Christian Prayer Enforced at Air Assault Graduation

Update 6/25: An Army spokesperson has reported the mandatory prayer participation policy has been overturned and there is no requirement to bow heads or be heard to say Amen, though official prayer will continue.

MAAF has obtained a video showing enforced Christian prayer at Air Assault training at Ft Campbell. Trainees are directed to bow their head to graduation prayer and to give a response that sounds like “Amen”. The video below shows a prayer that is explicitly Christian with a quote from Isaiah in an official Air Assault graduation ceremony. This prayer goes far beyond something simply ceremonial, non-denominational, and optional. This is Christian-specific, mandatory, and requires participation, and hopefully Christians will stand up against such bad leadership as readily as non-Christians.

Several local MAAF members have spoken up to complain about this practice. They see it as easy enough to ignore or laugh off as an artificial, soulless, and desperate imposition of religion on a military event. But many also hold their commanders to a higher standard. Soldiers expect commanders to respect and include everyone equally and not to use their rank and command to impose Christianity on subordinates. In the face of God-and-Country, anti-atheist politics from Congress down to unit military events, it’s important to call out commanders who go overboard with promoting their personal beliefs.

“You’re going to bow your head during the prayer and when the chaplain says ‘Amen’, you’ll say either ‘Amen’ or ‘hey man’.” – leader directive to trainees as quoted to MAAF by a recent graduate. Don’t be afraid to demand your right to opt out of prayer. There is a strong local MAAF community – MASH Ft Campbell – that operates without any chaplain or unit support. But atheists and humanists are welcome to be in contact to seek assistance, support, and community, especially when commanders are marginalizing nontheists.

Video from Air Assault Graduation June 23, 2015

Think that’s bad? See a whole Marine unit enlisted to carry a cross up a hill to be emplaced on Camp Pendleton.

Air Assault is an important school, all but required at the 101st Air Assault Division at Ft Campbell. With graduation prayer, Christians are given special privilege and those who are not Christian are expected to appear as if they are participating in the prayer. This is second-class citizenship for non-Christians and has no place in the military of a free country. Because the school is so important and just 11 days with a high attrition rate, there is little opportunity for trainees to speak up. Commanders and chaplains seem to feel free to enforce their beliefs on vulnerable trainees. Christians should feel free to pray in their free time and during worship services, but they should not be given captive audiences of military trainees upon which to enforce their beliefs.

If believers are given special privilege to pray under command direction during official events, then those who don’t wish to participate should be encouraged not to bow their head and certainly not to respond affirmatively to someone else’s prayer. Air Assault leaders offer trainees the option to say “hey man” instead of “amen”. This false accommodation gives the appearance of respect for other beliefs while, in practice, what leaders create is a larger, more consistent crowd appearing to endorse official government Christian prayer. Commanders have all the power and should protect trainees in their care, both by providing opportunities for personal and public worship, but also by preventing in any case enforce prayer, prayer activities, or the appearance of prayer, on those who have no interest.



22 Responses to Christian Prayer Enforced at Air Assault Graduation

  1. I find it harsh that in this day and age people think that being equal and GETTING equal are the same thing. Many times I have heard people say “Well THEY did it first!” This is not how anyone should live whether one chooses to believe or not to believe. One example being such that atheists, or the ones I have encountered, say that if Christians or those who are religious when they pray that they must not do it in their presence but rather out of the way. The point of Freedom of Religion is to be able to practice whatever you want without being punished. Now let’s say atheists do not want to pray, I, being a Catholic teen so this happens often, do not get offended by the choice of not praying nor do I say anything about it. I simply RESPECT the choices that others make. I feel that atheists should be able to do the same. Again, at least the ones I encounter and have encountered.

  2. Mr. Torpy, I would truly like to understand what you find so threatening to your beliefs, or lack thereof, in the words of a short prayer to a deity that many human beings have great faith, love, and respect for around the world! So, a few minutes of your life is “stolen” from you while having to listen to words that you personally do believe in……have you never listened to a politician’s campaign speeches or a bullshooter’s tall tales? Is your “freedom from religion” of more importance than the rights of the men/women who DO believe? This country was NOT founded as secular nation; it was founded by men and women who wanted the freedom to worship or NOT as they saw fit. They did state very clearly, for the world to hear, that they believed that mankind had been unalienable rights by their Creator! What part of that do you not understand? BTW, I too am an atheist, but respectful of other peoples’ rights UNDER THE LAW!

