Dec 06 2012

Republican Strategist Calls West Point a “Religious Institute” on HuffPost Live

As the Senior Research Director at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), I’ve known for quite a while about the incidents of religious discrimination that led to West Point Cadet Blake Page’s decision to resign from the Academy — a decision that’s getting quite a bit of attention since Page’s post on Huffington Post,Why I Don’t Want to Be a West Point Graduate.” I’ve also been reading the comments on Page’s post and elsewhere, some of which are from people saying that Page’s decision to resign means he didn’t belong at West Point in the first place — claiming that his resignation showed that he wouldn’t make a good leader anyway. But on Tuesday, when Page appeared on HuffPost Live to explain why he’s resigning from the Academy, Shirley Husar gave a different reason for thinking that Page didn’t belong at West Point. Husar, identified in the HuffPost Live segment as a Republican Strategist, unwittingly confirmed exactly what Blake Page is trying to make everybody understand.

Here’s what Husar said to Page:

“It looks like this was a really bad marriage for you, like you got in bed with someone and it didn’t work out to well for you. But I don’t understand why you have to go public in such a way. I mean, this is a religious institute and there are people who are Christians who believe in prayer and people need prayer in this country right now.”

I want everybody to just stop for a minute and think about what Ms. Husar said — Blake Page should never have gone to West Point because it’s a “religious institute” and he’s not religious. Really? If you’re not religious you don’t belong at West Point and shouldn’t expect to fit in and be treated equally? Isn’t that exactly what Blake Page is saying? The only difference is that Blake Page is saying that this is a problem and Ms. Husar is saying that this is acceptable.

Does it matter that Shirley Husar thinks that West Point is, and should be, a “religious institute?” Not really. She’s got nothing to do with how our military is run. But it certainly does matter that our military is full of people — from generals down to cadets at our service academies — who share Ms. Husar’s opinion. These are the people — at West Point and throughout our military — who feel that they can freely violate the “no religious test” clause of the Constitution they swore an oath to uphold by treating non-theists like Blake Page as second-class citizens who are to be openly mocked, discriminated against, and proselytized to.

Watch Tuesday’s HuffPost Live segment here (Ms. Husar appears at about 6:50).



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  1. 1
    Ben P

    If you want to attend a religious institute and still become an officer after graduation I’m sure that a fine conservative christian institution such as Regent University would have a ROTC program allowing fine christian young men to both serve god and serve their country.

    Wait, what’s that you say? Regent doesn’t have its own ROTC program and Regent students have to register with Old Dominion University (a public university in Virginia) to join ROTC? Well isn’t that a surprise?

  2. 2
    Mr. Upright

    @Ben P: Don’t be too hard on Regent on this score. My own (Methodist affiliated, but not really *religious*) college is too small to have its own ROTC. Our students go to the Big State University five miles away.

  3. 3

    This should make any legal action on separation grounds easier. It should also reduce the military’s ability to hide the religious nature of at least part of the program.

  4. 4
    Ben P

    @Ben P: Don’t be too hard on Regent on this score. My own (Methodist affiliated, but not really *religious*) college is too small to have its own ROTC. Our students go to the Big State University five miles away.

    Oh, I went to a small liberal arts college that was exactly the same way. We had an agreement with the university across town for ROTC students to be admitted to their program.

    But that doesn’t mean I’d hold Regent’s lack of desire to fund (or lack of interest) in establishing their own program against them.

  5. 5
    Gregory in Seattle

    I find it terribly amusing — that is to say, amusing in a very terrible way — how the Talibangelicals are insisting that only good, devout Christians should be indoctrinated to become trained killers.

  6. 6

    Will she get told off, or congratulated?

  7. 7

    Gregory in Seattle @ 5

    devout Christians should be indoctrinated to become trained killers

    Don’t think they need indoctrinating…they do it naturally.
    They do not seem to have an empathy switch, they do it cos gawd say’s so apparently!
    And so is has always been throughout history.

