How important is Religious affiliation and jobs for admittance to a service academy?

Discussion in 'Service Academy Parents' started by DevilDog, Jan 9, 2009.

  1. DevilDog

    DevilDog Member

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    Hi all. From all the research I have done, I feel my son is in good standing for an appointment to one of the academies. I hope USNA because of my love of the Marine Corps, but if he is accepted to USAFA or USMA I would be thrilled. The only thing I am concerned with is that we are not a religious family, we do not have a church affiliation, and I have always had my sons work for me, or they do odd jobs for neighbors and friends. My sons do community service but not thru a religious organization, and they have not done a lot of it. All I asked my kids to do was get involved in eca's or sports, and take care of getting good grades. They have done this. Will this lack of religion, and paid jobs hurt my son in the application process?
     
  2. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

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    Not in the appointment process, it (lack of religion) shouldn't make a difference at all.

    However, there are many USNA stories about the alienation and bias (scorn? ridicule?) directed at those who do not participate in group prayer or other Christian-based activities.

    (I don't think it was/is unique to Annapolis, as USAFA also had a little "scandal" (2005) involving religious bias against non-Christians as well - google it for more information).
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2009
  3. Zaphod

    Zaphod Founding Member

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    Religious affiliation will have zippo to do with the application process or in any way affect the chances of being appointed. There are folks from all mainstream faiths at USxA, and a few from non-mainstream faiths. Some don't have faith at all. It's what you'd expect if you picked a sample from the general population.

    The only exception to this rule I can think of is if your son were to openly admit that his religious faith would prevent him from bearing arms, or if his faith required the performace of acts that would not be in keeping with good order and discipline (don't expect to be allowed to sacrifice a goat on your desk in Bancroft Hall, for example). Aside from that, I don't remember the topic even being brought up.

    For the record, I never, ever, not once, saw ANYONE receive any ridicule, scorn, or alienation for their faith or lack of faith during the entire 10 years I wore the uniform. Not once. I suspect the reports are exagerated for political reasons by the usual suspects.

    Regarding having had a job, it is not required. My only job prior to entering USNA was as a summer-school computer instructor, and that was for only six weeks. The fact is that ANY job your son has done will be a positive.

    I was brought up with a similar attitude as you've brought up your son: "Your job is to get good grades. My job is to provide for you. Now let's both shut up and get to work." :thumb:
     
  4. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

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    The reports are mainly centered around the USNA's mandatory noon prayer (the only mandatory prayer of all the service academies) and the alleged treatment of those who do not participate.
     
  5. Momof2cadets

    Momof2cadets Founding Member

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    My sons were raised exactly as you describe, and it did not affect either of them getting an appointment to USMA. Further, neither of them ever had/have any difficulty at all for not participating in organized religious activities during their time at West Point. They had/have many friends who did/do, and many who did/do not...
     
  6. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    I think the answers here have been very accurate.

    From the AF perspective: it means diddly-squat.

    The ONLY time religion has ever come up during my many years as an ALO (admission liaison officer) for USAFA was from LDS families asking about "stopping-out" to perform an LDS mission and then returning to USAFA (YES, it's done all the time; there are some restrictions but they're very reasonable).

    Steve
    USAFA ALO
    AFA '83
     
  7. Just_A_Mom

    Just_A_Mom Member

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    DevilDog - surely as a Marine and member of the Armed Forces you realize that the US Military is not a religious organization - on the contrary. The US Government has no religious requirement for serving in the military. A religious affiliation is not used for or against anyone seeking to serve.
    Do they ask? Yes. As you know there is a strong Chaplain network in the military and at the Academies. Chaplains help our servicemen and women in many way - including those who are not religious. They offer, in addition to religious comfort, counseling which is confidential and available for the asking.

    Many candidates and academy kids did grow up attending church and being involved in their church. Certain demoninations in some areas of the country allow for many opportunities for the youth to be involved and develop leadership skills which may enhance their academy applications.
    However, kids who have a religious backgrounds don't get extra points for showing up and kneeling down on Sundays.

    The academies do have chapels - I think USNA and USAFA only have one chapel while USMA has four. I know there are Cadets of many different (and none) religious affiliations at West Point - from traditional religions to non-tradtional. Yes, there are agnostics and even athiests.

    I make a distinction between kids who were raised to be athiests or agnostics (much like being raised Baptists or Catholics - in the beliefs were handed down by their parents) and those who are believers but not church-goers.
    Your son may be asked or offered to attend a religious service. Late adolescence and early twenties are common ages for young people to explore religion. He may "try out" different services or he may decline. His choice.
    IMO - it is a great time for a future officer to do so. He will be leading men and women who may have strong religious views and educating oneself about different religious customs and beliefs is always beneficial.

    No cadet or mid should ever be made to feel uncomfortable because of their religious choice - or lack thereof.

    The opportunity for an LDS mission is available to all LDS males. They leave the academy when they are 19 and reapply at the end of their mission to finish their academy training and education. Some who are old enough may go on the mission prior to entrance to the academy as well.
     
  8. Zaphod

    Zaphod Founding Member

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    For four years I saw those who participated in the prayer too busy participating to bother those who weren't, and those who weren't too respectful of those who were to do anything aside from waiting quietly during the 15 or so seconds it took. Nothing was ever said afterwards by anyone, one way or the other. This was done TWICE per day (lunch and dinner) back in the old days, so that's a LOT of meals. NOT ONCE did I see anything like what the stories claim.

