A senior at the United States Military Academy at West Point has publicly resigned from the Academy to protest pervasive Christian proselytizing that takes place at the school. Blake Page said the academy shows clear favoritism towards Christians and discriminates against atheists and other non-religious students. In an article for the Huffington Post, Page wrote that “Countless officers here and throughout the military are guilty of blatantly violating the oaths they swore to defend the Constitution. 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 time require sectarian religious participation.” Page says West Point leaders regularly let cadets know that, in order to be viewed positively by staff and faculty, they should participate in Christian prayer groups and attend Christian retreats. Page served two years in the Army as an air defense specialist in Korea prior to entering West Point. His commander saw him as a high performer and recommended he apply to West Point. Admission to West Point is highly competitive. The school gets about 15,000 applicants annually but only accepts 1,500. Candidates (as applicants are known) typically must excel at sports, have passed advanced mathematics courses, and speak two languages. Applicants also typically must be nominated by a legislator or a career member of the armed services. Page is giving up even more than his prestigious spot in the West Point graduating class of 2013, though. In the wake of his resignation, the government could seek reimbursement for the hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of tuition invested in his education.
The Pentagon has hired Las Vegas-based Ray Giunta, a known fraudster, to be the guest speaker at the “Pentagon Prayer Breakfast” on November 28th. Giunta, who advertises himself as the friendly “Pastor Ray,” a Christian motivational speaker, has also put himself out as “Doctor Ray,” a clinical psychologist and addictions counselor who practiced using a fake Ph.D. degree that he bought online for a few hundred dollars. A California state audit revealed that in a previous job as director of the California Cemetery Board in the mid-1990s, Giunta illegally diverted over $10,000 in cemetery trust funds meant for maintaining graveyards. He used the money to open a bank account, pay his dry cleaning bills and his creditors and to help support his nonprofit group, “We Care Ministries.” While not an ordained minister, more recently he has started putting himself out as a chaplain and pastoral counselor. Giunta and his wife purchased online degrees from a place called “Rochville University” which charged $769 for a “master’s and doctorate degree package.” He ordered a white lab coat with the word “Doc” embroidered on the lapel that he wore while “counseling” people on behalf of a church. The personal license plate on Giunta’s car said “CAREDOC” and he wore a stethoscope on a church-sponsored missionary trip to Africa. In June of 2008, the Las Vegas Sun published an extensive article describing Guinta’s string of frauds and the people he had deceived. Giunta says he and his wife believed their degrees were real and didn’t realize they were bogus. The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is protesting Guinta’s appearance at the Pentagon event and a has asked the Pentagon to rescind the invitation to Giunta. The bigger question remains, however, and that is why a taxpayer-funded institution is holding an event that endorses religion.
Source: Military Religious Freedom Foundation, November 26, 2012
The U.S. Marine Corps Fighter Attack Squadron 122 based out of Beaufort, South Carolina used to be called the “Werewolves,” but they recently adopted a new nickname: they are now called the “Crusaders,” and the symbol painted on their jets is a red, Christian-style cross. The “Crusaders” was a historic nickname used by the squadron from 1958 to 2008, but as they prepared to deploy to Iraq in 2008, the unit’s commander, Lt. Col. William Lieblein, wisely changed the name because “The notion of being a crusader in that part of the world doesn’t float.” The term “Crusader” is derived from the historic European military crusades that took the lives of millions in the middle east in the name of Christianity. Insurgents in the middle east pejoratively call American military personnel “Crusaders.” In March 2012, Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri referred to International Security Assistance Force troops stationed in Afghanistan as “Crusader Swine.” But the unit’s new commander, Lt. Colonel Wade Wiegel, doesn’t see any problem with changing the squadron’s name back to the “Crusaders.” Mikey Weinstein, who heads the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), blasted the change. Almost a hundred concerned U.S. Marines contacted Weinstein about the change, mostly moderate Protestants and Christians who asked to remain anonymous due to fear of reprisal.