Christian Show Host: Atheist Chaplains Would Just Tell Wounded Soldiers To Kill Themselves

Atheist groups have been pushing hard lately for the military to accept Humanist chaplains. So far, they’ve said no.

Congress joined them, but in addition to saying no, House members offered their reasons — and those reasons were complete bullshit:

What conservatives think will happen with Humanist chaplains (via Matt Bors)

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)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • C Peterson

    If we’re just going to base the argument on logic, it’s Christian soldiers who should simply end their lives. After all, they’re the ones who believe in something great to follow, that ending their corporeal life doesn’t end their existence at all. It is atheists who have the greatest reason to keep living!

    When you play a video game where you only get one life, you play a lot more carefully than in a game where you keep getting more.

    • JET

      All of these idiots state (erroneously) what they think a humanist chaplain would say. But they really fear what he or she would *not* say, which is that a better life awaits you if you just…
      It all boils down to not being able to accept mortality, either for yourself or for your loved ones, and pretending that there is a way to become immortal.

      • Blacksheep

        What would a humanist chaplain say? (This is a sincere question).

        • JWH

          In what situation? (And this is a sincere question too).

          • Blacksheep

            Basically in a situation like the one mainly being talked about here – offering comfort to someone who is dying or facing death.

            • Vic

              As an atheist, if someone I cared about was on death’s door, I’d do my best to comfort him. I’d reflect on all the good he had accomplished during his life and all the people he had positively affected. I think a dying person would be comforted by this, knowing that the positives they brought to this world had a greater meaning – not a supernatural one, but greater in the sense that they helped humanity.

              • Blacksheep

                I agree – that would offer comfort.

            • JWH

              Presumably, a professional chaplain would be trained in how to help people through their grief. That’s not really my line of work.

              But if I were comforting somebody dying or near death, I’m actually not going to talk much at all. It’s not about me. it’s about the person confronting the undiscovered country. I’m going to listen to what they say. If they want companionship, I’ll hold their hand and reassure them I’m there. If they want to talk about the afterlife, I’ll listen to what they say and not inject my silly opinions … and I doubt they would be interested in my opinions anyway.

              If I’m close to the person or I’m their designated chaplain of sorts and they ask me to say a prayer with them, then, yeah I’ll say the prayer with them. Even if I don’t believe, but I’m there to help them feel better. Giving them that comfort does not compromise my beliefs whatsoever.

              As for those who are around the dying — the family members, the lovers, the close friends — I am circumspect. Typically, these people are reliving their times of their loved ones, branding into their memories the good days, the bad days — everything they want to remember about the person who has passed or who is passing.

              This person is not interested in my thoughts on faith, the divine or the afterlife. This person simply needs somebody to listen … and that is what I do. If this person still feels the deceased’s presence, I will nod. if this person wants to say that the deceased is in Heaven, then I will nod.

              Unless the person directly asks me what I think, or directly asks me what or how I feel, given my lack of faith, I keep my mouth shut. Occasions of dying are not a time for me to spout my opinions. They are a time for something far more solemn.

              Unless the person is being taken advantage of in some way, my duty is to offer comfort. Nothing more, nothing less.

        • cary_w

          How about something like this,”I understand your feelings of anger and resentment that your son died, it’s perfectly normal and healthy to have those feelings, but your life can go on, moving on with your life doesn’t mean that he is forgotten. It may help to focus on remembering the wonderful things he did, the way he served his country, the lives he saved before he met his tragic death…” And so on, as an atheist, I would find something like this much more comforting that hearing a bunch of lies about how “he’s in a better place” or “it was Gods will” which seems to imply that God chose my son to be killed while sparing someone else, because, I don’t know, I guess he wasn’t praying hard enough or he didn’t have a church full of believers praying for him.

          Does that answer your question?

          Now I have a question for you. What does a regular chaplain say to an atheist?

          • Blacksheep

            Yes – I get that approach.

            What does a regular Chaplain say to an atheist? I assume you mean what do I think a regular chaplain should say to an atheist?

            If it were me:
            First of all, there’s the context to consider. If an atheist came to me as a religious chaplain, or if I as a religious chaplain I came upon an atheist grieving a loss, they would know that I am a “regular chaplain” so they may not want my counsel at all. If they did, I would absolutely be sensitive to their beliefs, and focus on being empathetic, wanting them to speak about their loved one, etc. I would express sadness along with them. I would see if there was any way I could help. If I weren’t sure exactly what the family beleived, I would address the subject of faith maybe this way: “Normally I pray with people, but I I know that you / your son was an atheist, that’s why I’m not bringing that into the conversation.” I might even add, “if it’s OK with you, I’d like to pray for him myself in my own way.”

            • Lee Miller

              When my dad died last summer we had to meet with his pastor to plan the funeral. When she prayed with the family, she said “We know, Lord, that Bob is whole and well and in your presence . . .” which I found more ridiculous than offensive, although I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying “What the hell? The one thing we know for sure is that he’s dead and his body is already decaying. He’s not whole and well and no rational person would say that.” There’s no comfort in being told lies or ridiculous stories.

