Primary tabs

Should the military be banned from asking servicemembers their religious affiliations?


For more on this issue, and to state your opinion, read this accompanying piece on The American Legion’s Burn Pit blog.



View more polls


When are we going to stand up and stop the people who want one nation under God removed, not more pledges to the flag, nor more Christ in Christmas and the list goes on and on. Who gave them the right????

Submitted by jrhine : Jan 12, 2012 3:34pm

The constitution gives me the right. It gives you the right to believe whatever fairy tale you choose, to practice whatever religion you choose, but it also gives me to right to believe DIFFERENTLY.
The words 'under god' were ADDED to the pledge in 1954. Up to that point the sentence read 'one nation indivisible'. It was the intrusion of religious belief that divided the sentence about us being indivisible.
And war on Christmas, really? I don't even believe in god and I love Christmas. I still say 'Merry Christmas' and gather with my mostly religious family to celebrate in a my mostly secular way. But even then my mostly-secular celebrating includes traditional Christmas music of religious origin.
Even if I chose to say Happy Holidays (which seems more inclusive in our diverse, melting-pot nation) the word Holiday originates from Holy Day, and still shows deference to a day of special religious significance.
Similarly the term "Xmas", a popular shortened form of the word Christmas that originates from the use of the Greek letter chi to represent "Christ" (Χριστός), has been a particular topic of controversy among Christians unfamiliar with the historical roots of the term.
To argue that modern secularists are waging a war on Christmas is baseless fear mongering. (And shows your ignorance about the history of the holiday and its pre-Christian pagan traditions and festivals that predate Jesus, and thus need not be directly associated with Christmas. Specifically, symbols and behaviors such as caroling, Christmas trees, mistletoe, holly wreaths and yule logs, have pre-Christian origins.
Only the ignorant victims of propaganda actually think Jesus was born on December 25th anyway. So for the educated the day is either symbolic of his birth and worth celebrating anyway, or a much older winter festival stolen by the followers of Jesus. Who is waging war on which Holy Day?

Now, back on subject. The first amendment prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, or impeding the free exercise of religion. The US military only recognizes certain religions. This is contradictory. A contradiction made even worse by the fact that every member of the military has sworn to uphold and defend the constitution.
The military has a list of approved religions, if your belief isn't on the list it is not recognized and you will be treated differently, sometimes badly, for a difference of opinion that is constitutional protected.
I'm glad you have the freedom to believe what you believe. I swore to uphold and defend your right to believe. I expect you and my fellow soldiers to respect and uphold my right to believe differently.

Submitted by Erebor : Jan 12, 2012 5:16pm

Thanks. I only wish I had said it so succinctly . My dog tag said Protestant but I had given up on religion before entering the service. Too many hypocrites. I try to practice "Do unto others". But please don't get me wrong I have many friends and relatives , wonderful people who would come to my aid in a second , but believe differently than I and I respect that. And most of them respect my way of life. Thanks again.

Submitted by Remlap : Jan 12, 2012 5:55pm

It's a shame Erebor, that you want only to demean those who have established traditions and religious preferences. And you think them stupid. Yes, everyone should believe as they wish. Yet, it is a shame that those of you who don't believe, as Christians do, have no hope in your lives. I really will pray for you.

Submitted by mopeydwarf : Jan 12, 2012 7:50pm

Ok, let me clarify and make one apology. The evidence for god (the Abrahamic, the ancient Greek or Roman gods, Thor, Ra, Brahman or any other god) is lacking. There seems to be as much evidence for werewolves, or magic fairies, or unicorns, or trolls, or dragons, as there is for an all-powerful god and so in my mind the mythological and the religious stories are siblings; useful when they teach a moral lesson and useless when they spread bigotry or ignorance. So, while to me there is little difference, I do know there is a difference and that the difference means more to you than it does to me. So when I referred to your belief system as a 'fairy tale' I knew I was pushing buttons. I know believers will take that as demeaning but I did it anyway, for that I apologize.
On the other hand I did specifically say "I'm glad you have the freedom to believe what you believe." I went on to say that "I swore to uphold and defend your right to believe. I expect you and my fellow soldiers to respect and uphold my right to believe differently." I stand by that.
And hope. This is a common misconception. You assume that because I don't share your belief in a supreme being that I have no hope in life. Let me take a moment to dispel that misconception. For starters I HOPE there actually is an afterlife, I even hope there is some magical all-father who loves me and has a plan for life, the universe, and everything. Unfortunately I see a complete lack of EVIDENCE for such a being or for an afterlife. Given the lack of evidence I cannot believe. My mind just will not believe something for which there is no supportive evidence. I cannot choose to believe without the evidence. It's just not who I am.
But I have hope. I hope to live a long and happy life. I hope my son lives a long life. I hope he finds success and happiness and love. I hope he chooses a career outside of the military (but would be proud if he served). I hope the sacrifices made by my fellow soldiers will not be forgotten, and more importantly I hope it was worth it; I hope this nation continues to be a beacon of liberty and justice long after I am gone. More specifically I hope that my freedom to not believe in your god is not taken away by zealous believers who share your ignorance about me and mine. I hope for everyday things like a raise or safe holiday travel and I hope for grandiose things like manned space exploration outside our solar system. I honestly hope you will read this and understand me a little better. I thank you for your prayer and hope you have a nice day.

