EDITORIAL: Evangelical atheism

The sawdust trail to nothing at the Pentagon

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There are no atheists in foxholes, but there are plenty of friends of atheism at the Pentagon. The Obama administration has encouraged a mighty revival of nothing where the generals plot strategy at the temple of death and destruction.

A report Tuesday by the Family Research Council documents a pattern of hostility from military brass toward the free expression of religious beliefs by the rank-and-file in uniform. These are the men who put their lives on the line in the foxholes to preserve the freedom denied to them.

The report cites more than three-dozen examples of the “pressures to impose a secular, anti-religious culture on our nation’s military services.” The culture has grown, like e coli in a petri dish, under President Obama.

An Army master sergeant was punished for serving sandwiches from Chick-fil-A at his own promotion party. Because the owners of Chick-fil-A are outspoken in support of traditional marriage, the sergeant was “investigated, reprimanded, threatened with judicial action, and given a bad efficiency report.”

A painting depicting a policeman with a Scripture citation and the image of a cross was removed from the dining hall of an Air Force base in Idaho an hour after a single enlisted man complained. An Air Force officer was told to he couldn’t keep a Bible in his desk. Fox News reported that his superiors were concerned that it would “appear that he was condoning a particular religion.” Airmen could express their beliefs only as long as it didn’t “make others uncomfortable.”

The First Amendment’s guarantee of the free exercise of speech and religion seems not to apply in the modern military, choked with political correctness enforced by intimidated admirals and cowed generals who have little understanding of the Constitution or history or the law. When an atheist fidgets, the generals look for a place to hide.

The jihad against religion, specifically the Christian faith, is led by the falsely named Military Religious Freedom Foundation, created by one Mikey Weinstein. The Family Research Council suggests that Mr. Weinstein has the Pentagon on his speed-dial, making it easy to call a general every time he sees a soldier making the sign of the cross or appearing to be on the verge of silent prayer.

Four decades ago, Madalyn Murray O’Hair took glee in being called “the most-hated woman in America” for her role in the abolition of prayer in the public schools. This was an early step in the fundamental transformation of society.

The Founders never expected this. Not long after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, its author, Thomas Jefferson, drafted a bill for Virginia’s General Assembly to protect religious liberty. “No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious Worship place or Ministry whatsoever,” he wrote. The evangelical atheists conveniently forget the rest of it: a citizen shall not “otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.”

The House and Senate Armed Services committees last month voted to restore this instruction to the generals with an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, protecting service members’ right to practice religious beliefs as long as they don’t interfere with the constitutional liberties of others. Such a measure shouldn’t even be necessary, but Mr. Obama naturally threatens a veto. If lonely atheists want more company in their foxhole, they should get it without the government’s help.

The Washington Times

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