            • cary_w

              Thank you for your honest and sincere reply, you have absolutely convinced me of the need for atheist chaplains or doing away with chaplains entirely and replacing them with counselors. As more and more atheists join the military (and it will happen, just look at how many young people don’t believe in God), imagine how these people will feel when they are in a military hospital dealing with a severe injury and the death of some of your peers. Everyone else has a chaplain to talk to, but he gives you the impression that you have no spiritual needs, that you wouldn’t want to talk to him because he’s a theist, and you are not. But out of “kindness”, which makes you feel like he’s only talking to you because he feel sorry for your foolish decision to not believe in God, he will talk to you anyway. Then he can’t separate his faith from his counseling enough to respect your atheism and has to bring up that “normally he would pray with you” again, implying that you are not normal, or that you shouldn’t need to talk to someone about what has happened to you. And then he ends by asking if he can pray for you. Do you understand how this sounds to an atheist? I know it is meant to be comforting, but to me it sounds like you’re saying you don’t respect my views and you pity me for falling away from the church and that you will pray for me while you wait for me to find my faith and come back to the flock.

              Clearly there is a need for someone who can fulfill the role of the chaplain and also separate his religion from his counseling, and this need will only grow as more and more atheists join the military. Atheist deserve the same sort of counseling theist get from the chaplains without being judged and subtly told they are “wrong” for not believing and pitied until the time they see the light of God again.

          • Spuddie

            The real point of a chaplain is not to spread or act within their own faith, but provide it for the faith of the soldier requesting the service.

            Being humanist is no more relevant than having any other belief. As Showing empathy and a basic level of humanity being the chief job skills.

            If they were addressing a humanist soldier, they should be able to provide help which doesn’t fall back on some religious homily. They are supposed to be trained as counselors, right?

          • Sanguinocrat

            Oh me me me!!! How about this being said to a dying atheist… “Son, you’re about to die and if you don’t repent and accept the lord Jesus Christ into your heart this very moment you will most certainly spend an eternity in hell.”

        • JET

          I think a humanist chaplain could and would attempt to comfort a person within their own belief system and not take the opportunity to score a conversion. Most humanists and atheists are well-aware of what the many religious beliefs are, and are not hell-bent to change those beliefs when a person or his/her family is suffering. I think a humanist would be able to place empathy above his or her own beliefs.
          Now what would a fundamentalist Christian chaplain tell an atheist?

          • Blacksheep

            I tried my best to answer that (below) if it were me who was the chaplain.

        • C Peterson

          What would a humanist chaplain say?

          I would imagine that more than 99% of the time a person interacts with a chaplain, it is under circumstances that allow that person to choose a chaplain with similar views (or would, if the military allowed chaplains to represent all views). A random chaplain comforting a random dying soldier on the battlefield surely represents but the tiniest fraction of encounters.

          In cases where a chaplain finds himself with somebody of a very different faith or worldview, he will utilize whatever words are best for the situation, without regard for his personal beliefs. Anything else would be ethically wrong- and we would hope that chaplains of all beliefs share a high respect for good ethical behavior.

        • JWH

          Sheep: When it comes to the rituals of death, I think the Catholic pastor (and his assistant) from this story have the right idea: Be sympathetic to the family and recognize it’s their grief, their loved one, their time to mourn, not your time to press an agenda.

          http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/embraced-by-the-catholic-church-at-the-funeral-for-my-mother/2012/03/15/gIQAV12CHS_story.html

      • David

        Jet I am glad you had fun with your straw man argument. You have used your telepathy to peer into the mind of others and completely disregarded the facts. Athiest in the military are much more likely to take their own lives because they are sick of playing the game (to use your metaphor) and don’t see any hope. Their words not mine. Now with this as an understood fact how would an Ahthiest Chaplain help you? None of the responces have come up with something a normal Chaplain cannot do.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

      But it is rare to find a video game that only gives you one life.

      • RadtheCad

        Roguelikes kind of do. Minecraft on hardcore mode deletes the world if you die.

      • Tainda

        Didn’t Guild Wars only have 1 life per character when it first started? There was some MMO that I tried that did. Maybe it was that REALLY sucky one…gah I can’t remember the name…(looked it up) Istaria?

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          That Star Wars Online game originally allowed every character to respawn, except Jedi, who only had one life. It worked great… until the very first player who got his Jedi capped out and virtually indestructible thereafter spent all his time locating and killing other Jedi players before they could cap out also.

          • Tainda

            I never was a Jedi in STO so that’s probably why I didn’t know about that lol Crazy

      • C Peterson

        Well, the video games I play are along the lines of Scrabble and FreeCell. You can only lose, not die. So it was a rhetorical example from my viewpoint. :)

  • Tainda

    Wow, such ignorance.

    On a personal note in relation to what was said here…

    My grandmother, who is 90, had a massive heart attack over the weekend and they are saying she won’t live much longer. I was in the room with her and she looked at me and said “Lisa, I’m not afraid of dying, I’m afraid of the pain so I’m not going to have the surgery. I’m leaving it in God’s hands and he will take care of me” I looked at her and nodded because I had tears in my eyes. I didn’t tell her she’s an idiot for believing in her sky fairy nor did I roll my eyes, tell her she will be worm food or anything of the sort!

    If these people took even a second to get to know any atheist, they would have a better understanding of what we are truly about.

    • Blacksheep

      Sorry about your grandmother – I had a similar experience with my grandmother, who had a stroke at 91, and I had a chance to visit her at her bedside before she passed on. She was great, I still miss her.

      You loved your grandmother, so of course you didn’t tell her that you thought she was “an idiot” for believing in God – but that is what you believe, and what you were thinking. I would submit that you don’t need to treat faith that way. You can be pretty sure that what you believe is true, but still leave room in your heart open to the idea that maybe she really is in God’s hands, whatever that means.

