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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. cuzIsaidso

    I'm an atheist and I think this guy is lame. I expect atheists to be smarter and tougher than people whose brains are clouded by myth.

    January 1, 2013 at 10:22 am |
    • vinster76

      this story reminds me of the Geice commercial with the drill sergeant as a therapist: poor little man/boy says, "and that's why yellow makes me sad, I think". Whereupon the ex-drill sergeant -turned counselor says, " that's interesting, you know what makes me sad? YOU DO!" That is the first thing that popped into my head when I heard this little man/boy whining.......Please tell me real men and women occupy our academies.......????

      January 1, 2013 at 11:47 am |
  2. Alice Bowie

    The real problem that most non-religious people have, the one that makes them respond to religious dogma, is that the VAST MAJORITY of the religious do not present their ideas and beliefs as opinions. They call them TRUTH. And they go out of their way to get religious values passed into LAWS which everybody must follow or be punished by the STATE. You see, that's the problem.

    Address any atheist or other non-religious person with an IDEA or BELIEF presented as an OPINION and you will see that they are not hateful. All the ones I know are kind and reasonable people.

    But, on the other hand:
    Address any atheist or other non-religious person with an IDEA or BELIEF presented as a FACT, TRUTH, INFALLIBLE WORD of GOD, or legislated into LAW (which disbelieving, disobeying, or disagreeing with results in ETERNAL DAMNATION and TORTURE in a PLACE called HELL or possible IMPRISONMENT by the STATE) ...

    That's when the non-religious become testy and begin to resist your ideas and beliefs.

    It's not really complicated.

    I will say this: I LOVE YOU until you begin to HURT ME or TAKE AWAY MY RIGHTS.

    Best Wishes to you all,
    Alice Bowie

    January 1, 2013 at 12:01 am |
  3. SamSausage

    TWERP ALERT!

    December 30, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
  4. Colin M.

    Took you how many years to figure that one out? I'm glad you quit before you had a chance to get to your unit and quit on the men and women that you were supposed to lead! I'm a Marine veteran, and agnostic, and I did what everyone else did who doesn't have a religion, let it go in one ear and out the other and carry on!

    December 23, 2012 at 2:07 am |
    • froggyalley

      I'm supposing these must be Christian beliefs? How many Jews, Buddhists and Muslims does West Point graduate anyway? cause I am having a real problem with the Zombie Jesus that came back from the dead..."Eat my body, drink my blood and live forever"....
      That is just weird.

      January 1, 2013 at 10:19 am |
  5. okiejoe

    Funny, I thought the three pillars of the Academy(and the Army) was "Duty, Honor, Country." I would consider the treatment of this Cadet to be an "honor Violation."

    December 22, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
  6. angel

    Jesus said,those who seek to save their life will lose it,but those who lose their life for my sake will gain eternal life-in wars man seeks to save his life and loses it,but if you oppose wars,are anti war,for Jesus' sake,and lose you life you will gain eternal life as Jesus fulfills all the prophets including the prophet Isaiah,and Isaiah 2 :4,man learns war no more.

    December 20, 2012 at 8:22 am |
  7. John De Luca

    I can say that in 1981, there was encouragement for going to services for any/all denominations. I will also say that I did feel that there were issues with the prevalence of the Protestant religious majority at USMA. Funds were applied to support the Cadet Protestant Chapel, but the Catholic program priest asked for donations weekly and told us that they received no support, unlike the former. I was not the only one who felt that many decisions* were made based on religious heritage. If you move that forward 20+ years, it makes sense that the conservative religious right have also made their presence known.

    December 19, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  8. 5875hrs

    OH well, no big loss. I say make him pay back the four years he owes by transfering him to the Enlisted ranks. He dose not look like the kind of person, I would take an Order from. OR, he would be Most likley "FRAGGED!" on the battle fields of Afghanistan. I bet his tune on faith would change if he had to sit in a fox hole under enemy fire for hours on end with nothing but his rifel to keep him alive. OH, he quit, I guess we will never know. How convient.

