When I joined the military almost 4 years ago and they asked me what religion I was so they could do the paperwork and make up my dog tags, I told them that I didn't have one. No religious preference was what they put on my paperwork and dog tags.
I was reading in forums online about atheists in the military. Apparently if you have no religious preference that means you default to whatever christian service they decide for your funeral (most likely protestant) if you are killed in the line of duty. To me this is unacceptable and rude to assume that someone with no religion would be okay with any religious funeral. It's rude to the fallen soldier, and to their family members and friends. It's kind of disgusting in my opinion.
A lot of atheist soldiers online have said that they had seen someone receive such funeral or memorial services for an 'out' atheist, and all because of the 'No Religious Preference". Does anyone else think this is wrong?
I've also been told of people who wanted 'Atheist' on their dog tags and were refused. Even though 'Atheist' is not a religion, there seems to be a higher chance of people respecting your wish of a secular memorial or funeral if you were to die in combat or in any other way in the line of duty. It makes me want to get it on my dog tags so there is no confusion as to my wishes.
I did a little digging and according to MAAF (Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers), they can't deny it to you. There is an actual code in the computer (code 75) that will list atheist under your religious preference, and you can get it on your dog tags.
How can they deny that you can't have that on your dog tags? It's an option in the computer system! I know people who have personally requested this also and have been told that it wasn't an approved religion in the regulations. They are either lying or ignorant. Either way, it's wrong.
I don't know if there are many soldiers here on TA, but if there is, I wanted to let you guys know what I now know.
What you said is mostly true, but your dog tags are supposed to match your paperwork. What religion you pick determines what kind of service the army gives you when you die. If you pick 'no preference' you run the possibility of them just giving you whatever christian service they feel fit.
So it's kind of both reasons.
That's not really the issue. Funerals are for the living and some friends and family would probably be angry that the service was against everything you believed. Some friends and relatives might even consider it mocking the deceased. Peoples emotions are frazzled during times of extreme grief, and then they have to listen to a bunch of people say that the deceased is in heaven and other bull. I would not want my family to have to go through that.
What funeral service should an atheist follow? As an atheist, whatever procedure they follow has the same result. It may matter to the family of the bereaved, but that again is going against the beliefs of the atheist in question. To me it's a bit of a non-issue.
I'm not sure what you mean by saying that "It may matter to the family of the bereaved, but that again is going against the beliefs of the atheist in question."
I think you are saying (and please correct me if I misunderstood) that because the atheist is dead anyway, they shouldn't care how their family feels after they die?
Since I'm alive now, I do care how they will feel once I've passed on. Just because I'm dead doesn't mean I should be like, "Well screw your feelings. I won't have to see your mug again anyway so why should I care?"
So, no, I don't think it goes against the beliefs (or lack of) of the atheist in question. Maybe some, but not all.
No, that's not what I'm saying. What I am saying is this...
As I am an atheist, then I have no belief system. I think we are meat when we die, so ceremonies to ME mean absolutely nothing. However, my family will undoubtedly have some sort of ceremony for me. Whatever form that ceremony takes it will not reflect my beliefs. So if the armed forces did one for Protestant values, or the family did one for Christian values, either way, my beliefs have been ignored.
As an atheist, any ceremony would be contrary to what I thought. I may think, as you seem to, "well, have a nice ceremony in my memory, and have flowers, and sing songs", but that would be to make THEM feel better, and would have nothing to do with how I viewed life.
I was in the Army during the late 80's. It always griped my ass to have 'no preference'. No preference like hell! Whether it be last rites and or funeral, I wanted it done my way and I let my family know it. It was like talking to the biggest wall ever when I tried to explain that none of the choices they gave me applied. The bureaucrat at the desk got all wide-eyed when I stated I wanted 'Atheist'. She stuttered "you can't have that" and I replied "how about non-believer?". None of this got me anywhere so 'no preference' it was.