A former Army general-turned-lawmaker proposed a revision bill that forbids coercing soldiers in active service to take part in religious events.
Rep. Kim Joong-ro of the minor opposition Bareunmirae Party said Tuesday that he chief authored the legislation as soldiers are often told to attend religious events and those who refuse are given unfavorable treatment.
The current law on soldiers’ status and service guarantees soldiers’ rights to engage in religious observance to the extent that it does not adversely affect their military duties.
Soldiers from Zaitoon Unit pray after conversion ceremony at a mosque in Hannam-dong, Seoul. (Yonhap)
It says that a soldier obliged to reside within a barrack may participate in any religious ritual conducted at a religious facility or another place designated by his or her commander.
Even though this article is about protecting the rights of religious life, there have been cases in which soldiers were ordered to participate in religious events.
The revised bill includes an article that says, “Soldiers cannot coerce other soldiers against their will to take part in religious rituals.”
“Freedom of religion includes the freedom to not have a religion,” Rep. Kim said.
“The revision will prohibit servicemen from using their military ranks to force other soldiers to join religious activities.”
By Kim So-hyun (email@example.com