The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) said this week that it was planning to sue the U.S. military after discovering that Marine Corps training documents teach suicide attempt warning signs include "lack or loss of spiritual faith."
The Week's Dana Liebelson obtained a copy the training documents for the Marine Corps' "Force Preservation Program," which was designed to "minimize catastrophic events like suicides, accidental deaths or injuries; and preserve the force for continued service."
The section on "potential risk indicators" includes many obvious causes of depression like divorce, loss of a loved one, family history of suicide, money concerns and substance abuse.
But one item in the "Guidance/moral compass issue" list didn't sit well with atheist service members: "Lack or loss of spiritual faith."
"The whole concept of judging service members based on their spirituality is completely unconstitutional," MRFF President Mikey Weinstein told The Week. "This country was founded on a very critical principle — the Founding Framers looked at the horrors that occurred throughout history by mixing religion and war, and they said, 'We're going to separate church and state.' And that means they cannot test for religion in the military."
Active-duty Marine Paul Loebe, who serves as the military director for American Atheists, argued that a exposing religious beliefs erodes trust between service members and "does quite the opposite of 'preserving the force.'"
"There are many service members past and present that have served honorably and continue to serve without believing in God, and there's no reason to believe they can't continue to do that today," he said.