      I’ve gotten to know atheists in “real life” and on FA, and I do have a much better understanding of what atheists are about. So although I truly believe that we’re not here by a random string of events, I also know that I might be wrong.

      • C Peterson

        No rational person can believe what you suggest. Of course, one need not necessarily consider a person an “idiot” for believing in God, but a rational person will recognize that belief as wrong beyond reasonable doubt, even when the particulars of the situation require simply nodding and smiling, as in this case.

        Faith and reason cannot coexist without something being broken.

        • Blacksheep

          That’s not really accurate – Millions of rational people have and do believe what I suggest. I know that’s what you believe, but to say that every person of faith is irrational would be a falsehood, even if yoiu tested it statistically.

          • C Peterson

            Depends what you mean by “rational people”. Admittedly, people are adept at compartmentalization, and can therefore operate rationally in some areas while maintaining irrational beliefs (everybody does this to some extent). But any belief that depends on faith is, by definition, irrational.

            • Blacksheep

              By rational people I mean those who you would consider rational in every aspect of their lives – work, family, personal, etc. – good habits, organized, smart, fit, educated, an understanding of the way the physical world works, grounded, reasonably happy, kind to others, etc.

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          The vast majority of humanity is irrational, and that includes atheists. I think most people have some aspect of irrationality in their lives.

          • C Peterson

            I’m not sure I agree that the majority of atheists are irrational. Certainly, every human exists on a spectrum between rationality and irrationality. In my experience, most atheists operate far enough towards the rational side of that spectrum that given only the choice between “rational” and “irrational” to describe them, I’d use the former.

      • Tainda

        I would never think she was an idiot in any way. I was simply responding to the article that said a humanist chaplain would tell a dying soldier horrible things just because they believe differently than he does. It wouldn’t happen, period. And people’s thoughts are their own the difference is some people know how to respect other people and not spout the hatred.

        • JET

          You’re correct. I find it more likely that a humanist chaplain would comfort a person within that person’s own belief system, as being pointless to cause them more suffering. I find it less likely that a religious chaplain would be able to do this. His priority would be to save the soul for eternity rather than provide actual comfort.

          • Sanguinocrat

            It’s disappointing to hear that someone thinks a humanist would suddenly lack empathy and compassion when discussing death. That’s the time when empathy and compassion would increase even more. Where are these people getting their information? I think they are projecting what they (religious people) would do to take full advantage of a situation. How many funerals have you attended where the religious orator used the ceremony to try to convert souls? For a bit of ironic humor, I told my wife I would haunt her if there is one mention of a god at my funeral. These types get to hide behind the force-field of respect. They spew their garbage completely unchecked. AND PEOPLE ARE BELIEVING IT!

  • EvolutionKills

    Once again, to quote AronRa “religion reverses everything”. Whose is almost always at the head of the pro-military argument? Religious conservatives. But now you see members of the military that are seeking religious and stigma free counseling, and they’re being attacked and ridiculed for it. Just like so many other things, religion reverses everything.

    They are ‘pro-life’ (really, pro-birth), but once you’re born you are on your own. They’re against food stamps, education, WIC, or anything else to help you get an education, or keep a roof over your head and food on the table.

    They are all for the freedom of speech, unless you say something they don’t like. They want to decriminalize their hate-speech, and censor their critics.

    They are all for the military, and spending money on weapons. But once you’re wounded and back home, and no longer protecting the interest of the moneyed elite, they don’t fucking care. They’re against universal healthcare and continue to cut spending on the VA system or anything else to help recovering veterans. They claim to be pro-military, but turn on the soldiers who aren’t religious.

    They’re all for freedom of religion, so long as you practice their religion. They want only their monument on public grounds and their religion taught in public schools.

    And whenever you point out all of this nonsensical and hypocritical bullshit to them, and attempt to stop them from steamrolling all over everyone else’s rights? Then they are being ‘oppressed’.

    This level of hypocritical ignorance is painful, it literally makes my brain hurt.

    EDIT: On a side note, who should be admired more? The religious soldier that risks his life believing that if he dies he’ll go on to paradise? Or the non-religious solider that lacks such a delusion, and yet willing puts his life on the line starting oblivion in the face? If there are no atheists in foxholes, it’s cause their ‘cojones’ are just too fuckin’ big to fit.

    • Plutosdad

      They are bloodthirsty chickenhawks, and console themselves about sending young men and women to die for their own personal gain by telling themselves there’s a better world waiting for those men and women. The politicians and powerful Religious Right, of course, just have to suffer and wait here in this life as they collect donations.

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    An atheist chaplain would never say that. They would have a much better understanding of decomposition and taxonomy. They would say, “You know, that’s it — your son’s just… arthropod food, more specifically Calliphoridae and Sarcophagidae. Of course that was just the beginning. Later, Coleoptera, like Trogidae and Dermestidae played an important role in recycling the organic material that was your loved one. Oh, let’s not forget the bacteria and fungi.”

    Wait, no they wouldn’t, because unlike fundies, a humanist chaplain has the ability to empathize, and wouldn’t be a total dick.

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

      And, not to mention, I think that could be comforting for some people! Great cycle of life and all that- we decompose and feed the worms, beetles, bacteria, and fungi, which in turn feed other things, so on and so forth.

      I wouldn’t think it would be a standard approach, of course. Most people wouldn’t find it comforting. I’m just saying it’s not always wrong to note how we are very much a part of this Earth, even after we’re dead.

