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Petraeus Should Have Been Fired Years Ago


American armed forces personnel have routinely been made to take part in official "Fitness Assessment" surveys that, believe it or not, actually gauge their Spiritual Fitness. In true Pavlovian fashion, Dominionist conceptions of "Spiritual Fitness" have been passionately drilled in by means of leading soldiers in prayer ceremonies that repeatedly invoke Jesus’ name or stealthily revolve around parochial Christian themes. Just recently, as a part of a national "stand-down" ostensibly meant to address the tragic wave of suicides that have reached tsunami proportions within the U.S. Army, 800 brand new soldiers at Fort Sam Houston in Texas were forced to attend a mandatory training session that ended up, incontrovertibly, as a sectarian, electronic candle lit, Christian prayer vigil. Thirty-eight of these soldiers (the vast majority of whom happen to be practicing Protestants or Roman Catholics), with the brave Staff Sergeant Victoria Gettman in the courageous forefront, swiftly contacted our civil rights foundation for immediate help. A federal complaint against the Army is now contemporaneously pending an ongoing official investigation. 

Spiritual Fitness is a markedly destructive and corrosive agent that has the practical consequence of rampant demoralization, disorientation, and disorder within the armed forces. By endorsing Spiritual Fitness repeatedly, Petraeus revealed a total disregard for both the "No Establishment Clause" of the First Amendment to the Constitution and the "No Religious Test" prohibition of Clause 3, Article VI of the same. It’s no exaggeration – it’s a bare-knuckled fact – that Petraeus was complicit in a de facto mutiny against America's most cherished and beloved governing document.  This violation of his oath to support and defend that foundational bedrock document is a matter of import on a scale far greater than his foolish affair. That dalliance itself constitutes a high crime, if there is jurisdiction extant under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, as well as an unforgivable security risk to the Central Intelligence Agency. Hypocrisy writ large by a now erstwhile, all so powerful man. As Noam Chomsky put it, "For the powerful, crimes are those that others commit."

As the record shows, the roots of General David Petraeus’ disgrace run deep – very deep. Petraeus’ established pattern of promoting Spiritual Fitness should have served as a blindingly clear harbinger and clarion signal of his fatal unfitness to serve. Petraeus should have resigned in shame the moment MRFF raised alarm bells regarding his unconstitutional treachery. Perhaps then we would have been saved from four additional years of his "extremely poor judgment"!


The Military Religious Freedom Foundation is up against well-funded extremist religious organizations. Your donations allow us to continue our fight in the courts and in the media to fight for separation of church and state in the U.S. military. Please make a fully tax-deductible donation today at

Michael L. "Mikey" Weinstein is president of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation and an honor graduate of the Air Force Academy. He previously served as White House Counsel in the Reagan administration and general counsel to H. Ross Perot and Perot Systems Corp. He is the author of the recently released book,  "No Snowflake in an Avalanche: The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, Its Battle to Defend the Constitution and One Family's Courageous War Against Religious Extremism in High Places" (2012, Vireo).