Thursday, January 20, 2011

U.S.Soldiers Arbitrarily Judged on "Spiritual Fitness"

Chris Rodda has an article at Talk2Action.org that must be read in it's entirety: Soldiers Forced to See Chaplain After Failing Army's Spiritual Fitness Test. Here's an excerpt:

After failing a recently implemented mandatory Army-wide "Spiritual Fitness" test, soldiers are given the following message on their computer screens:

"Spiritual fitness is an area of possible difficulty for you. You may lack a sense of meaning and purpose in your life. At times, it is hard for you to make sense of what is happening to you and others around you. You may not feel connected to something larger than yourself. You may question your beliefs, principles, and values. Nevertheless, who you are and what you do matter. There are things to do to provide more meaning and purpose in your life. Improving your spiritual fitness should be an important goal. Change is possible, and the relevant self-development training modules will be helpful. If you need further help, please do not hesitate to seek out help from the people you care about and trust -- strong people always do. Be patient in your development as it will take time to improve in this area. Still, persistence is key and you will improve here if you make this area a priority."

This mandatory online test, called the Global Assessment Tool (GAT), is part of the Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF) program, a program that puts spiritual fitness on par with physical and mental fitness.

Upon flunking the "Spiritual Fitness" section of the GAT, and receiving the above message telling them that "Change is possible" and that "you will improve here if you make this area a priority," the spiritually deficient soldiers are directed to training modules to correct this problem with their "fitness."


Rodda's article relays a firsthand account of the arbitrary, capricious and clearly unconstitutional campaign of religious indoctrination in the military. Here are the words of a decorated soldier who failed the Army' s spiritual fitness test.

Subject: I Am A "Spiritual Fitness Failure" ......Before I tell you, Mr. Weinstein and the MRFF of my total outrage at the U.S. Army for grading me as a "Spiritual Fitness failure", I will tell you a few things about myself. My name is (name withheld) and I am an enlisted soldier with the rank of (rank withheld) in the United States Army stationed at Ft. (military installation withheld). I am in my early-to-mid twenties. I have been deployed downrange into Iraq and Afghanistan 6 times. I will deploy again for my 7th time very soon; to Afghanistan and more combat. All of my deployments have been very heavy combat assignments. I have been wounded 4 times including traumatic brain injury. I have earned the Combat Action Badge, the Bronze Star and multiple Purple Hearts. I have fought in hand-to hand- combat and killed and wounded more than a few "enemy combatants." M religion? I was born a Methodist and guess I still am one. I'm not very religious but consider myself to be a Christian. I don't go to chapel services that often although I go every now and then. I can't stand the chaplains as most of them are trying to always get me and my friends to "commit to Christ" and be far more religious as well as they try to get more and more soldiers to get more and more soldiers to be the same type of "committed Christian". I cannot count the number of times that these chaplains and my own chain of command has described this war we fight as a religious one against the Muslims and their "false, evil and violent" religion. I am a Christian and therefore neither an agnostic nor an atheist though many of my fellow soldiers are such. Now to the point. I, and everyone else who is enlisted in my company, was ORDERED by my Battalion Commander to take the GAT's Spiritual Fitness Test not very long ago. Let me make this CLEAR, we were all ORDERD to take it. After we did, our unit's First Sgt. individually asked us all how we did on the test. There was NO "anonymity" at all. None of us were ever told that we did NOT have to take this Spiritual Fitness Test nor that we did NOT have to tell our FIrst Sgt. what our results were. A bunch of us "failed" the SFT and when we told that to our First Sgt., per his disclosure order, he further ordered us to make immediate appointments with the chaplains so that we would not "kill ourselves on his watch". None of us wanted to do it but we were scared. None of us wanted to get in the shits with our First Sgt. who can and will make life miserable for anyone who might have said no to him. They keep saying that this is all to stop us soldiers from killing ourselves but THIS degrading SFT "failure" only makes it worse. Two of my battle buddies who I KNOW are thinking of ending it all were a million times worse off after failing this SFT and being called a "spiritual failure" and then ordered to go see the chaplains. I felt like a total coward for not standing up to my First Sgt. but I did what he told me to do. I was scared to tell him no. So I went to see the chaplain. When this chaplain told me that I failed the SFT because it was "Jesus' way of personally knocking on my door as an invitation for me to come to Him as a born again 'REAL' Christian" so that I could be saved and not burn forever in Hell for rejecting him, I thought of 3 things. First, I thought of the fact that I was already born a Christian and did not need to be born again. Second, I thought of my battle buddy (name and rank withheld) who took a bullet for me in his face during the Battle of (name of Iraqi battle withheld) and that he was the same kind of Christian as me and this chaplain is telling me that my battle buddy (name and rank withheld) is burning in hell for all time.


The military chaplaincy should not be using coercive force or deception to proselytize soldiers. In fact, they should not be allowed to proselytize at all. Their job is to serve those who desire their services, not to gain converts via force, deception or even by persuasion. The Constitution forbids establishment of a state religion and interference in the free exercise of religion. The government and its agencies cannot single out particular religious beliefs for special favor and others for disfavor. The military, by allowing, cooperating with and even mandating this sort of discrimination, betrays the trust that we as a nation have in their role as defenders of the Constitution. That they should subject to such unfair treatment those who have sacrificed so much for this country makes this injustice especially egregious.

2 comments:

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Adam Holland said...

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