Submitted by Erebor : Jan 17, 2012 12:10pm

Look at the vote totals... Nothing more needs to be said. Erebor is just one more of the very vocal few minority that wants to change the majority.

Submitted by JTowery : Jan 12, 2012 9:31pm

Who gave you the right to insert those two words AFTER it was approved for use?? I Pledge Elegance "TO THE UNITED STATES" and NOT to your religous beliefs or your church. So stop forcing your beliefs on others and I will stop shoving them back in your face

Submitted by country99 : Jan 13, 2012 9:22am

Most of the States Preambles in the USA made an oath to GOD, no specific God they left it up to us to decide, so I guess who ever inserted Under God was just following what our forefathers did.

Submitted by legion43 : Jan 15, 2012 12:46pm

How many Fort Hoods do we need to sto bowing down?

Submitted by 7988gypsies : Jan 12, 2012 4:02pm

jrhine, the pledge of allegiance was created in 1892, wasn't adopted by congress till 1942, and the big one, didn't have - UNDER GOD - till 1954. I wonder what was going on at that time for that change?

Regarding the actual subject. It's nobody's business what religion a service member practices. The military should stick to its purpose and a service member to their duties. If it doesn't involve those two things, it has no business with those things. Just like school. If the little heathen and his parents don't like the pledge because God is in it, they shouldn't do it. But you know, who cares about the constitution?

Submitted by TCD84 : Jan 12, 2012 4:34pm

This is the first I've heard of this. Are we creating a situation that doesn't exist just to bring division. I receive dozens of emails with onerous accusations that turn out to be false by people who just want to vent their frustrations with a problem that's only in their mind.

Submitted by Remlap : Jan 12, 2012 4:43pm

The more we openly respond to the Atheistic community, the more we encourage them to continue in their attacks against religion.
They, like the ACLU should be ignored, and not given the least bit of acknowledgment. No one is "forced" to designate a religious affiliation by the DoD. Whatever happened to majority rule in this country? Our government has done more to promote the cause and agendae of these and other, what I consider subversive to the American cause, entities. I have no doubt that in the scheme of things Atheists are people without a real purpose in life, and
essentially do not want to assume any accountability or responsibility as demanded by the God of Abraham. They have a right not to believe; they have no right,however,to attack those of us who do, much less than to invoke change.

Submitted by Marat B. : Jan 12, 2012 6:02pm

This nation was founded on religious principles, namely to practice our religion free from being told which church we could attend and how we would do so. The resolution to this asinine situation is simple. You document your record to show "NO PREFERENCE". The idea of a small segment of our nation forcing it's will upon our citizens has to be stopped.

Submitted by mavaughanpost75... : Jan 12, 2012 7:32pm

i does not matter what religion you are, but dont take away my right to pray when and where i want to, if it offends you, (tough shit) i am sick and tired of liberals and tree huggers and all the sob's with the phelps bunch trying to force there beliefs on me,leave me alone and i wont bother you, otherwise i'll take ya to the JUNGLE,

Submitted by whome2 : Jan 12, 2012 7:54pm

Erebor is correct in his comments and i fully support him. When will the religious zealots in this country realize they don't have the right to control the lives of others. I support your right to believe in anything you want.. I also suppose the rights of others to belive in what they want or NOT believe in any religion at all. Our founding fathers were very specific that religion was to be kept separate from state issues. While I find myself to lean more on the Republican side I will never vote for someone that is a strong supporter of "social conservatism". Writing laws that are based on specific religious beliefs rather than common law is simply unconstitutional. Enjoy your religion at home and in your place of worship and stop shoving it in the faces of others. I don't give a damn what you believe in and I certainly don't want to have to see it stuck on billboards and signs on the highways. As far as this one question goes, there is one, and only one reason for this question to be asked and that is if the soldier dies. Other than that one and only issue.. there is absolutely no reason for the question to be asked and certainly the answer should be used for no other purpose. While the far right keeps pushing their social agenda on others and "doesn't want their tax dollars to pay for certain things" I too do not want my tax dollars to pay for things such as religious organizations, illegal immigrants, religious radio and tv stations and do not want religious organizations to have special tax credits and loopholes so that they can unfairly compete in the open market against companies that are required to pay their fair share. I shouldn't be expected to pay higher land taxes so that hundreds of churches can skate by paying nothing at all. People shouldnt have to worry which hospital they are brought to because some religious nutjob doesn't want to perform their job.
I totally believe in saying the pledge of elegance but at the same time I ask why were the words under god inserted into this AFTER it was approved? I find this to be an infringement on MY rights. The pledge of elegance is to my country NOT to someone elses religious beliefs. So if the religious right wants to see less attacks on their beliefs then they should keep their beliefs at home where they belong. Keep your ten commandments off my court house walls. The only thing that belongs there are the scales of justice..and those should be rebalanced.

