KANSAS CITY, KAN. (CN) – A U.S. Army specialist at Fort Riley who won a Purple Heart and Combat Medic Badge in Iraq says the Department of Defense is forcing him to attend events that feature Christian prayers. Spec. Dustin Chalker, an atheist, and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation say forcing him to attend such events is unconstitutional.
Chalker has been in the Army since February 2002. He is on active duty at Fort Riley in Kansas. He says his status as an atheist “has not caused diminished performance of his duties or the effectiveness of this or others’ response to military command.” He says the Army has blown off his complaints about its pattern and practice of compelling him to attend prayers.
Among the repeated, compulsory events to which he objects was a lecture on “Spiritual Fitness,” given to 1,000 soldiers and emailed to thousands more. The sermon, “A New Approach to Suicide Prevention: Developing Purpose-Driven Airmen,” was based on the book, “The Purpose Drive Life.”
The complaint features dozens of other examples of the Army forcing Christianity upon soldiers, all of which are unconstitutional, Chalker says. He demands an injunction restraining the Army from forcing religion upon him and others. He is represented by Robert Eye with Irigonegaray & Associates of Topeka.