A program of the Center for Inquiry
New Report Details How Military Leaders Overtly Promote Evangelical Christianity
Christian fundamentalism is on the rise within the United States Armed Forces, a trend evidenced by the explicitly sectarian behavior of senior military leaders. This is the conclusion of an important new report from the Center for Inquiry on the influence of religion in the U.S. military.
The report, authored by James E. Parco, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and former member of the National Security Council under President Clinton, illustrates how a fundamentalist brand of Christianity has infused with American military culture. Parco details how commanders use the power of their positions to evangelize and force a narrow sectarian view on U.S. military institutions and service members – and all in broad daylight, with little to no accountability.
“Commanders continue to find creative ways to promote their religious beliefs and make the act seem official,” writes Parco. “It is not, and they must stop pretending it is.”
The report offers a set of policy recommendations to begin to correct these constitutional violations, restore the secular character of the U.S. military, and maintain it as an institution free from the dominance of any particular faith or dogma.
Findings covered in the report include:
· Institutional support for fundamentalist, evangelical Christianity in the military has spread and entrenched since the attacks of 9/11
· Senior officers have created cultures of religious sectarianism in their commands and institutions, including in the various service academies
· Senior fundamentalist Christian officers have used their rank and authority to undermine efforts by subordinates to maintain institutional neutrality toward religion
· Since rule changes by the Reagan administration, the chaplain corps has featured a severe over-representation of fundamentalist, evangelical Christianity
· Fundamentalist Christian religious organizations are given preferential access to military installations, including the Pentagon and the service academies
· To gauge the mental health of soldiers, the U.S. Army has developed and relied upon a "Spiritual Fitness" evaluation system that leans heavily on theistic and orthodox religious concepts
· Air Force training programs for Nuclear Missile Launch Officers featured explicitly Christian ethical justifications for the use of nuclear weapons and quotes from historical figures lauding morality guided specifically by the Bible
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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to both the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and the Council for Secular Humanism. The mission of CFI is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. CFI‘s web address is www.centerforinquiry.net.