Regardless of what your personal religious beliefs are, you are paying to have some of our soldiers preached to against their will, forced to attend religious concerts and events, and punished for exercising their Constitutional and Military rights to refuse to participate. The events are called “The Commanding General’s Spiritual Fitness Concert Series”, and they are the scheme of Maj Gen James E. Chambers. Soldiers in Fort Eustis and Fort Lee, in Virginia, are being marched to religious concerts, in formation, and only given a chance to back out of attending once they arrive at the venue. If they choose to opt out, they are ordered to march back to the barracks and report for maintenance duties. If they are caught doing anything other than maintenance (while their fellow soldiers are enjoying a concert), they face punishment. And though the idea is not to promote any one religion but “to have a mix of different performers with different religious backgrounds”, the bands that headline these events have all been Christian rock bands. Not only do they play their evangelical music, they also give their Christian testimony and read from the Bible.
And you are paying for this. They aren’t inexpensive local bands, either. They are often the top Christian bands in the nation, and they get paid anywhere from $30,000 to $100,000. (The warm-up acts can run about $10,000 each.) That’s your tax money being used to proselytize to our soldiers against their will. When I went through Air Force Basic Training (Jan 1983), our first Sunday there we were required to attend church services as a unit. After that, those of us who wished to not attend religious services were allowed to stay at the barracks. But we were free to read or play cards or anything else until the rest of the unit returned. We were not expected to work when our fellow airmen were not.
Simply put, this is wrong. No member of our military, especially our military (the one that defends a secular nation) should be forced to participate in religious events, nor punished for refusing to do so. Yet that is what is happening right now in Virginia. And it must be stopped.