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← Fault Lines - Religion in the military

John_T's Avatar Jump to comment 27 by John_T

Hypnos7 - Comment #24

Hypnos7: It seems that we require data comparing the religiosity of the military with that of the civilian population..


Michael Shermer, in the SkepticBlog I posted above [#8], reports:

M. Shermer: That is more than a little unfortunate, because the military has actually lagged behind the general population in religiosity, with 20% of the roughly 1.4 million active-duty personnel telling the Department of Defense that they have “no religious preference,” which is higher than the 16.1% of the American public who tick the same box on similar surveys conducted by Gallup and others (although among active military only .5% — one half of one percent — call themselves “atheist” or “agnostic”, whereas around 8% of the general public does). The other 80% identify with evangelical or Pentecostal (22%), Catholic (19%), another 20% as “Christian” (incorporating other Christian sects), and assorted other religions, but next to no Jews (1/300) or Muslims (1/400).


Michael is also referencing this interesting piece by Jeff Sharlet:

http://www.harpers.org/archive/2009/05/0082488

As to some of the comments about personal experience - I may add, obviously without knowing all the details of the situation or personal experience (and I don't pretend I know at this time) - that it seems from the Sharlet story, Shermer's account and a bit from the Fault Lines video that this is a rather "new" movement, or more engaged as a movement at this time.

Sharlet, after briefly providing a background of fundamentalism in the military over the past decades offers these thoughts:

Sharlet: Today, fundamentalism, based as it is on a vigorous assertion of narrow and exclusive claims to truth, can no longer justify common cause with secularism. In its principal battle, the front lines are not in Iraq or Afghanistan but right here, where evangelical militants must wage spiritual war against their own countrymen. In a lecture for OCF titled “Fighting the War on Spiritual Terrorism,” Army Lieutenant Colonel Greg E. Metzgar explained that Christian soldiers must always consider themselves behind enemy lines, even within the ranks, because every unsaved member of the military is a potential agent of “spiritual terrorism.” Even secularists with the best intentions may be part of this fifth column, Air Force Brigadier General Donald C. Wurster told a 2007 assembly of chaplains, noting that “the unsaved have no realization of their unfortunate alliance with evil.”


[emphasis added]

Sun, 28 Jun 2009 17:22:00 UTC | #374616