I realize some religious people are annoyed when atheists complain about religion in public ceremonies. It has been a surprise, even to me, how often religion appears in places it does not belong. When I was a practicing Christian, I never noticed.
Since religion is so often included, most of the time atheists just let it pass. But, individuals, themselves, decide when to resist. It happens in the most unlikely places.
This weekend at Fort Jackson, S. C., there was a small drama involving religion. A class of recruits was rehearsing their graduation ceremony from basic training. During the rehearsal a 20 year old recruit, an atheist, refused to bow his head during the prayer.
The Sargent in charge said he had been ordered to bow his head, thus he must follow this order. The recruit replied no one is required to participate in a religion.
The matter went to the Platoon Commander who explained to the recruit he need not pray, just bow. Finally, the Company Commander agreed with the recruit, he need not bow his head, but was required to stand at attention. The actual cememony was held yesterday without incident.
Some might criticize the recruit saying it would not hurt him to simply bow his head for a few minutes. True, it might not have harmed him much, I don’t know him. There is another way of handling it that will not hurt anyone.
The military should remove prayers from all its ceremonies.