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West Point cadet quits over religion
Blake Page says West Point discriminates against nonreligious cadets.
December 6th, 2012
03:36 PM ET

West Point cadet quits over religion

By Moni Basu, CNN

(CNN) – Military development. Academics. Athletics. Three pillars of Army values that cadets at America's most prestigious military academy live by.

But West Point cadet Blake Page says there is one other unspoken pillar at the United States Military Academy: religion.

That's why, with just five months left before graduation, Page quit.

And he did it in a most public fashion – in a fiery blog post.

"The tipping point of my decision to resign was the realization that countless officers here and throughout the military are guilty of blatantly violating the oaths they swore to defend the Constitution,"  wrote Page, 24, in The Huffington Post.

"These men and women are criminals, complicit in light of day defiance of the Uniform Code of Military Justice through unconstitutional proselytism, discrimination against the non-religious and establishing formal policies to reward, encourage and even at times require sectarian religious participation. These transgressions are nearly always committed in the name of fundamentalist evangelical Christianity."

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church and state • Military

soundoff (383 Responses)
  1. Cuchara

    Quiting after the first 2 years requires some commitment, dollars or enlisted duty. Since West Point was withholding Page's commision he probatly will not get hit with either.

    December 6, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      He is being honorably discharged – so presumably no enlisted duty requirements.

      December 6, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • E. Rick Clapton

      Did no one actually read the article? He did his service before he applied.

      December 6, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      As a matter of fact, yes.

      "After high school in Stockbridge, Georgia, he enlisted and spent three years in an air defense unit. While there, his commanders encouraged him to enroll at West Point"

      December 6, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  2. Blake Page

    I realized after 3 1/2 years that Obama wasn't going to have us out of Afghanistan by the time I graduated, so I had to think quick before they came calling on the obligation that I signed up for. This was the easiest way out. Thanks for all of the support!

    December 6, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • E. Rick Clapton

      Well trolleo, you kinda sorta missed the fact that he volunteered and served as a soldier for three years before he applied to West Point.

      Let me guess . . . you have done no military service, and you are insulting him. Just like W Bush's team of draft dodgers smeared John McCain's service.

      December 6, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  3. fernace

    Freedom Of Religion–Freedom to worship the religion of your choice! No State or government mandated religion! Freedom From Religion–Government does not make policies based on the bible or any other religious texts! People are free to choose No religion! Hope that clarifies things!!

    December 6, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  4. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    A couple of thoughts.

    1. This article is much more concrete than the webcam interview with Soledad.
    2. I see a bit of a conflict between these two datapoints:

    "He struggled after his father committed suicide. He was diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety and disqualified from being commissioned as a second lieutenant, the usual next step for West Point graduates."

    "The tipping point of my decision to resign was the realization that countless officers here and throughout the military are guilty of blatantly violating the oaths they swore to defend the Const!tution"

    In the interview with Soledad O'Brien, it was pretty clear that he was not completing his degree at West Point because his primary purpose – a commission in the US Army would not be obtained. While I don't question the notion that religiosity is pervasive at West Point, this seems a bit opportunistic.

    If in fact his disqualification from a commission was in part due to not toeing the line on religion, that would be one thing. There is no evidence to support that here.

    I hope the young man can work through his grief, transfer credits to another university and complete a degree.

    December 6, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  5. Guy

    Many years ago, but could be the same today, if you told the induction center that you had no religion they would simply tick the protestant box. And just try getting out of a forced church parade, almost impossible.

    December 6, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Jim

      now they check the box that says 'No Religious Preference' and it shows on your dog tags as NRP

      December 6, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • Money is God

      When I served my dogtags said "no rel pref". I forced them to take them back and put "atheist" on them.

      December 6, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
  6. granny

    His statements sound like 'a crock' to me! I think Portland Tony's explanation makes a lot more sense. It is 'in' to discriminate against Christians and Blake Page sounds like he is taking advantage of that.

    December 6, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • sam stone

      We feel so, so sorry for you poor, persecuted Christians. Breaks my heart, it does.

