Friday, April 21, 2017

The U.S. Military's Definition of Religion is Expanding

As stated in class, how we define religion is not merely an arcane academic matter;  it has real consequences for people's behavior and well-being.  This announcement reported by the Religion News Service provides a nice case in point.
The Department of Defense announced a near doubling of its list of recognized religions. It will now formally recognize humanism and other minority faiths among members of the armed forces.
The move, which came at the end of March but was made public this week, means servicemen and women who are adherents of small faith groups are now guaranteed the same rights, privileges and protections granted to their peers who are members of larger faith groups.
The move was lauded by humanist organizations, which have been pushing for full recognition, including their own chaplains, for 10 years.
Supports applaud the move as it extends benefits to people previously prevented from those benefits, but critics argue that the definition of religion is too broad.  Is secular humanism a religion?  Well, it depends on your definition, and the military is now using a broader definition than before.

Also of interest is that the military is now allowing soldiers to choose from a much wider selection of options when reporting their religious affiliation.  So when will they allow someone to choose more than one option...

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