Activists Call for End to West Point Prayers
Americans United for the Separation of Church and State has called on the US Military Academy at West Point to “stop including prayer during official events.”
In a letter to Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. David H. Huntoon and other officials, Americans United asserted that the academy’s prayer policy runs afoul of the Constitution and violates the rights of cadets.
West Point responded simply by saying there are no mandatory prayers at the Academy. Americans United seems to believe the First Amendment was written to protect offended ears, not speech. Their letter supports — unwittingly or not — the stereotype that merely being exposed to a ‘religious act’ is offensive and therefore illegal [emphasis added]:
Being forced to attend an event that includes a prayer is at the heart of the kind of religious coercion that the Constitution prohibits…
It is unclear why the AU focused on West Point, given that all the military academies — and the entire US military and government, for that matter — have official, “required” events which include prayer. The only reason to call out West Point is because West Point was recently in the news, which makes it a decision based on public relations, not principle.
The entire argument dismisses the fact US troops are adults who make a wide variety of decisions for themselves every day. Hearing a prayer is no more “religious coercion” than seeing a poster for Burger King on post is “dietary coercion.” Still, former Army Sergeant, atheist, and Michael Weinstein “client” Dustin Chalker once said the same thing [capitalization original]:
Being present [when a prayer is given] IS participation. Being forced to stand in silent respect IS participation.
As has been stated before, the sensitivity and assumed gullibility that requires the US government to “protect” people from exposure to ideas seems localized around a few individuals motivated by personal agendas. Most atheists in the US military are content to “stand in silent respect” when chaplains pray, as are those religious troops who may have a different faith.
Apparently, by the standards of Weinstein’s clients and the AU, watching the NFL on TV qualifies as “playing professional football.”
In an interesting contrast, while West Point is being accused of being a secret religious cabal, Annapolis is being portrayed as a drug-filled party school.