Monday, September 29, 2008

Another military religious freedom case

Dustin Chalker, stationed at Ft. Riley, Kansas, has filed a lawsuit about being forced to attend Christian proselytization events in the military, including a presentation which claimed that Christianity and creationism give life meaning, while evolution and atheism remove hope. The complaint describes this event, which took place at a U.S. military base in England, delivered by Chaplain Christian Biscotti (!) and was approved by Lt. Gen. Rod Bishop (!) who spoke afterward:
Another slide titled "Contrasting Theories of Hope, Ultimate Theories Explaining Our Existence," has two columns, the first titled "Chance," and the second "Design," comparing Charles Darwin, creationism, and religion are also part of a chart comparing the former Soviet Union to the United States, concluding that "Naturalism/Evolution/Atheism" leads to people being "in bondage" and having "no hope," while theism leads to "People of Freedom" and "People of hope/destiny." After several more slides like these, the presentation continues with a slide titled "Christian's Message," and a slide with an image of a man looking upwards with his hands outstretched and the caption "Please open up both of your hands to receive this powerful tool."
This lawsuit, like that of Jeremy Hall, was filed by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

Chaplain Biscotti is a real person, currently stationed at the Joint Warfare Centre in Stavanger, Norway.

(Via Dispatches from the Culture Wars.)

UPDATE (October 18, 2008): Jeremy Hall has withdrawn his lawsuit on the grounds that he will soon be out of the military and suspects the case will be dismissed for lack of standing once he's out. Chalker's case continues.

UPDATE (January 7, 2009): Chalker's suit has been updated and expanded to add further examples of "the noxiously unconstitutional pattern and practice of fundamentalist
Christian oppression" in the military, including the Air Force sponsoring "Team Faith" motocross stunt shows, promoting attempts to convert Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan to Christianity, and the Army's 2008 manual on suicide prevention, which promotes "religiosity" as a necessary component.

1 comment:

JayMagoo said...

Things haven't changed. I was in the US Army in the 1960s and wanted to get Atheist on my dog tags. I was told it was either Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, or No Preference. I said I had a preference, and that was Atheist. No luck. They put No Preference, which I figured was harmless. Then my company commander, apparently Italian-American from his name, called me into the orderly room and reamed me out for my rejection of Catholicism. He told me I had no future in the army as an Atheist. So I didn't reenlist, and took my GI Bill and got an Ivy League education, thank you very much.