ADL Tells Congress: Hearings On Religious Harassment In Military "Clearly Needed"
New York, NY, June 30, 2008 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), concerned that religious harassment and unwelcome proselytizing are an ongoing problem in the military and the nation's service academies, today called on the House and Senate Armed Services Committees to hold "clearly needed" hearings on religious activity in the military.
"Charges of religious harassment and unwelcome proselytizing are disturbing in the context of the command structure within the military and our nation's service academies," said Glen S. Lewy, ADL National Chair and Abraham H. Foxman, National Director. "Instructors, officers and upper class cadets have virtually absolute command authority over their students and subordinates, creating a unique potential for undue pressure on an individual to conform in order not to jeopardize his or her military career."
In letters to ranking members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, ADL said congressional oversight and hearings that could lead to the adoption of consistent guidelines are necessary to address reports of religious intolerance and proselytizing in the armed forces and at government institutions such as West Point and the Naval Academy.
"Government institutions like West Point, the Naval Academy and the U.S. Air Force Academy bear a special responsibility to avoid religious coercion and to respect the rights of religious minorities guaranteed by the Constitution," said Mr. Lewy and Mr. Foxman. "We urge the committees to hold oversight hearings on religious activity in the military and to establish a mechanism to redraft appropriate guidelines and training materials to define the constitutional and policy limits on this activity in the military."
ADL has long urged Congressional oversight of reforms proposed in the 2005 report of the Headquarters Review Group, which concluded that religious intolerance was a persistent problem at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. In January 2007, the League called for Congressional hearings after the Department of Defense authorization bill directed the secretaries of the Air Force and Navy to rescind their existing guidelines on religious activity.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.