US Soldiers Practice Faith, Free Exercise

Nearly 100 American Muslim soldiers gathered at Fort Jackson to pray as a group to mark Eid al Fitr, celebrating the end of Ramadan.  The call to prayer was led by Chaplain (Lt Col) Abdul-Rasheed Muhammad of the US Army Chaplain Center and School.  The Chaplain lauded the soldiers’ participation, saying

We want (the Soldiers) to be empowered through the spiritual foundation that Islam provides.

When members of the military fail in their respect and protection of religious liberty, it is often front page news.  Unfortunately, successes are often treated as non-events.  For example, in this barely-noted story, a Muslim soldier recounts how the Drill Sergeants in basic training specifically ensured that he understood his freedom to exercise his religion:

“When I came here, I was scared that we couldn’t do our Muslim practice, but in basic training they told us we are allowed to fast during Ramadan,” said one Soldier who chose not to be identified. “Yesterday, when I was training, (the drill sergeants) told me I was allowed to (participate) here, because I’m Muslim. … I found there is a lot of freedom to practice my Eid here, especially in the Army. It’s too easy. They make it too easy for me.”

These soldiers exercised their religious liberties and prayed as a group, in their US military uniforms, as explicitly permitted by military regulations.  They exercised the freedoms that all military members have to celebrate their religious beliefs as they choose (with some caveats for accomplishing the mission). 

Photo credit Susanne Kappler, Fort Jackson Leader

Interestingly, military Christians photographed under similar circumstances are sometimes criticized for “violating the Constitution” or providing “propaganda” for American adversaries.

Richard Baker, one of two board members of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, has said a mere photograph of an officer simply in proximity to a religious symbol is “sufficient to coerce” his military subordinates, and that it is a “de facto…endorsement” of those religious beliefs.  How much worse, then, would photographs of military members engaging in religious acts be.

Fortunately, despite such ridiculous accusations, American servicemembers’ rights to free exercise of any religious faith (even if they are photographed while doing so) are protected by the Constitution, and they are proactively ensured by the correct actions of military leadership.


  • JD — I challenge you to show your readers a single instance in which MRFF has said that a photo simply showing service members at a religious service, Christian or other, violated anything. Find just one example of a photo we’ve used that wasn’t used because it showed SOMETHING ELSE that DID violate a regulation.

  • Since the article does not contain the assertion with which you take issue, your “challenge” is somewhat irrelevant. Perhaps you misread the article.

  • JD, you’re the one who consistently finds a way to work MRFF into your posts that have absolutely nothing to do with MRFF. Your post is about a photo of military members in a religious service, using a Muslim service as part of your recent, and very transparent, attempt to make it appear that there is absolutely no religious discrimination in the military. You worked MRFF into this post about a photo of a religious service, even though MRFF has never once said anything about any photo showing military members in a religious service. Now, when challenged with what is essentially a challenge to show why MRFF is relevant to and brought up in your post, you say my challenge is irrelevant. Pretty ironic considering that you’re the one who constantly makes irrelevant references to MRFF.

  • a challenge to show why MRFF is relevant to and brought up in your post…

    That’s not what you asked. You’ve simply changed the target and then said I missed it.

    This article accurately states that MRFF representatives have said, quote:

    just a photograph of a high ranking officer in front of a Christian flag is sufficient to coerce a young Soldier, Sailor Marine or Airman… (emphasis added)

    This article then draws the reasonable conclusion that if a photo of someone just near a religious symbol is “sufficient to coerce,” then a photo of someone engaged in religious acts would be, logically, far worse.

    You haven’t disputed that conclusion, nor have you repudiated the MRFF statement.

    Oddly, while you claim the MRFF has never complained about photos of religious services, a video of a religious service is a centerpiece of your campaign. How’s that for irony?

  • If you’re referring to the photo of MG Brooks, the issue, as you well know, was that Brooks was giving a briefing about a supposedly non-religious facility while standing in front of a Christian flag. This photo was used as an example in illustrating how these so-called “Spiritual Fitness” centers, which the Army insists are not religious, appear to be anything but non-religious.

    Anyway, I have work to do, but, since you seem to have more time to write about MRFF than I do, keep knocking yourself out trying to connect MRFF to every story you find. Your posts do provide us with quite a bit of entertainment, if only for your creativity in finding ways to bash us.