By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
It's impossible to know if all the marines in the videos are Christians, or if they willingly marched up the hill to a ceremony that had religious meaning. What's certain is that teamwork and conformity, not individuality, are ingrained in military doctrine. So it's doubtful a non-Christian or non-believer would complain to a squad leader or platoon sergeant about being forced to attend a Christian religious ceremony—or, for that matter, a Christian who didn't approve of being taken to Jesus without his or her consent. Getting tagged as not being a team player is as bad as being branded the one in the squad who can't be depended on when you walk into the shit.
I haven't had a reason to review the American fighting man's Code of Conduct recently. But 45 years ago, it began with the purpose that "I serve in the forces which guard my country and our way of life" and ended with "I will trust in my God and in the United States of America." It did not say, "God who is symbolized by a Christian cross."
This article appeared in print as "Crossing Over: How the Los Angeles Times' cozy relationship with Camp Pendleton hampers its coverage of religious controversies on the base."