawl (1973), the military got a little board and drug use had increased...I can honestly say this Nam vet never used drugs and I can vouch for the guys in my unit as well and that was in 68-69.

  14. #14
    [QUOTE=NIGHT STALKER;2621690]Thanks for clearing that up. I guess I misunderstand what you were implying. Grant it, when the war in Nam had come to a crawl (1973), the military got a little board and drug use had increased...I can honestly say this Nam vet never used drugs and I can vouch for the guys in my unit as well and that was in 68-69.[/QUOTE]

    I don't have any doubts about you :cool:

  15. #15
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    [QUOTE=Mean Bro Green;2620066][SIZE="5"]Atheist soldier sues Army for 'unconstitutional' discrimination[/SIZE]
    By Randi Kaye


    [IMG]http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/US/07/08/atheist.soldier/art.jeremy.hall.jpg[/IMG]
    Jeremy Hall

    KANSAS CITY, Kansas (CNN) -- Army Spc. Jeremy Hall was raised Baptist.

    Like many Christians, he said grace before dinner and read the Bible before bed. Four years ago when he was deployed to Iraq, he packed his Bible so he would feel closer to God.

    He served two tours of duty in Iraq and has a near perfect record. But somewhere between the tours, something changed. Hall, now 23, said he no longer believes in God, fate, luck or anything supernatural.

    Hall said he met some atheists who suggested he read the Bible again. After doing so, he said he had so many unanswered questions that he decided to become an atheist.

    His sudden lack of faith, he said, cost him his military career and put his life at risk. Hall said his life was threatened by other troops and the military assigned a full-time bodyguard to protect him out of fear for his safety. Video Watch why Hall says his lack of faith almost got him killed

    In March, Hall filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Defense and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, among others. In the suit, Hall claims his rights to religious freedom under the First Amendment were violated and suggests that the United States military has become a Christian organization.

    "I think it's utterly and totally wrong. Unconstitutional," Hall said.

    Hall said there is a pattern of discrimination against non-Christians in the military.

    Two years ago on Thanksgiving Day, after refusing to pray at his table, Hall said he was told to go sit somewhere else. In another incident, when he was nearly killed during an attack on his Humvee, he said another soldier asked him, "Do you believe in Jesus now?"

    Hall isn't seeking compensation in his lawsuit -- just the guarantee of religious freedom in the military. Eventually, Hall was sent home early from Iraq and later returned to Fort Riley in Junction City, Kansas, to complete his tour of duty.

    He also said he missed out on promotions because he is an atheist.

    "I was told because I can't put my personal beliefs aside and pray with troops I wouldn't make a good leader," Hall said.

    Michael Weinstein, a retired senior Air Force officer and founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, is suing along with Hall. Weinstein said he's been contacted by more than 8,000 members of the military, almost all of them complaining of pressure to embrace evangelical Christianity.

    "Our Pentagon, our Pentacostalgon, is refusing to realize that when you put the uniform on, there's only one religious faith: patriotism," Weinstein said.

    Religious discrimination is a violation of the First Amendment and is also against military policy. The Pentagon refused to discuss specifics of Hall's case -- citing the litigation. But Deputy Undersecretary Bill Carr said complaints of evangelizing are "relatively rare." He also said the Pentagon is not pushing one faith among troops.

    "If an atheist chose to follow their convictions, absolutely that's acceptable," said Carr. "And that's a point of religious accommodation in department policy, one may hold whatever faith, or may hold no faith."

    Weinstein said he doesn't buy it and points to a promotional video by a group called Christian Embassy. The video, which shows U.S. generals in uniform, was shot inside the Pentagon. The generals were subsequently reprimanded.

    Another group, the Officers' Christian Fellowship, has representatives on nearly all military bases worldwide. Its vision, which is spelled out on the organization's Web site, reads, "A spiritually transformed military, with ambassadors for Christ in uniform empowered by the Holy Spirit."

    Weinstein has a different interpretation.

    "Their purpose is to have Christian officers exercise Biblical leadership to raise up a godly army," he says.

    But Carr said the military's position is clear.

