West Point Cadet Quits over Overbearing Religious Atmosphere
A military cadet was only months away from graduating when he quit West Point due to what he called the academy’s overbearing religious atmosphere.
Blake Page, 24, left West Point in November, claiming the school spent too much time preaching Christianity to cadets.
“I do not wish to be in any way associated with an institution which willfully disregards the Constitution of the United States of America by enforcing policies which run counter to the same,” Page wrote in his letter of resignation.
A Humanist and president of West Point’s Secular Student Alliance, Page said he witnessed routine prayers at mandatory events for cadets and rewards to students who participated in religious retreats and chapel choirs.
Page served two years in the Army as an enlisted soldier before entering West Point, where he majored first in chemical engineering and then in management. He was ruled noncommissionable because of health issues, so had he graduated he would have had to enter the civilian workforce anyway.
A spokesman for West Point, Francis DeMaro Jr., rejected Page’s claim about mandatory prayer. “The academy holds both official and public ceremonies where an invocation and benediction may be conducted, but prayer is voluntary,” he told CNN. “As officers, cadets will be responsible for soldiers who represent America’s great diversity in faith and ethnic background.”
The controversy was reminiscent of the one that occurred at the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2005, when critics charged that evangelical Christians were given preferential treatment and allowed to proselytize on a regular basis.
To Learn More:
Too Much Religion At Military Academies? West Point Cadet Revives Charge. (by Anna Mulrine, Christian Science Monitor)
West Pointer Quits Over Proselytizing (by Bryant Jordan, Military.com)
Why I Don't Want to Be a West Point Graduate (by Blake Page, Huffington Post)
West Point Military Cadet's Unsettling Story of How Christianity Dominates the Academy and Drove Him to Quit (by Valerie Tarico, AlterNet)
Fort Bragg Agrees to Allow Atheist-Themed Concert on Base (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Atheists in Foxholes Demand Recognition (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
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