Tuesday, November 10, 2009

When Discrimination Trumps Mental Health

The Fort Hood shootings have raised questions again about how the military should handle the personal religious beliefs of its soldiers, whether they are evangelical Christians, Muslims, Wiccans, and so on. What is the proper role of religion -- and personal religious belief -- in the U.S. armed forces? Should a particular religious affiliation disqualify someone from active military service? How far should the military go to accommodate personal religious beliefs and practices?

As a Christian woman, I am appalled at the way our country and the media in general is focusing on the religious affiliation of the Ft. Hood assassin. This question, although possibly filled with good intentions, is playing into the incredibly hateful and downright sinful nature of religious discrimination. If one claims to be a person of faith, one cannot point the finger at the religion of many for the mistake of one, that in the Christian world negates the love and compassion of Jesus.

This should not be the question that we are asking ourselves immediately following the massacre at Fort Hood because this shows the world how predictable we as a country can be. We should be focusing on the fact that this man was mentally ill and was not screened properly enough to deter him from being deployed, let alone a licensed psychiatric doctor.

There are more than 3500 Muslims who are serving our country in the armed forces. These people are truly necessary and deserve so much more respect than we have shown them and are continuing to show them following the shooting at Fort Hood.

Major Nidal Malik Hasan has yet to give a clear answer on what his motive was, but his religious affiliation has stolen the show. The U.S. military must come out with a strong stance that says they are not blaming the Islamic faith for this tragedy, which they have not done yet.

Why on earth should numerous Islamic groups across the country feel compelled to distance themselves from this individual? Had he been a Christian, the question of his faith would not even be mentioned, let alone displayed as a headline.

At this rate, this country will soon be screening out committed individuals for the armed services to the point where we only have white, Christian, heterosexual men protecting this diverse land, and frankly, that doesn’t make me feel safe. Instead of wasting our time, energy, and money on talking about limiting the religious diversity in our armed forces, we should look really long and hard at how well our mental health screening process is working. Maj. Hasan was sick, but he was also counseling sick people. Who knows how much damage he could have done beyond the physical destruction he caused this past week.

The shooting at Ft. Hood was obviously a tragedy, one that should not have happened. But instead of pointing the fingers at the scapegoat “other,” it’s time to take a hard look at the religious discrimination that we as a country are allowing to run rampant. Discrimination and hate. Decidedly un-Christian and un-American.


Midrashional Thinker said...

Yeah! I'm so GLAD you said that about "if he had been a Christian no mention would have been made of his faith." Othering in our society is a rampant evil and you are right to get angry. We are, as you say, always on the brink of othering ourselves out of existance. Not the message of Christ, certainly. Well done, Rachel!

SpiritSong said...

Like my esteemed fellow blogger above, I am glad youraised these issues. Mostly, yousaid what I thought about the question in the first place... I was disappointed that this is what was asked.

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