Thursday, July 24, 2008

AU Seeks Investigation of Church-Sponsored Program At Army Base

In a letter yesterday (full text) to the Department of Defense's Acting Inspector General, Americans United for Separation of Church and State called for an investigation of the "Free Day Away" program at Fort Leonard Wood (MO) Army base. (AU Release). AU's letter alleges that soldiers at Fort Leonard Wood are given only two days off during their 8 weeks of basic training. One of these is "Free Day Away", sponsored by Tabernacle Baptist Church of Lebanon, MO. A church bus picks up trainees at the military base and takes them for a day of recreation which ends with a required church service during which soldiers are urged to accept Jesus as their personal savior. AU says: "Trainees are given the impression that the event is sponsored by the Army and that they must attend. If they do not attend, they have to remain on the base and continue with training, while those who attend the event have a break for the day." AU says the program involves unconstitutional endorsement of religion and coercion of religious belief.