FFRF objects to religious ROTC creeds

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is objecting to the injection of religion into U.S. Army programs.

Specifically, FFRF is taking issue with the JROTC and the ROTC’s cadet creeds. The JROTC belief principle ends: “May God grant me the strength to always live by this creed.” Not only does this strike the tone of a Christian prayer, it also adds the requirement that every JROTC cadet believe in a deity and actively seek its assistance.

The ROTC creed suffers from the same problems, since it concludes with: “May God give me the compassion and judgment to lead and the gallantry in battle to win.” This, too, mimics a prayer and makes the cadet give an active appeal to God in order to participate.

“As currently written, both creeds violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” FFRF Staff Attorney Sam Grover writes to Maj. Gen. Peggy Combs of the U.S. Army Cadet Command. “The U.S. Supreme Court has said time and again that the ‘First Amendment mandates neutrality between religion and religion, and between religion and nonreligion.’ As a government program, the U.S. Army Cadet Command has a duty to ensure that the JROTC and ROTC remain neutral on matters of religion.” 

“The creeds have the effect of alienating more than 23 percent of the population that is nonreligious (including 35 percent of millennials, the pool for JROTC recruits),” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “The creeds imply that those who do not believe in God have a character flaw and send a message to aspiring cadets that they must have faith or they will never be successful.”

By lending their power and prestige to religion, not only have the JROTC and ROTC programs created a potential legal liability for the U.S. Army Cadet Command, they have placed public high schools with JROTC chapters in a tricky situation, as well. Public schools cannot endorse religious programs, so as long as JROTC continues to incorporate religion, the schools have a constitutional obligation to distance themselves from it. This means that they can’t advertise such programs, their staff cannot lead a JROTC event, and the JROTC cannot be given special access to perform at school-sponsored occasions.

FFRF asks that the religious language be removed from the creeds of both JROTC and ROTC in order to make them truly inclusive.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is dedicated to the separation of state and church, with 23,800 nonreligious members nationwide.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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