      December 6, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Troy

      Firstly, christians have historically discriminated against pretty much every possible group that can be discriminated against, so the whining about christian persecution is complete bull. Secondly, not only is it in, it's the right thing to do to any organization that preaches hate and "love" with fear.

      December 6, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
  7. rdstack

    Waaaaaaa... somebody made me listen to religious ideas... waaaaaaaa. Well personally I'm offended by having to listen to people complain about being offended. Wait... that means I'm even offending myself. Hmmm... this must be one of those vicious circle things I keep hearing about. Anyway... I'm still offended by the whiners in our society. 3 1/2 years and now he can't take it anymore? This dude was definitely not officer material to start with. Oh yea... Waaaaaaaaaaaaaa

    December 6, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
  8. Jim

    Mr. Page is a most amazing young man. To receive nearly four years of free education, and at the point when he is about to be called upon to repay his debt with service, he finds the people he is to serve with 'too religious'. Now, if I were a cynical person, I might conclude that Mr Page entered into this contractual relationship with the United States of America with less than pristine motives. But of course, you can dismiss my opinion as biased since I spent 24 years in the USAF, reaching the rank of Major, while remaining, to the day I retired, a confirmed agnostic. But,then, what would I know about it?

    December 6, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      He was willing to serve as an officer. The US Army won't give him a commission.

      December 6, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Davo

      Hahaha. I would think a troop that reached the rank of major would know that those who don't complete the academy can still be required to serve out their term of service as enlisted.

      December 6, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  9. Jocal

    but the military needs religion so they can recruit christians and turn them into killers!

    December 6, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Man Previously Known as Barry

      Nothing wrong with killing during war time. Read your Bible....

      December 6, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • sam stone

      the bible is not the authority on morality. use your head

      December 6, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Exactly. Thanks for reminding them there is no absolute moral code, even in religion. If the old men say "go". the young ones are to murder. Praise Jeebus.

      December 6, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • OTOH

      Man Previously Known as Barry
      " Read your Bible...."

      It is not *my* Bible. It is yours.

      December 6, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  10. Man Previously Known as Barry

    Brave, honorable man. Sadly our military, like our colleges, are being taken over by the liberal agenda. The sad part is we NEED leaders like this NOW...

    December 6, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Man Previously Known as Barry

      Wow, completely mis-read his stance. Scratch that, this kid is a neener head...

      December 6, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Peter

      Looks gay, glad he's gone.

      December 6, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Joe Blow

      Our military is being taken over by the liberal agenda? Are you really that stupid?

      December 6, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  11. Reality

    Mikey Weinstein (see the full stoiry) is the president of the "non-profit" Military Religious Freedom Foundation. And Mikey W's salary for 2008 was ? And the donations were?????

    As per IRS Form 990, Mikey W's salary for 2008 was $252,485. Total donations made to his foundation for 2008 were $545,434. Hmmmm????????

    December 6, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Akira

      Dayum!

      December 6, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  12. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    There's a long tradition of military academies and the military being very religioous – notably since the Wars of the Reformation when armies were agents of religious persecution.

    The British Navy particularly had a tradition of forbidding Catholics to serve as officers. Even as recently as the 1960s a Catholic might not expect a commission (or advancement) in any Commonwealth Navy that derived from a Royal Navy tradition.

    The Royal Navy was explicitly religious for centuries:

    THE ARTICLES OF WAR 1757

    1. All commanders, captains, and officers, in or belonging to any of His Majesty's ships or vessels of war, shall cause the public worship of Almighty God, according to the liturgy of the Church of England established by law, to be solemnly, orderly and reverently performed in their respective ships; and shall take care that prayers and preaching, by the chaplains in holy orders of the respective ships, be performed diligently; and that the Lord's day be observed according to law.

    2. All flag officers, and all persons in or belonging to His Majesty's ships or vessels of war, being guilty of profane oaths, cursings, execrations, drunkenness, uncleanness, or other scandalous actions, in derogation of God's honour, and corruption of good manners, shall incur such punishment as a court martial shall think fit to impose, and as the nature and degree of their offence shall deserve.

