Opinion: U.S. Armed Forces Should Defend the Separation of Church and State

July 11, 2005

Source: Charlotte Observer


On July 11, 2005 the Charlotte Observer reported, "As they defend the nation, the U.S. armed forces should also protect the separation between church and state. Several military leaders have lately been using their positions of authority to promote a specific religious point of view. This threatens the very idea of religious freedom. The latest case involves the Air Force Academy in Colorado. Allegations of religious intimidation at the academy surfaced last summer when a Yale Divinity School team visited there. It discovered an environment rich in evangelism, often at the expense of other religions... Unfortunately, the problem of an overtly religious military may not be limited to the Air Force. The Anti-Defamation League recently rebuked the U.S. Naval Academy for organizing prayers before meals. A federal appeals court has also recently ruled that organized prayers before meals at the Virginia Military Institute are unconstitutional... Military chaplains of all faiths must be made available to assist soldiers in the moral difficulties of war and combat, but the military must remain free of even the slightest whiff of official endorsement of any particular religion... Protecting America's religious diversity, not squelching it, ought to start in the armed forces."