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Subject: Cadet quits, cites overt religion at West Point rss

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fightcitymayor
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http://www.sfgate.com/news/us/article/Cadet-quits-cites-over...

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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A cadet quitting West Point less than six months before graduation says he could no longer be part of a culture that promotes prayers and religious activities and disrespects nonreligious cadets.

Blake Page announced his decision to quit the U.S. Military Academy this week in a much-discussed online post that echoed the sentiments of soldiers and airmen at other military installations. The 24-year-old told The Associated Press that a determination this semester that he could not become an officer because of clinical depression played a role in his public protest against what he calls the unconstitutional prevalence of religion in the military.

"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. "I realized that this is one way I can make that change happen."

Page criticized a culture where cadets stand silently for prayers, where nonreligious cadets were jokingly called "heathens" by instructors at basic training and where one officer told him he'd never be a leader until he filled the hole in his heart. In announcing his resignation this week on The Huffington Post, he denounced "criminals" in the military who violate the oaths they swore to defend the Constitution.

"I don't want to be a part of West Point knowing that the leadership here is OK with just shrugging off and shirking off respect and good order and discipline and obeying the law and defending the Constitution and doing their job," he told the AP.

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fightcitymayor wrote:
where nonreligious cadets were jokingly called "heathens" by instructors at basic training and where one officer told him he'd never be a leader until he filled the hole in his heart.


I was called all kinds of shit in Basic Training, Heathen would have been the tamest...Apparently he missed the memo.

GROW A PAIR, MAGGOT!


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Oh yeah, that segment of the film ends REALLY well for Ermey's character.
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Have to say this, as it's not a law it's not unconstitutional. I feel he was poorly treated (and that what was done should have not been tolerated). It all depends on whether or not he was singled out because he was an atheist.
 
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In the article there are contrary viewpoints from those who are also secular.

Quote:
West Point officials on Wednesday disputed those assertions. Spokeswoman Theresa Brinkerhoff said prayer is voluntary at events where invocations and benedictions are conducted and noted the academy has a Secular Student Alliance club, where Page served as president.
Maj. Nicholas Utzig, the faculty adviser to the secular club, said he doesn't doubt some of the moments Page described, but he doesn't believe there is systematic discrimination against nonreligious cadets.
"I think it represents his own personal experience and perhaps it might not be as universal as he suggests," said Utzig, who teaches English literature.

One of Page's secularist classmates went further, calling his characterization of West Point unfair.

"I think it's true that the majority of West Point cadets are of a very conservative, Christian orientation," said senior cadet Andrew Houchin. "I don't think that's unique to West Point. But more broadly, I've never had that even be a problem with those of us who are secular."


It appears that maybe Page's clinical depression really was the reason for his discharge and not a systemic persecution. Now whether his impressions contributed to his depression and how much in comparison to things like his father's death, we can't tell.

There are evidently others who are eager to exploit whatever is going on with Page in order to advance their own goals. I find that sad.
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Did he just take exception to the 'moment of silence?'
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DCAnderson wrote:
MWChapel wrote:


I was called all kinds of shit in Basic Training, Heathen would have been the tamest...Apparently he missed the memo.


But this was an officer's academy, not basic training. They're mean to you in basic training because they're trying to instill discipline.

If you've reached the officer level you should have mostly moved beyond that shit.

Anyhow, I have no idea how overtly religious Westpoint is, so it's hard for me to really judge this. There is a point that would be going over the line, but I don't know if West Point crossed it or this guy is just whining.
They receive basic training at West point as well, they are not all OR's recommended for officer training.
 
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Quote:
A cadet quitting West Point less than six months before graduation says he could no longer be part of a culture that promotes prayers and religious activities and disrespects nonreligious cadets.
I'd say, put him on the first line of a battle field, he'll learn to pray real quick!



 
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DCAnderson wrote:


If you've reached the officer level you should have mostly moved beyond that shit.


HAH! In the military, you never move beyond all that shit. Officer or not.

Plus, all cadets start West Point doing a basic training(cbt) before moving on in curriculum which is almost identical as you will find for OCS or regular basic training.
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DCAnderson wrote:
Psauberer wrote:

It appears that maybe Page's clinical depression really was the reason for his discharge and not a systemic persecution.


That was the reason for his discharge, but he says he's using that as an opportunity to speak out about another issue.


And others who share his philosophy are calling bullshit.
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"Joking referred to as a heathen."

Isn't he the definition of a heathen? A person who is not a part of a common religion is a heathen.

I would have proudly worn the "insult"
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DCAnderson wrote:
MWChapel wrote:


I was called all kinds of shit in Basic Training, Heathen would have been the tamest...Apparently he missed the memo.


But this was an officer's academy, not basic training. They're mean to you in basic training because they're trying to instill discipline.

If you've reached the officer level you should have mostly moved beyond that shit.

Anyhow, I have no idea how overtly religious Westpoint is, so it's hard for me to really judge this. There is a point that would be going over the line, but I don't know if West Point crossed it or this guy is just whining.


