Atheist Cadet Discharged in Publicity Stunt over Religion

Update: A local news report seems to verify conclusions former Cadet Page was coached by Michael Weinstein on how to leave West Point with a splash.

Update: World notes “other issues” influenced Cadet Blake Page’s decision, which “may have had little to do with the academy’s religious climate.”  The faculty advisor for Page’s group is cited as saying ‘he doesn’t believe systematic discrimination against nonreligious cadets exists.’

The FRC notes Page’s clinical diagnosis requires “help,” not being used for “publicity and exploitation” by “professional anti-religionist” Michael Weinstein.

According to an update at NBC, Senior West Point Cadet Blake Page — who publicly resigned while accusing US Military Academy officers of being “criminals” — will be discharged without having to serve as a Soldier or reimburse the government for his education.

Page’s decision to resign and — presumably — decline to be an Army officer has been almost universally panned in the comments on the media articles on his resignation, even from those claiming to be fellow atheists and cadets.  Some have said he should have stayed and “changed the Army from within;” others, that his charges did not seem to be supported or supportable.  Insinuations have been made that he may have been struggling to graduate anyway, and that his announcement (as well as his announced book plans) were little more than a publicity stunt to take advantage of an inevitable outcome.

A new ABC article may bear that out, where the AP reports Page admits he was told this semester he was medically disqualified from service after being diagnosed with clinical depression:

Page said he had been medically disqualified this semester from receiving a commission in the Army…because of clinical depression and anxiety…

“I’ve been trying since I found that out: What can I do? What can I possibly do to initiate the change that I want to see and so many other people want to see?” Page said.

That doesn’t necessarily mean he couldn’t receive his degree if he met the academic requirements.  Military academies have occasionally graduated “civilians” instead of officers in similar circumstances.

In other forums, Page seemed to be fishing for a lawsuit, indicating this was West Point’s last opportunity to respond before litigation.  Given their only possible response was to accept his resignation, it is unclear what he meant. 

The sincerity of the move was also put in question because of his unusual article on The Huffington Post.  Stalwart media entity that it is, it is unlikely they routinely publish random emails.  Of course, Page is friendly with a few people who are connected to the site, including Michael Weinstein’s assistant Chris Rodda — who stand to benefit from his publicity.

Page now says he wants to write a book about his experience.  His future plans?

He plans to remain an activist on the role of religion in the military.  “I’d really love to be able to do this for the rest of my life,” he said.

It seems the episode was a calculated public relations move. Nicely done.

Also at the Christian Post.