Atheists Object to Commander’s Blessing
Organizations who oppose religion in public life (including the military) generally dismiss as ‘ludicrous’ the assertions that their goal is to scrub all vestiges of religious expression from government institutions, like the military.
American Atheists recently undermined that defense when they decried President Obama’s use of “God bless you” in his address to school children yesterday. The logic was particularly disturbing because it is the same as some activists who oppose religious associations in the military–the use of his official position. They said:
This is wrong. He is praying at the kids, to the kids and for the kids. He is doing it as a President, not as a citizen, and he is legitimizing religion and minimizing secular children…he is using his position to shove his beliefs down our kids’ throats…
This is unnecessary, unwelcome, and un-American…
If the President and Commander in Chief (one who is not often accused of being a “religious zealot”) is accused of being “un-American” for having the gall to say “God bless you,” what will happen to American servicemembers who say the same thing? Must they hide any relation to religion while they are in the service?
Of course, this is not the first time this type of accusation has been made. When Americans United for the Separation of Church and State lodged their complaint against the Air Force Academy, they complained that instructors had introduced themselves with information about their personal beliefs:
we have been told that a number of faculty members have introduced themselves to their classes as born-again Christians.
Simple biographical information, then, is also inappropriate by that standard.
The MRFF has often implied that mere association with Christian beliefs is inherently coercive and illegal while in the military (see the long comments following one such accusation). The logical outcome of that accusation, were it to succeed, would stifle not only religious expression, but also potentially free exercise.
After all, if a mere picture can imply unConstitutional endorsement, how much worse would it be to actually observe a military member–shockingly–physically enter a religious facility?