Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Hostility of the United States Armed Forces Toward Religion

The United States Navy has recently removed all Bibles from its guest hotel rooms in response to a lawsuit filed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation.  One may be tempted to think that having Bibles in a hotel rooms is merely symbolic.  This case, however, is one more example of a growing hostility of the armed forces against religious belief.  A recent study published in the "Professional Military Ethics Monograph Series" highlights this antagonism toward religious belief.  In April 2014 Don M. Snider and Alexander P. Shine published A Soldier's Morality, Religion, and Our Professional Ethic: Does the Army's Culture Facilitate Integration, Character Development, and Trust in the Profession? (see HERE).  A few relevant quotations from this study:
[W]e believe that over the past 2 decades, coincident with the growing secularization of American society, the culture of our Armed Services has become more hostile to many things religious, including religious expression by individuals in uniform and the application of any sort of religious basis for decisionmaking.  This has created, in perception or reality, a culture hostile to, and perhaps even intimidating for, serving soldiers of religious faith. (p. 10)
This antagonism toward religion will have adverse affects on those with religious convictions.  Snider and Shine argue:
Further, we believe that a culture increasingly hostile toward religious expression will eventually cause some number of good Soldiers of all ranks to leave the Army. (p. 29) 
They go on to add:
Religious ethics, then, are a strong reinforcer of military ethics.  In our view, it will be self-defeating for the Army to cause men and women imbued with this reinforcing ethical framework to leave the Army because it allowed a culture hostile or intimidating to their beliefs, conscience, and expression of those beliefs. (p. 30)