I received an email the other day that mentioned a soldier going all the way through Basic Training without any sort of religious support material!
This upsets me quite a deal.
First: All soldiers before they leave MEPS(Military Entrance Processing Stations) are offered a free Gideon bible. I, the staunch and rather adversarial Heathen I am, laughed in the guys face and firmly said no. I was the only one to turn down his offer. Why? I already had my religious reading material. Read on.
Second: There is almost no information on what you are allowed, or disallowed to bring for religious reading material anywhere on the internet. I’ve been to every Basic Training Post’s website and only found one reference in a PDF slide show (page 4) for family members and what they are allowed, and not allowed to mail to their soldiers.
Ok, so here is what I know, from experience to be fact. You are allowed to bring, one religious text, book, or pamphlet with you to Basic Combat Training. I researched this like crazy before I went, I wanted to know exactly what I was and wasn’t allowed to have with me. I brought my copy of the Bellows translation of the Poetic Edda. I read the Havamal more times in Basic then I’ve ever read in my life. I totally think this helped me get through some of the tough days. Now, I did get questioned about what it was when I first entered basic. Your drill sergeant that does your initial shake down asked me what it was. I firmly stated it was my allowed religious text. He asked me what my religion was, and I calmly stated, “ASATRU DRILL SERGEANT” “Spell it” “A-S-A-T-R-U DRILL SERGEANT” and that was the last question I had from any authority figure in Basic about it.
Once you leave BCT you have a lot more leeway in what your allowed to have in your Wall locker, and then barracks room/ military housing. So, don’t worry too much about only having one book with you at the beginning, just make sure its something relatively small, no bigger than a medium sized soft cover book, and that its something that will keep you going. It must be ‘religious’ or ‘philosophical’ in nature, and you might get questioned about it. All you have to do is be confident. You have the RIGHT to have at least one book of a religious nature with you in BCT. USE THAT RIGHT!!!
If, and I don’t see this happening, but if you have a Drill that gives you a hard time about your religious reading, or a battle buddy that gives you a hard time about it. Make a complaint, especially if its a Drill Sergeant! They know better than to do something like this, it’ll probably cost them their hat if they bully you over your religious choices. I know that some folks don’t like the idea of narcing on anyone. Trust me, I get that, but your rights are your rights, Basic takes a shit ton of them away from you, they have no right to take this one away. Ask to speak to your Senior Drill, First Sergeant, Company Commander, and or Chaplain, all in that order until you get to someone that supports you.
Now, if you are complaining that they wont let you have mead in basic….. I can’t help you. Your going to have to miss out on any blots during Basic. During AIT that might be a different story, you’ll have to see what your company regulations are on drinking, and religious functions. If you are already registered with the OHP before you get to Basic, let us know the moment you get to AIT and we can try and find a Kindred or group in your area. Then, if needed we can be used as contact information to try and get you a chance to attend an open gathering or blot. We offer no guarantees in those situations, but we will try our best to help you out!