How would you feel if you were a soldier training in Virginia, and your sergeant gave you this choice: attend a Muslim concert by a band known for its Islamic proselytizing, or be locked in to clean your barracks with no phone, internet or TV allowed until the concert was over?
That would never happen in the United States Army, right? I mean, we're a nation that represents freedom ... freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of religion. Our Army is there to defend these constitutional rights! Right?
Apparently not everyone in the Army sees it that way. Except it wasn't a Muslim concert, it was a Christian concert. And it wasn't the Christians who objected, it was the Muslims, Jews and atheists. It's just fun to flip the roles around so that even Christians can see how wrong this is.
Apparently this concert was part of the "Commanding General's Spiritual Fitness Concerts" series. A Captain (who probably wanted to earn points with the General) gave the order that men had to attend or be punished. Apparently following orders, a staff sergeant told 200 men they could either attend or else stay in their barracks, turn off their cell phones and computers, and clean the barracks. The Captain said he was only trying to "show support" for this type of event.
Interestingly, almost half of the soldiers decided not to go. I guess even some of the Christians don't like to be forced to attend a proselytizing event.
The Army's official position on this is clear: religious discrimination is absolutely against Army policy. But time and again the United States Army has failed to adequately protect its soldiers against religious discrimination. In regular society you can slam the door on proselytizers, but in the Army the Christians (it's always Christians who do this) are able to use their rank to force their beliefs on subordinates.
This goes on all the time in our military. A small but militant group of Christian extremists wants to turn our Army into a Christian army. That's unlikely to happen, but Christian evangelicals are still able to do their dirty work with little interference, harassing Jews, Muslims, atheists and even other Christians who aren't the "right" type of Christians.