    December 16, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
    • Sam

      A lot of hatred and ignorance in some of these posts, especially "5875 hours." We shouldn't make assumptions about people's motives, or their abilities, unless we know them–don't confuse your prejudices with their abilities. If you wouldn't take an order from someone lawfully appointed in authority over you, then you'd be violating your oath, and shouldn't be in the military. Let's hope people aren't fragged for their beliefs in the United States or its military: if that's the case (though I doubt it, and want to doubt it) then the military needs some reform.

      December 17, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • Rational Human Being

      I have been to combat in Afghanistan, I still don't believe in god.

      December 19, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Kevin

      I sat in foxholes and buildings in Somalia for years, took 4 bullets and shrapnel and I'm a Pagan.. Not a Christian.. My "faith" didn't waver. My team was full of non-religious folks whose faith didn't waver.

      December 20, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  9. Doc4Subs

    I don't see that religion is the real focus of his concern, he was very clear that it was with a minority of "proselytizing fundamentalist christians" who continually violate the intent of "separation of church and state". Having spent 30 years in the Navy, I completely agree. While West Point has in writing the legal policies required by law to protect students from those fundamentalists in fact they are worse than being trapped in a room with a dripping faucet!

    December 12, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  10. charles bowen

    Break In the Line, but no loss to the Point.....WEED EM OUT! Charles Bowen Solomon Stone

    December 10, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  11. ted

    Easier to say that, than he couldn't hack it.

    December 10, 2012 at 9:46 am |
  12. dave

    he will have to pay it back or be a Private in a world he apparently hates. If you quit after your Junior year you owe. So sad – sounds like a quitter. The schools don't push that stuff.

    December 9, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • Sheila

      Yeah, he doesn't get off free and clear – he owes the military for that education, will have to pay it back, and now will have to pay it back without a college education.

      December 13, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  13. rob

    get used to it young man. the whole world is based on religion. all the way from Chritians to jews to Islam and bhuddist. the mere fact that you don't prescribe to a religion demonizes you in their eyes. You probaably believe in a higher being which would be a good answer in this society. We will eventually understand where we came from or who put us here and how they manipulated us and created religion to control us and to keep control on our societies so that one day we can understand and accep twhat is real truth. Our God who created us in his image will visit us in the near future again

    December 9, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Bullsh!t

      December 9, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
    • Libby Tarian

      Our creator\s didn't create religion. Men did. For huge profit and power. Religions are businesses. Nothing more, nothing less. Hijacking peoples natural connection to their inner voice for profit. Now what is so spiritual about that?

      December 15, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • wimsy

      Enough of this Bronze Age religion, and the ridiculous creation myth that goes with it. If you're dumber than an untutored sheepherder, go ahead and believe that the omniscient creator of the universe cares what teenage boys do in their bedrooms alone at night.

      December 16, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
  14. Joe August

    This jerk should pay back the taxpayers for his million dollar education!

    December 9, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Saraswati

      He was saving the taxpayers money. He already was told he wouldn't serve on medical grounds but was to be allowed to finish school at taxpayer expense. He chose not to do that.

      December 9, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Dan

      Million dollar education??? 250K a year??? Did you just watch a re-run of Officer and a Gentlemen or are you just an idiot.

      December 9, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Lol, I wasn't taking that amount seriously but if he meant it it's way off. I think the estimate for the whole thing is about a quarter that. AFA is higher, but not a million.

      December 9, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • Jason

      Dan:
      1 million is a conservative estimate. Given the amount of money that is paid to train and educate a West Point graduate officer I believe this. Most of these guys come out with jump training and the summer training they do overseas is very expensive. The government also routinly over-pays fro everything so i would imagine they could rack up a cool million pretty quick.

      December 10, 2012 at 8:13 am |
    • Saraswati

      Jason, I just spent about 45 seconds and found several estimates, all far far under 1 million dollars. Seriously, what do you think they are doing at these academies? I spent a week once at the AFA (the most expensive) and it was pretty much like any other college but with slightly less well educated faculty.