Mandatory Chapel ended at West Point in 1972.

Things may have changed in 20 years or so, but I don't ever remember any religion being forced, demanded, or required. I had Atheist, Jewish Catholic, multiple Protestant denominations, and Agnostic roommates. A good friend who was a Mormon. People were pretty much free to practice however they wanted or not to practice at all.

That said, just about every religious service had food, which was always in high demand. Some cadets just went for that. It was also not unusual for Plebes to attend religious services just to get away from the pressure for an hour or so. But I never saw anyone forced to go.
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richcharters wrote:
Quote:
A cadet quitting West Point less than six months before graduation says he could no longer be part of a culture that promotes prayers and religious activities and disrespects nonreligious cadets.
I'd say, put him on the first line of a battle field, he'll learn to pray real quick!


This comment genuinely makes me wonder whether it's worth reading anything else you write ever.
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richcharters wrote:
Quote:
A cadet quitting West Point less than six months before graduation says he could no longer be part of a culture that promotes prayers and religious activities and disrespects nonreligious cadets.
I'd say, put him on the first line of a battle field, he'll learn to pray real quick!


I don't know if you intended that as a joke, but I can tell you that I consider it totally insulting. If that's how you feel it would rise to the "I would rather not ever spend time with that guy" level for me.
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MWChapel wrote:
fightcitymayor wrote:
where nonreligious cadets were jokingly called "heathens" by instructors at basic training and where one officer told him he'd never be a leader until he filled the hole in his heart.


I was called all kinds of shit in Basic Training, Heathen would have been the tamest...Apparently he missed the memo.

GROW A PAIR, MAGGOT!




That's not as disturbing as "heathen" and being required to pray.

The basic training rant stuff is rude but it's just business.

As other's said above, I need more details and more time for all the facts to come out. The trend is to less religious and more secular and a more open military appropriate to our democratic society.

My only concern is that without an invisible punisher to enforce morality, that some folks will be less ethical and moral than otherwise.

 
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legendno6 wrote:
DCAnderson wrote:
MWChapel wrote:


I was called all kinds of shit in Basic Training, Heathen would have been the tamest...Apparently he missed the memo.


But this was an officer's academy, not basic training. They're mean to you in basic training because they're trying to instill discipline.

If you've reached the officer level you should have mostly moved beyond that shit.

Anyhow, I have no idea how overtly religious Westpoint is, so it's hard for me to really judge this. There is a point that would be going over the line, but I don't know if West Point crossed it or this guy is just whining.


Mandatory Chapel ended at West Point in 1972.

Things may have changed in 20 years or so, but I don't ever remember any religion being forced, demanded, or required. I had Atheist, Jewish Catholic, multiple Protestant denominations, and Agnostic roommates. A good friend who was a Mormon. People were pretty much free to practice however they wanted or not to practice at all.

That said, just about every religious service had food, which was always in high demand. Some cadets just went for that. It was also not unusual for Plebes to attend religious services just to get away from the pressure for an hour or so. But I never saw anyone forced to go.


It has come to light that he failed his pre-commissioning physical. So is he quitting out of frustration, going down swinging, and playing the religion card? Or is he quitting based on his convictions? I don't know, but something doesn't seem quite right here.

I am very disappointed West Point let him go with no financial or military service obligations. He received 7/8 of his diploma from a top notch school on the tax payer dime. He isn't stupid, and will probably get accepted to a good school, spend one semester, and have his degree. And we paid for nearly all of it. The deal is, taxpayers put you thru school, and you owe the tax payers 8 years of your life. That is made clear from day one of the application process. Hell, I'm still inactive reserve. If the Army ever needs a 42 year old broken-down Captain, they have my address and phone number.

He got over on the system. It happened long before I got there, while I was there, and will happen again. Frustrating, but there will always be people who manage to pull it off. You shake your head and move on--life's to short to freak out about it.
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legendno6 wrote:
I am very disappointed West Point let him go with no financial or military service obligations.


The first article I read on this implied he would owe the tuition. But if he was going to not be eligible to serve for reasons that were out of his control he probably shouldn't.

He may have some points (I've heard similar things before), but the facts are too murky here for much of an impact. I'm all for fighting injustice, but part of that is putting up with some crap and changing minds by your example like minorites and women in the military have before this.
 
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DCAnderson wrote:


You know, I've been thinking about this movie and I find it weird that so many military people like it, and I know of at least one person who was inspired to join the Marines because of it.

Because this is probably one of the most staunchly anti-war films ever, and is not in any way subtle about it.

The message of the movie is basically that war is a pointless waste of time and that the Marine Corp is filled with psychopaths.

What's even weirder is that R. Lee Ermey was able to build a career on this and have his own show on the History Channel about how awesome war is.