    Since their business is death, superst!tion and religion can often be front and center in military life.

    I'm not surprised that there is such an influence at West Point or particularly in the Air Force Academy. Being located in Colorado Springs and with their 'chapel" (or should I say cathedral) it's not surprising that the masters of doom (with their ar-senal of sub-orbital death) would be anything but fundies.

    Our "professional" defence forces should do better in this regard.

    December 6, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • lol??

      In USA Masters are Kings.

      December 6, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  13. Matthew J Coates

    What a loser

    December 6, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • PLANECRASH

      If I couldn't support my argument, I'd probably resort to name calling too.

      December 6, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  14. Jonathan

    @VanHagar

    Thank you. I could not have responded in quite the same eloquent way as you did.

    December 6, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  15. Apple Bush

    If the United States of America is to ever realize it's potential, it will be because rational minds fought and fought hard against Christian Fundimentalists.

    December 6, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Man Previously Known as Barry

      Why? So we can become even dumber as a nation? Since God has been kicked out of schools our education level compared to worldwide levels has slid EVERY year. Seems atheism makes us dumber...

      December 6, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Peter

      "Ever to relaize it's full potential"?? Are you serious??

      December 6, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Am I serious? Quite.

      Atheism makes us dumber? How do you figure?

      December 6, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  16. Portland tony

    The man was allowed to resign from the academy for self admitted psychological problems and not because after almost 4 years in school he discovered that he was discriminated against because he was a "heathen". Now days Jews, Catholics, Non evangelikocal Christians, etc all have representation at the Point. Even non affiliated and non believers are recognized. This guy got a free education at the tax payers expense and now speaks out because his mental condition would not allow his commissioning as an officer! 🙁

    December 6, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Portland tony,

      it does seem opportunistic – which diminishes his 'outrage'. Nevertheless, from comments here on a previous version of this story there does seem to be a hierarchy of the intensity of religiosity in the academies:

      1. Air Force (Colorado Springs – not surprising really)
      2. West Point
      3. Annapolis

      December 6, 2012 at 4:48 pm |
  17. rob

    The religious nuts in this world, especially the U.S., are getting crazier by the day. We need to rid society of this dangerous vermin.

    December 6, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • James R

      Hey Rob,
      I hear you bro. But how do you call other human beings "vermin"? That sort of thinking leads to atrocious behavior when it is mainstream. Live above the hate dude.
      JR

      December 6, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • VanHagar

      Classic...taking lessons from Will D. are you? Your answer to "crazy" people is to rid (i.e. kill) them. Well that's sane. You go with that.

      December 6, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • Man Previously Known as Barry

      Gee Rob, that would include atheists. Atheism is a religion too...

      December 6, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @ex-Barry,

      Ummm no, it really isn't.

      December 6, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Huebert

      Barry

      If atheism is a religion, abstinence is a se.xual position.

      re·li·gion
      /riˈlijən/Noun
      1.The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or gods.

      December 6, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Akira

      Religion is defined as:
      Noun:
      1)The belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, esp. a personal God or gods
      2)Details of belief as taught or discussed

      Atheism is not a religion.
      They don't *believe*.

      December 6, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @ex-Barry,

      your argument is number one on my top thirteen list of the most irritatingly stupid arguments that religionists make here:

      1. Equating atheism with religious zealotry
      eg: “Atheism is a religion” – Ummm, no, really, it’s not!
      Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby,
      Atheism is a religion like bald is a hair color,
      Atheism is a religion like off is a television channel
      Atheism is a religion like abstinence is a sex act
      Atheism is a religion like health is a disease
      Atheism has no sacred text, no orthodoxy, no rites or rituals, no houses of worship … it is not a religion or a faith. It is the absence of faith in God.

      December 6, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  18. Jonathan

    Our first and for-most right under the Consti_tution is the freedom of (not from) religion. Even those that serve in the military have the right to their religion.

    If you expect to go through life and never hear about another religion or experience people keeping a distance from you because of your reliigion (or lack there of), you are deluded. People discriminate each day, and not in the legal sense either.

