Can a Christian school require the leaders of its ROTC program—who are appointed and paid by the US Army—to adhere to a statement of faith?
Wheaton College came under fire in recent weeks from a military watchdog group that noticed the Army’s listing for a Reserve Officers’ Training Corps position at the suburban Chicago campus noted the candidate “must be of Christian faith.”
Now, the Army is conducting a nationwide review of policies at the 275 colleges that host ROTC programs, including Wheaton. While dozens of members of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) partner with programs hosted by other schools, Wheaton is one of only a few to directly host a program. Many Catholic schools also directly host ROTC programs.
According to a Fox News report, the Army stated its system-wide review is unrelated to legal threats from the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF).
Wheaton has indicated to the Army that it requires its professor of military science, who leads the ROTC program and the department, to follow its Christian statement of faith and community standards, according to Lieutenant Colonel Jim Hoyman, who currently leads Wheaton’s program. Other positions, such as assistant professors, are asked to “at a minimum respect the religious identity and mission of the college,” said Hoyman, who will serve a two- to three-year term at the discretion of the Army.
The Army job listing that prompted the MRFF response overstates Wheaton’s requirements, since assistant professors aren’t asked to profess Christian faith.
The MRFF considers Wheaton’s faith statement a violation of the constitutional requirement that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” In the Army Times, others point out the ROTC rule that hosting institutions not discriminate “based on race, sex (unless the school is a single sex school in its overall admissions policy), color, national origin, or religion.”
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SOURCE: Christianity Today