A West Point cadet only a few months away from graduating and getting his commission has resigned from the academy in protest over the many ways that Christianity is imposed on members of the military. Blake Page is the president of the West Point Secular Student Alliance and the point person at the academy for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and he explains why he did this in an article at HuffPo. This is from his resignation letter:
I do not wish to be in any way associated with an institution which willfully disregards the Constitution of the United States of America by enforcing policies which run counter to the same. Examples of these policies include mandatory prayer, the maintenance of the 3rd Regiment Shield, awarding extra passes to Plebes who take part in religious retreats and chapel choirs, as well as informal policies such as the open disrespect of non-religious new cadets and incentivizing participation in religious activities through the chain of command.
And he expands on that:
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…
I have been in a position to hear countless cadets recount their personal stories of frustration in dealing with the ongoing oppressive and unconstitutional bigotry they face for being non-religious. Cadets often come to me to seek assistance, guidance and reassurance in response to instances of debasing harassment. Many here are regularly told they do not deserve a place in the military. They are shown through policy that the Constitution guarantees their freedom of, but not from religion. Many are publically chastised for seeking out a community of likeminded people because it is such a common belief that Humanism and other non-religious philosophies are inherently immoral and worse.
While dealing with the bureaucracy of the academy I have had my complaints ignored by several members of my direct military chain of command. The ranking chaplain here responded to some of these instances of clear prejudice with the useless statement that he will “do what [he] can in good conscience” (which was nothing) instead of fulfilling his legal obligations. In dealing with the Directorate of Cadet Activities I have seen the Secular Student Alliance denied recognition for two years because the former director of the organization did not see a reason to recognize an organization for support of nonreligious West Point cadets. Even after finally receiving hard-fought recognition this year, that same organization continues to work with us only half-heartedly. They have only begrudgingly given us a pitifully inadequate budget, continue to refuse to list us on their website, and one of their staff has openly laughed at the idea that we could organize a conference or even produce club t-shirts for our members.
These are the kinds of complaints that MRFF gets every day from people serving throughout the military. And it is clear by now that the leadership of the armed forces will not fix it because it’s the right thing to do, but only because groups like MRFF will drag them kicking and screaming if necessary.