"Spiritual Fitness" is Christian, Says Professed Co-Author of Army Leadership Manual
Bruce Wilson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Feb 08, 2011 at 10:46:00 AM EST
"the military has turned away from a values system based on reason and experience alone. We are instead pursuing a values system that's ultimate source of right and wrong is defined by religious, primarily Christian, principles. This method enables our military to have moral absolutes." - Army Chaplain [then] Lt. Col. Ron Huggler, who professes to have helped revise the Army's Field Manual 22-100, on leadership

Recently, controversy has arisen over the United States Army's "Spiritual Fitness" doctrine and program. Included as part of the Army's mandatory Comprehensive Soldier Fitness test is a "Spiritual Fitness Test", based on Army Regulation 600-63 on Health Promotion, which defines "spiritual fitness" as a component of combat readiness. The Army has claimed the Spiritual Fitness program was inspired by the World Health Organization. But Lt. Col. Ron Huggler, who says he helped rewrite the Army's revised version FM 22-100 manual on leadership (released in October 2006) asserts the US military has turned to the promotion of explicitly Christian principles.

[related stories: see US Army's "Spiritual Fitness" Campaign and Uganda's "Kill the Gays Bill" Linked, and Christian Flag Folding Ceremony Reveals Official Sanction of Church-State Violations in the Military, and Soldiers Forced to See Chaplain After Failing Army's Spiritual Fitness Test, and U.S. Soldiers Punished For Not Attending Christian Concert]

As a January 17, 2011 story from Utah KSL-TV News, by Michael De Groote, describes, after taking the "spiritual fitness" test Ft. Bragg-based Army Sergeant Justin Griffin, an atheist, got the following assessments - "You may lack a sense of meaning and purpose in your life... At times, it is hard for you to make sense of what is happening to you and others around you... You may question your beliefs, principles, and values." The KSL-TV story continues,  

"After he took the test, Griffith hooked up with Mikey Weinstein, the president and founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which describes itself on its website as a "nonprofit charitable foundation he founded to directly battle the far-right militant radical evangelical religious fundamentalists."

The foundation is helping Griffith and 219 other soldiers -- including Christians -- in a potential lawsuit to force the Army to remove the Spiritual Fitness section from the mandatory Comprehensive Soldier Fitness test. They feel that the Spiritual Fitness section violates the Constitution's Establishment Clause and the No Religious Test clause. "

The KSL-TV story quoted Army spokesperson Lt. Col. Freddie Mack
who claimed that the idea that "spiritual fitness" is a component of human well-being came from the World Health Organization and said that the spiritual fitness program was designed to reduce help reduce Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

But a paper written by professed co-author of the Army's FM 22-100 field manual on leadership [then] Lt. Col. Ron Huggler directly contradicts Army spokesperson Mack's claim.

The most recent revision of the Army Field Manual FM 22-100, on leadership, appears to have been released in October 2006. On May 7, 2007, the Army issued Regulation 600-63 on Health Promotion, which explicitly defined Spiritual Fitness as a component of combat readiness and mandated that base commanders, and Army commanders at all levels, promote the vaguely defined (to put it charitably) "spiritual fitness" idea.

Lt. Col. Huggler's paper, "Teaching and Developing Character in the Armed Forces" appeared on the website of the Association For Christian Conferences Teaching and Service. ACCTS targets the world's militaries for evangelizing with the following justification:

"approximately 65% of the earth's nations are heavily influenced by their armed forces.

With military personnel from so many countries stationed around the globe, there has never been a more strategic time to share the life-changing gospel of Christ with the semi-closed society of international military personnel. Positively changed lives among military personnel will result in positive changes for the nations of our world."

As its top-billed activity, ACCTS engages in "training military Christian leaders to form locally-led Military Christian Fellowships (MCFs); currently, there are MCFs in more than 85 countries."

Ron Huggler's paper "Teaching and Developing Character in the Armed Forces" was published along with a group of papers by ACCTS authors, both retired and active-duty, from militaries across the globe including in the United States, Norway, the United Kingdom, Korea, the Ukraine, Holland, Romania, and Russia.