      • cary_w

        We are all stardust. I agree with you, I do find it comforting to be out in nature and feel like I’m a part of this whole amazing biosphere of life that covers our planet like a cancer. We are all a part of the whole, living or dead.

  • Art_Vandelay

    If anyone is ever miraculously able to convince me that the supernatural claims of Christianity are true, I think I’d want to kill myself just for having something in common with Stan Solomon.

    What a vile douchebag.

    • Blacksheep

      What makes you think that Jesus would have liked Stan Solomon?

      • C Peterson

        Well, as represented in the Bible, Jesus isn’t a very nice character. Thugs tend to hang out together.

      • Gus Snarp

        Who said he would?

      • Art_Vandelay

        I never actually thought about it. I actually lean towards the idea that Jesus, even as a man, never existed. He was probably just a myth based upon a bunch of people who walked around stone age Palestine pretending to be God. Your question makes as much sense to me as “What makes you think Hercules would have liked Stan Solomon?”

      • baal

        That’s a good but wrong question Blacksheep. It’s good because it suggests Stan’s not really living life in accordance with the teachings but it’s wrong in that Stan Solomon seems on par with the parade of clergy and relgious media personalities that get people to tune in and give money or they are on par with the type of people that rich christians want fronting for the faith in the mass media (pun!).

        So even if Jesus would disapprove of Stan, Jesus’s other earthly followers either in number or wealth seem to back Stan and his ilks with fervor.

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    “They don’t believe in the right doctrine,” said Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) “I can’t imagine an Catholic 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’s — your son’s failure to believe the pope being the vicar of Christ here on Earth, which has lead him to be thrown into the lake of fire and be tortured forever. Sorry.’”

    • JET

      Or any Christian denomination. “Oh, your son was gay? Well I have some bad news then.”

    • Stev84

      Not the same, but there was a chaplain who told Pat Tillman’s parents that they’d have an easier time accepting his death if they believed in an afterlife. That wasn’t during the notification, but later after they kept complaining to the Pentagon about the circumstances of his death.

  • Beth

    We are different so we don’t have needs. Ugh

  • Plutosdad

    I’d like them to either have humanist chaplains to serve the needs of soldiers who are not the same religion as the theist chaplains available (not just atheist, but come on, how many Catholic and Mainline Protestant servicemen and women don’t want to be preached at by an Evangelical?)

    Either that or get rid of the chaplains alltogether, and hire many many more psychologists (with doctorates not just therapists). They will be able to help a lot more than a non phd therapist or a chaplain. But before that we’d need a lot stronger protection for those seeking guidance.

    Of course, I was not a pacifist until I became an atheist. Sending people to the next world to meet God is easier when you think there is a God, and he’s forgiving.

  • http://knottiesniche.com/ Knottie

    Why is it that christians think you have to have a book (the bible) to tell you how to have empathy and compassion? Hell if you need a book and a threat of a god to be those things you are a bad person.

    • ZeldasCrown

      Personally, I find it a little frightening if one’s sense of morality is derived solely on what whomever is in the highest position of authority at the moment says. If something is wrong, it doesn’t suddenly become right is somebody with a lot of clout tells you to do it.

      I really don’t think that any family is going be upset (well, beyond the kind of feeling that come with hearing a relative has died) if someone tells them “you’re son did a lot of good things during his life, and we’re all going to miss him”, which is what I would picture a non-religious chaplain saying. If religious chaplains don’t take the opportunity of a soldier’s death to preach to a grieving family in an attempt to convert them, humanists chaplains won’t either.

      • http://knottiesniche.com/ Knottie

        I have had that visit from the military. The Christian chaplain who knocked on our door with the sgt. was kind but not once did he invoke god or religion. And truth be told some of the hardest words we heard were “He’s with God” and “He’s in a better place”. We wanted him HERE with us. Sigh.

        Also the Army assigned a Buddhist chaplain to give the service at my son’s funeral and prior to the funeral we were checked on by a Muslim chaplain. We are not of any of these faiths but we were treated with respect and kindness. I am pretty darn sure we would have gotten the same support and compassion from a humanist/secular chaplain. In the end we are all Human and sometimes we just need to know someone cares not what they believe religion wise.

  • https://agoldstardad.wordpress.com/ Fozzy

    Just saying that as a father of an atheist son who was killed in combat.. this is about as offensive as it could get…. When my son was hit he did not cry out for god.. he cried out for his medic.. he was lost to his brothers and to his family and to the world.. We mourn and we grieve and we have Christian and Muslim assholes damning my son for doing what he thought was helping other humans. People say I hate Christians.. I don’t hate anyone.. I just kind of lump humans all together and wish they would just get it over with and destroy the species so the world can return to its natural state without un natural hate and gods fucking everyone up!

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

      I am so sorry for your loss.

      • https://agoldstardad.wordpress.com/ Fozzy

        I can only console myself that in one of the worst hell holes on earth (Taji/Shula Iraq) that an entire Infantry company but one man came home.. We got the knock on the door.. no other parents did. I lost my son.. I have gained 150 or more adopted sons and I am their adopted combat dad. thankful for these fine young men..my son lives through them.

        • Tainda

          You make me teary and that’s a great way to look at a hard situation.

          • https://agoldstardad.wordpress.com/ Fozzy

            That was one of the worst periods of time in this.. the notification team is there to tell you of your loss.. they cannot tell you of any of the others and when this happens, the unit goes on a lock down and cannot communicate outside the loop for 24 hours.. we knew a lot of these men.. and we did not know that they were all safe for a while..

