Paul J. Mills, Tiffany Barsotti, Meredith A. Pung, Kathleen L. Wilson, Laura Redwine, and Deepak Chopra Gratitude, along with love, compassion, empathy, joy, forgiveness, and self-knowledge, is a vital attribute of our wellbeing. While there are many definitions of gratitude, at its foundation, gratitude is a healing, life-affirming, and uplifting human experience that shifts us […]
An article in the Washington Post On Faith section in response to their question:
The ACLU has asked the U.S. Naval Academy to end prayers at mandatory meals, and yet all branches of the service employ chaplains. What is the proper role of religion in the military?
Speaking realistically, patriotism can’t be divorced from religion. Every war is fought with God on our side — on both sides. And the prevailing notion is always that the enemy is godless. The ACLU may prevail legally, on the basis of separating church and state, but psychology works massively against them. Soldiers know that they may die in battle, and the armed forces must create an ethos that protects their psyches from the impending danger of the conflict. Team spirit and protecting your buddy is one aspect of feeling safe. Trusting your weaponry is another. But so is the idea that God approves of your cause and implicitly will take you to Heaven if the worst befalls.
That said, it is disturbing to know how deeply fundamentalist Christianity has sunk into the ethos of the armed forces. First noticed with alarm at the Air Force Academy, hard-core proselytizing is apparently rampant. Soldiers pray as they go into training exercises as well as into battle. Atheist and Jewish soldiers are ostracized or hit hard with pressure to convert. The simple notion that fighting for your country is the same as fighting for Jesus is endemic. Yet here, too, the solution isn’t clear. Weeding out chaplains who encourage right-wing fundamentalism may do some good, but if cadets and enlistees come from the same Christian background, they have rights, too. Even though one may suppose that young men and women barely in their twenties, if that, are too susceptible to peer pressure and religious indoctrination, we consider them mature enough to go to war. Splitting the difference won’t work.