Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Atheist Cadet Throws A Hissy Fit And Wants To Resign

Yes, it's a provocative title, but it's really what I get from this story:
While there are certainly numerous problems with the developmental program at West Point and all service academies, the tipping point of my decision to resign was the realization that countless officers here and throughout the military are guilty of blatantly violating the oaths they swore to defend the Constitution. These men and women are criminals, complicit in light of day defiance of the Uniform Code of Military Justice through unconstitutional proselytism, discrimination against the non-religious and establishing formal policies to reward, encourage and even at times require sectarian religious participation. These transgressions are nearly always committed in the name of fundamentalist evangelical Christianity. The sparse leaders who object to these egregious violations are relegated to the position of silent bystanders, because they understand all too well the potential ramifications of publically expressing their loyalty to the laws of our country. These are strong words that I do not use lightly, but after years of clear personal observation I am certain that they are true.
He goes on to explain that the Commandant, a one-star general, was receptive to his complaints, but this kid is still going to stamp his foot.

I've got two friends (maybe only one left--haven't heard from him in awhile) who are atheists, and I know they're not going to like what I'm going to say here, but it's not like I haven't told it to them before so I'm not revealing some heretofore hidden belief structure:

Atheists can be some of the biggest crybabies.  "Ooh, the word 'God' is on my money!  Ooh, I have to listen to Christmas songs when I go to the store!  Ooh, I'm so oppressed!"  It's no wonder they flock to the Democratic Party, as they've mastered the philosophy of victimhood so prevalent amongst lefties.  I'm from Sacramento, home of Michael Newdow of "pledge of allegiance" fame. 

Atheists--and anyone else, for that matter--I'm not interested in your proselytizing.  There is no such thing as a "freedom from religion", and the rest of us aren't required to pretend that religion doesn't exist just to satisfy you.  This resigning cadet implies that the mere existence of religion in the military is a violation of oath, a laughable view that doesn't deserve further comment.  If it's true that people are being required to participate in sectarian religious practices, then he (and all others) would be right to complain.  He did that--to a general, no less--and admits he got a fair hearing:
The Commandant of Cadets himself, Brigadier General Theodore Martin, expressed what I perceived to be a sincere desire to see to it that these issues are dealt with quickly and severely. As happy as I was to hear his words and see his genuine concern expressed, his influence alone will not be enough to change the confidently bigoted culture of this sad place. The gulf between the intent of a General Officer and the execution of that intent by those in positions of immediate authority is massive in a complex bureaucracy entrenched in over 200 years of tradition. 
If the Commandant can't impose his will on the Corps of Cadets  then things have most certainly changed since The Golden Age of West Point (1983-1987).  Seems to me that this kid has his mind made up, he's going to get his 15 minutes of fame stamping his foot, and nothing's going to stop him.

One could almost surmise that there are others "behind the curtain" egging him on, using this kid, insisting that he sacrifice his own career for their benefit.  Of course I have no evidence of this, but it's certainly not so far out of the realm of possibility that it must be ignored.

Some think he's a hero for falling on his sword.  I think he's a crybaby, that he owes the same repayment that anyone else who resigns at this late date owes, and that the Army should insist on recovering said payment.

Update, 12/6/12Most Americans are religious.  The 1st Amendment is still valid, but let's not require everyone to pretend he/she is an atheist.


Darin K. said...

I think you're right about this story, but I mostly just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your blog. I teach as well, and I love your stuff. One of my favorites. Keep it up.

Darren said...


Anonymous said...

This is one thing I don't understand, although I agree with your end opinion. If there is a separation of church and state, as is specified in the constitution, shouldn't there be no mention of a particular god on money and/or in courts, oaths, etc.?

Never been able to come up with an answer, curious to hear your thoughts.

maxutils said...

wait . . . you criticize prostelytizing, yet don't agree to a freedom from religion?

Steve USMA '85 said...

One factual error in your post that I would like to correct. The Golden Age of West Point was 1981-1985.

You were there for only part of it.

Anonymous said...

Everyone is entitled to his opinion no matter how misguided it is. Even you. Thanks for straw-manning me.

One of Your Atheist friends ;)

Darren said...

Proselytizing, I'm against. But that doesn't mean the rest of us have to pretend that *we're* atheists, too.

And no, the Constitution doesn't call for separation of church and state. It says that Congress shall not establish religion or prohibit the free exercise thereof. It doesn't require government to pretend that religion doesn't exist.

EdD said...

Dear Anonymous,
I scoured my copy of the US Constitution to find the phrase "separation of church and state" but didn't have any luck. Where did you find that the Constitution "specifies" such separation?

Anonymous said...

Generally, it doesn't bother me if the religious wish to huddle in the corner and speak spooky language to one another. It's kinda fascinating really. Although I don't understand why it needs to be a public display.

Why not heed the words of Matthew:

Matthew 6-5,6:

"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

Rick Perry felt persecuted. Why did he make it so public? There was a time when Presidents didn't talk about it. Lincoln didn't. Washington didn't.

Would you honestly be making the same argument if larger percentages of cadets were Muslims and started praying to Mecca five times a day?

BTW. As much as Fox News loves the war on Christmas meme. I have no problem with Christmas and Christmas trees.

Atheists don't usually proselytize unless provoked. What would that look like anyway? "Hey, I don't believe there is a Heavenly Father. Do you want to hear about my belief in something that's not there?"

It's usually after being bombarded with magical thinking that an atheist questions the belief structure which seems to offend the religionist.

One of your Militant Atheist Friends ;)

MikeAT said...


