Blake Page, West Point cadet, quits academy to protest "unconstitutional proselytism"
|The founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation compares Page (left) to Rosa Parks.|
-- Minnesota less religious than 30 years ago, but still one of the most religious states
-- 21-year-old newlywed Minnesotan is 2,000th American to die in Operation Enduring Freedom
Page went public with the news yesterday in a Huffington Post column entitled, "Why I Don't Want to Be a West Point Graduate." In it, he writes: "It is pathetic that so many leaders in the military are comfortable with both subtly and brutally discriminating against non-religious members."
Page, president of West Point's Secular Student Alliance, characterizes "countless officers" as "criminals" whose "transgressions are nearly always committed in the name of fundamentalist evangelical Christianity."
Cadets at West Point "are shown through policy that the Constitution guarantees their freedom of, but not from religion," Page writes. "Many are publically chastised for seeking out a community of likeminded people because it is such a common belief that Humanism and other non-religious philosophies are inherently immoral and worse."
Although West Point and the broader military has a long history of favoring and encouraging Christianity, Page hopes his decision to quit will at least raise awareness about the issue.
"The existence of decades of legal precedent and policies prohibiting this pervasive religious bigotry has not stopped it from happening in the past, and will most certainly not stop it from happening in the future so long as the many who oppose it remain too timid to stand up and be counted," Page writes. "I am making this stand in the hope that others will follow by whatever means they must."
With West Point in his rear-view mirror, what does post-academy life have in store for Page? That's still up in the air, Blake told Military.com:
Instead of a degree and commission, in fact, Blake Page could be going back to Minnesota with a bill to reimburse the government hundreds of thousands of dollars for tuition, he said...In his HuffPo column, Page writes that the Army "may seek recoupment in the form of about $200-300k which I will personally owe, or an additional term of up to 5 years of enlisted service." If that ends up being the case and Page doesn't want to serve in the military any longer, we hope he ends up landing a lucrative book deal.
Page said he does not know what lies ahead for him, beyond returning to Minnesota, where he will live with his grandparents until he decides his next move.
He figures he will put his West Point experiences in a book, he said.