Religious Troops: Is God First in Your Life? Then Get Out.
Military troops of faith — Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and others — have long served in the US military. They have done so with honor and distinction, earning the highest accolades and making the highest sacrifices.
And former Army officer Sue Fulton thinks they shouldn’t be allowed to serve in the military at all.
As discussed by Sonny Hernandez, in an interview with the New York Times Fulton was aghast that military chaplains have the gall to claim their God is greater than their government — and they should therefore not be in the military:
Some chaplains argue: ‘My first responsibility is to God.’ Well, if your responsibility is to God and not the Army, you need to get out of the Army.
Hernandez accurately summarized Fulton’s intolerant and ultimately unconstitutional advocacy:
[When] Fulton argues that chaplains should get out of the military if God is first in their lives, she is establishing a religion over theirs…She is [saying] the Constitution only works one way, and that the Defense Department’s policy on pluralism is extended only to those with convictions are agreeable to hers.
Fulton’s declaration is utterly ridiculous — and bigoted. Millions of troops before her have served God and country even as they held on to their religious faith — and their belief that their first responsibility was to God. As Hernandez notes, Fulton cites no act, conduct, or logical reason that justifies her declaration that religious adherents should not be allowed to serve in the military. Rather, her concern is only their faith:
For all the dominions of the Heavens and the earth belong to Allah Who has power over everything.
– Surah 3:189, the Quran
He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding;
– Daniel 2:21, The Tanach
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
– Romans 13:1, The Holy Bible
Sue Fulton says she has a problem not with what religious troops have done, but with what they believe. In fact, if she pondered for just a moment on what those religious troops have done — including dying for their country over the past two centuries — maybe she wouldn’t have made such a bigoted declaration.
And keep in mind, Fulton isn’t a nobody: Sue Fulton was appointed by President Obama to the Board of Visitors at West Point, a group for which she is now Chairman. The BoV has broad oversight of everything at the entire US Military Academy.
The idea that one’s ultimate responsibility should be to government rather than God should be terrifying. When government overrules God, man becomes accountable only to a government that is unaccountable. One need not search long to find the world tragedies and genocides committed by nations who have established the government as supreme.
Michael “Mikey” Weinstein goes a step further even than Fulton. Weinstein advocates that government is god — saying US military troops should have “only one religious faith: American patriotism.” Shockingly, Weinstein’s deification of the state has shades of 1930s Germany in it, yet few seem concerned — rather surprising, given the current state of politics.
Ultimately, if the state can do no wrong — as would be the case of a “supreme” state advocated by Fulton and Weinstein — and if US troops are obliged to “just follow orders,” there can be no moral outcome. If there is no higher authority than government, we may never have known about Abu Ghraib; My Lai may not have been stopped.
Even Fulton recognizes the extremity of her statement, and she tried, somewhat unsuccessfully, to add nuance:
That sounds cold – of course your first responsibility is to God – but you take on these obligations, and if your responsibility to God doesn’t allow you to fulfill them, you’re in the wrong place.”
She ended up contradicting herself. Do those who believe God is first need to get out, or is it “of course” God is first?
As has been said before, if you believe in God, God has to be first. It would be utterly irrational and illogical to believe in a “god” that was subject to the rule of man.
Fulton is wrong, and even the military she works with disagrees with her. The entire concept of conscientious objection, for example, is predicated on the idea that the US government accepts that a citizen’s responsibility to God can actually outweigh their responsibility to their country.
Further, former Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning — himself a homosexual, just like Fulton — disagreed with Fulton when he published authorization for the religious accommodation of beards, turbans, hijabs, etc.
Those men and women put “God first” but still wanted to serve. The Army didn’t say get out. They said join us — and we will accommodate and tolerate the requirements of your beliefs.
If Sue Fulton doesn’t like the prospect of religious troops in her Army, that is her right. But it is disturbing to realize the extent of her ability to influence the US Military Academy at West Point — and through it, the US Army — with her error — as well as her intolerance and prejudice.
As Ronald Reagan said, those proclaiming the supremacy of “tolerance” sometimes seem the most intolerant of all.