Christian College's ROTC Offends Atheist Mikey Weinstein

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Members of Wheaton College's Rolling Thunder Battalion (Courtesy Wheaton College)

Do Christian colleges have the right to require that ROTC officers be followers of the Christian faith?

That's the crux of a controversy surrounding the ROTC program at Wheaton College, one of the nation's most prominent Christian schools

The U.S. Army says they have launched a review of ROTC policies nationwide after the Military Religious Freedom Foundation raised concerns about an ROTC assignment listing for an assistant professor of military science at Wheaton.

The U.S. Army says they have launched a review of ROTC policies nationwide after the Military Religious Freedom Foundation raised concerns about an ROTC assignment listing for an assistant professor of military science at Wheaton.

The MRFF noted that the person hired "must be of Christian faith." 

"While Wheaton is a private Christian college, and can impose a religious test on its own faculty members, it cannot impose that same religious test on the faculty members provided by the U.S. Army for its ROTC program, and the U.S. Army unequivocally cannot require a religious test for any ROTC assignment, regardless of the religious preference of the college at which that ROTC assignment exists," MRFF founder Mikey Weinstein wrote in a letter sent in November to Secretary of the Army John McHugh.

Weinstein called Wheaton's policy a blatant violation of the Constitution's "no religious test" clause and demanded those involved be punished.

"Given the magnitude of these breaches at Wheaton, any and all Army personnel found to be either directly or indirectly complicit in these egregious violations of constitutional and regulatory law must be swiftly, visibly and meaningfully punished," Weinstein wrote in a letter to the Pentagon.

Wheaton said it's been their preference from the beginning to have an officer who matches the religious identity of the school.

"We have historically required that the lead professor of military science meet the same basic religious standards as the rest of our faculty, as this person is fully a member of our faculty and serves as the interface of the ROTC program with the rest of the Wheaton College academic program," Wheaton spokesperson LaTonya Taylor told me.

Other ROTC instructors are not required to meet the same standard, she said. However, they are expected to understand and respect Wheaton's religious mission.

That sounds fairly reasonable to me. A Christian college wants to hire Christian leaders. Who could possibly take offense at that—besides Mr. Weinstein?

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