  • LutherW

    I wonder what a Religious chaplain might have or did say to Pat Tillman’s family?

    “Others call him a Hero, but he is going to hell because he did not believe”

    or maybe “After he was killed by the enemy in a cause he believed in, his last words were an embrace of the christian God, trust me.”

    • phantomreader42

      I haven’t heard anything about what chaplains said to the Tillmans, but some christian officials are known to have lied about a deceased war hero and described him in exactly the way they like to pretend atheists would. The projection is strong with these bastards. Isn’t that imaginary friend of theirs supposed to have some sort of problem with bearing false witness?

    • Tainda

      I do know what Rich Tillman said at the funeral, “Pat isn’t with God. He’s fucking dead. He wasn’t religious. So thank you for your thoughts, but he’s fucking dead.”

    • Guest

      he was killed by friendly fire and the military tried to cover that fact up. Awfully Christian of them if you ask me.

    • Stev84

      After the Tillman’s kept demanding answers about his death (which turned out to be friendly fire) and the Pentagon coverup, one chaplain more or less said that they’d have more closure and would accept his death more easily if they weren’t atheists and believed in an afterlife.

    • David

      I am sorry but any Chaplain worth his salt is not going to simply spitball like that. For the most part they just sit with the family. Acknowledge their pain and loss. Say a few words about how isolating pain is and how universal pain is. That the family should come together as a whole and support one another in their time of loss. He is not the first athiest to die in the army. I guess its easier LutherW to disagree with a Charicature of a Chaplain than what they realy do?

  • Gus Snarp

    Yet another ignoramus more interested in demonizing people than putting in the least effort to understand how people different from him actually think. Honestly, you’d think people in congress or responsible for counseling our soldiers would understand the importance of at least grasping different ways of thinking.

  • Steve UK

    Christians have the afterlife, then again, committing suicide is a “mortal sin” against their puerile religion.

    • Blacksheep

      There is no mention of the term “mortal sin” in the Bible, nor is suicide singled out as being worse than any other sin.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        It’s sinful for a religion to even describe suicide as a “sin” at all. It demeans the suffering that people can and often do experience.

        • Blacksheep

          Yeah, even though I wrote it that way, I agree – I would not describe suicide as a sin.

          • C.L. Honeycutt

            Thank you, I see how that could be read neutrally.

          • baal

            The RCC counts suicide as a sin.

            • Blacksheep

              Right – I was pointing out that that concept can’t be found in the Bible anywhere.

              • Ibis3

                It’s in the bible that killing is a sin. So it follows that killing oneself is a sin. And it’s a sin you can’t repent of, because you’re life is over.

                And then there’s all the other stuff like the body being a temple–you think that it’s not a sin to destroy the temple of the Holy Spirit?–and God being the boss and giving you life, so ending it is defying God’s will, isn’t it? Even without the express commandment not to kill, it’s pretty obvious from what is written that self-destruction is forbidden and therefore sinful. It’s a much more straight-forward conclusion than that abortion is a sin.

                • Blacksheep

                  Technically it’s murder that’s a sin, since soldiers in battle are not considered sinful in the Bible. When Jesus came on the scene it got more complicated, since he explained that even thinking that you wanted to kill someone is a sin – so it creates a dynamic in which we need Christ for salvation.
                  Abortion could be argued a sin based on the verses about God knowing us “before we are knitted together in our mother’s womb.”

                • Blacksheep

                  I wrote this one too! I guess I am really C Peterson!

              • phantomreader42

                There are a lot of things christians believe that aren’t in the bible anywhere. When it’s pointed out to them they don’t listen, they just make more shit up.

                • Blacksheep

                  I’ve been a part of some large churches, and I really haven’t observed Christians believing things that aren’t in the Bible anywhere. In an involved, active church people study the Bible and hopefully continue to learn exactly what’s in it. But I know that’s not always the case.

                • Blacksheep

                  and again…

              • Blacksheep

                That’s weird – I wrote this comment – and it’s showing as C Peterson. Wait – am I really C peterson??

                • Blacksheep

                  Now it’s fixed.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  When Disqus auto-loads new comments (without you doing a page refresh) it often attributes them all to the same (wrong) person. I’ve never seen it happen with my own comments, so it may be a new bug derivative.

                • Blacksheep

                  Thanks Rich.

    • Stev84

      Gotta close that loophole somehow. Otherwise people would just take a shortcut to heaven.

  • JWH

    OK … here’s where I get ticked off. If I understand the military chaplaincy correctly, a military chaplain is supposed to help people regardless of faith. if a Sikh soldier comes to a Catholic chaplain for help getting his CO to accommodate his religious requirements, then the Catholic chaplain’s job is to help the Sikh soldier with his CO.

    Obviously, some military chaplains fall short of that obligation. And I have no doubt that some humanist chaplains would fall short of their professional obligations. But if the majority of chaplains can discharge their duties competently, then why wouldn’t a majority of humanist chaplains also discharge those duties competently?

  • Amor DeCosmos

    “A Christian chaplain… would be the perfect vehicle for convincing wounded warriors that they should end their lives because as long as they believe in Jesus, they will die and immediately go to heaven and there’s nothing now, so why not just save money and let them die?”

    FTFY

    • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.co.uk/ Steve Bowen

      As I understand the actual theology nobody goes “straight to heaven” you stay dead until the second coming and satan is defeated and then maybe you get to be part of God’s remade earth. This is not how most people spin it though.

