A U.S. soldier has filed suit against the Army, claiming that he was discriminated against and repeatedly ostracized because of his atheist views.
Specialist Jeremy Hall, a native of North Carolina who was raised Christian by his grandmother, said that while he respects the religious views of others, the army had repeatedly overstepped its boundaries by creating an environment that frequently endorsed Evangelical Christianity.
Hall explained that many superiors frequently misuse their authority to proselytize among troops, creating an uncomfortable environment, and added that his lawsuit was the result of being barred from holding a meeting with other atheist soldiers while serving active duty in Iraq.
According to Hall, his superior, Maj. Freddy J. Welborn, reportedly called Hall and others traitors for "going against what the founding fathers, who were Christians, wanted for America!"
Welborn, however, has denied the validity of the statements.
In a prepared statement, the Department of Defense also commented.
"The Department respects [and supports by its policy] the rights of others to their own religious beliefs, including the right to hold no beliefs," said Eileen Lainez, a spokeswoman for the Department of Defense.
Bill Carr, the Defense Department's deputy under secretary for military personnel policy, added in an email that the military held a standard of "near universal compliance with the department's policy."
According to the Pentagon, there are about 1.36 million active duty members in the U.S. Armed Forces, with complaints regarding religious discrimination very small in number.