Fit to Serve: Nontheistic Soldiers Speak out against "Spiritual Fitness" Test
Surman, Steven, The Humanist
FORT HOOD'S sprawling 340-square-mile property-one of the largest active armored posts in the United States Armed Forces--boasts the self-styled title of the "Great Place" because of the quality of life enjoyed by soldiers and family members residing on its premises. Indeed, Fort Hood, which is located halfway between Waco and Austin, Texas, has in recent years expanded its reputation toward rejuvenating the wellness of soldiers and their families by nurturing a trinity of the body, mind, and spirit.
The stronghold for this task is the fort's Resiliency Campus, which houses the Spiritual Fitness Center, a facility functioning on the edict that all human beings are comprised of three components: the physical (body), the mental (mind), and the spiritual (soul). These three attributes are interwoven and interdependent, and the center operates as a contemporary shrine for religious leaders and the community as a whole to turn to in the search for serenity. But along with ministering to the immediate needs of Fort Hood, the center serves a greater purpose: it acts as a religious outpost for the Global Assessment Tool, or GAT, a roughly 200-question self-appraisal that's part of the Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF) program. "Religion." incidentally, is a word used by the GAT with guile--rather, the neutered term "spirituality" takes precedence.
But nearly 1,500 miles away from Fort Hood in Washington, DC, Jason Torpy is having none of it. Torpy, currently serving as the president of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (MAAF), is unsettled by the GAT and CSF openly arbitrating the spiritual and religious beliefs of soldiers and has expressed his concern to a number of military officials. Notably, he presented his case for two hours to Lt. Col. Jesse Henderson, the CSF content manager.
"I presented our concerns and he met each one with apathy and an inability to understand the problem. [Lt. Col. Henderson] refused to accept any of the suggestions I made,' Torpy recollects. But he wasn't deterred and pursued the matter to the highest level within the CSF: Brig. Gen. Rhonda Cornum, the program's director. But she was no more concerned than anyone else.
A Grand Assumption
The bureaucratic indifference shown by the CSF officials was no great shock to Torpy, who understands the inner mechanisms of the Army first-hand. During his years of service (1994 to 2005) he earned the rank of captain, and toured in Iraq from 2003 to 2004. …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: Fit to Serve: Nontheistic Soldiers Speak out against "Spiritual Fitness" Test. Contributors: Surman, Steven - Author. Magazine title: The Humanist. Volume: 71. Issue: 3 Publication date: May-June 2011. Page number: 12+. © 1999 American Humanist Association. COPYRIGHT 2011 Gale Group.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.