Wednesday, June 25, 2008
In 1960, when the late Morris Janowitz published his classic study, The Professional Soldier, he described an officer corps that was largely dominated by "elite" or mainline Protestants--Lutherans, Presbyterians and, especially, Episcopalians. Indeed, the design of the Cadet Chapel at West Point cries out "Anglican." Over the course of the last half century, the officer corps has changed dramatically in terms of the proportional representation of religious denominations. Catholics, and evangelical Protestant sects, including Methodists, Baptists and other evangelical sects, as well as non-affiliated fundamentalist Protestants are now widely represented in the officer ranks. Mormons are over-represented in the officer corps, as compared to their share of the population. (There are about six million Mormons in the U.S., roughly two percent of the population; which is to say there are as many Mormons as Jews in the U.S.) Jews comprise a tiny minority of the officer corps, below their less than two percent share in the general population. I recall that when the Jewish chapel was opened at West Point, in the late 1980s that there were less than 20 Jewish cadets in the Corps of Cadets (the Corps was then 4,400 strong). The numbers may have increased over the past two decades.
These developments, accelerated by the advent of the all-volunteer military, reflect trends in the larger society, as Morris Janowitz would have been quick to point out. The upshot of this sociological change is that the officer corps is now led by officers who are much more likely to wear their faith on their sleeves, so to speak.
This report on the military academy speaks to the point.
Religion and Its Role Are in Dispute at the Service Academies - NYTimes.com
A recent Pew study is also relevant.