Theocracy at West Point- The Rest of the Story

So, you may have heard recently about a young Cadet at West Point, mere months from graduation who resigned in disgust at the imposition of Christianist thought by the leadership at the academy. This brave young man threw over his chance to serve in order to shed light on the horrible influence that Evangelical Christians at the US Military Academy bring to those who don’t embrace their faith, or even any faith at all. He’s speaking truth to power!

Well, if all you read was his entry on The Huffington Post, sure, that’s the story.

But as Paul Harvey would say… here’s the Rest of the Story.

The cadet who claimed to be quitting West Point as a public protest over proselytizing and religious favoritism at the academy was already disqualified from receiving a commission because of clinical depression and anxiety.

Cadet Blake Page said West Point had told him he could graduate on time in 2013 with an academy degree, but he could not serve in the military.

Cadet Page was a “prior service” cadet. That is, he first enlisted in the Army, and was selected from the ranks for his appointment to West Point. And from most reports, his depression and anxiety aside, he appears to have been a satisfactory member of the Corps of Cadets. So much so that rather than separating him from the academy, he was offered the opportunity to complete his degree and to graduate.

First, I’ve got a couple random thoughts-

How much prior service did Mr. Page have? That is, did he serve as an infantryman, deploy and whatnot, or was he selected almost immediately upon completion of OSUT for the Academy Prep School? It doesn’t really have a lot of bearing on this, but I’m curious.

As to not having to reimburse tuition, I’m OK with that decision. He won’t be completing his obligation because the Army said so, not him. He may or may not have angled for that diagnosis of depression and anxiety, but in the end, it was the Army that made it. And it is normal to not seek reimbursement of tuition when cadets are discharged for medical reasons through no fault of their own. In any accession program, there will always be some losses.

As to proselytizing and whatnot at the Academies, I don’t know. It’s not like I spent any time there. But my suspicion is that there might just be a bit of after the fact rationalizing going on here for Mr. Page.  My personal experience in the ranks was rather more that openly religious people were  more apt to receive  ridicule than to dispense it. But that was a long time ago, and cultures, even the Army’s, change.

Speaking of religion in the Army, our friend Chaplain Dave has some goings on. Recently returned from a deployment to Kuwait as the Battalion Chaplain for a National Guard aviation battalion, he’s still forging ahead with his effort to transfer to the US Navy Chaplain Corps.  He’s had an interesting career path. As a former Marine artillery officer and now Army National Guard Chaplain, he’s been a Lieutenant, a Captain, a Major, back to Captain, screened for Major again, and if he’s successful in transferring to the Navy, he’ll become a Lieutenant* again.

*US Navy Lieutentants are paygrade 0-3, equivalent to to Marine and Army Captain.

16 thoughts on “Theocracy at West Point- The Rest of the Story”

  1. Navy Lieutenants are indeed 0-3s, but are seldom, if ever, equivalent to Marine Captains!

  2. I have to say that I have little sympathy for Cadet Page and his decision to quit West Point, and not just because I’m a chaplain.

    This was not a resignation in protest, it was quitting because you couldn’t get what you wanted (a commission), using something that you’re passionate about (secular atheism) to justify your decision and, hopefully, do some damage to the institution that you no longer care about.

    No doubt his anxiety and clinical depression magnified the feelings of despair and paranoia – he saw one person (or maybe a few) act a certain way and/or say certain things and extrapolated that to mean that there must be a systemic problem. Since he could no longer achieve his dream of becoming a lieutenant, I’m sure it wasn’t difficult for him to see himself as a “sacrificial lamb” (to use a biblical term) and offer himself up as a means of garnering attention for himself and on the problem that largely exists within the confines of his mind.

    But it’s no sacrifice to give away that which has lost all meaning to you, is it? I mean, he’s not resigning his commission, he’s not paying back the money – so there’s no real cost involved, emotionally or monetarily. It’s a hollow thing, and should be quickly forgotten.


    As for our host’s kind words, yes, I am in the process of switching over to the Navy. I’m up for consideration on the FY13 ARNG Chaplain Major selection board, but (if selected) will happily give that up in order to pin on Lieutenant bars in the Navy. The next Navy board meets in early/mid February, so prayers are appreciated. The real struggle now is finding something to do in the meantime until we know what the Navy decides.

  3. Scott, every now and then there is an exception. Which is why I didn’t say “never”!

    1. URR, equivalent is the proper term. I can understand why you would argue vehemently against applying the term “equal” in that application, however. A AF Captain is equivalent to an Army Captain is equivalent to a Navy Lieutenant is equivalent to a Marine Captain. None, however, as equal to any of the others.

      I said it, so there! :_P

  4. I spent the day baking Christmas Cookies, and am currently down at the library while they cool, prior to frosting them. When I bought the set of cutters at St. Vinnie’s, I found a Halloween cookie cutter mixed in. So I must decide what color Christmas Bats are, and I have a dozen of them to frost.

  5. Brad, did it myself!

    Fourteen words. An hour and seven minutes. Gettin’ good at this computatin’ stuff!

  6. Not having any further information on the situation than what was presented here, and placing it in the context of my own experiences at The Citadel, I have to say that I’m willing to give the lad (some of) the benefit of the doubt.

    I’m an atheist, and I’m pretty serious about it. On top of that, I have something of a distaste for Christianity as a system of belief, even independent of my disbelief in a higher power of any sort. I stayed VERY deeply closeted about my beliefs during my knob year, and didn’t come out as an atheist until I was safely an upperclassman, and even then it wasn’t particularly the “in” thing to be in an organization with battalion and regimental religious officers

    1. (Let me further add that while I disagree with and am not a particular fan of Christianity, you’ll perhaps note that I did not – and have never – given any of you any form of uncivil speech on the subject. I’m simply stating my own feeling, and not attempting to imply that you should agree with me about it.)

    2. I’m not one of *those* people, QM. I even have a tree and lights up. My wife thinks they’re for Christmas, while I prefer to dedicate them to Bacchus. 🙂

      But seriously, I’m not one of those people that gets pissy because someone says “Merry Christmas.” I might get annoyed because some stranger is bothering me – I am quite a misanthrope, after all – but it’s the fact of the intrusion, not the content thereof. I’ve even been known to say “Merry Christmas” a time or two myself. 🙂

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