Every young man who attends a citizen's military training camp in the 2nd corps area this summer will be compelled to attend religious services of some denomination unless he can present a written request from his parents or guardian that he be excused. Army officials may, as they state, wish the burden of avoiding religious training to fall upon the individual, but in making this ruling, they have ignored the fact that in civilian life it always does a condition which military life in no way conceivably alters. They have succeeded only in adding to present burdens and with new lengths of red tape have entangled one of the few rights which the individual still possessed in the army.
In the regular army, the A. E. F., and the National Guard, no such compulsion has ever been applied. Many of the men who attend summer camps are of legal age, while those who are not are generally youths whose characters are already pretty well formed, since seventeen is the lower age limit.
It is absurd, therefore, that officials or parents should presume to prescribe for them compulsory religion attendance and in some cases even specify the particular denomination of service which they shall attend. Present conditions in the other branches of the Army achieve the same result as that expected by the new regulation, but they at least allow freedom of choice a man may or may not "fall in" for church parade as he likes; if he does not, he "falls out" for kitchen police or some other disagreeable detail. Apparently only those who declare themselves to be oriental mystics or Mohammedan believers may escape the common lot.