Atheists Seek Chaplain Role in the Military


NY TIMES ARTICLE - Atheists Seek Chaplain Role in the Military 


Great idea, but I don’t think they should be called “chaplains”. They should be called counselors. I applaud Sgt Griffith’s efforts. There should not be any chaplains in the military anyways. When I was in Iraq, the Catholic chaplain had his office right next to mine. I would always look at him and think how he was of no benefit to me. I did not requiring any counseling our guidance at the time…. But if I did, I would have had great difficulty confiding to a man who believes in magic and fairy tales.



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Comment by Robert Karp on April 28, 2011 at 8:43am
Thanks for posting Jason!  I think this is great and would love to see an atheist "chaplain" in the military. It's so ironic that we were founded as a secular nation yet we are so frequently ensuring that the religious infect every aspect of our lives, our schools, our government, our anthems and our military.
Comment by Denise W on April 28, 2011 at 12:53pm

I wrote a rather long comment in Hemant's blog - sharing my opinion about this egregious topic. I'm really just copy/pasting from there:



I have issues with chaplains in the military in the first place. An organization that is supposed to be a collective “GI”-hood, absent of any (public) faith or politic. Privately, as citizens, service-members are free to believe whatever they will, but as long as they’re owned by Uncle Sam, their “god” is the flag and their “bible” is (supposed to be) the Constitution. Do I understand why chaplains are intended to be present? Sure. However, I have long felt the *better* option is to get rid of ALL the chaplains and replace them with qualified psychiatrists and therapists (equivalent ranking to chaplains and chaplains’ assistants) to truly help service-members in times of emotional duress (shell shock, etc).

To endorse an atheist “chaplain” would serve two things that would create a serious backlash. First, soldiers (airmen, sailors, marines, etc) NEED people available during those times of duress…and a chaplain, while often well-meaning, simply is not qualified to diagnose (though chaplains do have other influential powers for spouses and families in terms of chain-of-command – powers that could easily be transitioned to a DOCTOR who IS qualified to diagnose and treat). Putting someone in that role who uses a bible and a set of ideological tenets as a guide is (and has always been) ineffective and undercuts our men & women in uniform. (Not to mention, one of the roles of a minister by whatever name we give them, is to proselytize – do our service-members really need that?!) Second…it would lump atheists into the category of “religion”…which I suspect many (if not most) of us would really disagree with…in AND out of the military.

Just my two cents."


His blog entry is really interesting - the charts caught my attention the most, since they are SO very telling.

Comment by Walter Maki on April 28, 2011 at 1:11pm
To me I am hung up the use of the word "chaplain". My own personal defenses would go up because I don't associate the word to someone with reasoning. It seems like a cop out to use that title to fly it under the theistic radar giving it religious overtones. This is my personal view but I'm sure there are others out there that share this view.
Comment by Jose Mathews on April 28, 2011 at 5:22pm
As an Atheist as well as in the military, I personally don't want an Atheist chaplain. I think this defeats the whole purpose of being an Atheist and borders on turning it into a religion all it's own.


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