As the Senior Research Director at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF), I've known for quite a while about the incidents of religious discrimination that led to West Point Cadet Blake Page's decision to resign from the Academy -- a decision that's getting quite a bit of attention since Page's post here on HuffPost, "Why I Don't Want to Be a West Point Graduate."
I've also been reading the comments on Page's post and elsewhere, some of which are from people saying that Page's decision to resign means he didn't belong at West Point in the first place -- claiming that his resignation showed that he wouldn't make a good leader anyway. But on Tuesday, when Page appeared on HuffPost Live to explain why he's resigning from the Academy, Shirley Husar gave a different reason for thinking that Page didn't belong at West Point. Husar, identified in the HuffPost Live segment as a Republican Strategist, unwittingly confirmed exactly what Blake Page is trying to make everybody understand.
Here's what Husar said to Page:
"It looks like this was a really bad marriage for you, like you got in bed with someone and it didn't work out to well for you. But I don't understand why you have to go public in such a way. I mean, this is a religious institute and there are people who are Christians who believe in prayer and people need prayer in this country right now."
I want everybody to just stop for a minute and think about what Ms. Husar said -- Blake Page should never have gone to West Point because it's a "religious institute" and he's not religious. Really? If you're not religious you don't belong at West Point and shouldn't expect to fit in and be treated equally? Isn't that exactly what Blake Page is saying? The only difference is that Blake Page is saying that this is a problem and Ms. Husar is saying that this is acceptable.
Does it matter that Shirley Husar thinks that West Point is, and should be, a "religious institute?" Not really. She's got nothing to do with how our military is run. But it certainly does matter that our military is full of people -- from generals down to cadets at our service academies -- who share Ms. Husar's opinion. These are the people -- at West Point and throughout our military -- who feel that they can freely violate the "no religious test" clause of the Constitution they swore an oath to uphold by treating non-theists like Blake Page as second-class citizens who are to be openly mocked, discriminated against, and proselytized to.
Here's the HuffPost Live segment from Tuesday (Ms. Husar appears at about 6:50):