MINNEAPOLIS – Six months short of graduation, West Point cadet Blake Page resigned over what he says is a culture that promotes prayer and religion and harasses nonreligious cadets at one of the country’s most prestigious military academies.

Within the next few days, his life in the military will be over and he’ll be headed to Minnesota amid a firestorm about the meaning of God and country and the separation of church and state.

At West Point, Page said, he witnessed cadets being rewarded for participating in religious activities, saw requirements for mandatory prayer, and other efforts to reward, encourage and require sectarian religious participation. After deciding to leave West Point, he wanted to make a statement to his chain of command, writing a scathing letter criticizing academy leadership for its “blatant religious bigotry.”

But he was encouraged to go even further by the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, which advocates for the separation of church and state in the military.

Page’s subsequent commentary, “Why I Don’t Want to Be a West Point Graduate,” was published earlier this week in the Huffington Post and has exploded an online debate.

A spokesman for West Point, Francis DeMaro, said Page’s claim that prayer was mandatory is not true.

“As officers, cadets will be responsible for soldiers who represent America’s great diversity in faith and ethnic background,” he said in a statement. “The academy provides cadets the opportunity to foster an understanding regarding the fundamental dignity and worth of all.”