      • Blacksheep

        “And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” 43And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

        • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.co.uk/ Steve Bowen

          There are a few people who got special treatment, Elijah for example and my understanding is the theives that hung with Jesus were similarly treated. This is not the case for everyone though…?

          • Blacksheep

            Now I need to look more closely… thanks Steve.

        • http://stevebowen58.blogspot.co.uk/ Steve Bowen

          I wrote about this once, please forgive the self promo http://stevebowen58.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/theres-loads-of-room-in-heaven.html
          I would see the thieves as being given special treatment.

  • SeekerLancer

    They keep missing the point (on purpose). We’re not asking for atheist chaplains. We’re asking for humanist chaplains. For secular chaplains. Those things are often related to but not necessarily synonymous with atheism.

    • Guest

      who’s asking for atheist/humanist chaplains? What is it exactly that an atheist or humanist is looking for by talking with these people? If I was a soldier and was dying on the battle field, I don’t think I’d want to talk to some stranger about philosophical issues or the after life. I’d want my buddies or family there. Chaplain? Why the fu– why? Because religious people might need one? Makes no sense to me what so ever. Just like an atheist church. GTFO with that bunk.

      • SeekerLancer

        I think the “atheist churches” are silly too but I don’t care if people want to use it as an excuse to form communities.

        As for chaplains I can see your point but apparently somebody wants them or we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

      • Cassandra

        They want humanist chaplains because a chaplain has training to be an effective counselor, and a visit to a chaplain doesn’t go in the soldier’s record the way a visit to a psychologist does — where it can then be used to discriminate against the soldier for promotions because of “mental health issues.”

  • Brian

    “They don’t believe anything,” Im getting real sick and tired of hearing that when people describe atheists. No, we DO have beliefs, we just dont believe in YOUR certain brand of mythological bullshit. Thats like asking someone if they believe in Leprechauns, and they say “no,” and then you accuse them of “not believing in anything.” Its ridiculous.

    • Obazervazi

      And when we say that, they just say “See, atheists have faith. Atheism is a religion too.”

      You just can’t win with these people.

      • JohnnieCanuck

        Figuratively, yes. However if the poll trends continue for the non-believers as they have been, we are going to win.

    • JohnnieCanuck

      Oh how I wish you had had the opportunity to put that Leprechaun response to Rep. Conaway at the time. Would have been priceless.

    • David

      Okay now that you have admitted that you are a religion. Thank you for the honesty. What tenats of your faith are not currently being supported by the US Military that you need an “Athiest” or “Humanist” (I have heard both terms and so I don’t want to offend anybody) Chaplain to provide? Do you require a special service? What is it that you need besides the special pat on the back from “your guy” or knowing that your guy is in the military?

  • Spuddie

    The problem comes from people who are either too ignorant or too malicious to understand that a military chaplain’s job is not to act as defender of the faith or to prosletyze in service of their religion.

    Its not the individual faith of the chaplain which is important to their duties but that of the soldiers who request their services. It doesn’t matter what religion, if any, the chaplain has as long as they can administer the rites a soldier asks for respectfully.

    The people who are making the biggest stink about the beliefs of the chaplains, (i.e. excluding certain faiths from service and humanists) are those who secretly trying to proselytize within the military. They rely on the insular culture of the military to blatantly violate 1st Amendment rights and try to project internationally the image of the US as soldiers for Jesus. I appreciate the efforts of MRFF for shining a light on this.

  • newavocation

    I guess I’m a little confused. I thought the upside to religion was dying and going to heaven and maybe having sex with 40 virgins. Why would a humanist Chaplain be promoting death? I mean its the end of the road and wouldn’t he be promoting the fight to live?

  • cipher

    I’ll agree that atheists shouldn’t be chaplains if the Republicans will agree not to allow fucking idiots to run for Congress.

  • phantomreader42

    How many times have christians come to this very page to tell us to kill ourselves? Not to mention the ones who want to murder us all in the name of their monstrous imaginary friend.

    • Blacksheep

      Have Christians actually posted that here? I know lots of Christians, and none would ever think or express either of those sentiments.

      • Major Nav

        You mean no “true” christians…?

        • Blacksheep

          True or not – have people claiming to be Christians posted that they wanted atheists to kill themselves or that they wanted to “murder all atheists?” as phantom said, above?

          • C.L. Honeycutt

            Yes they have. Just a couple of days ago, one of them was repeatedly asking variations of “Why don’t you just kill yourselves now?” which is the same thing with a higher pitch at the end to make it sound like a question. It wasn’t a request for an explanation of philosophy.

            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/07/11/attorney-my-facebook-friends-said-the-ten-commandments-monument-on-city-property-is-okay-so-it-should-stay-up/#comment-960173010

            Here’s a veiled death threat from three weeks ago. Sent to the Mobile County, Alabama Sheriff’s Office just in case he’s on probation.

          • phantomreader42

            I linked to one, below, an hour ago. Are you incapable of reading it, or too much of a coward to acknowledge it?

            • Blacksheep

              You got me! Not only am I a coward, but I can’t read!!
              It feels so good to get that off my chest! :)

              • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                I’ve seen, but cannot link to, a number of people (not many, granted, but more than two) who say things along the lines of, “Why don’t you just kill yourself then? You don’t have anything to live for. Just die already”.

                That, right there? That’s asking me to kill myself in order to stop inconveniencing them and making them feel uncomfortable. That’s saying they want atheists to kill themselves. I haven’t seen anyone wanting to murder all atheists, though, unless you consider the sentiments above such a statement.

