Several media outlets have revealed that the US Army has been administering a “spirituality test” to determine whether soldiers are fit to serve. The Army has argued that people who are spiritual have better morale and are more likely to recover from severe trauma. This could have some merit, and the Army would rightly be attracted by the cost savings of prayer over, say, paying for lifetime psychotherapy and mental health care for wounded and disabled veterans.

Though I wouldn’t want to argue with anyone whose legs were blown off if they find comfort in a 2000-year-old, notably pro-peace hippie wine maker, some of our fine soldiers have been bothered by the testing, especially those who have failed and been sent to remedial spirituality training. Just think: basic training, endless deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, and then Sunday School?

The Army claims that this test and subsequent remediation is about spirituality, rather than “religion,” or more specifically, “evangelical Christianity,” but that argument is quickly debunked by their own spirituality training document which compares the ceremonial folding of the US flag to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Which are not references to Abraham, Isaac and Manischewitz.

I’m not going to question the US Army’s right or legal grounds to trample over the First Amendment, mostly because they have a way better handle on  the business end of the Second Amendment, but I’d like to suggest an additional test for our brave soldiers: the Secular Fitness Exam. Our soldiers need to be prepared for all situations. What if our men and women in uniform were kidnapped by a militia of disgruntled physicists?

Please answer as many of the following questions as you feel comfortable. The exam is open book, and you may consult your Chaplain or Life CoachTM as needed. There is no penalty for guessing, or thinking outside the box.

1. True or False:
There are no Higgs Boson enthusiasts in foxholes.

2. The theory of evolution:
A) should be taught alongside creationism.
B) is bullshit.
C) is just a theory, like where I think my missing socks went.
D) has contributed to breakthroughs in microbiology that will save me from systemic infection when my leg is blown off.

3. Light is:
A) a particle.
B) a wave.
C) a duality of both A) and B) which I struggle to accept even though I don’t understand.
D) a reflection off the moon created by the halos of the saints.

4. Dinosaurs became extinct
A) tens of millions of years before man evolved.
B) Never! They are with us today on an island off of Costa Rica.
C) when they were mowed down by Jesus with his AK-47 before the Sermon on the Mount.
D) because they allowed gay dinosaurs into their military.

6. America is
A) a Christian nation.
B) south of Mexico.
C) mother fucking invincible.
D) a nation founded by people who would now be considered lazy Unitarians at best, to escape tyranny and promote democracy and freedom of and from religion.

YOUR SCORE
The Secular Readiness Exam relies on your judgment alone. This isn’t about scoring, or winning, because where did competition get us? War, that’s what. This test is like an attempt to open your mind, because once the doors of perception are ajar and you slip through like some sort of crazed and unique photon you’ll see the universe as it really is, which, is like, infinite man.

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G. XAVIER ROBILLARD is a comedy writer, performer and novelist. His work has appeared in McSweeney's, Comedy Central and on NPR. Robillard is the author of the comic novel Captain Freedom: A Superhero's Quest for Truth, Justice and the Celebrity He So Richly Deserves (Harper Collins), and producer/writer/performer of the comedy album G is for Gangsta. You may entertain yourself with more of him at All Day Coffee and on Twitter.

12 responses to “An Army Exam for Secular Fitness”

  1. Alison Aucoin says:

    My first reaction was, “Jesus Christ!” then “Holy shit!” But I thought the religious references inappropriate given the topic at hand. I took me a moment to find an exclamation that was secular yet expressed my shock, “Son of a bitch?!” Not really working for me.

    Anyway, I can’t help but wonder if every prospective soldier fully appreciates that “once the doors of perception are ajar and you slip through like some sort of crazed and unique photon you’ll see the universe as it really is, which, is like, infinite man.” Will they still be willing to kill for…what are we killing for again??

  2. Summer Block says:

    Awesome! I particularly like “I’m not going to question the US Army’s right or legal grounds to trample over the First Amendment, mostly because they have a way better handle on the business end of the Second Amendment” – and of course everyone, absolutely everyone, likes gay dinosaurs.

  3. Art Edwards says:

    Dinosaurs are so gay.

    And G. Xavier is fucking invincible.

  4. Reno Romero says:

    mr. robillard:

    heh. too funny. question #6 is a keeper. i wonder how palin would answer that one. perhaps she’d find the answer in the mags/newspapers that she reads by the piles. thanks for the early morning read.

  5. Jessica Blau says:

    Very funny!

    You need to make quizzes like this for other things, too: couples considering marriage, people who think they aren’t gay but are (and vice versa), people considering divorce, etc. Clarity is only a few question and answers away!

  6. Matt says:

    My inner child keeps wanted to circle B as the answer to #4. And then head to Costa Rica, chater a boat, and do some exploring.

    Damn you eyes for this false hope, Michael Crichton. Damn your eyes.

  7. Judy Prince says:

    GX, you cleared my head with this totally, entirely HOOTy post.

    “Gay dinosaurs,” indeed! HA! I even love the name of your test: Secular Readiness Exam.

  8. Gloria says:

    This could have some merit, and the Army would rightly be attracted by the cost savings of prayer over, say, paying for lifetime psychotherapy and mental health care for wounded and disabled veterans. – – Yeah, or head trauma. 🙁

    Besides, what is the military worried about? Didn’t Ernie Pyle say that there are no atheists in foxholes? Which is similar to #1 in your questionnaire.

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