Religion at West Point

Discussion in 'Military Academy - USMA' started by LetFreedomRing, Mar 18, 2012.

  1. LetFreedomRing

    LetFreedomRing New Member

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    My dream is to attend West Point, but I am very worried about one particular thing that I always hear, which is that it is unofficially a Christian school. I am atheist and I am very concerned that I will constantly be pressured into converting and be hazed if I am not Christian or has it changed?

    I do not want this to end up as a religious debate, I just want to know to what extend does religion play in West Point and how will I be treated as an atheist.
     
  2. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    The United States is a Christian nation with acceptance of other religions (no it's not LITS..... ah, yes it is).

    Each academy is different, but with the exception of my classmates that I actually saw at church, there was little indication to me, at least, what religions or denominations people were.

    You'll be fine. Just don't make it an issue you're constantly a pest about either.
     
  3. Hurricane12

    Hurricane12 USNA 2012

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    I'm an atheist at USNA, not USMA, but have never had anyone confront me or give me any problems about it (including over plebe summer). People know what the boundaries are and there's no excuse for crossing them.
    Other mids have made statements that made me uncomfortable or said things I felt were inappropriate before. I either brushed it off or talked to them about it privately if I really felt it was that much of an issue.

    Religion is generally treated like politics: everyone knows you've got an opinion and educated discussions happen, but for the sake of keeping the peace no one talks about it at the dinner table.
     
  4. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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  5. America's Finest

    America's Finest USMA Cadet

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    You have nothing to worry about as long as you display the same level of tolerance you expect. I have yet to see any kind of religious incident here of any size and there are people here from all religions. :thumb:
     
  6. GoSox

    GoSox Member

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    I agree with your common sense advice, which applies to most of the controversial topics (God, politics) at a SA or on active duty.

    Re the use of the term "Christian Nation," just wanted to flag the 1st Amendment, which says something along the lines of "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion.". In practice, the USA is majority Christian. Historically, Christianity played an important role in the founding (Puritan Great Migration, for example). By law, the U.S. is a secular nation state.
     
  7. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Right. And yet the very body that creates laws prays. Adds "In God We Trust", etc etc etc. Not to mention references to God.

    The Constitution no more bans religion than promotes it.
     
  8. GoSox

    GoSox Member

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    Yes, the Free Exercise Clause in the First Amendment protects the right to engage in religious worship of all varieties. And no, the Establishment Clause doesn't ban religion. We agree on that. If you are arguing that somehow Christianity is the official religion of the USA then we disagree, or that the government itself takes the position that the nation state should be religious (as opposed to protecting the right of all individuals within the country to worship, or not) then we disagree.

    You're a Coast Guard veteran and I'm a serving Marine. I guess I'll leave it at the fact that neither of us is a member of the Supreme Court or a Constitutional scholar. I don't want to hijack this thread away from the original question about attitudes towards atheists at West Point any more--I responded to give an opposing view about a phrase that pops up these days ("Christian Nation") and I've done that.

    (For the youngsters out there, this is the kind of discussion that would work in class but probably not the Mess.
     
  9. mom3boys

    mom3boys Parent

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    I had a chat w/ the post chaplain in my research for my West Point book (coming this summer). Even during beast summer, while cadets of all religions are enjoying Chaplain's Time (spiritual encouragement and cookies/snacks), there is a secular group that meets just to have a break from the cadre. They get cookies, too.

    Anywhere you go in life you will find people passionate about their beliefs, just as you are about yours. Hopefully everyone will learn to be tolerant and somewhat open minded (but not so open minded that their brains fall out).
     
  10. Luigi59

    Luigi59 Banned

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    I've never heard of any religious (Christian) based discrimination against other religions (or non-religions) or proselytizing / coercion directed at non-Christians, at USMA, USCGA, USNA, or USMMA.

    However, out in the mountains of Colorado......
     
  11. scoutpilot

    scoutpilot Member

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    Indeed!
     
  12. YorkieMom75

    YorkieMom75 Member

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    I am a Christian, but . . .

    when I was a cadet, I was so relieved to have a day where no formation or uniform was required, I rarely went to church. Usually I went for a long run (after "sleeping in" until 7 or 8 am), and then caught up on studies. I never asked nor took notice of anyone else's religion, not even my roommates or close friends from USMA. It just didn't matter. When you spend four years at USMA, you will learn what matters about people most: dependability, loyalty, integrity, teamwork, perseverance. Not religion.

    Hope this helps. :smile:

    USMA Class of 1983
     
  13. howacupcake

    howacupcake Member

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    Yorkiemom- You graduated from WP in 1983? One of the first class of females??
    Kudos to you! I admire you and appreciate all that you've endured!:thumb:
     
  14. YorkieMom75

    YorkieMom75 Member

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    Thanks . . .

    Thanks for your kind words. Good luck to you at USNA! :smile:
     
  15. dunninla

    dunninla Member

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    where did you hear that?? I assume whatever town you live in is "unofficially a Christian town". How does it work out for you there?
     
  16. LineInTheSand

    LineInTheSand USCGA 2006

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    Wasn't the first class of women 1980?
     
  17. Casey

    Casey USMA 2015

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    Yes, but I would imagine 1983 would have faced similar difficulties considering that it would have been only the first year that all 4 classes had women in the Academy.
     
  18. debcst

    debcst Member

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    I believe the first women entered in 1976 and graduated in 1980. There's an interesting account called In the Men's House, written by a member of that first group of women.
     
  19. Classof83

    Classof83 Member

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    Also being a member of the USMA Class of 1983, I can vouch for the fact that all of the first couple of classes of females at West Point had it tough.

    As to religion at West Point, my current cadet has taken advantage of the wide range of religious options available at West Point (catholic services included plenty of food during beast and protestant retreats were a great way to connect with other cadets away from West Point) including the option of not practicing at all.
     
  20. docwalk

    docwalk Member

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    go use google and look up the US Army's Equality Opportunity policy. it states in there very specifically what you can and cannot do in regards to religion. there are people in each and ever company level unit in the army, and of course its own chain of command, to ensure that no one feels that religion or other beliefs are being forced upon them.

    i'm personally not very religious, but when i was deployed, it was nice the days i was going on mission and the unit chaplan came and said a prayer for our protection. just saying.

    oh. and i just re enlisted. part of the oath of enlistment inculded the phrase "i swear" and "so help me god". i was told i do not have to swear, and the only changes would be i will instead say "i affirm" and the part relating to god was omitted.

    the army is very very supportive of religion, or the absence of religion. do understand, that at official military functions, there will be a benediction or prayer from the chaplain. and that west point has what is called a cadet prayer.

    just be as open and respectful of army traditions regarding religion as you wish the army to be about your beliefs, and there wont be any problem.
     

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