Atheist groups have been pushing hard lately for the military to accept Humanist chaplains. So far, they’ve said no.
“They don’t believe anything,” said Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) “I can’t imagine an atheist accompanying a notification team as they go into some family’s home to let them have the worst news of their life and this guy says, ‘You know, that’s it — your son’s just… worm food.’”
“This I think would make a mockery of the chaplaincy,” said Rep. John Fleming (R-La.). “The last thing in the world we would want to see was a young soldier who may be dying and they’re at a field hospital and the chaplain is standing over that person saying to them, ‘If you die here, there is no hope for you in the future.’”
Obviously, you have to have your head firmly lodged in your ass to say any of that. Humanist chaplains would be fully trained as counselors for people of all beliefs, meeting soldiers wherever they’re at, regardless of faith. Their job would not be to convince people not to believe in God, but to comfort those who need their help.
Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) was another House member who joined the fray, arguing that chaplains were, by definition, religious. So atheists couldn’t become one. Because the dictionary said so.
All of that is the kind of rhetoric you get from people who havenever even spoken with potential Humanist chaplains about why they want this position.
But those were the elected officials. They usually maintain a tempered approach on these “controversial” issues.
Unelected right-wing conservatives aren’t bound by such constraints of faux decency.
On the “Talk to Solomon” show the other day, host Stan Solomon brought up how atheists (whose beliefs involve “basically sticking your head up your butt and wondering why it’s dark”) wanted these chaplains.
Navy Chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt called in to the show just to proclaim his ignorance. After railing against the “homosexual Congressman from Colorado Jared Polis” and the 150 Democrats who supported the Humanist chaplain cause, he explained why the label made no sense to him:
[Atheists] don’t have spiritual needs the way that religious soldiers do. I was a Navy Chaplain and chaplains, by definition, are people of faith. They cater to the spiritual needs, they cater to the beliefs, or the religious needs… if you don’t have a religion, then you don’t have religious needs, so you don’t need the services of a chaplain.
If you need counseling, you can go to a secular psychologist in the military — that’s free of charge and that’s confidential…
… it’s really just a way to undermine the Christian chaplains and reduce our numbers.
Lots of lies in there.
Atheists have the same stress levels and ethical concerns and personal problems as other soldiers and they, too, need a safe outlet to discuss them. More importantly, though, if you meet with a psychologist, the meeting itself is not confidential. The military could use the existence of such a meeting against you when considering promotions. Religious soldiers don’t have to worry about that stigma when they see a chaplain.
Solomon piled on, claiming that Humanist chaplains were really part of an effort to push ObamaCare on others… and that the advice they gave would be horrible:
An atheist chaplain… would be the perfect vehicle for convincing wounded warriors that they should end their lives because there’s nothing in the future and there’s nothing now, so why not just save money and kill themselves?
Complete fiction. This is what the Christian right does — they assume that if people don’t bring up religion, they must be inherently anti-religious. When it comes to trained chaplains, that wouldn’t be the case at all.
Again, if Solomon did the slightest bit of research, he would know that.
But who are we kidding — a right-wing conservative doing research? That’s about as unlikely as seeing Congress approve Humanist chaplains.
(via Right Wing Watch)