So here’s the scoop: A self-proclaimed atheist named Blake Page has attended West Point for 3 1/2 years. All of the sudden this week, six months before graduation, he loudly and publicly quits the school while simultaneously publishing an article in the Huffington Post about how he is a victim of overt religion on the campus. Predictably, the liberal anti-religious crowd rallied around him as if he were a hero. In the article, Page levels serious charges at his senior officers at the academy:
These men and women are criminals, complicit in light of day defiance of the Uniform Code of Military Justice through unconstitutional proselytism, discrimination against the non-religious and establishing formal policies to reward, encourage and even at times require sectarian religious participation.
Wow, what a noble sacrifice for him to give up his West Point degree so near to graduation–all for the sake of his beliefs, right?
Not so fast. As it turns out, the cadet had OTHER motivations for his abrupt departure:
The 24-year-old told The Associated Press that a determination this semester that he could not become an officer because of clinical depression played a role in his public protest against what he calls the unconstitutional prevalence of religion in the military. (emphasis mine)
“I’ve been trying since I found that out: What can I do? What can I possibly do to initiate the change that I want to see and so many other people want to see?” Page said. “I realized that this is one way I can make that change happen.”
So, let’s get this straight. After 3 1/2 years, the cadet suddenly realizes that he must, simply MUST, take a stand against the prevalence of religion on campus, which he claims has caused him so much suffering. And with much fanfare he fashions himself as an atheist hero in the pages of the Huffington Post, standing against all those awful religious folks in the military… Yet it just so happens that right about that same time he was told the he is ineligible to become an officer in the military because he suffers from a mental illness?
Is this young man really the atheist hero he claims to be, or could the fact that his hopes for a military career had been shattered have something to do with his decision to quit West Point? Hmmm…
Tellingly, a fellow secularist cadet at West Point told the AP that Page’s characterization of the religious climate at West Point as oppressive for non-believers is simply untrue:
“I think it’s true that the majority of West Point cadets are of a very conservative, Christian orientation,” said senior cadet Andrew Houchin. “I don’t think that’s unique to West Point. But more broadly, I’ve never had that even be a problem with those of us who are secular.”
We are sorry for Mr. Page if he suffers from a medical condition that disqualifies him for a commission as an officer in the United States Military. But we have a hard time feeling sorry for him simply due to the fact that there are a lot of religious people in the military academies. If “very conservative, Christian” students just so happen to be the kinds of students who feel a sense of duty to their country and desire to serve, then it is no surprise that the culture at West Point and the other academies reflects those beliefs.
Instead of viewing himself as a victim of the religious culture at West Point, perhaps Mr. Page ought to be asking why there aren’t more liberal atheists who feel a sense of duty and desire to serve in the U.S. military.
Follow Nathan on Twitter: @NathanHarden