Cadet Quits West Point over Alleged Religious Coercion

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A cadet is quitting West Point less than six months before graduation to protest what he calls "unconstitutional proselytism."

Blake Page said he can no longer be part of a culture that promotes prayers and religious activities and disrespects non-religious cadets, an example of what he calls the unconstitutional prevalence of religion in the military.

"Countless officers here and throughout the military are guilty of blatantly violating the oaths they swore to defend the Constitution," Page wrote in a commentary published by the Huffington Post earlier this week.

"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," he said.

West Point officials deny the former cadet's allegations. A spokesperson said prayer is voluntary at events in which invocations and benedictions are conducted.

Spokesperson Theresa Brinkerhoff pointed out that Page served as president of the academy's Secular Student Alliance Club.

Maj. Nicholas Utzig, faculty adviser of the club who teaches English literature, said West Point does not discriminate against non-religious cadets.

"I think it represents his own personal experience and perhaps it might not be as universal as he suggests," Utzig said.

Senior cadet Andrew Houchin, a classmate of Page, said his description of West Point is unfair.

"I think it's true that the majority of West Point cadets are of a very conservative, Christian orientation," Houchin said, The Washington Times reported. "I don't think that's unique to West Point. But more broadly, I've never had that even be a problem with those of us who are secular."

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