Marine Corps labels nonreligious Marines “at risk”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has teamed up with the Military Religious Freedom Foundation to change a US Marine Corps policy that calls a "lack or loss of spiritual faith" a risk indicator.

FFRF Staff Attorney Andrew Seidel sent Commandant of the Marine Corps General James Amos an August 9 letter requesting the U.S. Marines stop violating the freedom of conscience of nonreligious Marines. FFRF's letter follows one sent by MRFF earlier this month requesting the offending clause in the order be changed.

The order lists factors that could lead to "loss of life or diminished functioning." Under the "guidance/moral compass" category the U.S. Marine Corps lists "lack or loss of spiritual faith" as one of four risk factors.

"It is deeply offensive and grossly inappropriate for the military to suggest that Marines are at risk because they 'lack spiritual faith," Seidel wrote. "Imagine how it feels to be told by the military that your reasoned, intellectual conclusion that unsupported religious claims are untrue is dangerous 'risky behavior' that requires monitoring."

Seidel reminded the General that the Marine Corps is a secular branch of a secular government and should be adhering to our nation's godless Constitution instead of monitoring and judging nonreligious Marines.

"The coercive, discriminatory nature of the order is obvious," Seidel wrote.

Seidel also referenced the House of Representative's July 23 vote to prohibit the appointment of chaplains to serve nonreligious service members. He wrote that nonreligious service members should not be treated as a risk or liability, and instead should be supported by their country.

Seidel states, "If there is such a relation between nonbelievers and risk, perhaps it is because the armed services and government have stigmatized a whole class of people."

FFRF has submitted an open records request to the Marine Corps to verify if their claim that the risk factors are based on scientific studies is accurate, and learn more about the policy.

FFRF is a national nonprofit based in Madison, Wis., that works for the separation of state and church, and has 19,000 members, 24% of our members are military personnel or veterans.

Click here to read FFRF's entire letter.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

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