    I continue to believe that the incidents are being grossly exagerated by those who simply cannot stand ANY public display of faith, nor even the accomodation for those who do have faith. It's not enough to stand there quietly. Oh no, it has to be GOTTEN RID OF, even when it offends the other 90+% of the people who have no problem with it, whether they are religious or not.

    That's all I'm going to say on this subject because it pains me to no end to see yet another great institution being forced into atheism (or at least being silenced) simply because those who claim to be seeking respect from others don't practice what they preach in the other direction. (That's not directed at you, Luigi, just the whiners who are making the stink about this in the first place.)

    Sorry for the hijack, DevilDog, but this hits close to home on several levels. I'll step out now....
     
  9. Zaphod

    Zaphod Founding Member

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    USNA has the one large Chapel which is Christian and is used for both Catholic and Protestant services. There is also a very small Catholic Chapel (and I do mean SMALL) just off the Rotunda. I never knew it was there until I stumbled across it by accident during my visit last year, which just goes to show how much I practiced my faith back then. :rolleyes:

    USNA also has a new and stunningly-beautiful Jewish Temple (I'm not sure if the term "Synagogue" would be appropriate, so my apologies in advance if I've messed that up) back in what used to be Mitcher Hall. That whole building has been completely renovated and expanded into a very impressive religious center that accomodates the Jewish faith and (if I saw correctly) has facilities for other faiths to be practiced as well.

    IIRC, the Chapel at USAFA was built such that the main knave is Christian, but there are chapels and facilities in the lower floors for other faiths. That information was relayed to me back when I visited USAFA as a tourist in 1981, so if anyone has any better information, by all means bring it up.

    I regret I know nothing of the religious facilities at USCGA or USMMA.

    Religious faith is very important to the military and it is taken very seriously in regards to allowing those who have it to practice it to the best of their ability. There are limitations as you might imagine; one Chaplain per destroyer, for example. However, the Chaplains I had the pleasure of meeting while at USNA or working alongside while in the Fleet were uniformly wonderful people who took care of ANYONE who came to them regardless of whether that person shared their faith or had any faith at all.

    I wish I had availed myself of their services more often. It might have saved me all kinds of grief later in life. :frown:
     
  10. DevilDog

    DevilDog Member

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    When I went into the Marine Corps you were encouraged by the DI's to either be a Catholic/Protestant or a Jew. Otherwise they found things for you to do during worship time. Now I know this was many years ago, and at a different level, but I have been under the impression that religon is important in the process.
     
  11. Zaphod

    Zaphod Founding Member

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    No sir, it isn't. Rest assured.
     
  12. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    USCGA has one chapel. USCG uses the Navy Chaplain Corps.
     
  13. flieger83

    flieger83 Super Moderator Moderator

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    The Cadet Chapel at USAFA is indeed "multi-layered."

    The Top, largest portion is essentially a "protestant/christian non D" chapel. Below that is a Catholic chapel, a Jewish "mini synagogue" (I call it that because years ago I was told that it wasn't a "full" synagogue but I could easily be mistaken, and an "All Faiths" room. That area could serve as a small mosque/muslim prayer area, or other faith's area.

    The AFA, like all the academies/services takes the faith of their people very seriously and tries to accommodate ALL as best they can!

    Steve
     
  14. Momof2cadets

    Momof2cadets Founding Member

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    Much the same feeling exists during chapel time on Wednesdays during Beast Barracks at USMA. You get a break to "feel human" and, even more important, you get fed!! I have heard from many sources that many new cadets become "Catholic" during Beast because rumour has it that the Catholic Chapel puts out the best food at their gathering!!! :wink:
     
  15. USNA

    USNA Member

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    My mother-in-law would love for my son to go to USMA after hearing that! To her chagrin, our family left the CC 14 years ago, for a non-demoninational church. I didn't realize that food had become a recent tool of evangelism! LOL. Yep, food often wins with men.
     
  16. sterlingmom

    sterlingmom Member

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    My son who will be a plebe at USMA next year is very active in our church youth group and I am sure the activities - mission trips, leadership roles, etc. helped his application to West Point. I hope he will continue to participate in some type of religious activity, but that is up to him.

    It is interesting that our family was discussing this very subject last night. My former paratrooper husband, who is not a very active church goer, said "If you don't have faith, you will find it the first time you jump out of an airplane". He also said that the Chaplain was one of the most important people you would get to know.
     
  17. WAMom68

    WAMom68 Founding Member

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    Sometimes chaplain's time is the only escape from the cadre during beast. My son appreciated the break and also having a first name again. He has never felt pressure to attend services. He said he goes to church sometimes but sometimes chooses to sleep in on Sunday instead.

    During the application process I don't recall my son ever being asked about his religious beliefs.
     
  18. kaullman

    kaullman Member

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    When I was last there (1983 for my brother's graduation and wedding) the Chapel at Kings Point had a three-faced altar which could be changed from Roman Catholic to Protestant to Jewish.

    Most impressive was the watch which turned the pages of the remembrance book of USMMA Midshipmen killed during the Second World War.

    My USNA '07 daughter got loads of support from the Chaplains at USNA and remains active in Officers Christian Fellowship.

    kaullman
    USNA BGO, Dad to a USNA '07, brother to a USMMA '83
     
  19. fencersmother

    fencersmother Founding Member

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    My sons have reported that many cadets who are atheists/agnostics/uncertain would go to the chapel services on Sunday during BCT because no one could bother them there (and lots of them took naps).
     
  20. mom3boys

    mom3boys Parent

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    Then there are the stories of cadets who become temporarily LDS and attend their chapel services because the food is better!! The protestants, with huge numbers, only had cookies and cokes...but the LDS had pizza!
     

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