Tony Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council, a right-wing Christian think tank that has been classified as a hate group, has flipped out over a “wacky” new initiative being tested in U.S. military training programs. No, it’s not the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell” — it’s yoga and meditation classes.
A new Mind Fitness Training program being tested in the U.S. military has integrated yoga, breathing classes and meditation alongside other more traditional training regimes to keep soldiers calm and mentally fit and to reduce depression and use of alcohol and drugs. To Perkins, however, this new initiative is a stand-in for one’s personal relationship with God.
When he heard about the goals of the program — that yoga promotes relaxation, mental calm, productivity and restraint from substances— he exploded:
“What a coincidence–so does faith! Unfortunately, the military seems intent on driving religion out and replacing it with wacky substitutes,” he said on his morning radio program. “They’ve added atheist chaplains, Wiccan worship centers, and now, meditation classes. But none of them are as effective or as constructive as a personal relationship with God. Unfortunately, though, it’s mind over what matters–and that’s faith.”
Perhaps one shouldn’t tell Perkins this, but faith hasn’t really been keeping up its end of the bargain lately — at least as far as the mental health of service members goes. The suicide rate of active service members has skyrocketed in the last few years. In 2012, the U.S. military averaged one suicide every single day, with service members were — shockingly — more likely to commit suicide than be killed on the battlefield.