In a day full of surprises, it turns out the US military is still discriminating against non believers. That this is necessary is pretty disturbing. On the bright side, atheists damn sure have a good way to dodge compulsory military service now.
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An atheist soldier who claims the military violates religious freedoms should have complained through the chain of command instead of civilian courts, the government said in arguing that his lawsuit should be dismissed.
Justice Department attorneys who filed the federal court motion this week also said the military has ample policies to protect service members from religious discrimination.
Spc. Jeremy Hall and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, also participating in the lawsuit, claim the military permits religious discrimination by fundamentalist Christians who try to force their views on others, especially subordinates.
Hall alleges that while serving in Iraq, Army Reserve Maj. Freddy J. Welborn violated his religious rights when Hall tried to hold a meeting with other atheists and freethinkers. The lawsuit alleges Welborn prevented the meeting and threatened to take action against Hall.
Pedro Irigonegaray, a Topeka attorney representing Hall and the foundation, said the soldier couldn't complain to commanders because of fear of reprisal. Hall says that other soldiers have threatened him and that he was sent back to Fort Riley from overseas because the Army couldn't protect him.
Welborn has denied Hall's allegations. In arguing further for dismissal, the government said there was no indication that any injury caused by Welborn would likely recur.
The more than 300-page government filing included the Army's command policy and unit equal opportunity training guide, arguing that the military, rather than civilian courts, was the appropriate venue and that Hall has failed to exhaust military remedies.
"Judicial review would significantly interfere with Army operations and intrude on disciplinary and personnel decisions entrusted to military judgment," the government wrote. "The Army was deprived of the opportunity to promptly investigate the alleged misconduct and take appropriate disciplinary action."
Hall is assigned to a military police unit at Fort Riley and due to leave the Army next year.