Why the US Military Wants Fewer Generic Christians

Department of Defense now recognizes 216 religions.

If you’re an evangelical entering America’s military—and about 4 out of 10 service members are—you’re going to have to get more specific than that.

The general categories of “Protestant, no denominational preference” and “Protestant, other churches” have been removed from the Department of Defense (DoD) list of recognized religions as the US military seeks out more detailed designations for its 1.3 million service members.

This spring, the DoD doubled the religious identities that military personnel can declare on official paperwork and dog tags. The list now totals 216 different affiliations [full list below].

About 150 of them are Protestant groups, with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) remaining the most popular individual denomination in the Armed Forces.

Evangelicals without denominational ties can choose from options including Reformed churches, the National Association of Evangelicals, Evangelical Church Alliance, “evangelical churches, other,” and “Christian, no denominational preference.”

The military is also prompting the “nones” to narrow down their beliefs. The religiously unaffiliated are an increasingly significant demographic in the US military, making up between 20 percent to 25 percent of the force. As CT reported, the number of atheists in uniform surpassed the number of Southern Baptists in 2014.

The new list nixes not applicable and no religious preference—among one of the most popular affiliations among service members— and replaces them with a litany of designations. In addition to agnostic and atheist, soldiers can now mark no religion, no preference, none provided, humanist, or heathen.

The government …

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