Ft. Eustis soldiers punished for not attending Christian concert

I first became aware of this story last week. From one of the soldiers:

“Those of us that chose not to attend (about 80, or a little less that half) were marched back to the company area. At that point the NCO issued us a punishment. We were to be on lock-down in the company (not released from duty), could not go anywhere on post (no PX, no library, etc). We were to go to strictly to the barracks and contact maintenance. If we were caught sitting in our rooms, in our beds, or having/handling electronics (cell phones, laptops, games) and doing anything other than maintenance, we would further have our weekend passes revoked and continue barracks maintenance for the entirety of the weekend.

The AP reports that the Army is looking into the allegations.

[Pvt. Anthony] Smith said he went up the chain of command and traced the concert edict to a captain, who said he simply wanted to “show support for those kind of events that bring soldiers together.”

While not accepting blame, the officer apologized to the soldiers who refused to attend the concert and said it was not his intent to proselytize, he said.

Apology aside, this should have never happened.  I hope the officer realizes that he crossed the line. Sounds like to me he deserves a little punishment.

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7 thoughts on “Ft. Eustis soldiers punished for not attending Christian concert

  1. Yeah, this definitely crossed the line. And I don’t think it had anything to do with it being Christian. Oddly, the justification the officer gave is common enough in the military for these kind of events. I heard it enough when I was in the Navy during “forced fun” events. But that doesn’t make it right and I think the officer really needs a stronger punishment. This is just wrong.

  2. Mikey Weinstein is a Christian-hating Jew and he uses the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) to pump propaganda out to the Press, always claiming that our military is on a crusade to convert every service member into an evangelical.

    It is just propaganda and a fund-raising stunt by Weinstein.

    The facts are quite the opposite from Mikey Weinstein’s BS.

    Our military goes to great lengths to ensure every person of faith, has the opportunity to worship with their own faith, as well as providing access to multi-denominational events, such as the Ft.Eustis program.

    During the more than two decades that I served with our Navy, I saw special transportation arranged to accommodate Mormon and Muslim sailors, so that they could attend services off-base, since we didn’t have Chaplains of those faiths stationed there at that time. Later, we had Chaplains of nearly every imaginable background and when we were at sea, without access to chaplains, several sailors would voluntarily serve as “Lay Leaders/Readers.” On one of the smaller ships that I served on, I was the Protestant Lay Leader, even though I am Jewish. Our singing of hymns was a bit tinny at times, but the Men always made a good effort and we all enjoyed the fellowship.

    At no time was anyone ever “punished” or even shunned for not participating.

    Regarding what happened at Fort Eustis, it is a common practice for those in a training environment to sometimes be offered to attend some free concert or social event. Many such events are put on by various non-profits who are trying to help the soldiers to lead a better life, or something like that we see in the civilian sector from those various free programs held at libraries and announced in local weeklies.

    During a period of training such a boot amp or special technician schools, a standard practice is for those who elect to attend an event, get on a bus and go. Those who stay behind, are told to do some sort of homework to keep them busy and in order to not just have a bunch of recruits loafing around when they would otherwise be training. Given the context of the training environment, it is not a punishment for a group that decided not to attend the show to be directed to do training related activities, rather than to be granted that time off for what the military calls free time (liberty).

    So, what Mikey the propagandist is calling, punishment, was really standard procedure for those in a training environment, who are not attending a social, or entertainment outing; those left behind are not given “liberty” but are required to use that time for training. It is not punishment to go to the event, nor is it punishment to remain behind and study your training manual.

    When I was in training we called such outings, “mandatory fun.” Most would attend the event, however dry or boring, while a few stalwart souls would elect to stay in the barracks and review their emergency procedures and flight manuals.

    As for Mikey Weinstein, he acts like a secular Jew, whose own religious foundation is so shaky, that he imagines that every time someone says Jesus, that they are trying to convert him. As a former volunteer for, Jews for Judaism, I can attest that there are a few relentless folks who won’t rest until you give in to their ideas, but the fact simply is that most of us who are minimally familiar with our own faith, are comfortable with the way we worship and welcome interfaith, as well as secular activities. Freedom of religion does not, as Mikey Weinstein advocates, mean freedom FROM religion.

    As Americans, we must welcome religious events that promote good order and discipline amongst our airmen, soldiers and sailors. It is healthy for a Muslim enlistee to voluntarily participate in a Christmas concert; or for a Jewish man to invite Muslims and Christians to partake in the Passover Seder. There is also nothing wrong for an NCO who is training young recruits to tell those who decide not to attend that week’s “mandatory fun” (a free concert by some evangelicals) to go back to the barracks and hit the books.

    It is far better to have the religious influence there, and allow for voluntary participation, rather than to do as Weinstein hopes, and ban the traditional faiths entirely. What would fill that void left by the various organized faiths will hurt our personnel and our military.

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