    • Sorry, left out a few key words!”personally do NOT believe”” and “had been ENDOWED with”

    • I hope you’ll read the article and learn what this is about. Troops were being forced to participate in the prayer, not just listen to it. Do you see the difference? And I hope you’ll learn to see through the propaganda about a “Christian” nation. The Declaration of Independence is a founding document, but not a governing document and had no authority beyond separating the colonies from the British empire. The Constitution, which is a governing document, mentions religion once, only to say there should be no religious test for public office. The Amendments recognize private freedoms while taking religion out of the purview of the government and government officials, like military personnel. So if you want to respect the founders, many of whom were Christian, respect the secular government they created. You’re not representing atheists well by yelling with bad facts. Take a look around the site and you might learn something, specifically that we at MAAF support the right to believe and diversity of belief more than most Christian organizations you’ll find.

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  5. So because people pray to; thus humble themselves before the Creator of the Universe, seeking his mercy and compassion, his guidance to know his will; which is to say that they’re seeking to be led to the truth… and that those who lead them will be within the will of the Creator, you people are offended by this?

    And you demand that the US Military be separated from any humility, from any sense of right and wrong, from the spirit in nature which connects them to the Creator, thus to the understanding that they are accountable for their actions?

    You’re demanding that the most lethal force on Earth, be detached from the overriding energy of that which is good?

    Now I thought that you atheists claimed the intellectual high-ground?

    Does it not occur to you that separating that group of individuals from the inherent accountability in nature; which is to say ‘from God’, is… perhaps, the single worst idea possible, in the scope of human existence?

    Do ya have any idea what sort of destruction those people are capable of?

    Now… I have to say, that for one to take that position and hold it within any context that is not tantamount to suicide, one would need to believe that one is somehow isolated from the inevitable consequences of that foolishness.

    Tell me… What would it be that isolates a person from the demand that the most lethal human effort on earth be separated from good?

    Maybe its membership? Do ya belong in a club or are ya otherwise affiliated with a group that bears some allegiance to that which eschews good? And does such an affiliation lend itself as tacit defense from the hell unleashed by separating unlimited human destruction from all sense of that which is decent, honorable and sound?

    What on earth could that affiliation BE?

    “Enquiring Minds Gotta KNOW!” Be a mensch, do me a solid, help a brother out… how does that work?

    • You apparently believe no one can be good without god. That’s the kind of discriminatory attitude that drives a religious wedge in our military. MAAF sees ethical, effective military personnel with many beliefs and values. It seems like you only see value in those who believe like you do. I hope you can overcome your prejudice.

    • Daniel Kasnitz

      In your response, you state your opinions as fact when it comes to how the world was created, and that somehow, you have correct knowledge of the intentions of a possible creator. Please understands that this is your belief, not fact. That it is not verifiable fact is the very foundation of faith.

      Given that your entire response comes from a faulty assumption (that you are correct about the creation of the universe, and there is no possible error in you beliefs), everything you say is completely off the mark.

      I urge you to re-read the article with a wider perspective, one that include the humility of understanding that you might not always be right about how the universe was created, how it works, or what any entity, dive or otherwise, wants.

  6. You guys prayed to the Christian God. That’s kinda funny.

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  8. I could not find this graduation anywhere on the web. Thank God for leading me to this site. I feel sorry that this site is so ignorant and full of hate. This country was founded not by fundementAlists or religionists, but by Christians. That is the historic truth. May God bless these men whom are defending this nation. Some may not believe now, but there are no atheists on a battle field. May God protect them

    • Meet atheists in foxholes – – when you support the troops, don’t forget to support all the troops. The historic truth is that America is a secular nation, with no reference to Jesus or the majority of the 10 commandments in any of its governing documents. That has made this a country of liberty and inclusion, despite when Christian Nation evangelicals have tried to make this into a Christian sharia theocracy.

    • I’m a Proud Born Again Atheist and I fought in Iraq. Oh and the founding fathers were not christians they were deists and the original inhabitants also were not Christians they were pagans. I have no problem with the bible thumpers praying to their sky fairy during a ceremony in the Army. That’s their choice not mine. I just ignore their delusions and keep my head held high!

  9. Congress made no LAW establishing a religion here… however, neither did it prohibit “the free exercise thereof.” In fact, preventing this prayer would violate the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by “abridging the freedom of speech.” It’s about time that we rediscover the truth that we have Freedom OF Religion, not Freedom FROM Religion!

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  11. Pingback: Military Atheist Claims What Happened in This 36-Second Clip Has No Place in the Armed Forces

  12. Pingback: Military Atheist Claims What Happened in This 36-Second Clip Has No Place in the Armed Forces | Peel the Label

  13. Pingback: Military Atheist Claims What Happened in This 36-Second Clip Has No Place in the Armed Forces |

  14. My God is so great that as searching for my sons graduation I find it !! Jesus is real n proof is that thru ur site I found my son hearing a well known verse !! Praise God !! While the devil plots the lord laughs !!! Thank u !! God bless our soldiers !! Yes we are founded “one nation under God” thank u for ur video !! God bless !! Made my day !

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