Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Remember the story about the soldier in Iraq who tried to organize an atheist group at his camp and had the first meeting broken up by an officer? His name is Jeremy Hall and he is now suing the Pentagon, backed by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. And it looks like that was not the only incident where officers mistreated him because of his atheism:

“Immediately after plaintiff made it known he would decline to join hands and pray, he was confronted, in the presence of other military personnel, by the senior ranking … staff sergeant who asked plaintiff why he did not want to pray, whereupon plaintiff explained because he is an atheist,” says the lawsuit, a copy of which was provided to Truthout. “The staff sergeant asked plaintiff what an atheist is and plaintiff responded it meant that he (plaintiff) did not believe in God. This response caused the staff sergeant to tell plaintiff that he would have to sit elsewhere for the Thanksgiving dinner. Nonetheless, plaintiff sat at the table in silence and finished his meal.”


And here are some details on the original incident:

Moreover, the complaint alleges that on August 7, when Hall received permission by an Army chaplain to organize a meeting of other soldiers who shared his atheist beliefs, his supervisor, Army Major Paul Welborne, broke up the gathering and threatened to retaliate against the soldier by charging him with violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The complaint also alleges that Welborne vowed to block Hall’s reenlistment in the Army if the atheist group continued to meet – a violation of Hall’s First Amendment rights under the Constitution. Welborne is named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

“During the course of the meeting, defendant Welborne confronted the attendees, disrupted the meeting and interfered with plaintiff Hall’s and the other attendees’ rights to discuss topics of their interests,” the lawsuit alleges.

The suit is asking for injunctive relief to prevent such abuses in the future.