I like the movie because it accurately depicts military training, AND war. The reality of it is these people aren't creating well adjusted members of society, they are training people to kill other people. It takes a certain level of psychopathy to do just that. So they NEED to break their sanity levels just a little bit to accomplish that goal. War is dirty business no doubt. But the necessity is there, so this is what our soldiers have to endure. Religion takes a very important part of that equation. Soldiers are more likely to sacrifice life if they have an afterlife plan. I can totally see why they push the need for religion on these cadets. If your whole definition of being is the precious years you walk on this earth, you might not wish to waste them catching a bullet. Military training is genius if you think about it.
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rshipley wrote:
legendno6 wrote:
I am very disappointed West Point let him go with no financial or military service obligations.


The first article I read on this implied he would owe the tuition. But if he was going to not be eligible to serve for reasons that were out of his control he probably shouldn't.

He may have some points (I've heard similar things before), but the facts are too murky here for much of an impact. I'm all for fighting injustice, but part of that is putting up with some crap and changing minds by your example like minorites and women in the military have before this.


A few later articles updated that he owes no $ or commitment. Here is one, a copy of an AP article: http://thetandd.com/lifestyles/faith-and-values/cadet-quits-...

I do think the guy comparing him to Rosa Parks is WAAAYYY off base.

The stress of the place + depression + fathers suicide is enough to push just about anyone over the edge. Gut feeling is that has a lot do do with this.
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MWChapel wrote:
DCAnderson wrote:


You know, I've been thinking about this movie and I find it weird that so many military people like it, and I know of at least one person who was inspired to join the Marines because of it.

Because this is probably one of the most staunchly anti-war films ever, and is not in any way subtle about it.

The message of the movie is basically that war is a pointless waste of time and that the Marine Corp is filled with psychopaths.

What's even weirder is that R. Lee Ermey was able to build a career on this and have his own show on the History Channel about how awesome war is.


I like the movie because it accurately depicts military training, AND war. The reality of it is these people aren't creating well adjusted members of society, they are training people to kill other people. It takes a certain level of psychopathy to do just that. So they NEED to break their sanity levels just a little bit to accomplish that goal. War is dirty business no doubt. But the necessity is there, so this is what our soldiers have to endure. Religion takes a very important part of that equation. Soldiers are more likely to sacrifice life if they have an afterlife plan. I can totally see why they push the need for religion on these cadets. If your whole definition of being is the precious years you walk on this earth, you might not wish to waste them catching a bullet. Military training is genius if you think about it.
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MWChapel wrote:
Religion takes a very important part of that equation. Soldiers are more likely to sacrifice life if they have an afterlife plan. I can totally see why they push the need for religion on these cadets. If your whole definition of being is the precious years you walk on this earth, you might not wish to waste them catching a bullet. Military training is genius if you think about it.


Thumb because I find this revealing, even insightful in its own way. It's absolutely false that atheists are never willing to die for causes, and pushing the view that they aren't is one of the more subtle ways in which atheists are disfavored by our culture. But I strongly suspect that this prejudicial belief is used to justify an unconstitutional attempt to force religion on some in the military (though I also believe it to be far from universal). It makes sense, though--if one has the beliefs Chapel has expressed, it may well seem like the lesser evil to push religion somewhat.
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rinelk wrote:

Thumb because I find this revealing, even insightful in its own way. It's absolutely false that atheists are never willing to die for causes, and pushing the view that they aren't is one of the more subtle ways in which atheists are disfavored by our culture.


That may be the case, but then why are they not enlisting?

"There are no atheists in foxholes"

It might be out of date, but I'm fairly certain it's not far off the mark.

Maybe the military works in the same way as religion, and attracts those who are susceptible to that kind of ideology without question?
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rinelk wrote:
MWChapel wrote:
Religion takes a very important part of that equation. Soldiers are more likely to sacrifice life if they have an afterlife plan. I can totally see why they push the need for religion on these cadets. If your whole definition of being is the precious years you walk on this earth, you might not wish to waste them catching a bullet. Military training is genius if you think about it.


Thumb because I find this revealing, even insightful in its own way. It's absolutely false that atheists are never willing to die for causes, and pushing the view that they aren't is one of the more subtle ways in which atheists are disfavored by our culture. But I strongly suspect that this prejudicial belief is used to justify an unconstitutional attempt to force religion on some in the military (though I also believe it to be far from universal). It makes sense, though--if one has the beliefs Chapel has expressed, it may well seem like the lesser evil to push religion somewhat.
To pull an theist here, I thought that both NAZI Germany and Soviet Russia were atheist countries. Seems to be there were plenty of people willing to die for them.
 
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slatersteven wrote:
To pull an theist here, I thought that both NAZI Germany and Soviet Russia were atheist countries. Seems to be there were plenty of people willing to die for them.


NAZI's were not atheists. And communist Russia's leadership may have suppressed the churches, doesn't mean the populace lost it's faith.
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rinelk wrote:
richcharters wrote:
Quote:
A cadet quitting West Point less than six months before graduation says he could no longer be part of a culture that promotes prayers and religious activities and disrespects nonreligious cadets.
I'd say, put him on the first line of a battle field, he'll learn to pray real quick!


This comment genuinely makes me wonder whether it's worth reading anything else you write ever.


How did it take you so long?
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