Religion in the military: Soldiers, sailors are not indoctrinated

I started reading Matthew Brown's article on atheists "A belief in service to country, without a belief in a deity" (Nov. 6) because of my background in the military. I found it interesting until I read this: "Nightly prayers still are broadcast throughout Navy ships at sea." In my years on USS Ranger and USS Kittyhawk, I saw many programs available through the closed circuit armed forces TV system aboard ship. Never did I see nightly prayers broadcast in the ready rooms or on the mess decks (public areas). Nor were they broadcast over the ship's 1MC or 5MC where sailors would be forced to listen.

It is as if Mr. Brown could relay the fact that nightly prayers are broadcast throughout Baltimore, and indeed, I imagine this is true. But like the people of Baltimore, sailors would have to select this programming. It is as easy as using the ON/OFF switch on your television set. It is not like the Muslim call to prayers which are broadcast throughout Middle East cities five times per day and cannot be escaped.

As a squadron commander I have written hundreds of evaluations and fitness reports. I never considered religious affiliation (or lack thereof) in any reports. I have sat on promotion and other selection boards, and I have not witnessed any of my peers using religion as a stepping stone for advancement.

Stephen V. Roth, Severn

The writer is a retired commander in the U.S. Navy.

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