As Army Chaplain Ron. Huggler writes in the paper,

"What is there besides human reason and experience that can assist us in deciding what is ultimately right and wrong? I submit that religion, (in the US military we call it spiritual fitness), is the critical missing element. Again, let me turn to an experiential argument. Historically, in the US before the 1960's the way a national ethical problem was addressed was that the best reason and experience were brought to bear on the problem. The process did not end there, however. The result was scrutinized. If the result violated a religious principle (usually a Christian principle) then that right was considered wrong or inadequate and was rejected....

Beginning in the 1960's, our Supreme Court struck down many of the ways we instilled religious principles in the populace. We grew into a country that pursued right and wrong based on reason and experience alone. We reaped and are continuing to reap moral and ethical weakness and its logical result, character weakness. The resulting negative impact on our nation is evident. The quality of our military is lessened as we incorporate officers and enlisted personnel without the strength of character we need. That is why the military has turned away from a values system based on reason and experience alone. We are instead pursuing a values system that's ultimate source of right and wrong is defined by religious, primarily Christian, principles. This method enables our military to have moral absolutes. "

Lt. Col. Huggler's sentiments fit into a widespread narrative, on the US evangelical right, which blames an allegedly disastrous moral decline on the purported removal of Christianity from "the public square." Such narratives commonly reference Supreme Court decisions such as the 1963 Abington School District v. Schempp US Supreme Court decision which "declared school-sponsored Bible reading in public schools in the United States to be unconstitutional."

1963 was the year that US national rates of murder and violent crime began to rise, a trend that did not break until roughly 1992. Divorce rates had already been rising for years, which many trace to the rise of no-fault divorce laws. But by the 1990's both trends were dropping and they continued to do so in the following decade as well. The US State with the lowest rate, Massachusetts, now boasts a divorce rate that prevailed in the Bay State prior to the onset of World War Two. Massachusetts also has had legal gay marriage now for the better part of a decade.

As Ron Huggler detailed the struggle within the US military, between advocates for secular values and advocates for overtly religious, Christian-based values,

"The US Army decided five years ago to review and rewrite its doctrine on ethics and character development. I was part of the process that rewrote our Army Field Manual 22-100, Army Leadership. Very early in the process it became apparent that two very distinct camps of belief were going to fight for control over how we would define our values, ethics, and how we would develop character. There were those who were adamant that a philosophy based on reason and experience alone was more than adequate for the Army. They argued, "We live in a very diverse religious society and using any religious principles would only confuse or leave someone out". The other side was just as adamant that reason and experience informed and controlled by religious principle would offer the best philosophy for defining our values, ethics, and how we would develop character. The battle was tremendously hard fought. Who won out? Reason and experience informed and controlled by religious principle. "

Based on Huggler's statement and the publication date of the Army Field Manual 22-100, the decision to rewrite Army doctrine on "character and ethics development" would have occurred no earlier than 2001. In 2007, the Army released Regulation 600-63 on Health Promotion, which contains the following:

"Chapter 6 Spiritual Fitness
6-1. General
A spiritually fit person recognizes there are multiple dimensions that make up a human being and seeks to develop the total person concept. This includes enhancing spiritual fitness through reflection and practice of a lifestyle based on personal qualities needed to sustain one during times of stress, hardship, and tragedy. When a person's actions are different from his or her stated values, the person lives with inner conflict. This person struggles for integrity and congruity, but cannot find inner peace until this struggle is dealt with. The extent to which this is accomplished is a measure of spiritual fitness.
6-2. Spiritual fitness
a. Commanders at all levels shall encourage and provide for human self-development activities leading to increased spiritual fitness in accordance with this regulation, AR 600-20, AR 165-1, and other applicable directives.
b. Army leaders should develop an awareness of the lifestyles, cultural backgrounds, stages of development, possible relationships to religious beliefs, and the needs of their Soldiers, Army civilians, and Family members. The CHPC will recommend, coordinate, and ensure the integration of spiritual fitness programs for units, Soldiers, Family members, and Army civilians in their area of responsibility.
c. Commanders at the installation state JFHQ, DRU/MSC, and community level shall develop Soldiers and Family support activities to undergird, reinforce, and implement the enhancement of spiritual fitness. They will ensure time is scheduled for activities, programs, and training to accomplish the goals of spiritual fitness programs.
d. In providing for self-development activities, commanders and other leaders must ensure they do not favor one form of religion over another. The practice of religion, to the extent that it relates to spiritual fitness, must be left to the sole discretion of the Soldier, Family member, or Army civilian. They must be free to worship or not worship as they choose without fear of being disciplined or stigmatized for their choice. (See AR 165-1 and AR 600-20).
e. All Soldiers and Army civilians are expected to live by the tenets of the professional Army ethic and those individual values that support and sustain the Army way of life. (See FM 1.)"



