Home / News / West Point cadet Blake Page quits the Academy citing "too much religion" in its ranks
West Point cadet Blake Page quits the Academy citing "too much religion" in its ranks

West Point cadet Blake Page quits the Academy citing "too much religion" in its ranks

Blake Page doesn't want to be a West Point graduate any longer–and he is only five months from graduation.  Why?  In his op-ed piece on the Huffington Post, Page explains that religion–namely, evangelical religion, has had a lot to do with his decision to quit the Academy:

While there are certainly numerous problems with the developmental program at West Point and all service academies, the tipping point of my decision to resign was the realization that countless officers here and throughout the military are guilty of blatantly violating the oaths they swore to defend the Constitution. 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. These transgressions are nearly always committed in the name of fundamentalist evangelical Christianity. The sparse leaders who object to these egregious violations are relegated to the position of silent bystanders, because they understand all too well the potential ramifications of publically expressing their loyalty to the laws of our country. These are strong words that I do not use lightly, but after years of clear personal observation I am certain that they are true. The following excerpt is from my official letter of resignation from West Point:

I do not wish to be in any way associated with an institution which willfully disregards the Constitution of the United States of America by enforcing policies which run counter to the same. Examples of these policies include mandatory prayer, the maintenance of the 3rd Regiment Shield, awarding extra passes to Plebes who take part in religious retreats and chapel choirs, as well as informal policies such as the open disrespect of non-religious new cadets and incentivizing participation in religious activities through the chain of command.

He says that many students have come to him citing the same concerns.  Page was president of the West Point Secular Student Alliance, a Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers affiliate, as well as its first Director of Military Religious Freedom Foundation Affairs at West Point.

Reactions to Page's contention and resignation have been many, ranging from the supportive to inflammatory. American Live Wire reports that fellow SSA members do not all agree with his point of view:

While some of the Secular Student Alliance agree with Blake Page on certain issues, many of them feel that his explanation of what goes on at West Point is extreme. Cadet Andrew Houchin, who is also a member of Secular Student Alliance, stated, “I think it’s true that the majority of West Point cadets are of a very conservative, Christian orientation. 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.”

The Daily Kos also sheds some light on the story, citing Page as having clinical depression because of this issue and also because his father killed himself last year.  The Kos believes that fundmentalists will say God visited depression on Page because he spoke out:

The story also answers a big question a lot of people asked–why didn't Page stay through May?  Well, it turns out that he was diagnosed with depression earlier this year.

Page said he had been medically disqualified this semester from receiving a commission in the Army as a second lieutenant – like his classmates will receive in May – because of clinical depression and anxiety. He said his condition has gotten worse since his father killed himself last year.

So that explains a lot.  Between being harassed for his atheism and having to recover from the loss of his father, Page must have figured–understandably so–that he was close to the breaking point and decided to get out for the sake of his own mental health.

You know how the fundies are going to spin this–God visited him with depression as punishment for speaking out.

Page will not have to reimburse the Army the $300,000.00 that was spent on his education, with some surmising that it is because his superiors did not do a whole lot to stem what Page felt was outright discrimination.   It is clear that Page has become a symbol–for some, a symbol of opposition to Christianity, and for others, like Mikey Weinstein, he is on a par with Rosa Parks.  Newsmax adds:

Mikey Weinstein, an Air Force Academy graduate and founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said Page's actions were comparable to those of Rosa Parks, the African American woman who refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white person, an event that became emblematic of civil rights-era struggles.

Page says he intends to go on fighting religious proselytizing in the military. For now, he will return to his home state of Minnesota to assess what his next move should be.

About Dakota O'Leary

Dakota O'Leary is a freethinker, and often sassy, scholar of theology and literature. She got her Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Theology from the State University of New York College at Buffalo, and her Master of Arts degree in Theology and Literature from Antioch University-Midwest. She is a contributing writer focusing on eschatology, biblical prophecy, and general religious news. Dakota is a co-host of the God Discussion radio show, offering insight to the news stories of the week. We like to call her "our in-house Biblical prophecy expert" as her articles on eschatology have received over 200,000 views on God Discussion.
  • Peter

    What
    a brave young man who sacrificed his career because of his principles. Rare
    today. What I find most distressing is the infiltration of hard-core
    fundamentalists in the Chaplin Corps: I consider them Christian predators. The watchdog
    organization
    Military Religious Freedom Foundation
    (MRRF) published a video
    documenting the level of Christian proselytizing in the American military
    especially evident in combat zones. There they target and try converting
    servicemen and women who are physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted.
    People who just saw their buddy blown apart by a roadside bomb. Perhaps the
    words of one, Maj. Jeff Struecker, Army Ranger School Chaplain will suffice.
    About his mission: “It puts the student in the absolute worst possible
    conditions. Most of them will go a couple of days with no food; some of them
    have gone three days without any sleep. My goal has been to meet them when they
    are at their absolute worst. When they’re the coldest, the most tired and
    hungry that they ever experienced. The more difficult the circumstances, the
    more receptive the average person becomes to issues of faith.”

    MRFF exposed two
    fundamentalist organizations active in every branch of the service. For
    officers, it is the Officers’ Christian Fellowship whose website claims it
    membership has about 15,000 ranking officers, including generals and admirals
    For the enlisted men and women it’s the Christian Military Fellowship. The
    Pentagon has nearly 1000 bases in 137 countries and Weinstein reports each has
    an Officers’ Christian Fellowship (OCF) and a Christian Military Fellowship
    (CMF).

    I’m Canadian and
    live about 10 miles from Canada’s largest military base, Borden. Both the OCF
    and CMF are active up here as well as having chapters for our troops serving in
    Afghanistan. And our Chaplain service is quietly becoming the Evangelical
    Corps. Few Americans know this but Canada carried the ball in Helmand province for
    three years in perhaps the most dangerous part of the country. We suffered a
    disproportionate number of casualties as a result. I can just imagine those
    Christian predators feasting on our traumatized young men and women. It doesn’t
    help matters that our Prime Minister belongs to the Christian and Missionary
    Alliance, a Dominionist sect that believes we are in the “end times.” Harper
    certainly won’t tell the Dept. of Defense to reprimand these predatory
    parasites. Sorry I went on so long but this bothers me a great deal.

    • Deborah_B
      • Peter

        Thank you Deborah. I was very surprised this story didn’t generate more commentary. I thought this was a major story that brought into play the situation and the implications of Christian fundamentalism in the US military. Perhaps because it was covered so extensively elsewhere people were tired of it. Oh well.

        • Deborah_B

          My sense is that a lot of people don't pay attention because of the meme that religion is automatically good. They find it hard to believe the influence of fundamentalism.

          • Peter

            I think you’re right, Deborah. An the parents will never believe these “good Christians” are actually indoctrinating their sons and daughters, like every other fascist throughout recent history.

            • Spuddie

              I think its more like there is no way to put a good face on the subject for the fundamentalists. Also they are hoping people either don't notice.

Scroll To Top