  8. 8
    Crudely Wrott

    Well, then. Thank you, dear Shirley. You took the words right out of our mouths.

    This is exactly what we have long been saying to no avail and along comes you to make it all clear to your congregation and to everyone else paying attention.

    Again, thank you, dear lady. You’ve no idea the service you have rendered.

  9. 9

    Crudely Wrott @ 8

    You took the words right out of our mouths

    And by so doing revealed your desires and ambitions.

    So yes indeed in biblical spew it would indeed be along the lines of…

    “By their words shalt thy know what is in their shrivelled hearts”

    Their main problem is that they cannot remain clandestine for long, they love to boast of their theocratic ambitions, they cannot help themselves, listen long & hard enough you will hear all of their nasty dirty black little stench soaked cravings and manias that they really should keep prudent and stum about if they want their precious dominion on earth.

    But their intellectual shallows betrays them, they lust to evangelise and commit grandiloquence and they so love to comfort each other with circle jerking thoughts and desires…most of them made up and a few illegal.

  10. 10
    Barefoot Bree

    anubisprime @ 9:

    That (their keeping stum) would require them to realize that their dreams ARE “nasty, dirty” etc – or at least, out of the mainstream. But that’s contrary to all they DO believe in: that they are doing the righteous, holy work of God. Keeping quiet is the LAST thing they would think appropriate!

  11. 11

    barefootbree @ 10

    Keeping quiet is the LAST thing they would think appropriate!

    Yes indeed and that shall be their undoing!

  12. 12

    Do you know what the word Religious means? Religion is a collection of belief systems, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. The purpose of the United States Military Academy Preparatory School (USMAPS) is to prepare candidates selected by the United States Military Academy Admission’s office for the academic, physical, and military challenges of the United States Military Academy at West Point. The system is design to make or break you. Page did not make The CUT”.

    Page clearly did not do his homework before entering in West Point. West Point was established by President of the United States Thomas Jefferson who was a man of faith. Jefferson was a very private man. In regards to Jefferson religious beliefs. His grandson, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, stated that “his codification of the morals of Jesus was not known to his family before his death, and they learned from a letter addressed to a friend that he was in the habit of reading nightly from it before going to bed.” Listen to some of Jefferson’s words on the subject of faith in Jesus Christ:

    “My views of the Christian religion are the result of a life of inquiry and reflection, and very different from that anti-Christian system imputed to me by those who know nothing of my opinions. To the corruptions of Christianity I am indeed opposed; but not to the genuine precepts of Jesus himself.

    I am a Christian, in the only sense in which he wished anyone to be-sincerely attached to his doctrines in preference to all others….West Point religious ways are not an injection into our service academies it is the BLOODLINE that was establish by Thomas Jefferson (one of “The Founding Fathers”) in 1802. West Point understands the importance the training of spiritual mental toughness needed to have in battle and in war. For Blake Page to attack the bloodline of West Point practices that are part of the academy preparation for a strong soldier of war, for his resistance mindset of Page way is futile. He did what was right by quitting and for he clearly did not have what it takes to be part of West Point. Pages disruption to the blood line would have weaken his squadron by not complying to the rule process of West Point. My question is why did he not do his homework for entering in the academy?

    The United States Military Academy was established at West Point in 1802 and has the longest continuous service of any United States military installation and is the nation’s oldest military academy. When he died he stated at death “I have done for my country, and for all mankind, all that I could do, and I now resign my soul, without fear, to my God, – my daughter to my country”. Jefferson wrote his own epitaph, which reads:

    Blake Page has failed only himself, by not looking at the history and the foundation of the military academy. Blake was not willing to make personal sacrifices He was not will to do so. If you have ever done something just because you felt it was expected of you, you have sacrificed something to a Higher Power. Maybe this involved serving in the military or on jury duty, or maybe just paying taxes. Whatever it was, if you did it out of a sense of obligation rather than because of a reasoned calculation, you sacrificed to a Higher Power. The West Point Military Academy is that higher power.

