Tuesday, September 30, 2008

UPDATED: I'm in the Army now

Army Specialist Dustin Chalker is a brave man. In the military since 2002, he was deployed to Iraq, where he was awarded the Combat Medic Badge and the Purple Heart.

Spc. Chalker is also an atheist. Upon returning to the States last year, he was required to attend a barbecue and a couple ceremonies at which Christian prayers were read. He's now suing the Department of Defense, alleging that his treatment was part of a larger pattern and practice of imposing religion upon unwilling unbelievers. One of the examples set forth in the complaint is Strong Bonds, a pre-deployment and post-deployment family wellness and marriage training program. Paragraph 13(j)(3) alleges that among the offending materials distributed by the program during a retreat earlier this year was the following:

"The Thrill of the Chaste," by Dawn Eden. The author is described on the back cover as "Jewish-born" and throughout the book as a "former agnostic Jew." The book describes in detail how she led a highly promiscuous and drug abusing lifestyle until she had a "born again experience" and "realized for the first time . . . that [Jesus] as truly God's son." The book is filled (almost every page) with Bible verses and with the author proselytizing Christianity. [A Chaplain] recommended the book multiple times during the training.
Although I am not an actual defendant in the lawsuit, I do hereby plead guilty to most of the charges. However, I never engaged in drug abuse and thus my book does not allude to, much less "detail" such behavior. I pray that Spc. Chalker, as a conscientious member of the reality-based community, will bring this error to the attention of his lawyers and absolve me of that particular sin.

And may God bless him for his service to this country.

UPDATE, 7:23 p.m.: My prayer has been answered. Spc. Chalker wrote to me this afternoon apologizing for the error and assuring me that it will be corrected.

A representative from the organization that is co-plaintiff in his lawsuit has also apologized in the comments section of this post. He notes that Spc. Chalker did not personally complain about my book; the complaint was made by another soldier and was tacked onto his class-actions suit. However, he does not promise a correction, writing only that he will "find out why" the complainant cited drug abuse in my book.