A retired military chaplain is concerned about a new Marine training course that begins today that incorporates Buddhist teachings.
The Associated Press reported on Monday that the U.S. Marine Corps is studying how to make its troops even tougher through meditative practices, yoga-type stretching, and exercises based on "mindfulness" -- a Buddhist-inspired concept that emphasizes active attention on the moment to keep the mind in the present.
According to the report, the military has been searching for ways to deal with a record suicide rate and thousands of veterans seeking treatment for post-traumatic stress. Marine Corps officials say they will build a curriculum that would integrate these Buddhist techniques if the eight-week experiment at Camp Pendleton yields positive results.
Brigadier General Douglas Lee (Ret.) is a former Army chaplain and a founding member of the Chaplain Alliance For Religious Liberty. He says the military is desperate to find a solution to the suicide problem.
"I personally believe that part of the problem is that because of the attacks on traditional Christianity and Judeo-Christian values, the course guys are struggling because they don't see anybody talking about hope," he tells OneNewsNow. "So they're desperate to find some way to reduce the suicide rate."
But Lee is concerned that these Buddhist teachings could become mandatory. "If that were the case that would be a big, big problem," he says, "because you can't require somebody to be participating in a religious act."
Groups like the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Military Religious Freedom Foundation have been silent thus far. But Lee contends those groups would be complaining loudly if the Camp Pendleton class incorporated Christian practices.