Submitted by country99 : Jan 13, 2012 9:16am

In my view Erebor is totally correct. It is extremely important we veterans keep in mind the over aching concern for preserving Liberty for all Americans. We do not need to look any father from our shores than Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan to understand how corrupting religious intolerance is to freedom and personal liberty.
Those of us who love religious freedom cheer when the young Denver quarterback Tim Tebow bows his head and kneels on the playing field in prayer thanking God for his abilities and asking God for strength to continue in the face of adversity. I may disagree with some of his religious convections but I am proud to have served a country where such convictions are permitted to flourish. If asked, I would defend with all my strength the right of all such religious peoples to show and act on their religious convictions in the face of any governmental coercion from any quarter for any reason. In short, I am 100% for the absolute separation of religion from government at every level. I say this openly because one day we will witness a player who loves his religious convictions as much as Tebow only the play will a Muslim and that player will spread a prayer rug on the same field as Tebow and kneel down facing East, Mecca, and pray the same prayer. If there is wide applause for this act we will know our constitution is safe and we veterans have served for the greater good of all Americans. If there is wide spread discord and condemnation at such an act we will know that our freedom and basic human liberties guaranteed by our constitution are little understood and our way of life in jeopardy and our service as veterans in vain and pointless.

Submitted by Tommy the fish : Jan 13, 2012 12:48pm

Although I went to Catholic schools from kindergarten through my Masters, I feel America's highest future lies in recognition the Establishment Clause of the Constitution which the Supreme Court has recognized more than 25 times to be be separation of church and state. I could not agree with you more that if Tim Tebow was spreading his Muslim prayer rug at Mile High Stadium there would be a national uproar. However, the Founding Fathers were correct to know that we all must be free to practice religion in the form we personally desire. As we see the changing demographics in the US, we also see many of the new minorities are Muslim, Budhists, Hindu, as well as a smattering of Caribbian religions, and New Age practice. Not one of us is eligible to determine if there is one right religion, or if no religion is proper. We only can be sure of one thing; the future will be diffent than it is now, despite the attempt of the extreme right or evangelical types. Get used to it!!

Submitted by robertegoss : Jan 13, 2012 1:25pm

I am tired of a few extremists trying to change the opinions of everyone. I don't have a problem if a person or group of people does not believe in God but stop trying to make everyone else understand the idiocy in your small world. This is a free country and we have a Democratic society which affords the many to overpower the few. The few have a right to voice their opinions but the many has the right to ignore them. All of you extremists out there can go ahead and believe what you want, but stop trying to make the rest of us understand your idiocy. Every service person deserves to have a burial of their choosing with their own specified deity.

Submitted by legion43 : Jan 15, 2012 12:38pm

legion43, you say "This is a free country and we have a Democratic society which affords the many to overpower the few. "

Hard to imagine you ever took the oath to support and defend US constitution.

Fortunately, in our country the many can NOT overpower the few. Do you know why? Because we are a constitutional republic, not a pure democracy.

The constitutional rights of a minority trump your majority votes. If you don't like that, then you don't understand our constitution.

No atheist has EVER proposed that religious military members should be prevented from being buried using the rituals of their faith or to have their preferred religious symbol on their headstone.

I am not a Legion member, but I am a 20 year USAF veteran who happens to be an atheist. The amount of ignorance and bigotry I see on display in the comments here is appalling.

Submitted by mkm : Jan 16, 2012 7:34pm

I fought and I served in the U.S. ARMY. I wore MY dog tags everyday. So it is MY decision not anyone elses what I want on MY dog tags, or MY gravestone! It is your every right to have nothing you believe except that all other should believe in nothing! Who the Hell are you to tell me what I can or can't believe! I am a God fearing Christian and I respect all religions and those who believe in nothing like you! If you wanna play king of the mountain lets stop the chit chat and get to it. I swore to protect America from ALL enemies foreign an domestic, and brothers and sisters you are most definately Americas enemy today! Time to take the gloves off, I can't turn the other cheek anymore they have been slapped too many time by the likes of you! I for one am sick and tired of it. I wouldn't tell you to shut up and sit down so stop telling me to!

Submitted by overwatch1 : Jan 19, 2012 2:33pm

What are you talking about? And why is it that 'christians' are SO quick to resort to threats of violence?
NO ONE is talking about taking away your right to choose your religion, or to have your religious affiliation recorded on your dog tags or on your grave marker. The problem is twofold; the question about religious affiliation requires an answer from all soldiers, but does not allow for the chosen response from all soldiers. Why is it that you are allowed to choose ‘christian’ but I’m not allowed to choose ‘atheist’, ‘agnostic’, ‘secular humanist’, ‘spiritual but not religious’, ‘jedi’, ‘flying spaghetti monster’ or any other thing I choose for my religion?
No one is trying to take away your right to choose ‘christian’, all we want is the ability to choose our own label, OR the ability to leave the space blank. Not your space; put whatever you choose on your space, but why can’t I leave my space blank?
You claim to understand what you have sworn to protect, but why are you so unwilling to defend my right to choose my religious status?

Submitted by Erebor : Jan 19, 2012 3:32pm