RICHMOND, Va. – A staff sergeant erred when he banished dozens of soldiers to their barracks and ordered them to clean up after they refused to attend a Christian concert on a Virginia Army base last year, an investigation concluded.
When the Army learned the soldiers were punished, the company commander apologized to them the next day, according to the investigation's findings, released Tuesday to The Associated Press.
The actions of the staff sergeant, who was not named, were referred back to his battalion commander for nonjudicial action, according to Col. Daniel T. Williams, a spokesman for the Army's Document and Training Command, who detailed the findings of the investigation in a telephone interview. He said any punishment, if it occurred, would be kept confidential.
The sergeant's actions in May 2010 at Newport News' Fort Eustis were not consistent with the voluntary nature of the concerts, Williams said.
"The command did not find sufficient evidence to indicate there was any malicious intent and therefore deferred any discipline down to the battalion command," Williams said.
Mikey Weinstein of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which first reported complaints by the soldiers, described the investigation's conclusion as typical for the military.
"Blame some lower-ranking enlisted guy who didn't know any better," he said in an interview. "That is just a completely inappropriate and disgraceful statement."
Weinstein called the Christian concerts "an absolute attempt to establish fundamental Christianity in the military."
Williams described them as "nondenominational with no particular religious affiliation."
Answer by jewjewbee at 8:30 AM on Mar. 9, 2011
Answer by tnmomofive at 8:50 AM on Mar. 9, 2011
I heard about this and other instances where soldiers have been commanded to attend religious events. What's the big deal? These soldiers, as many here have pointed out, are there to protect our freedoms--among which is freedom of religion--so it only seems right that they should be allowed those same freedoms. They should not be forced to attend religious events, unless it is related to a work assignment. I'm sure, if they were forced to attend a religious ceremony of a different faith other than Christianity, the response here would be different.
Answer by jsbenkert at 9:05 AM on Mar. 9, 2011
Answer by tnmomofive at 9:09 AM on Mar. 9, 2011
Answer by itsmesteph11 at 9:13 AM on Mar. 9, 2011
Next question overall
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