Onward Atheist Soldier?: Iraq Veteran Files Lawsuit Claiming There is a Climate of Discrimination Against Non-Christians in the Military

CNN has a story today about Army Spc. Jeremy Hall, a former Baptist, now atheist, who believes that there is a climate of discrimination against non-Christians in the military:

Like many Christians, he said grace before dinner and read the Bible before bed. Four years ago when he was deployed to Iraq, he packed his Bible so he would feel closer to God.

He served two tours of duty in Iraq and has a near perfect record. But somewhere between the tours, something changed. Hall, now 23, said he no longer believes in God, fate, luck or anything supernatural.

Hall said he met some atheists who suggested he read the Bible again. After doing so, he said he had so many unanswered questions that he decided to become an atheist.

His sudden lack of faith, he said, cost him his military career and put his life at risk. Hall said his life was threatened by other troops and the military assigned a full-time bodyguard to protect him out of fear for his safety.

Now that he is back stateside, he’s decided to sue:

In March, Hall filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Defense and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, among others. In the suit, Hall claims his rights to religious freedom under the First Amendment were violated and suggests that the United States military has become a Christian organization.

Hall isn’t seeking compensation in his lawsuit — just the guarantee of religious freedom in the military.

“I think it’s utterly and totally wrong. Unconstitutional,” Hall said.

Hall said there is a pattern of discrimination against non-Christians in the military.

Two years ago on Thanksgiving Day, after refusing to pray at his table, Hall said he was told to go sit somewhere else. In another incident, when he was nearly killed during an attack on his Humvee, he said another soldier asked him, “Do you believe in Jesus now?”

You can read the whole story here: http://www.cnn.com/2008/US/07/08/atheist.soldier/index.html?iref=mpstoryview

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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