    December 6, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • sam stone

      Freedom OF religion implies freedom FROM religion

      December 6, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • VanHagar

      Freedom of religion = freedom from religion? Not sure about that one. Let's look at this with that logic.

      Freedom of speech = freedom from speech? How's that one grab you.

      Freedom of the press = freedom from the press? If a newspaper is delivered to you by mistake, are you going to sue?

      Freedom to associate = freedom from associations. Not sure how that one works.

      Try again.

      December 6, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • Jonathan

      @VanHagar

      Thank you. I could not have responded in quite the same eloquent way as you did.

      December 6, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • mama k

      Well to clarify – to achieve freedom of religion, the key founders realized they needed, as much as possible, freedom from religion in government – on other words a secular government (or extensions of the government). As an example of how this has been applied from the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment, see the 1962 & 1963 SCOTUS rulings saying that mandated prayer and Bible readings in public schools is unconst</bitutional.

      December 6, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • mama k

      (unconstitutional)

      December 6, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • mama k

      in other words

      December 6, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • Money is God

      Van Hagar
      Freedom from speech....Miranda rights...you have the RIGHT to remain silent.
      freedom from the press....you aren't forced to read any publications
      Freedom from association...you are free to avoid everyone if you want....
      see freedom to is the same as freedom from....

      December 6, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • VanHagar

      @Mama...I don't disagree that the establishment clause works as you've generally described it. If that's all that Sam meant (and I doubt it), then that's fine. My guess is Sam wants to call foul whenever someone sames anything in support of religion.

      @Money...but you don't have the right to deny others–which is the freedom "from" Sam is implying.

      December 6, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Jonathan

      @Money is God

      'freedom of religion is the same as freedom from...'

      Incorrect. You have the freedom/right to not participate, that is correct. But you don't have the freedom/right to make other people not participate when you are nearby.

      December 6, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Money is God

      Van Hagar
      Sam is not implying that at all. It is the religious that keep forcing themselves where they do not belong. On OUR money, on OUR pledge of allegiance, in OUR courtrooms, in OUR schools. Removing religious references from ALL of OUR common places should be the ultimate goal. Your religion belongs in your churches and temples, and in your homes, and neither Sam nor I would infringe, but the religious among us have gone way over that line, and that line MUST be pushed back.

      December 6, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • sam stone

      still applies...if your religion is "no religion", you should be free to pursue it

      December 6, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • sam stone

      "My guess is Sam wants to call foul whenever someone sames anything in support of religion."

      And you would be wrong. I got no problem with people believing whatever they wish. I have lots of people in my real life who are quite religious. I have a big problem when people try to legislate it

      December 6, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • Money is God

      Jonathan
      That depends on where your religious activity is taking place. In a government funded facility, religious expression of individuals is fine, but organized religious events that would exclude others is inappropriate.
      It is similar to playing my radio. If no one else is around, I can play it to whatever volume I choose, but the moment my noise starts infringing on someone else, it must be tempered to accommodate others rights.

      December 6, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
    • VanHagar

      @Money. I don't know if you intended your list of where I can practice my faith as finite or not. Churches and homes, obviously. What about in a City allowed parade. Could a church, for instance, sponsor a float during a city permitted (but note City led) parade and have religious symbols attached? This isn't rhetorical...want to know where you would draw the line.

      December 6, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • VanHagar

      meant...(but not City led)

      December 6, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • Money is God

      Van Hagar
      If the church ponies up the cash, and when the permit was issued it was known, then certainly. But if the money comes from OUR pockets, then no, I can voice my opinion re: the permits so it is a public forum.

      If I wanted to get my city to sponsor a satanic ritual, would you feel fine with that? I have the same objection to any other religion being paid for by all of us taking place.

      December 6, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • VanHagar

      Fair answer.

      December 6, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Jonathan

      @Money is God

      I have a question. Since when did we have a right to be 'included' in everything? Or 'not be excluded', for that matter?

      That just reeks of childish rantings of 'not fair, not fair'. Please, tell me I am wrong and that is not what you meant?

      December 6, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Jonathan

      The Fourteenth Amendment.

      All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

      In other words, your rights end where mine begin.

