WASHINGTON, D.C. - An effort by an anti-religious organization to bar voluntary prayer at West Point indicates both the desperation of those who wish to scrub American public life of religion and their misunderstanding about the role of religion in our public institutions, according to the Family Research Council's Executive Vice President, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry Boykin.
Boykin, one of the original members of the U.S. Army's Delta Force, later commanded these elite warriors in combat operations. Later, he commanded all the Army's Green Berets as well as the Special Warfare Center and School and served as Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence.
"The heritage of Judeo-Christian faith in our military is as old as the American Revolution and as needed as up-to-date weaponry and training," Boykin said. "When America's future leaders voluntarily decide to honor their Creator through prayer, they are building into their lives the qualities of character and faith so vital not only to their future but the future of our country. Prayer at West Point is not mandatory, nor should it be, but exercising a tradition as old as the school should not be prohibited because of the objections of anti-Christian organizations like Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.
"Our national motto remains 'In God We Trust.' No one is required by law to accept the role of Christianity and Judaism in our nation's founding and ongoing national life, but all of us should have the decency to respect this free exercise of religion. For the great majority of our fellow citizens, public expressions of biblical faith are part of who they are as people and as Americans.
"This sad effort, should it succeed, would diminish both religious liberty and freedom of speech not only at the United States Military Academy but in all spheres of public life, from opening prayers at the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate to the courtroom of the Supreme Court that depicts the Ten Commandments on its wall.
"To stifle the open and voluntary expression of commonly-held religious conviction in order to placate a tiny minority that thrives on both the spotlight and insistence upon its own angry way would be a breach of our commitment to the liberty we are asking young West Pointers to uphold," Boykin concluded.