              • phantomreader42

                Unresponsive and dishonest. Let the record show that you ignored the examples you were pretending to ask for, and still refuse to address them honestly, or indeed at all.

                • Blacksheep

                  Phantom, relax – my question came before the examples were presented. Are you upset that i haven’t responded to the examples in the way and within the timeline that you would have liked? That’s hardly unresponsive and dishonest. Your turning a sincere question into a strange argument that isn’t there.

                  (“Let the record show”… funny, actually).

                • phantomreader42

                  No, actually, it DIDN’T. Check the timestamps on the messages. You first asked if christians actually did that at 1:52. I responded that yes, they did, with a link to a thread full of it, at 2:02, ten minutes later. You repeated the question, which had already been answered, at 2:41 and 2:43. You did not acknowledge the existence of my post until 5:21, and showed no interest whatsoever in reading the thread I linked to, which was full of some asshat regurgitating shitty christian apologetics (yeah, redundant I know) and babbling about how atheists all secretly want to shoot themselves in the face. So, you demanded to know if christians had actually told atheists to kill themselves, but you didn’t bother even pretending to look at the examples for OVER THREE HOURS!

          • Guest

            yes, go to pretty much any atheist or church/state separation page on FB and look at the comments from these “loving” Xians. I see it all the time.

          • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

            I found this gem in my FB inbox (the person later blocked me so I can’t link to them)

            Larry Field

            they should be lined up against a wall and mowed down

            I know that sounds kind of over doing it, but it bugs me that our men and women are fighting for their freedom and they, the ones who don’t want to say it, can spit on it

            I’m guessing it was in response to my comment on some news article regarding the pledge.

            Also keep in mind that Hemant will simply delete the really over the top stuff. I’ve had a few really crazy ones show up in my inbox that are gone from the site by the time I check.

            Hell, I’ve had my own relatives say stuff like this when they forget I’m ‘listening’. Yes it’s internet rhetoric, and whether face-to-face they’d actually do something is a completely different matter. But people say shit on the internet. All. The. Time.

      • phantomreader42

        Yes, christians have actually posted that here. Here’s a thread some fuckwit necroed to babble about shooting atheists in the face, just last week. But I’m sure you’ll find some excuse to claim he wasn’t a True Scotsman…

        • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

          Well, to get technical, he didn’t say “go shoot yourself”, he was saying “what is your argument for not shooting yourself”. The guy (and type) are complete assholes, and dismissive of other human beings, but they aren’t technically telling us to die, they’re asking us (rhetorically) why we don’t commit suicide.

          I have had people saying atheists should be killed, but then we’ve also seen Christians say the government should make homosexual activity a capital offense. And of course I’ve seen atheists make some pretty stupid broad brush comments about Christians on here.

          Internet stupidity doesn’t discriminate.

        • Blacksheep

          This is just a link to an article – there are many comments following it, not sure what you are referring to.

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        And of course there was the one who had all kinds of biblical references to show that by definition, a ‘Christian’ was someone who followed the rules in the bible (as interpreted by the poster). So a pastor caught having sex with an underage member of the congregation wasn’t actually a Christian.

        I can’t be bothered to cite that one, it’s not all that uncommon, that one was just really over the top with their twisted arguments.

        • Blacksheep

          No – I mean have Christians posted what phantom said – that they “wanted atheists to kill themselves”

      • Tainda

        I was told they were going to physically hurt me

  • WingedBeast

    What do these people think that current chaplains do with regards to the wounded soldiers on the battlefield that may face death? What do these people think that current chaplains do when delivering that bad news to the family of a fallen soldier?

    Do they think that the chaplain says “Remember, heaven, heaven, heaven!”? Because, that would be as bad as saying “there’s no afterlife.” Do they think that repeating personal beliefs of an afterlife are the only comfort whatsoever to be provided? Or even that effective a comfort?

    Seriously, think about it. You’re receiving the worst news of your life and the person delivering it says “Oh, but there’s an afterlife and, assuming your son had the right prerequisite beliefs and did not have act in major conflict with that set, he will be in heaven right now. Isn’t it nice knowing that your son may, very well, have guessed right?”

    Okay, let’s soften that up a bit. You’re receiving the worst news of your life and the person delivering it says “your loved one is in heaven now”… and that’s all. No sharing of grief, no talking about the deceased, no mention that the day will come that memory will bring a smile before it brings a tear, nothing along those lines. Only the repetition of religious certainty of the decedent’s place in Heaven.

    Religion very easily leads one to believe that life has a script. Say the line and everybody’s calmed. Say the line and everybody sheds a single tear. Say the line and everybody shares the same righteous anger. But, no, life doesn’t have that script. Repeating beliefs about afterlife are neither the only comfort nor even an actual comfort to many.

    So, a Secular Humanist Chaplain, or an atheist Chaplain would not be bound to that imaginary script. Here’s a thought, go meet a few and ask them.

  • rg57

    Even if all their worst fears were entirely true, the First Amendment prohibits Congress from discriminating against atheist chaplains.

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    So, is oblivion supposed to be worse than an eternity of existence? Eternal life would be ok if you could voluntarily cease to exist. Living for ever without any end would get boring. Especially if existence is like conservatives imagine it to be.

  • stop2wonder

    I see this argument alot in different forms. Basically, Many Christians think they are the only ones who can do an interfaith job professionally and without bias.

