This is revoltingly narrow-minded and stupid behavior by our military. We’ve got a Christian kook, a Major General James Chambers, who has mistaken morale and discipline for indoctrination in the Christian faith. He’s running a program called the Spiritual Fitness (whatever the hell that means) Concert Series at army posts in Virginia. This program brought in a Christian rock group to perform, which is annoying enough, but then attendance was optional in name only. At least one company was marched to the doors of the event, and then told they had a choice: attend or be disciplined.
Those of us that chose not to attend (about 80, or a little less that half) were marched back to the company area. At that point the NCO issued us a punishment. We were to be on lock-down in the company (not released from duty), could not go anywhere on post (no PX, no library, etc). We were to go to strictly to the barracks and contact maintenance. If we were caught sitting in our rooms, in our beds, or having/handling electronics (cell phones, laptops, games) and doing anything other than maintenance, we would further have our weekend passes revoked and continue barracks maintenance for the entirety of the weekend. At that point the implied message was clear in my mind ‘we gave you a choice to either satisfy us or disappoint us. Since you chose to disappoint us you will now have your freedoms suspended and contact chores while the rest of your buddies are enjoying a concert.
Not everyone in this company was Christian, by the way. Their clueless commander doesn’t care.
The Commanding General’s Spiritual Fitness Concert Series was the brainchild of Maj. Gen. James E. Chambers, who, according to an article on the Army.mil website, “was reborn as a Christian” at the age of sixteen. According to the article, Chambers held the first concert at Fort Lee within a month of becoming the commanding general of the Combined Arms Support Command and Fort Lee in June 2008. But he had already started the series at Fort Eustis, as the previous commanding general there. The concerts have continued at Fort Eustis under the new commanding general, as well as spreading to Fort Lee under Maj. Gen. Chambers. The concerts are also promoted to the airmen on Langley Air Force Base, which is now part of Joint Base Langley-Eustis.
In the Army.mil article, Maj. Gen. Chambers was quoted as saying, “The idea is not to be a proponent for any one religion. It’s to have a mix of different performers with different religious backgrounds.” But there has been no “mix of different performers with different religious backgrounds” at these concerts. Every one of them has had evangelical Christian performers, who typically not only perform their music but give their Christian testimony and read from the Bible in between songs.
It’s a waste of money (millions are being spent on “Spiritual Fitness” programs), it’s coercive, and it privileges evangelical Christianity over every other faith — or absence of faith — that recruits bring into the military. It’s un-American, or it should be.
Oh, nice. It looks like Chambers no longer holds his position.