You must need your eyes checked. It's right next to the right to a taxpayer funded abortion, taxpayer funded rubbers, mandated health insurance policies, etc.

Remember, the Constitution is living and breathing, it must change as our betters say it must.

maxutils said...

i don't want anyone to pretend they aren't an atheist. and i support religion for people who believe in it . . . but, how did west point choose which religion to support? i'd love to see their professors praising allah

maxutils said...

actually, i wouldn't like to see that, because muslims seem intent on killing people . . .but it's a valid point.

Darren said...

I have a hard time believing that the instructors there praise *any* deity when on duty. If it happens, it's a *very* different West Point than the one I attended.

maxutils said...

but . . . wasn't that the complaint? i hope you're correct.

maxutils said...

and, as an athiest . . . it's the ultimate irony that one of our most acclaimed institutions would be promoting fairy tales as higher education. but i say that as an agnostic. everyone who i s religious believes firmly in their story . . .which means that at best, many are wrong.

Anonymous said...

maxutils, find the guy's actual letter and see what he's complaining about and then come back and talk to us. west point isnt promoting fairy tales as higher education, nor are they really choosing which religion is best.

you seem too lazy to do it, so here you go. you irk me.


Rhymes With Right said...

As i emailed earlier in the day, the real issue seems to be that the young man has serious emotional/psychological problems which were exacerbated by his father's suicide. He was not going to be commissioned as a result. He apparently took this opportunity to gain himself some atheist activist street cred while developing a good cover story for why he was leaving West Point at such a curious time.

I wish the young man well -- and will, in all sincerity, pray for him. Sounds like he really needs it.

maxutils said...

i read the story. thanks for the link and the condescension. and, perhaps he is a petty whiner . . .he was objecting to religious ceremonies on campus where he was allowed to not pray, but required to attend. and being called a heathen. and being told, essentially, he couldn't be a leader if he didn't find religion. and, maybe objecting to those few things makes him whiny . . . i certainly wouldn't give up my college degree for them. but . . .why exactly, are ANY of those things happening at a state funded university? if you go to a privately funded religious school, sure. if you want to OFFER religious services at west point, fine. i'd be interested to know how you would feel if the same things were being done at a k-12 school.

maxutils said...

darren . . . really? which times is the first amendment still valid? as john adams said, or close to it, the majority doesn't need a first amendment. it exists to protect the minority FROM the tyranny of the majority. the fact that most americans are religious only means we need to be MORE vigilant.

maxutils said...

as a side note, do check out nancy pelosi's appeal for bastardizing amendment 1

Darren said...

Bull. The 1st Amendment protects all of us from the government, it doesn't protect any of us from each other.

IF, and it's a big IF, those things he mentioned happened AS HE SAID THEY HAPPENED, they were wrong and should have been addressed--and were being addressed by a one-star general.

He's clearly lashing out here--perhaps because of his own clinical depression, perhaps because of his unfitness for commissioning because of the depression, perhaps because of his dad's suicide, who knows. But given what he wrote (the first paragraph was BS beyond belief) I don't think he's playing with a full deck. I also don't give him or his words much credibility.

maxutils said...

everything you said is absolutely correct. except that . . . west point IS the government, or its arm. again, private university, go for it. public? why do you even need a caplain, at all, on a campus? unless,of course, you are attempting to teach religion. combat, i understand the argument. he does sound a bit doesn't change the issue. he does seem a bit off base, no pun intended, but that doesn't change the point. and i have a hard time believing some one would give up what they did, and make it nationally public, if it didn't have at least a grain of truth. and, west point hasn't been actually denying the charges . . .they are saying, essentially, he might have felt more strongly about what happened.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so if congress shouldn't establish a national religion, why does our national currency reference god?

Side question, to Darren -- are you religious?

Darren said...

Max, you have no idea what you're talking about.

Anonymous, Congress hasn't *established* a religion (created a state religion), required you to pay one, required you to believe one, nothing. It's acknowledged that a majority of the people believe in religion, though, and if that offends you, well, you're going to have to get used to being offended. I don't see anywhere where government, or the rest of us, are required to pretend that no one believes in religion.

BTW, if you have such a problem with your money saying "God" on it, well, feel free to send it my way :)

As for my own religious beliefs, I have some, but I'm not interested in discussing them with you. I keep my religion as a *fairly* private matter.

maxutils said...

personal experience? of course not. but you, yourself, can only refer to your own. perhaps the climate has changed . . .or perhaps he's disturbed and wrong. but my belief was that west point tended to do a fairly rigorous screening process, correct? he might just have a point.

Darren said...

Rigorous? Yes, but back in my day we *still* had an "attrition model" wherein 1/3 of cadets were weeded out before graduation.

They've gotten away from that model to what some of us old timers call the Ivy League Model--if they're good enough to get in, they're good enough to graduate. I don't think it's a good model.

Anonymous said...

You didn't really answer my question : "if congress shouldn't establish a national religion, why does our national currency reference god?"

"most people are _____" is not really a good reason for anything, which I'm sure you realize.

Darren said...

While I don't have an exact answer--I didn't put it there--I might surmise it's because Congress *recognizes* it's OK to put our national motto on our money. Why is it our national motto? Hell if I know. It first appeared on our money on the 2c piece during the Civil War, so maybe the Union was invoking some deity's blessing.

Again, though, if you don't like that money, I'm a poor teacher. I'll be happy to relieve you of the burden of possessing it.

Or is having that money in your pocket not really as oppressive as you pretend it is?