      December 6, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Money is God

      Jonathan
      In certain areas, especially where the goal is inclusion, such as public schools, courts, the pledge of allegiance, etc. etc. why would you include something within that, that would exclude some. I cannot recite the pledge of allegiance, because it was unconst itutionally altered. I have no choice but to use money that has a bold faced lie on it (in god we trust)( and again changed unconst itutionally). I was punished in the service for not attending church (go to church or cleaning duty). I refused to swear on a bible in court, and questioned the judge as to why he had the ten commandments up in OUR courtroom. I DO have the right of exclusion and will fight those who would infringe on it everywhere. When you see a cross in a publicly used, inclusion based setting, would you want satanic symbols right next to it? If you don't, then you start to understand how I feel.

      December 6, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      We don't even need to go as far as Satanic symbols. How about the Islamic Crescent, the Pentagram, or Mjolnir (I think that's how that's spelled), maybe we should put up the eight-fold path in every courthouse.

      December 6, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Jonathan

      @hawaiiguest

      Thank you. I am fully aware of the Fourteenth Amendment. Nowhere does it address expression (or lack there-of) of religion in the public square. Life, liberty, property and equal protections is all this amendment guarantees. Pushing the removal of religion from the public square, and thus limiting people's exposure to it, can not be extrapolated in anyway from this amendment.

      Your rights end where mine begin and vis-versa. Crosses on public property are wanted there by a lot of people or they wouldn't be there. One person being 'uncomfortable' with it shouldn't have the authority to infringe on everyone else.

      @Money is God:

      There is nothing in this world that will always be 'all inclusive'. Some people will always object and refuse to participate. When you were 'forced' to participate or be punished, your rights were being infringed on (church or cleaning duty). That was over the line and I am sorry you had to go through that. The vast majority of the country believes in God and no amount of screaming or yelling will get them to change the dollar or the pledge. The wants of the many outway the preference of the few. Life is not fair.

      I wouldn't care in the least if I saw a cross next to satanic symbols. The symbols of religions that I do not believe in don't phase me at all.

      December 6, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Jonathan

      I refer you to the first amendment, which does not allow the governement to make any law respecting the establishment of any religion. We have precedent for this where in Tennessee I think it was, the supreme court ruled that the 10 commandments in a courthouse was in violation of the first and fourteenth amendment. This is because any government funded area is regarded as an extension of the government itself. To put a purely sectarian and divisive religious message, paid for through taxes which come from everyone as well as maintained by the same way, is the respecting of an establishment of religion, and even worse a specific denomination, completely flies in the face of the first amendment.
      Now, would you want to pay, by way of your taxes, for a monument of every religion in every public area purely so the christians can have theirs? Can you imagine the waste of money that would entail?

      December 6, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Jonathan

      @hawaiiguest

      The that amendment merely prevents the government from single endorsing one religion over another or setting up an 'offical' religion. The 'christian religion' is already established outside of the government and has quite a hand in the history of the united states. I am not saying that this is a christian nation but one can not deny its hand in the formation of our laws or bill of rights.

      The 'majority' of people in this country identify as 'christian', whether or not they actually practise the religion. Most probably wouldn't mind the government spending money to reflect that but as you said, it shouldn't. But that doesn't mean it should spend even more to eradicate all signs of it from the courts. As stated above, christianity was a big part of this countries history.

      I wouldn't want to pay for the addition of monuments to every religion, because I do feel it would be a waste of funds. But that is just a personal opinion and in all fairness, why not? Maybe in all fairness, we should.

      December 6, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Jonathan

      Do you even have a position? Seriously, it seems like your posting merely to be somewhat contrary but not contrary enough to take a position on anything whatsoever.

      December 6, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
  19. hawaiiguest

    To Blake Page,

    You are awesome, and take heart in the fact that you know the Constitution better than those officers.

    December 6, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  20. mama k

    I'm sorry he had to endure the situation described, but good for him. I'm sure James Madison, the chief architect of the U.S. Constitution would applaud him for his decision. As would Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and others who worked so hard to implement our secular government.

    December 6, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.