Atheists and Agnostics Need Not Apply

If you don’t believe in a “higher being” and you serve in the US Armed Forces, you may be determined to be “spiritually unfit” and forced to undergo “exercises that use religious imagery to “train” soldiers up to a satisfactory level of spirituality.” This program, Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF), was designed by, Martin Seligman, an American psychologist and author of self-help books and the director of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Selgman came under heavy criticism for his involvement in the Navy’s SERE program in 2002 and his association with Notorious SERE/CIA interrogator-psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen who use Seligman’s theories of “learned helplessness” to interrogate detainees.

Since then, Seligman has managed to reinvent himself as “Dr. Happy” and devised a way using his untested “Learned Optimism” program to make a killing-$31 million in sole source funds.

From Jason Leopold who first reported this story on the Army’s “spiritual testing”

   Soldiers fill out an online survey made up of more than 100 questions, and if the results fall into a red area, they are required to participate in remedial courses in a classroom or online setting to strengthen their resilience in the disciplines in which they received low scores. The test is administered every two years. More than 800,000 Army soldiers have taken it thus far.But for the thousands of “Foxhole Atheists” like 27-year-old Sgt. Justin Griffith, the spiritual component of the test contains questions written predominantly for soldiers who believe in God or another deity, meaning nonbelievers are guaranteed to score poorly and will be forced to participate in exercises that use religious imagery to “train” soldiers up to a satisfactory level of spirituality.

Brig. Gen. Rhonda Cornum, the director of the CSF program, has said, “The spiritual strength domain is not related to religiosity, at least not in terms of how we measure it.”

“It measures a person’s core values and beliefs concerning their meaning and purpose in life,” she said. “It’s not religious, although a person’s religion can still affect those things. Spiritual training is entirely optional, unlike the other domains. Every time you say the S-P-I-R word you’re going to get sued. So that part is not mandatory. The assessment is mandatory though and junior soldiers will be required to take exercises to strengthen their other four domains.”

But despite the verbal gymnastics Cornum seems to engage in over the meaning of “spiritual” and “religious,” it has been established that the spiritual component of CSF is deeply rooted in religious doctrine.

A press release issued by Bowling Green State University (BGSU) in January 2010 said renowned “Psychology of Religion” expert Dr. Kenneth Pargament was tapped to develop the spiritual portion of the test in consultation with Army chaplains, BGSU ROTC cadets, graduate students and officials at West Point.

In examining this issue that bases a soldier’s fitness on his/her religious beliefs, Jeff Kaye, makes this observation and wonders what’s next?

The fact the Army is enforcing religious ideology upon soldiers is already outrageous enough, but the piquant irony by which the primary theorist of the program is also one of the primary theorists behind the use of certain techniques to break down and torture people, and whose theories were used by DoD/CIA psychologists to devise a diabolical torture program, well… one’s head could spin for days processing the internal contradictions. But that’s America today, a torturing country that uses huckster psychology to promote ersatz spirituality in soldiers sent to invade foreign countries for the purpose of selling arms and controlling oil and gas supplies.

What’s next? Will atheism be pronounced a new form of “material support to terrorism”? Will Elmer Gantry replace Robert Gates as next Secretary of Defense? Gates has been President Obama’s Secretary of Defense nearly as long now as he served as same in the administration of George W. Bush.

Truly, nothing can be considered strange anymore.

First they went after the gays . . . .

h/t to emptywheel at FDL

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    • TMC on January 23, 2011 at 7:28 pm
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    The Military Religious Freedom Foundation has sent a letter to the Army of Staff and the Secretary of the Army requesting that the Army “immediately cease and desist administering the “spiritual” portion of the CSF test”

    • Edger on January 23, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    from only a few days old when mother came home from the hospital with me, until I was 17 and left for good.

    I used to spend almost all my spare time in the empty base libararies reading everything I could get my hands on and learning everything I could.

    I would never join the military. They would never join me. They didn’t believe… in reading and learning.

  1. God I would hate to know that I was.  And it appears that you were unfit Mom, although they didn’t bother to tell you, and only let you figure it out for yourself.

    • RUKind on January 24, 2011 at 12:51 am

    The USAF Academy has been overrun by fundamentalists. The ratio of “chaplains” to students has skyrocketed and the are all far RW loons.

    An entire fundie community has exploded in Colorado Springs, home of the USAF Academy, over the last two to three decades. Most of the growth was during the Bush years.

    I get the feeling they may think it’s a safe End Times place what with Looking Glass parked deep under Cheyenne Mountain. I know they have at least one mega-church in town.

    The mix of fundie whack-jobs and nuclear weapon control does bother me a little bit. these people have worked hard at infiltrating the USAF Academy – to the point where it’s nickname is the Rocky Mountain Bible College.

    What with all the loose nukes lately, Colorado may present a greater danger than Pakistan.

  2. you didn’t believe controlling sociopathic dweebs from 960 AD perverted the original teachings of the alleged great prophet called Jesus you might have been a candidate for the secret psychic remote viewing project.  Actually how they still get rural country folk to sign up for and die for this empire in decline does escape me.

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