David Silverman, President of American Atheists, forwarded this to me. People need to read this.
I wish to detail my experiences over the past 10 years of consistent and continual harassment and religious indoctrination thoughout my military career.
In June of 2001, I left for recruit training at MCRD San Diego. During recruit training, church attendance at the time was mandatory. Any church would do and therefore I attended all of them I think. I resented heavily being preached at, but one can not make waves during recruit training.
Besides the mandatory group prayer during graduation, I had hopes of this practice not continuing past recruit training.
During Marine Combat Training (MCT) a Marine 1stSgt instructed us in his christian book on how to go to heaven no matter how many sins are commited. He preached heavily and gave everyone a copy, this “training” was mandatory and I resented once again receiving religious instruction during military training.
After this point, the forced instruction and religious participation dropped off as an emphasis on work took priority. However everywhere I went, if you had a problem you would end up preached at by a chaplain. If you go to a Ball or group event, a chaplain would lead a prayer service which is required if you are in uniform and in formation.
I have learned that it is required to hide the fact that you are not a believer in any higher power, or face the possible reaction if it becomes known. Peer pressure, extra duties, above mentioned training, and just not being selected for things due to your beliefs requires a certain degree of remaining silent.
Everywhere I have gone, I have excelled. From schools to Afghanistan I have put myself in harms way on numerous occasions and it really gets to me how acceptable it is to force your beliefs on another person who serves.
To date, this continues and will no doubt continue until such time as the following is addressed.
1. Non-Religious Chaplain alternatives to help deal with losses.
2. The military removes the prayer from military events, this is not suitable in a country that seperates church and state.
Very respectfully,<*NAME WITHHELD*>
USMC Active Duty 2001-2006
This is the year that we stand up and be counted. Every one of us should be going to the S-1 office, and demanding that our records say “ATHEIST”. I have no idea why so many of us are denied this right when we enter the military. But it takes two minutes to fix.
Civilians and secular organizations always respond strongly to our defense. The problem is that it’s often hard for us to communicate the complex issues. Furthermore, it’s hard to propose a solution to the problems. Especially one that includes a viable way to utilize the support the atheist community wants to give to us. FYI, the default way to help is to give a shit, and convince others to give a shit. Spread these letters of frustration. Make the problem at least known.
One strong way you can help us stand up and be counted is to simply show up at the Rock Beyond Belief foxhole atheist festival. Fort Bragg, NC | March 31st | Noon-8:30. It’s completely free and open to the public. It’s in direct response to a massive evangelical event.
I reached a breaking point when putting together this festival. I couldn’t be a part of the problem anymore. The problem is silence. The military is great, and I love serving. The military *deserves* our corrections. Staying quiet when rules, regulations, policies, and laws are being broken is simply the wrong answer. We’re still working on how to change it from the inside, and with Rock Beyond Belief – I think we are on to something.
¡Viva la Revolución!