    "Proselytizing or advancing a religious conviction is not what the nation would have us do and it's not what the military does," Carr said.

    The U.S. Justice Department is expected to respond to Hall's lawsuit this week. In the meantime, he continues to work in the military police unit at Fort Riley and plans to leave as soon as his tour of duty expires next year.[/QUOTE]



    As someone who served in the Army for a total of almost 7 years, I'll call this story TOTAL B.S.

    I don't remember in all that time ANYBODY being anywhere near what I would call "religious" one way or the other, and as far as the Army command structure itself "Advancing" any particular religion on anybody...that assertion is total CRAP.

    As a matter of fact, the Battalion Chaplain of my unit in 1994-1995 (1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade 24th Infantry) was MUSLIM.

    This is garbage, and may as well have been written by Al-Qaeda in their quest to call our presence in Afganistan and Iraq "Crusades"....then again, even that is specious as the "Crusades" were all about retaking Jerusalem, not cleaning up hell holes like Iraq and the 'Stan.

  16. #16
    [QUOTE=pauliec;2620314]This part:

    If this story has legs, then our GIs in Iraq are more effed up than the soldier/addicts in Vietnam. [B]How can we even afford to use a full-time bodyguard for another soldier?[/B] How does that work in combat?

    Also, aren't they any Jews in the military? And if this is so widespread, why haven't we heard anything about it until now?[/QUOTE]

    You can't which is why I doubt the veracity of this article.

    You cannot afford to commit the man power to give a [B][I]Specialist[/I][/B] a body guard. It is called a re-hablitative reassignment. You move the soldier to a different unit most likely within your BDE for a fresh start. You are constantly tasked to provide people for one thing or another. Guess who that guy would be?

    This is not "A Few Good Men" where a code red happens everyday. For any leader, any mark of tolerance is a death knell for career progression. In the Army, the pendulum is so far to the right, the accuse is perceived guilty until prooven innocent and even then they will be admonished.

    I have no doubt people in his squad, platoon or company may have disagreed with his religous views. My guess, is there were other reasons to why his "military career" was cut short.

  17. #17
    maybe the Pentegon should ask Jesus for a new battle plan in Afghanistan.

  18. #18
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    [QUOTE=Jet_Engine1;2625135]As someone who served in the Army for a total of almost 7 years, I'll call this story TOTAL B.S.

    I don't remember in all that time ANYBODY being anywhere near what I would call "religious" one way or the other, and as far as the Army command structure itself "Advancing" any particular religion on anybody...that assertion is total CRAP.

    As a matter of fact, the Battalion Chaplain of my unit in 1994-1995 (1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade 24th Infantry) was MUSLIM.

    This is garbage, and may as well have been written by Al-Qaeda in their quest to call our presence in Afganistan and Iraq "Crusades"....then again, even that is specious as the "Crusades" were all about retaking Jerusalem, not cleaning up hell holes like Iraq and the 'Stan.[/QUOTE]

    thanks for the feedback based on real life experiences, its posts like that that add real flavor to teh conversation however any chance things could have changed in the last decade? especially the sentiment after 9/11?

  19. #19
    [QUOTE=Mean Bro Green;2625943]thanks for the feedback based on real life experiences, its posts like that that add real flavor to teh conversation however any chance things could have changed in the last decade? especially the sentiment after 9/11?[/QUOTE]

    Not to say military services are not without issues, but they do more Equal Opportunity training then any other professional field.

    I have been in an Infantry Battalion for the last three+ years. My job is not Infantry just for the record. IMHO they care less about your religion and more about whether you can do the job. When it hits the fan they could care less whether you say Alah Akbar four-five times a day and more that you have their back.

  20. #20
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    [QUOTE=PFSIKH;2626226]Not to say military services are not without issues, but they do more Equal Opportunity training then any other professional field.

    I have been in an Infantry Battalion for the last three+ years. My job is not Infantry just for the record. IMHO they care less about your religion and more about whether you can do the job. When it hits the fan they could care less whether you say Alah Akbar four-five times a day and more that you have their back.[/QUOTE]

    unless you're the ghey, right????:rolleyes:

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