Details here: http://www.volokh.com/archives/archive_2008_04_27-2008_05_03.shtml#1209389017
But the thumbnail sketch is that an atheist soldier organized a meeting of freethinkers. A self-described "Christian" officer came, berated the participants and threatened the organizer with UCMJ action and a bar to re-enlistment. The soldier subsequently experienced negative personnel actions and has filed a lawsuit.
Perhaps unsurprisingly one of the first posters on the Volokh blog defended the officer's actions on unit cohesion grounds.
First, it should be clear that under military regulations it was the officer's conduct that was out of bounds, but it may be a sign of how widespread the problem of improper religious influence in the military is becoming that there's no indication that the officer's superiors took action against his improper conduct.
But setting aside that larger issue for the moment, I think it's simply amazing to me that Christians of this particular flavor and their defenders are so profoundly blind to the purpose behind these rules and how they benefit from them.
I mean, following their unit cohesion arguments to their conclusion would require that every unit be segregated into like-minded coreligionists. Indeed, it would require an unending series of dividing, defining and discriminating that would destroy the very cohesion it seeks to enhance. Would squads of Jews be comfortable relying on fire support from an artillery battery of white supremacists? Would a flight of jet fighters flown by Orthodox Jews provide enthusiastic cover for a bomber group of Mormons? Would a destroyer manned by supply-side Republicans risk itself escorting an ammunition ship "womanned" by card-carrying members of NOW?
Any trip down such a road would be incompatible with the army of a republic. The sniper in Saving Private Ryan prayed as he slaughtered (presumably Christian) German soldiers without apparently bothering the sensibilities of his Catholic and Jewish squad mates in the slightest. Saving Private Ryan trafficked in cliches, of course, but the cliche reflects a set of values. The stereotypical U.S. rifle squad of war movies, whether set in World War II, Vietnam or Iraq reflects the diversity of America.
And further, the religionists seem also profoundly ignorant of history and what it shows are the consequences of their philosophy.
Hey, idiots, it's been tried before.
What makes them assume that it will be their brand of faith that gets to be on top? Do they really want the Wiccans to decide what the communal values will be? The Scientologists? The Catholics? How about Wahabbists? Hey, maybe even the freaking Atheists will be the dominant belief system!
Oh, what? "Our faith will be the top one because it's God's and true!"
Well, brain-in-a-rock, in case you haven't noticed, God doesn't seem to see any reason why his believers shouldn't experience some persecution now and then.
Mt:5:11: Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Mt:10:18: And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
Mk:13:9: But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them.
As a matter of fact, being oppressed seems to be good for faith-building. It's the fat and free who can most easily live their lives thinking they don't need God.
So the Good Major who thought he had the right to browbeat the E-4 over his lack of religious belief should ponder how he'd like it if some Mormon general officer came down and tried to impress upon him how "helpful" it would be for the major's career if he would just read the Book of Mormon before his next officer evaluation report was due.