Sunday, August 22, 2010

Fort Eustis soldiers told go to Christian Rock Concert or stay in their racks

With all the uproar around the proposed Islamic Center in lower Manhattan, it appears that religious freedom has come under attack again.  This time from within the United States Army. 

According to an Associated Press story on August 20, 2010, the Army is investigating if Fort Eustis soldiers who did not want to attend a Christian Rock concert on base were forced to stay in their barracks.  To read the full story click here

Those on the Evangelical Right vigorously advocate that this nation was founded on Christian principles and that this is a Christian nation.  I don't think it can be disputed that the people who came to this continent from Western Europe were predominantly of the Christian faith (Catholic and Protestant).  But, it also cannot be denied that the First Amendment and specifically the parts about Religious Freedom and the Separation of Church and State, were discussed, debated, argued just as strongly during the drafting of our Constitution. 

It is clear that our Founding Father didn't want one faith to have legal preference over another, and that in referring to "God" they went to great lengths to acknowledge the "Creator" of all mankind.  It cannot be denied that there is a strong connection to Christianity in our founding documents.  This is reflected by the men who had the greatest influence in their development.  But, it is also clear that in forming a Federal Republic, a nation based on the rule of law, that Enlightenment thinking was also woven into the fabric of the Constitution to protect and preserve the individual rights of man.  Specifically freedom of Religion, as advocated by Thomas Jefferson. 

When a person signs-up for military service in the United States, our men and women are not protected by all the laws they have sworn to "defend."  But, Religious Freedom and the free exercise thereof does apply to our brave men and women of the Armed Forces.  What kind of a military, and nation, would we be if the exception to the rule were the very citizens that have sworn to fight for Religious Freedom and all the other lliberties the United States Constitution affords us all? 

If this were just one or two, or even a just few more, then this could be chalked-up to soldiers gripping.  But out of a 200 soldiers, nearly 100 were confined to their barracks because they didn't want to attend a Christian Rock concert on base.  I hope the Army's investigation is unbiased and complete, and if these soldier's Constitutional Rights were violated then the offender(s) should be punished accordingly. 

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