FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (Christian Examiner) -- Atheists are claiming Christians received special privilege during a recent graduation ceremony for a U.S. Army Air Assault School at Fort Campbell because it included a prayer referencing the Old Testament book of Isaiah.
The Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers stated on their website June 23 that they had obtained a video of trainees being forced to participate in a graduation prayer that issued a blessing over the soldiers and called for the restoration and renewal of their bodies after "facing and overcoming all the challenging phases of Air Assault school."
Let us Pray: Bless O'Lord these soldiers of the graduating class ... who have succeeded in facing and overcoming all the challengenging phases of Air Assault School. Restore, refresh, and renew their bodies and souls, and in all their missions may they remember the words of Isaiah: They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not be faint, Amen.
The Washington D.C.- based group took particular issue with a statement incorporated from the Jewish prophet Isaiah. "In all their missions may they remember the words of Isaiah. They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not be faint, Amen," prayed an officer.
By including the Old Testament text, Jason Torpy, MAAF president said in post on the group's blog that the prayer went beyond "something simply ceremonial" and "non-denominational" which resulted in "second-class citizenship for non-Christians."
Perhaps over looking the motivational aspects of "restore, refresh and renew," the MAAF also forgot that the Old Testament predates Christ -- and that Isaiah, the prophet, was a member of the royal family who lived in Northern Israel.
"This is Christian-specific, mandatory, and requires participation," Torpy wrote. He further accused commanders and chaplains of enforcing personal beliefs on "vulnerable trainees" during intense programs designed to train soldiers for air assault operations in combat situations
Although the video MAAF references shows an individual leading an invocation, the officer does not pray in Jesus' name and is not heard commanding the graduates to bow their head to graduation prayer, when they give a rousing "Amen" after he ends his prayer, as Torpy indicates.
However, the atheist does claim that an anonymous graduate reportedly said a leader in the school told trainees, "You're going to bow your head during the prayer and when the chaplain says 'Amen', you'll say either 'Amen' or 'hey man.'"
According to The Blaze, Torpy stated that he is bringing attention to the video to raise awareness. "Our primary focus is to support atheists and humanists in the military," he told the news source.