US

Group Threatens Class Action Lawsuit Over Marine Corps ‘Spiritual Fitness’ Training

An group advocating for complete separation of church and state is threatening to sue the U.S. Marine Corps over possible plans to bring spiritual fitness into training programs, Military.com reports.

The Marine Corps is developing plans to include spiritual fitness training to build the kind of mental resilience necessary for war, chaplain Rear Adm. Brent Scott told Military.com Tuesday, attracting the ire of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation.

Soon after Military.com published the interview with Scott, Mikey Weinstein, founder and president of Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said his group planned to file suit.

“This is nothing more than a Trojan Horse for fundamentalist Christians to proselytize to a captive audience,” Weinstein told Military.com. “The moment we saw that, we reached out to our litigation team.”

After 15 years of battle in the Middle East, Scott said he “found that much of the resilience we saw was not necessarily attributed to something that somebody could do in the gym. A lot had to do with the heart and soul of the individual.” The Marines need training to develop personal faith, personal values, and moral living and decision-making, Scott said.

“A moral compass doesn’t just come from a faith foundation; it’s not enough to make a decision based on what is legally right or wrong,” Scott said. “Chaplains will help Marines discover that compass for themselves — that center of gravity that comes from their own upbringing, personal experiences, and religious teaching.”

Weinstein, graduate of the Air Force Academy and author of the 2006 book “With God On Our Side: One Man’s War Against an Evangelical Coup in America’s Military,” is critical of any attempts by the government to mandate or even encourage spiritual training.

The U.S. Army has a spiritual fitness test used “in assessing Soldiers’ spiritual fitness as a component of their resilience and readiness proposal to mandate a spiritual fitness survey. The test guidance notes that though spirituality is part of religion, “in modern times, spirituality and religion have been separated,” according to guidance for administering the test, published in 2012. Instead, spiritual fitness refers to a soldier’s deepest held beliefs.

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