Display:
The above regulation 600-63 explicity states, "d. In providing for self-development activities, commanders and other leaders must ensure they do not favor one form of religion over another."

It also gives a working definition of what the Army considers "spiritual fitness":
 When a person's actions are different from his or her stated values, the person lives with inner conflict. This person struggles for integrity and congruity, but cannot find inner peace until this struggle is dealt with. The extent to which this is accomplished is a measure of spiritual fitness.

So promotion of one religion over another violates even these regulations.

by rahilliard on Wed Feb 09, 2011 at 10:34:40 AM EST



WWW Talk To Action


Thoughts on the Finale of the Finn Debacle
Now that Bishop Robert Finn has finally resigned his leadership of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri -- here are some final thoughts......
By Frank Cocozzelli (3 comments)
DeVos and School Privatization Funders Backing Philadelphia Democratic Mayoral Candidate
The Betsy DeVos-led American Federation for Children (AFC) and its core funders have spent more than fifteen million dollars in Pennsylvania over the last......
By Rachel Tabachnick (2 comments)
Religious Right Rabbi: Christian Coalition Favorite Daniel Lapin Resurfaces
Back in the 1990s when I was regularly covering the antics of TV preacher Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition, one part of the job was......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
Christian Right leaders escalate anti-LGBTQ threats
As marriage equality has advanced around the country, and the U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule on the issue in June, threatening language......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Could Support for LGBTQ Rights Disrupt the Coalition of Jews and Evangelical Christian Zionists?
Some might say that the relationship between the conservative US Jewish community and Evangelicals is inviolable, with support for Israel being the cement that......
By Bill Berkowitz (1 comment)
Whine Festival: Second-Tier Religious Right Leaders Still Don't Like Marriage Equality
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments tomorrow in Obergefell v. Hodges, the marriage equality case.In preparation for this, a sad collection of......
By Rob Boston (0 comments)
Whither the Christian Right in the Democratic Party?
You don't have to be a Hillary hater (and I'm not) to recognize that Clinton and other Democratic Party leaders have had long and......
By Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Bishop Robert Finn Resigns Leadership of St. Joseph-Kansas City Diocese
Bishop Robert W. Finn, the Opus Dei Bishop who was convicted by a Missouri court for failing to report suspected child abuse by a......
By Frank Cocozzelli (5 comments)
Two Overlooked Indiana Outcomes that Could Haunt the Christian Right
I think there are two underreported features of the fallout from Indiana that we should make sure do not get lost in the hoo......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Terms, Definitions & Glossaries for Writing about the Religious Right
One of the challenges in writing about the Religious Right and what to do about it is the matter of terms and definitions. That's......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
President Obama Can Help Stop Religious Discrimination
Barry Lynn, the longtime executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, recently posted an important essay at Huffington Post. In......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Marriage Matters: Thoughts On The Recent Unpleasantness In Indiana
Last week I taped an interview with Sister Maureen Fielder, host of "Interfaith Voices," a popular radio program exploring religious issues that is carried......
By Rob Boston (1 comment)
The Campaign Against Pro-LGBTQ Denominations
The recent endorsement of marriage equality by the Presbyterian Church (USA) seemed like a good moment to discuss the campaign to divide and conquer......
By Frederick Clarkson (0 comments)
Upcoming Conference: From Abortion Rights to Social Justice
The 29th annual conference From Abortion Rights to Social Justice: Building the Movement for Reproductive Freedom will be held from April 10-12 at Hampshire......
By Frederick Clarkson (2 comments)
Why Is Bishop Robert Finn Still In Power?
As I reported in September 2014, Bishop Robert Finn, head of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri has been under Vatican investigation to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (2 comments)

Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (0 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (0 comments)
Evangelicals Seduced By Ayn Rand Worship Crypto-Satanism, Suggest Scholars
[update: also see my closely related stories, "Crypto-Cultists" and "Cranks": The Video Paul Ryan Hoped Would Go Away, and The Paul Ryan/Ayn Rand/Satanism Connection Made Simple] "I give people Ayn Rand with trappings" -......
Bruce Wilson (10 comments)
Ted Cruz Anointed By Pastor Who Says Jesus Opposed Minimum Wage, and Constitution Based on the Bible
In the video below, from a July 19-20th, 2013 pastor's rally at a Marriott Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, Tea Party potentate Ted Cruz is blessed by religious right leader David Barton, who claims......
Bruce Wilson (0 comments)
Galt and God: Ayn Randians and Christian Rightists Expand Ties
Ayn Rand's followers find themselves sharing a lot of common ground with the Christian Right these days. The Tea Party, with its stress on righteous liberty and a robust form of capitalism, has been......
JSanford (3 comments)
Witchhunts in Africa and the U.S.A.
Nigerian human rights activist Leo Igwe has recently written at least two blog posts about how some African Pentecostal churches are sending missionaries to Europe and the U.S.A. in an attempt to "re-evangelize the......
Diane Vera (1 comment)
Charles Taze Russell and John Hagee
No doubt exists that Texas mega-church Pastor John Hagee would be loathe to be associated with the theology of Pastor C.T. Russell (wrongly credited with founding the Jehovah's Witnesses) but their theological orbits, while......
COinMS (0 comments)
A death among the common people ... imagination.
Or maybe my title would better fit as “Laws, Books, where to find, and the people who trust them.”What a society we've become!The wise ones tell us over and over how the more things......
Arthur Ruger (0 comments)
Deconstructing the Dominionists, Part VI
This is part 6 of a series by guest front pager Mahanoy, originally dated November 15, 2007 which I had to delete and repost for technical reasons. It is referred to in this post,......
Frederick Clarkson (1 comment)
Republican infighting in Mississippi
After a bruising GOP runoff election for U.S. Senator, current MS Senator Thad Cochran has retained his position and will face Travis Childers (Democrat) in the next senate election. The MS GOP is fractured......
COinMS (5 comments)
America's Most Convenient Bank® refuses to serve Christians
Representatives of a well known faith-based charitable organization were refused a New Jersey bank’s notarization service by an atheist employee. After inquiring about the nature of the non-profit organization and the documents requiring......
Jody Lane (5 comments)
John Benefiel takes credit for GOP takeover of Oklahoma
Many of you know that Oklahoma has turned an unrecognizable shade of red in recent years.  Yesterday, one of the leading members of the New Apostolic Reformation all but declared that he was responsible......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)
John Benefiel thinks America is under curse because Egyptians dedicated North America to Baal
You may remember that Rick Perry put together his "Response" prayer rallies with the help of a slew of NAR figures.  One of them was John Benefiel, an Oklahoma City-based "apostle."  He heads up......
Christian Dem in NC (5 comments)
Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Yes, that's right. We have totally lost our religious freedom in Mississippi and it must be restored by our legislators. ......
COinMS (2 comments)
Bill Gothard accused of harassing women and failing to report child abuse
Surprised no one's mentioned this, but one of the longest-standing leaders of the religious right is in a world of trouble.  Bill Gothard has been active in the fundie movement for over half......
Christian Dem in NC (2 comments)

More Diaries...




All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.