Michael Hamar

Fort Eustis Troops Punished For Refusing to Attend Christian Concert

Filed By Michael Hamar | August 22, 2010 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics
Tags: Christianists, evangelical Christian, Fort Eustis, proselytizing, religious freedom, U.S. Army, U.S. Military

I have written a number of times on my personal blog ft-eustis.jpgabout something that I believe to be a serious threat to the U.S. military and constitutional freedoms servicemembers: the presence of Christo-fascists in command positions in the U.S. military.

These individuals seek to force their Christianist beliefs on those serving under them and at times punish troops who rightfully refuse to participate in Christian ceremonies and events. The Air Force Academy has experienced major problems in this regard as have other units throughout the military.

Now, the phenomenon has raised its ugly head at nearby Fort Eustis in Newport News, Virginia. To me the solution to the problem is simple: members of the military have sworn to uphold and protect the United States Constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion to all, not just far right Christians.

Therefore, when anyone in a command position in the military intimidates and/or punishes those who do abide by or participate in that officer's religious beliefs, that officer needs to be subject to court martial and ideally dishonorably discharged from the military immediately if the facts are sufficiently unconscionable, losing all retirement benefits in the process. Were that to happen a few times, I suspect the religious fanatics in the ranks would start to get the message - they don't have the special rights to inflict their religious beliefs on others serving under them. Period.

Here are highlights from the Virginian Plot on this travesty (the Military Religious Freedom Foundation has more information):

The Army said Friday it was investigating a claim that dozens of soldiers who refused to attend a Christian band's concert at a Virginia military base were banished to their barracks and told to clean them up. Fort Eustis spokesman Rick Haverinen told The Associated Press he couldn't comment on the specifics of the investigation. At the Pentagon, Army spokesman Col. Thomas Collins said the military shouldn't impose religious views on soldiers.

Pvt. Anthony Smith said he and other soldiers felt pressured to attend the May concert while stationed at the Newport News base, home of the Army's Transportation Corps. "My whole issue was I don't need to be preached at," Smith said in a phone interview from Phoenix, where he is stationed with the National Guard. "That's not what I signed up for."

Smith, 21, was stationed in Virginia for nearly seven months for helicopter electrician training when the Christian rock group BarlowGirl played as part of the "Commanding General's Spiritual Fitness Concerts." Smith said a staff sergeant told 200 men in their barracks they could either attend or remain in their barracks. Eighty to 100 decided not to attend, he said. "Instead of being released to our personal time, we were locked down," Smith said. "It seemed very much like a punishment."

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation first reported on the Christian concert. . . The group's president, Mikey Weinstein, claims Christian-themed events are "ubiquitous" throughout the military, and he credited the soldiers for stepping forward. "Whenever we see this egregious, unconstitutional religious tyranny our job is to fight it," he said.

About 20 of the men, including several Muslims, refused to attend the concert based on their religious beliefs, he said. Smith said he went up the chain of command and traced the concert edict to a captain, who said he simply wanted to "show support for those kind of events that bring soldiers together."

While not accepting blame, the officer apologized to the soldiers who refused to attend the concert and said it was not his intent to proselytize, he said. "But once you get in there, you realize it's evangelization," Smith said.

WTF is with the taxpayers paying for a "Commanding General's Spiritual Fitness Concerts" series? The U.S. military has no business putting on Christian events like this one. Obviously, some heads need to roll at Fort Eustis and elsewhere throughout the U.S. Military. This behavior is wrong and insults the Constitution that the U.S. military is supposed to be supporting.


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I agree with you 100%, Michael. There is no place in the military for imposed religious activities--not to mention being forced to listen to a christian band arguably is cruel and unusual punishment. The "captain" should be eliminated.

WTF is wrong with these people? I'm not surprised, but I am disgusted.

The far right wing has infiltrated the military and has done this through sending in their children. There are not only fundamentalists among the ranks, there are neo-nazi's, racists, bigots, and ex-convicts who got a pass because the military wasn't doing so well in recruitment. The bottom of the barrel has been scraped in getting some of society's worst offenders in for cannon fodder and this is what results.

MuslimMarineCorpMom (MMCM) ;-) | August 23, 2010 2:33 PM

I am an American Muslim convert (as of 26 years ago) with 5 kids. I have a son that just graduated Marine Corps boot camp in Parris Island, SC this past weekend. I couldn’t be more proud of him as an AMERICAN MUSLIM MOTHER. But when I hear stories like this, it truly hurts to know that my son, AS AN AMERICAN MUSLIM, may be sent to a war zone to risk his life for the religious freedom of others only to be treated in this manner? What hypocrisy!!! Do the NON-CHRISTIAN mothers (and fathers) of these brave young men and women deserve such insensitivity and disrespect for their contribution to our freedom? Seems to me that the ones forcing such orders here need to look in the mirror when they’re searching for “terrorists!” God Bless and protect our young, brave men and women…I love you all for your sacrifices…including my precious son.

I'm fairly sure this captain's intent was to evangelize. But can you blame a man with traditional moral values for wanting to save the souls of The Troops?