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.
Wow, that's actually really interesting. Thanks for posting it. :)
I don't know about how changing the dog tags would seem to indicate one is more of an individual in their mind though. I know soldiers who are not Christian, but a different faith, and they have no problems getting their religions on their dog tags. My husband's friend from his old unit was Muslim and had it on their dog tags. I've also seen Buddhist. I found out yesterday (I'm at a new unit now, so I'm just getting to know these people), that the sergeant in charge of the office I work in is a Scientologist (sp?). The army doesn't care what religion you want on your dog tags. They don't seem to have a problem with individuality in that respect at least. Perhaps being a non believer is 'too' individual?
K_R: 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.
Agreement. If not angry they'd notice the poor fit of the moment, that it'd mean nothing to me.
I remember being a bit irked that the tags said "no rel pref" instead of none.
In my N.G. unit on sundays, all the faith-heads would go into services, but they were careful to not tell the rest of us to just get to work. Usually, we'd break out training books and sit & read, or I'd go off and start PMCS on my tools (anything bu take a nap, which is the first thing we'd want to do!)
Wish I'd had a chance while I was in to order those from outside sources that actually said "atheist".
A chaplain took me aside when it got back to the unit that my mother was terminal with cancer, and asked if I wanted to pray with him. I politely said that just talking about it was fine, but she might appreciate his prayers.
I hate the old "no atheists in foxholes" canard. Like everyone is so weak willed that the imminent approach of death makes everyone break down and wish for a bronze-age fable to come save them from dissolution of personality if a bullet finds them.
Guys can sit in mud & death for weeks and do incredible things in the name of service & sacrifice, but everyone says they'll still need the reassurance of the fairy tale savior myth.