When Specialist Jeremy Hall held a meeting last July for atheists and freethinkers at Camp Speicher in Iraq, he was excited, he said, to see an officer attending.

But minutes into the talk, the officer, Maj. Freddy J. Welborn, began to berate Specialist Hall and another soldier about atheism, Specialist Hall wrote in a sworn statement. “People like you are not holding up the Constitution and are going against what the founding fathers, who were Christians, wanted for America!” Major Welborn said, according to the statement.

Major Welborn told the soldiers he might bar them from re-enlistment and bring charges against them, according to the statement.

Last month, Specialist Hall and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, an advocacy group, filed suit in federal court in Kansas, alleging that Specialist Hall’s right to be free from state endorsement of religion under the First Amendment had been violated and that he had faced retaliation for his views. In November, he was sent home early from Iraq because of threats from fellow soldiers.

Read the rest in the New York Times

Comments

  1. #1 Patrick
    April 27, 2008

    As absolutely horrible as such behavior from the military is, there is a certain irony in being freed from Bush’s holy war by virtue of not being a religious sheep.

  2. #2 carey
    April 27, 2008

    I like the part about fellow soldiers threatening him. WWJD? Apparently he would threaten anyone who did not share his peculiar mythology.

  3. #3 vjbinct
    April 27, 2008

    BUT…notice that he was sent home early from Iraq. Not exactly a bad result, though I agree with you on principle; job number one is surviving the rotation.

  4. #4 Dunc
    April 28, 2008

    What I really want to know is exactly what charges did he think he could bring against someone for being an atheist?

  5. #5 Dolly Dagger
    April 29, 2008

    Jeremy Hall came home about 3 weeks before the rest of his unit. He still spent 14 months in Iraq in this, his second tour.

    You need to see Freddy’s myspace page.

    myspace.com/freddywelborn

  6. #6 the real cmf
    April 29, 2008

    Never underestimate the propaganda value of peer pressure, exerted at crucial times in the military experience. In this case, he was sent home barely before his buddies; an example of how the military IS the US main propaganda/peer pressure org.( see “states that voted for Bush in the last election”…)

    It reminds me of the current PBS show “Carrier” where this white guy gets sent home for being “racist”. Not only do blacks and others call him a “redneck” on a usual basis; not only does this kid have several “blackfriends”, admits he has no problem with hispanics and asians, but worse, he has no PC language to describe his experience in terms of an identity that is equal to and protected as speech–he has accepted the memetic device of “racist” to describe himself in relation to others, and gets sent home–his main offense? Calling himself by that term, and refusing pressure from superior groups to change his core “identity”.

    Labeling theory 101.

  7. #7 Stephanie Z
    April 29, 2008

    Having had a buddy of mine come home recently and describe the welcome they got, hearing his wife talk about that moment when everybody got to see each other again all at once–knowing they denied Hall that pisses me off beyond words.