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Soldiers Pass On Christian Concert; Get Punished: Report

Some soldiers at Ft. Eustis in Virginia say refusing to attend a concert by Christian band BarlowGirl got them punished.  LISA HUDSON/AP hide caption

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LISA HUDSON/AP

Army officers, both commissioned and non-commissioned, take an oath to defend the Constitution.

That includes the First Amendment which, among other rights, protects individuals from government coercion in matters of faith.

So how, then, does the following story reported by the Associated Press happen?

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The Army is investigating a claim that dozens of soldiers who refused to attend a Christian band's concert at a Virginia military base were banished to their barracks and told to clean them up.

A Fort Eustis spokesman confirmed the probe Friday to The Associated Press.

Pvt. Anthony Smith told AP that he was among those who objected to attending the May concert by BarlowGirl. Smith says the soldiers were pressured into going to the show and when they didn't, they were ordered to return to their barracks.