    They use the excuse that if anyone from a different faith attempts to do the same job, they will use it as a platform for their own beliefs and are therefore incapable of doing the job properly.

    With that in mind, Why doesn’t someone ask these politicians what would they think if a Christian Chaplain from one denomination went into a soldier’s home and told his family, “We are sorry for your loss, and to make things worse, since be believed the wrong things about God, his soul is going to burn in hell forever.”

    If Christians can maintain the professionalism and care to not do the above, then what makes these guys think a humanist chaplain can’t either?

  • JD

    Hemant said

    …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.

    For someone who just blamed the “Christian right” for not doing research…pot, meet kettle.

    The military offers completely free, completely confidential counseling that prevents the stigma you are describing. Research the “military family life consultant.” The only thing they cannot keep to themselves is imminent harm to yourself or others. If you think atheists need a chaplain so they can confidentially say they want to harm themselves or others, you’re messed up.

    Also, everyone has the same confidentiality if they go to a chaplain, whether they share a faith with the chaplain or not — and yes, chaplains counsel other religions.

  • Pace Lattin

    Gordon Klingenschmitt is not a chaplain, he was kicked out of the navy for disobeying a direct order.

  • http://nomadwarriormonk.blogspot.com/ Cyrus Palmer

    What sickeningly ignorant nonsense.

  • Priscilla Troop

    And if you did the ‘research’ Hemant, you would find out real quick that speaking with a military counselor is confidential. Here, I’ll help you out and give you the site:

    http://www.realwarriors.net/family/change/MFLC.php

    Read the very first paragraph!

    You look down on Klingenschmidt for his rhetoric and extreme views? Look in mirror, you’ll see his reflection.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      While the content of a meeting with either a Chaplain or an MFLC is confidential, the question is, could the fact that you see one or the other be viewed differently?

      Would the Army brass look askance at a solider visiting with a Chaplain? Or would that soldier be viewed as taking care of their ‘spiritual health’?

      Would a soldier’s visit with an MFLC be viewed as taking care of their emotional health? Or a possible red flag?

      • Priscilla Troop

        You’re questions are moot because no one in the service members Command would know if they met with a Chaplain or a MLFC. A service member doesn’t need to ask permission to speak to either, it’s not an either or. Let me break it down further. A Chaplains primary duty is to provide religious services. They can act in the capacity of a counselor but only as an advisor. A MLFC ensures that all service members have access to counseling services and in fact whenever a unit returns from deployment, they are required to speak with a MLFC. However, a MLFC only provides services in an advisory capacity as well. If a soldier needs additional prolonged counseling for whatever reason both the Chaplain and MLFC as well as Military One Source provides them with the resources for it but they themselves can’t provide it.

        I am an atheist and have worked with Chaplains, MLFC, and give-an-hour and I think trying to exploit a service members access to secular counseling by comparing services provided by a counselor as opposed to those provided by a Chaplain is disingenuous and disrespectful just because people don’t like or disagree with Christianity. Take into account how many service members have helped by both.

    • Stev84

      Have you ever posted any information that is actually true?

      • Priscilla Troop

        Did you click on the link I provided in my original post? Apparently not.

  • Tobias2772

    Hemant,

    I agree with what you say here, but point in fact – “‘If you die here, there is no hope for you in the future.’” That’s actually true. No humanists would point it out in such a sensitive situation, but it is spot on.

  • Roy Gamsgrø

    “They don’t believe anything,” said Bizzarro-Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) “I can’t imagine a Christian 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… Going to burn in Hell for eternity.’”

    “This I think would make a mockery of the chaplaincy,” said Bizzarro-Rep. John Fleming (R-La.). “The last thing in the world we would want to see was a young humanist 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, my god is going to torture you forever’”

  • Chappy

    goofballs a real chaplain works alongside the agenda of the client or patient, so an atheist chaplain would guide a believer to God and a Christian chaplain better walk alongside the innate clear humanitarian respect an atheist patient deserves to receive.

  • Sanguinocrat

    “If you die here, there is no hope for you in the future.” I cannot get over how ridiculous this statement is.

  • JohnMichaels

    My government is saying “How can you comfort someone if you can’t tell a proper fairy tale?” it sickens me

  • Edward C. Dallas

    The chaplaincy is a joke on its own…no mockery help required!!

  • David

    I get it. You finally recognize that you are faith based (you have tenates and beliefs that are not based purely on observation) and need counsel. But a Chaplain is more then your High School guidance counselor. They support a religious need. In order for you to get a Chaplain you need to identify what rite or oranance that cannot be met be existing clergy. As of yet I have seen nothing that says you have to have. Just a lot of like to haves.

  • Kevin Bridges

    As a professional chaplain, I would be happy to work with a humanist chaplain. Anyone who understands chaplaincy at all would realize that agendas have no place in caring for the sick and dying. Honestly, any chaplain worth a grain of salt IS a humanist chaplain regardless of their personal beliefs. I am a christian agnostic, but as a professional chaplain I am most interested in patients’s needs, not my own. My role is to shut up, listen and learn from them how to be supportive and helpful. For chaplaincy to have a place in the military, universities, and hospitals, it must be humanistic or it has no valid place there at all. It really doesn’t matter if the person providing care is christian, jewish, buddhist, muslim, or atheist, as long as they understand that the basis of their care is the human needs of the person before them and has almost nothing to do with religion except to the extent that that is the patient’s issue. A properly trained chaplain can provide or facilitate anyone’s need, at least that’s what I think.


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