      December 10, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Air Force Academy grads cost taxpayers an astounding $416,800 apiece. That’s more than six times the cost of officers commissioned through ROTC, at $65,600 each. Former enlisted airmen who go through Officer Training School are a relative bargain at $22,500 per new officer.

      from Airforce Times.com

      December 12, 2012 at 11:56 am |
  15. BudTarken

    I know exactly what this kid is talking about so do ALL of use that have served. This is something that is a can of worms and won't be going away anytime soon. Times are changing as so does our Military allowing "right winged religious" nuts to push their will upon folks serving.

    God bless this kid and I hope we can support some changes in how we allow extremists like some Christians pull the strings.

    December 9, 2012 at 12:41 am |
    • Amy

      How silly to "God Bless" him, when he is an athiest...besides, the Long Grey Line knows the truth behind his history at the Academy. Physical failure aside, he was a poor leader from the beginning...why don't you ask him about his behavior at during the AFA game weekend last year...

      December 9, 2012 at 11:37 pm |
  16. Hillary

    This clown was medically discharged for psychological reasons. He is not a hero, he is not the poster boy for anything except mental illness!

    December 8, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • Source

      Source?

      December 9, 2012 at 12:28 am |
    • Saraswati

      He had anxiety after his father died. This is pretty common and there's no reason for you to be a total as's about it. Are you saying people who've suffered anxiety or depression don't have the same rights of free expression as everyone else?

      December 9, 2012 at 1:42 pm |
    • Jason

      Saraswati:
      They have the right toexpress themselves but we also should have the right to point out that they may be wrong and give our own opinion. Just as you did.

      December 10, 2012 at 8:16 am |
  17. moe

    The guy probably didn't want to serve his military obligation after graduation, so he quit.

    December 8, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • William

      Agreed.

      December 8, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Saraswati

      He wasn't going to have to serve – he had already received a medical disqualification and had the option to stay on and get another semester of education ad taxpayer expense. He chose not to do that.

      December 8, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
  18. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    Religion has often been favored by those in authority in modern states. Not so only when the rulers want to have all authority concentrated among themselves. Otherwise, religion with it's eternal rewards and punishments is a useful thing to wield over the masses and legitimize authority. The military is as hierarchical and authoritarian as you can get, so of course they use the best tool to maintain their carefully built structure. I'm not sure that they are actually aware of why they embrace religion. They may actually believe in religion at the highest levels. But people tend to believe in what has worked for them.

    December 8, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • The Eternal Satyr

      Religion gave birth to militarism. The two are inextricably linked.

      When industrialized religion dies, chances are so will the industrialized military.

      December 10, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  19. Believer

    Such Christianity (acted out in the flesh and not the spirit) is destructive. Our lessons from the Crusades have gone unnoticed. Neither is handing over such power to those who are atheists, who cannot appreciate that men who are sent to die, if neccesary, for their country should have access to teachers who are spiritual people. A foolish decision by this young man. He could have made his points weigh more from a platform in the military, instead of CNN.

    December 8, 2012 at 8:47 am |
    • Roger that

      men who are sent to die, if necessary, for their country should have access to teachers who are spiritual people.

      That is what chapel is for. There are always clergy available in the military for those who want that support. The students at the academy that don't believe in witches and demons should not have to be exposed to it. Keep church at church and don't force students to attend.

      December 8, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • TrueBlue42

      I have served proudly in the US Air Force for the past 17 years (and counting) and I'm an Atheist. Now what was this you were saying about Atheists who "cannot" appreciate that men (and women) are sent to die for their country?

      December 8, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • End Religion

      Thank you for your service, TrueBlue.

      December 9, 2012 at 12:39 am |
  20. dontcare

    Excellent! Goodbye and don't let the door hit you on the way out.

    December 8, 2012 at 8:38 am |
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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.