The Gaping Hole in Ben Carson's West Point Story
There is a gaping hole in Ben Carson's "I was offered a full scholarship to West Point" story -- 7th Day Adventists were conscientious objectors in the mid-sixties, and conscientious objectors were not (and are not) admitted to West Point.
Ben Carson was attending a 7th Day Adventist Church with his mother at the age of 12 and even asked for (and received) a second Baptism there. And by all accounts, he was taking his faith seriously from the time of the "stabbing/belt buckle" incident when he was 14 years old and in 8th grade.
According to Carson, he joined Junior ROTC when he was in the 10th grade (around 1967), in he midst of the controversies over the draft and the Vietnam War. The JROTC, was not, as its name implies, an "Officer Training Corps"; rather its goal was a combination of preparing young males for military service, and a good citizenship program. Unlike with college ROTC, no military obligation was conferred by joining ROTC, and while it is estimated that 30-50% of JROTC members enroll in the military, "JROTC participation has no impact on the enlistment decision". (rather, JROTC participation predicts enlistment rates, but does not influence it.)
Carson's tale of being offered an ROTC scholarship takes place during his senior year and Carson graduated in 1969. Carson himself says that it took place on or after Memorial Day in May , but references to Gen. William Westmoreland suggest February as the earliest date. Regardless of when the offer supposedly occurred, the 7th Day Adventist Church's position on military service in 1969 was that members could only serve in noncombant roles. In other words, members could only function in medical and clerical (clergy, not office) capacities.
From all indications, West Point has never admitted conscientious objectors. Current regulations make it clear that West Point cadets who become conscientious objectors will be discharged, and a 1970 lawsuit details how conscientious objectors were separated from West Point at that time.
In other words, Carson, a devout 7th Adventist, would never have been allowed to attend West Point, let alone have been "offered a full scholarship", had the persons who allegedly made the offer been aware of Carson's religious affiliation. Given these simple facts, for Carson to claim that he received anything that might be construed as an actual offer is entirely disingenuous -- especially considering the near-certainty that Carson would have been aware of his church's position on military service in the middle of the Vietnam War and its attendant draft controversy.