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Supporting Civil Rights for Atheists and the Separation of Church and State
Millions of taxpayer dollars used to convert soldiers and their children to Christianity
BY JUSTIN GRIFFITH, ON SEPTEMBER 3RD, 2011
(Justin Griffith is American Atheists' Military Director. Posted to the NoGodBlog by VP Kathleen Johnson)
Chris Rodda wrote an extensive exposé on the amount of your taxpayer money being spent on converting soldiers and their children to Christianity.
- The Soldier Fitness Tracker that includes the mandatory Spiritual Fitness testing and the equally mandatory remedial training.
- The Spiritual Fitness Center at Fort Hood, Texas (many more to come!) – Often described as a ‘mega church’, the building even has religious stained glass windows. They are stocked with video games, phone cards, and other incentives. Packaged with a religious message. This is in addition to the numerous chapels on every post.
- Spiritual Fitness concert series at Fort Lee and Fort Eustis - Invariably evangelical Christian messages and performers. You’re on notice for a future Rock Beyond Belief event, by the way.
$678,470 (performer fees only)
- Strong Bonds and other Spiritual Fitness Retreats – These are marriage counseling seminars held at luxurious vacation spots. Notoriously stuffed to the brim with evangelical messages. There are ‘sue-proof’ teaching materials that are often offered up as a defense, but it’s a shallow ruse. When I went to one I literally counted 57 instances where I was offended by the overt religiosity (“The family that prays together stays together…” “Bless this lunch break, oh heavenly father” etc…)
- Williamsburg Christian Retreat Center – hosting Spiritual Fitness retreats
- Peninsula Baptist Association’s Eastover Retreat Center – hosting Spiritual Fitness retreats
- American Baptist Church Conf. Center – hosting Spiritual Fitness retreats
- Quail Ministries – Christian music and comedy during Strong Bonds marriage counseling retreats. Like those awful variety-show acts you sit through during a cheesy school assembly.
- “Serving Christ Through Baseball” program – entertainment during Strong Bonds marriage counseling retreats. Title says it all… or not. I’m still scratching my head on that one.
- Military Community Youth Ministries – evangelism targeted at children (even stalking them on their way to the school bus)
- Cadence International – aimed at converting children to Christ, as well as citizens of foreign countries in the nations that they operate in.
Keep in mind that it is entirely outside of the scope of the Chaplaincy and the DoD’s other religious support to convert new people to a particular faith. They are certainly expected to tend to their ‘flock’, but not to grow it.
Is it evangelism? (yes)
Sometimes outsiders may not understand the smokescreen from terms like “Spiritual Fitness”. Some people might not recognize the evangelical creep from a cursory glance. Even a (very) small number of atheists have written to tell me that they had no problem with the questions on the Spiritual Fitness test.
They buy the claim that “Spiritual Fitness = Team Spirit” Or they claim to have no problem being “Spiritual Atheists” (focusing on the beauty of the universe, music, art, etc…) These justifications fail hard when faced with the reality of the situation we foxhole atheists face. These rationalizations are not consistent with the over-the-top “get right with god so you don’t kill yourself” message that was intended all along.
Here is a sample from the mandatory remedial Spiritual Fitness training after you fail the test.
Still not convinced?
How about reading this chilling account of a Christian soldier who was forced to go to his Chaplain “to get born again” after his spiritual fitness failure on the same test.
My education, health, salary, and pension are shrinking… How about we lose all of this Spiritual Fitness stuff instead?
In a time when national debt is relatively common discussion, it seems that unconstitutional spending of hundreds of millions of dollars would be a natural choice for the chopping block. Instead, my educational opportunities (eArmyU), yearly salary increase for inflation (lowest in 50 years), retirement benefits (pensions for 20+ year veterans are now considered ‘on the table’ to be cut), are already in place or soon to be.
Insanity. How is this not shocking people? Being at the receiving end of a lot of this proselytism, I’m telling you that the system is broken. We need help. We need you to care.
Chris Rodda is a long time supporter of Rock Beyond Belief. She is the author of the eyeopeningLiars For Jesus (a book she has now given away for free). She now works at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation as head of research. MRFF are co-clients with me in pending litigation against the mandatory Spiritual Fitness testing and training.