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irregular times logoWhy Should We Give Money To The Military To Teach Children Religion?

The Constitution speaks clearly on the matter of government involvement in religion: There shouldn't be any. The very first line of the Bill of Rights reads "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion". Every bit of money that the federal government spends is authorized through law passed by the U.S. Congress. Therefore, any piece of money the government spends to help establish religion is a violation of the Constitution, the highest law in the land.

For generations, politicians have pushed through government funding to establish religion anyway, and in every case, they say that they have good reasons for doing so. One of the most heavily worn routes for the government funding of religion has been the military. Through the military the federal government actually hires priests of various sorts. These religious professionals take money from the government as payment for their efforts to spread their particular religions. Through this arrangement, the federal government acts as a kind of overchurch, regulating the religious practices of the military chaplains and the soldiers who become the religious devotees of the chaplains.

The justification for this extreme and blatant violation of the First Amendment has been that soldiers have it rough, and so they need the government to act as a church for them, to establish religious worship for them before they pick up their guns and go off to kill or be killed. Soldiers certainly do have it rough, but the quality of religious services that encourage soldiers to participate in such a violent arrangement is seriously in doubt.

Besides that, it's never explained why soldiers are provided with religious consolation in particular, when so many of the other sources of consolation in life are withheld from them. Besides the expected deprivations of military life, soldiers are refused many of the very constitutional rights that war propaganda claims they are fighting for.

Boosters of the military's established religious corps ask, "How can we ask soldiers to go without priests and preachers on the battlefield? Yet, these same people see no problem in denying soldiers their freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, protection from cruel and unusual punishment, right to a fair trial and so on.

american soldier child rifleYesterday, with an earmark from U.S. Representative John Carter of Texas, we see that this excuse of serving soldiers' religious needs can't fully cover the theocratic motives behind the establishment of military chaplains. Representative Carter's earmark would spend millions of dollars taken from U.S. taxpayers in order to fund religious education of children. It sounds too crazy to be true, but it's right there in the language Carter used to report his own earmark: "child religious education" to be conducted by the military.

What's more, this "child religious education" is listed in Carter's earmark report as a "Benefit to Taxpayers". How is this a benefit to taxpayers? I'm a taxpayer, but I don't see how I benefit from having government employees instruct children in religious worship.

Even if I were to accept the crazy idea that it's the government that needs to instruct children in matters of religion, I wouldn't choose the military as the branch of the government to operate the project. What kind of religious insights is the U.S. military qualified to teach American children? That violence is holy? That people should obey orders instead of reflecting on what they ought to do for themselves?

I can come up with two judgments, depending on how charitable I am feeling toward religion. First, I could conclude that the military is the branch of the government with the least qualification to teach children about religion. Upon further consideration of the long history of religious violence enacted through military organizations, I could conclude that the military is the most apt branch of government to teach children how to be religious.

Whichever perspective you choose, the funding of military instruction for America's children in religion looks like a very unwise use of funds.

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