While I was on vacation, Chris Rodda reported here on a very disturbing new development in the ongoing battle between the military and the constitutional rights of non-Christians. The Army sends out a mandatory survey to soldiers to gauge their “spiritual fitness” and if you do not give answers that reflect religious belief you are deemed to be spiritually unfit.
The survey is called the “Soldier Fitness Tracker” (SFT) and it is part of a larger Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program designed to help support the well-being of Army personnel. And it turns out that there is also “Spiritual Remedial Training” that goes along with it if you aren’t deemed sufficiently “spiritual.”
Some of the yes/no questions on the survey include:
I am a spiritual person.
My life has lasting meaning.
I believe that in some way my life is closely connected to all humanity and all the world.
I believe there is purpose in my life.
When Sgt. Justin Griffith, the man who is organizing the Rock Beyond Belief event at Ft. Bragg this spring, answered those questions honestly he was deemed to be spiritually unfit and was “red barred.” Al Stefanelli explains what that means, according to the text of the survey itself:
A red bar means that you face some significant challenges in this area. This means that you should focus most of your attention on this area, though you should also note that placing too much emphasis here could result in other dimensions dropping. The key is to properly balance where you need the most development with the areas you are already doing well in.
The survey then informed Griffith of his alleged problem:
Spiritual fitness is an area of possible difficulty for you. You may lack a sense of meaning and purpose in your life. At times, it is hard for you to make sense of what is happening to you and others around you. You may not feel connected to something larger than yourself. You may question your beliefs, principles, and values. Nevertheless, who you are and what you do matter. There are things to do to provide more meaning and purpose in your life. Improving your spiritual fitness should be an important goal. Change is possible, and the relevant self-development training modules will be helpful. If you need further help, please do not hesitate to seek out help from the people you care about and trust – strong people always do. Be patient in your development as it will take time to improve in this area. Still, persistence is key and you will improve here if you make this area a priority.
If you “fail” this test, as Griffith did, you may be subject to Spiritual Remediation Training. The Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers has more details on that training and its pervasively religious content.
The real problem here, as Stefanelli says, is this:
Needless to say, it would take the secular minded a significant departure from their normal mindset to answer these questions in any way that would not warrant counseling for not having the Army’s idea of a correct ideology.
Chris Rodda, doing her usual tireless research, also discovered that this remedial training program is overseen by a chaplain named CH Lamb, who is endorsed by the Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches (CFGC) and Jim Ammerman. CFGC is the endorser of a platoon full of truly insane fundamentalist chaplains like Gordon Klingenschmitt. I’ve reported on Ammerman’s utter lunacy before. Imagine having someone like Klingenschmitt in charge of deciding who is spiritually fit to be in the military and it becomes obvious what a serious problem this is.