For God and Country: Religious Fundamentalism in the U.S. Military

Over the past decade there have been multiple news reports highlighting an intensified tension regarding what constitutes proper religious expression in the United States Armed Forces. However, there has been a scarce amount of thorough research examining the connection between these reports and, going further, proposing possible solutions. As a result, there has been a lack of information with which to stoke social and political will for change.

In this position paper, James Parco provides compelling evidence there has been a disturbing expansion and entrenchment of Christian fundamentalism in the U.S. military, a cultural force which remains at times both tacitly and overtly endorsed by senior military leaders. Parco supports his claim by presenting a number of case studies demonstrating a clear pattern of unconstitutional religiously sectarian behavior. He then analyzes the merits of the competing philosophical perspectives on the proper role of religious expression by men and women in uniform.

Parco concludes the report with recommendations that those in power should implement immediately in order to fully protect the U.S. military’s necessarily secular foundation and the religious freedom of all who volunteer to serve.

James Parco, PhD., Lt. Col. USAF (Ret.) is an associate professor of economics and business at Colorado College. He graduated with a bachelors’ degree in economics from the U.S. Air Force Academy and was commissioned in 1991. He went on to earn an MBA from the College of William & Mary and a PhD. from the University of Arizona. After completing his doctorate, he returned to the faculty of the U.S. Air Force Academy. He has also served on the National Security Council at the White House during the Clinton Administration, as well as in a diplomatic capacity overseas with the American Embassy in Tel Aviv. Parco retired from active duty as a lieutenant colonel in 2011.

To download the author’s foreword, a summary of key findings, and the full position paper, please follow these links: