Discussion in 'VMBB General Discussion' started by rooter, Apr 27, 2011.

  1. rooter

    rooter *VMBB Senior Chief Of Staff* Supporting Member

    Jan 31, 2001
    Glendale Arizona
    April 26, 2011
    Atheists Seek Chaplain Role in the Military

    FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — In the military, there are more than 3,000 chaplains who minister to the spiritual and emotional needs of active duty troops, regardless of their faiths. The vast majority are Christians, a few are Jews or Muslims, one is a Buddhist. A Hindu, possibly even a Wiccan may join their ranks soon.

    But an atheist?

    Strange as it sounds, groups representing atheists and secular humanists are pushing for the appointment of one of their own to the chaplaincy, hoping to give voice to what they say is a large — and largely underground — population of nonbelievers in the military.

    Joining the chaplain corps is part of a broader campaign by atheists to win official acceptance in the military. Such recognition would make it easier for them to raise money and meet on military bases. It would help ensure that chaplains, religious or atheist, would distribute their literature, advertise their events and advocate for them with commanders.

    But winning the appointment of an atheist chaplain will require support from senior chaplains, a tall order. Many chaplains are skeptical: Do atheists belong to a “faith group,” a requirement for a chaplain candidate? Can they provide support to religious troops of all faiths, a fundamental responsibility for chaplains?

    Jason Torpy, a former Army captain who is president of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, said humanist chaplains would do everything religious chaplains do, including counsel troops and help them follow their faiths. But just as a Protestant chaplain would not preside over a Catholic service, a humanist might not lead a religious ceremony, though he might help organize it.

    “Humanism fills the same role for atheists that Christianity does for Christians and Judaism does for Jews,” Mr. Torpy said in an interview. “It answers questions of ultimate concern; it directs our values.”

    Mr. Torpy has asked to meet the chiefs of chaplains for each of the armed forces, which have their own corps, to discuss his proposal. The chiefs have yet to comment.

    At the same time, an atheist group at Fort Bragg called Military Atheists and Secular Humanists, or MASH, has asked the Army to appoint an atheist lay leader at the base. A new MASH chapter at Fort Campbell, Ky., is planning to do the same as are atheists at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida.

    Such lay leaders can lead “services” in lieu of chaplains and have access to meeting rooms, including chapels.

    Chaplains at Fort Bragg near here have seemed open to the idea, if somewhat perplexed by it.

    “You’re not a faith group; you’re a lack-of-faith group,” First Lt. Samantha Nicoll, an active atheist at Fort Bragg, recalled a chaplain friend’s saying about the idea. “But I said, ‘What else is there for us?’ ”

    Atheist leaders acknowledge the seeming contradiction of nonbelievers seeking to become chaplains or receive recognition from the chaplain corps. But they say they believe the imprimatur of the chaplaincy will embolden atheists who worry about being ostracized for their worldviews.

    Defense Department statistics show that about 9,400 of the nation’s 1.4 million active-duty military personnel identify themselves as atheists or agnostics, making them a larger subpopulation than Jews, Muslims, Hindus or Buddhists in the military.

    But atheist leaders say those numbers are an undercount because, they believe, there are many nonbelievers among the 285,000 service members who claim no religious preference on military surveys. Many chaplains dispute that interpretation, and say that most people in that group are religious, just not strongly so.

    Those same statistics show that Christians represent about one million, or 70 percent, of all active-duty troops. They are even more dominant among the chaplain corps: about 90 percent of the 3,045 active duty chaplains are Christians, most of them Protestants.

    Military atheist leaders say that although proselytizing by chaplains is forbidden, Christian beliefs pervade military culture, creating subtle pressures on non-Christians to convert.

    As an example, they cite the Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program, created to help soldiers handle stress and prevent suicide. The program requires soldiers to complete surveys assessing emotional, social, family and spiritual well-being. Based on their answers, some soldiers are asked to take “resiliency” training.

    Atheists say the survey and training are rife with religious code words that suggest a deity or afterlife. The Army counters that the program is intended to determine whether a soldier has “a strong set of beliefs, principles or values” that can sustain him through adversity — and not to gauge religiosity.

    Atheist and secular humanist groups in the military are hardly new. But at some bases, they have become better organized and more vocal in recent years.

    Last fall, atheists at Fort Bragg objected to an event by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association called Rock the Fort. The base command, at the urging of its chaplains, provided some money and manpower for the event as well as a choice location on the post’s parade grounds.

    A communication sergeant, Justin Griffith, argued that the event was an Army-sponsored platform for the Graham organization to recruit converts. The post commander, Col. Stephen J. Sicinski, denied that, saying soldiers were not pressured to attend. In a recent interview, the colonel said Rock the Fort was intended to boost morale as well as “bolster the faith.”

    In response, Sergeant Griffith has recruited a star lineup of atheist musicians and speakers, including the writer Richard Dawkins, to headline a secular event, possibly for the fall. He calls it Rock Beyond Belief and has asked Colonel Sicinski to provide resources similar to what he gave Rock the Fort.

    Colonel Sicinski has refused, saying the event will not draw enough people to justify using the parade grounds and that money from religious tithes, which helped finance Rock the Fort, cannot be spent on it. Sergeant Griffith has appealed.

    A high school dropout raised near Dallas, Sergeant Griffith, 28, was a passionate Christian and creationist until his teens. Now his dog tags list his religious preference as atheist, and he is pushing to create MASH chapters on as many bases as possible.

    He is also giving thought to becoming a chaplain himself, though it would take years: He would have to earn a graduate degree in theology and then be commissioned an officer. He would also need the endorsement of “a qualified religious organization,” a role Mr. Torpy’s organization is seeking to play.

    Sergeant Griffith said he believed there were already atheist chaplains in the military — just not open ones.

    “I support the idea that religious soldiers need support from religious chaplains,” he said. “But there has to be a line between supporting religious soldiers and promoting religion.”
  2. jack404

    jack404 Former Guest

    Jan 11, 2010
    Ok i can understand the wiccans and pagens but athiests?

    is hand holding a profession now ? seems all these weird groups all want someone to hold their hands and say its all ok to be weird..

    and before the pro side jump in and start stinging on what a army Chaplain does , he does a heap

    yes a humanist or atheist padre could do much that too , but what about Men's soul's ? war can really stretch a man's faith and this is the main work of padre's as i see it , the rest is nice , but he has a tough job anyway , if That reason is not present then its a social workers role .. and a social worker is the antitheses of a military unit.. end of story
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2011

  3. rooter

    rooter *VMBB Senior Chief Of Staff* Supporting Member

    Jan 31, 2001
    Glendale Arizona
    Great reflections Jack!!!! Seems there is too little of the 'good stuff' and too much of the radical crap...When did this trend begin, Jack...when the hell did it get so bad....can we still blame the Mom's for having to go to work and leaving the kids to fend for themselves...did it begin when those types of bad words start to be permitted? There are some folks, good folks too, that are beginning to tell us that "these too will pass" ...Perhaps soon that justice will be metted out when someone disfigures the flag or shows hate or disrespect for a fallen warrior...I never in my lifetime, and I'll soon be 78, did I even think the world would become as it is now...for us up here in the northern hemisphere, 'THE LATE, GREAT, AMERICAN EXPERIMENT'.... Chief
  4. jack404

    jack404 Former Guest

    Jan 11, 2010
    I grew up when the truth , though nasty sometimes , was the real thing and what counted , now its all lets move forward ( never admit past lies or acts)

    i saw some of it while younger and its got steadily worse ever since

    i think its the time equivalent of gravity..

    you fall so fast the first second , double it every second after that your still falling until you get to terminal ( maximum ) velocity , or morals are being outpaced by want, desire , greed what ever at a similar rate , at first it was not so much but nbow it seems that immorality is running at terminal velocity all through the established world and into even those "sacred" establishments like the military ,

    while i am a supporter of change , i also like to see a forward direction and this is not , and so if we take that socialist humanist veiw then those "counsellor's" or what ever they may be called could then quote the humanists like fish and Filmore and suggest revolutions against military authority rather then a socialy unjust war

    that cool too ? some would say yes , its all a horror story to me personally

    whats next ?? mandatory gay training ?
  5. Country101

    Country101 Well-Known Member

    Feb 28, 2004
    NW AR
    A lot of athiests become believers real quick when they get in a war......
  6. hunter29180

    hunter29180 Well-Known Member

    a athiest chaplin?? i thought to be a chaplin you had to have a belief in a diety!! so now they want a chaplin with no beliefs....not much of a chaplin there....wont argue they have a right to their beliefs..we all fought for the right for them to have it...oh well..next they will tell us we cant Pray!! oh WAIT they have already started doing that....
  7. whymememe

    whymememe Former Guest

    Oct 29, 2011
    FEMA Region IV
    You said it all, Country101. If you ain't a true believer you become a believer just for insurance. My belief in God is a personal thing, its not something I got from a book, its not something that someone taught me. It's what I call the great spirit, Its what the original americans believed in.
  8. raven818

    raven818 Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2011
    Jax, Fl.
    I'm not versed on atheistic beliefs, but IMO, if they have no belief in God, they have no souls to loose.
  9. dad2thebone

    dad2thebone New Member

    Jul 10, 2011
    way back , when the draft was going and nam your destination a lot of guys didnt think much of god and the teachings. when asked religion some said athiest as a slap at everybody. but the shtf and most guys found it hard to not pray.I think a recount is in order because im sure most believe in our lord when rounds are overhead and some clown is trying to kill ya. Only my opinion ,Everybody has one and thats mine.
  10. raven818

    raven818 Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2011
    Jax, Fl.
    Just had a thought.

    Are chaplains permitted to recruit? I think recruit is the wrong word, but, maybe better put... visit mess halls, exercise areas, communal areas. Any place that would allow them to introduce themselves along with their belief, or an atheist chaplin and their stance on non belief?

    Is that permissible?
  11. whymememe

    whymememe Former Guest

    Oct 29, 2011
    FEMA Region IV
    My dog tags say Baptist. My moma made us go to church every Sunday and vacation Bible school every summer it seemed abstract to me. I just didn't have the intellect to grasp all the material they presented. What I did get was a strong conscience, an innate knowledge of right and wrong. I have Psalms 23 memorized and I find it very inspirational.
  12. rooter

    rooter *VMBB Senior Chief Of Staff* Supporting Member

    Jan 31, 2001
    Glendale Arizona
    Greetings, WHY......I've been following your postings and have become interested in your remarks about things in general...This last one where you commented on your religious upbringing...sounds very much like my own...I pray by myself...if asked to give a blessing on the meal, I do so...if requested to address remarks at someone's funeral, I do that...My wife of 56 years is a fervent Mormon and I've sat thru many of the traveling missionaries deliverys on whats and whys and their personal dedication to their beliefs..I certainly won't slight them on their beliefs. Over the years, and my being a Christian, I've questioned over and over about the 'attonement'....Never have received any feeling of understanding or commitment to believing the necessity for it. Of course, all these things around us didn't happen by accident...some supreme being, not to be of our complete understanding, caused them to happen...that being to me is God...I think of us as being a sprit, dweeling in this earthly body that is like a grand temple at the begining of our lives...over the years that temple ages and decays and finally falls away...our spirt having departed and gone elsewhere, perhaps to dweel in some significant level of exhaultation as a sprit...maybe with the Master Builder of it All...God of us all..... Chief
  13. whymememe

    whymememe Former Guest

    Oct 29, 2011
    FEMA Region IV
    I found four definitions of atonement in Websters Ninth Collegiate Dictionary 1. RECONCILIATION 2. reconcilation between God and man through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ 3. reparation for an offense or injury: SATISFACTION (made~for his cruelty) 4. Christian Science : the exemplifying of man's oneness with God.

    Can I have number 4 please.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2012
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