Every Christmas, I try to break down barriers on a face to face level. It’s all about increasing respect, visibility, and acceptance of atheists in the military community.
I’ll always volunteer for the 24 hour staff-duty shift, that some poor bastard always gets stuck with. The staff duty job is assigned on a rotational basis, 365 days a year. The assignments are determined through a system that is about as fair as the command makes it (mine does a good job).
Christians make up right around 70% of the military, to varying degrees of religiosity. So statistically, it is likely that a Christian is stuck with the shift. As a former Christian myself, I know how important the day is to many of them. Especially when they have kids. My friend from last year had 5 kids and he was very happy to spend Christmas with them.
How it went down this year:
This morning, I called the guy to offer him the day off, but he declined. Telling him that he didn’t have to answer my question at all, I asked if he was a Christian.
He replied “No.”
So I said “Right on, me either man.”
Then I decided to try to make it a little more clear, in case he thought I was initially just trying to preach to him. I told him that I was an atheist and that I now do this every year. It turns out he is nominally Christian, but he seemed more like an apatheist – someone who just doesn’t care.
That’s cool too, and I was glad that he didn’t just completely change his story all of a sudden to get the day off. I gave him my number ‘just in case’ he thought about it and wanted to correct any miscommunication. But it’s been a few hours, and it looks like he’s settled in.
My War on Christmas is thwarted again!
I guess I get the day off after all. At least I get to watch the Doctor Who Christmas Special live this year.