  13. 13
    Chris Rodda

    Ms Husar …

    Your attempt to connect Jefferson to religion at West Point is utterly ridiculous. The Wikipedia page that you copied and pasted your history of West Point from is missing some information — like the fact that West Point didn’t even have a chaplain until 1813, long after Jefferson’s presidency. If Jefferson had wanted religion to be a part of the school, why didn’t he make sure it had a chaplain when it was founded in 1802?

    And why are you misquoting Jefferson by chopping off the end of what you quote from him? Why do you omit the part where he said he didn’t think Jesus was anything more than a human being? I really don’t like it when people misquote Jefferson. The whole sentence was:

    “I am a Christian, in the only sense he wished any one to be; sincerely attached to his doctrines, in preference to all others; ascribing to himself every human excellence; & believing he never claimed any other.” (and Jefferson underlined the word “human”)

    And what does the United States Military Academy Preparatory School have to do with anything? That wasn’t the school that Blake Page was attending. When you copied and pasted from the United States Military Academy Preparatory School website, you apparently didn’t read far enough to realize that the Preparatory School is a separate school that prepares students who need academic help to get into West Point. That’s why it’s called a “preparatory” school.

    And why on earth would you use Jefferson’s epitaph as “evidence” of you claims? If anything, it argues against you, considering that the result of two of the three accomplishments he chose for it was to SEPARATE religion from government institutions! The Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom guaranteed people the right NOT to have to worship or participate in any sort of religious activity, and the University of Virginia was founded by Jefferson as a completely secular university with no chaplain and no religious activity whatsoever.

    Do you really expect anyone to take you seriously when you’re not only copying and pasting from Wikipedia and other sites, but apparently don’t even understand what you’re copying and pasting?

  14. 14
    Tony! The Fucking Queer Shoop!

    I wonder if Ms Husar will attempt to rebut your excellent points…

  15. 15

    READ: West Point as a religious institution: The case of Blake Page: http://wtim.es/V5QZz8 via @wtcommunities

    Apparently, there are many within the blogosphere who have a different opinion from mine. I argued that it is entirely fair to view West Point – in some ways – as a religious institution. I’m referring to an article written by Chris Rodda, “Republican Strategist Calls West Point a ‘Religious Institute’ on HuffPost Live.” Rodda, who is the Senior Research Director for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, strongly disagreed with my position. Allow me to explain myself.
    In our ever-more secularized society, religion has become some sort of curse word. It has not always been so. Religion is a way to organize our beliefs about the nature of the universe and our role in it. It pulls together belief systems and cultural values give believers common moral and spiritual values.

    Read more: http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/urban-game-changer/2012/dec/18/west-point-religious-institution-case-blake-page/#ixzz2FUj0qyj1
    Follow us: @wtcommunities on Twitter

  16. 16
    Mike Morrison

    Ok. First, Shirley Hussar has TERRIBLE grammar. Seriously. I think she needs to go back to 6th grade and learn basic sentence structure. The way in which she writes is barely comprehensible.

    MY next, and last point:

    “In our ever-more secularized society, religion has become some sort of curse word. It has not always been so. Religion is a way to organize our beliefs about the nature of the universe and our role in it. It pulls together belief systems and cultural values give believers common moral and spiritual values.”

    Replace the word “religion” with the word “Islam,” and see if Shirley Hussar would agree.

    Not to mention, the paragraph I quoted is a huge strawman. She could not respond to Chris’s rebuttal.

    It is also the same old tired “Poor Christian,” “Woe is Me!” crap we hear literally all the time from those who would love nothing more than to allow the government to put a gun to everyone’s head to worship the Christ Jesus.

    In reality, most people (meaning the non-Dominionists,) do not care what other people believe in. Some atheists may mock religious people, but they do it for their own enjoyment.

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