Blake Page, a former West Point cadet, quit attending the prominent U.S. military academy this week, citing Christian proselytizing and the promotion of prayers and religion. Just shy of graduation, which was just months away, the 24-year-old is now speaking out against faith in the armed forces. He made the shocking announcement that he is leaving the institution on The Huffington Post.
Blake described his current situation as follows:
As I write this, I am five months from graduation. After nearly three and a half years here, there is no reason to suspect that I would be in any way incapable of completing the final requirements and walking across the stage in Michie Stadium with diploma in hand in another 174 days. Choosing to resign at this point also carries significant risk. The Army may seek recoupment in the form of about $200-300k which I will personally owe, or an additional term of up to 5 years of enlisted service. What could possibly compel me to pass over this incredible opportunity in exchange for such harsh penalties?
While there are certainly numerous problems with the developmental program at West Point and all service academies, the tipping point of my decision to resign was the realization that countless officers here and throughout the military are guilty of blatantly violating the oaths they swore to defend the Constitution. These men and women are criminals, complicit in light of day defiance of the Uniform Code of Military Justice through unconstitutional proselytism, discrimination against the non-religious and establishing formal policies to reward, encourage and even at times require sectarian religious participation.
While at West Point, the atheist was heavily involved in campus secularism. He was the president of the West Point Secular Student Alliance, an affiliate for the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers and the first director of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation. In a resignation letter to West Point officials, he highlighted his intense issues with the infusion of religious sentiment in the military.
“I do not wish to be in any way associated with an institution which willfully disregards the Constitution of the United States of America by enforcing policies which run counter to the same,” he wrote. “Examples of these policies include mandatory prayer, the maintenance of the 3rd Regiment Shield, awarding extra passes to Plebes who take part in religious retreats and chapel choirs, as well as informal policies such as the open disrespect of non-religious new cadets and incentivizing participation in religious activities through the chain of command.”
Following his announcement, he was granted an honorable discharge and told that he will not need to reimburse the cost of his education, as feared in his initial post divulging the situation. Page was medically disqualified this semester from being in the Army as a second lieutenant over clinical depression and anxiety — conditions that he claims have worsened following his father’s suicide.
Watch the former West Point student, who plans to continue activism against religion in the military, describe his plight on CNN: