Military A-Week: How to put ATHEIST on your records (all branches)

Yesterday I told you why it was IMPORTANT to stand up and be counted as an “ATHEIST” and not a “NO-REL-PREF”. Today, I’m going to tell you how.

Army: Walk in to your unit’s S-1 office. Ask them to update your ERB or ORB. Tell them you want to fix your religious preference. Tell them you want “ATHEIST”. If they say anything about it not being an option, calmly explain that they are mistaken, and to check the list (it’s alphabetical for them.)

If  you still need more ‘proof’, here is the regulation: AR 680-29 (page 41). I made a cheat sheet for you.

Bonus cheat sheet DoDI 1300.18(enclosure 7 – not attached in every online version.) Applies to all branches.

Navy:  You can update your Page 2 online: CAC login, non-email. –>Update Personal Information –> Religion, Race and Ethnic Code ZA for Atheist (thanks silentsacrifice!)

Marine Corps: You can update your records online directly from the MOL: ( [looking for a bit further information, like the walk through for the Navy. If you can’t find it, you can also go to your S-1 like the Army instructions.]

Air Force: Go to the Virtual MPF online through the Air Force Portal (  Once logged in to VMPF, select VRed, update religious preference. Keep in mind, you can walk into the S-1 and they will do this if all else fails. (thanks Timothy!)

Coast Guard: ??? (Any coasties out there?)

It’s not your fault that you didn’t know ATHEIST was an option before. You know now. We all need to do our part to shatter the stained glass ceiling. This takes 2 minutes no matter what branch you are in.

Yesterday, Olaf left a beautiful comment, quoting Harvey Milk.

“I would like to see every gay doctor come out, every gay lawyer, every gay architect come out, stand up and let that world know. That would do more to end prejudice overnight than anybody would imagine. I urge them to do that, urge them to come out. Only that way will we start to achieve our rights.” In other words, I would like to see every atheist doctor come out, every atheist lawyer, every atheist architect come out, stand up and let that world know.

We’re the last frontier of the Out Campaign. Out of the closet brothers and sisters!

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  • Len Blakely

    This is an outstanding reference.

  • Timothy

    For the Air Force they can go to the Virtual MPF online through the Air Force Portal. Once logged in to VMPF, select VRed, update religious preference.

  • lordshipmayhem

    Do they have an option for Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster or Invisible Pink Unicorn? Or did the bureaucrats leave their sense of humour aside for this list?

    (The ad that came up on your blog site read, “Free Baby Samples”. No mention as to what flavours.)

  • Justin Griffith

    Not really, Lordshipmayhem. You can put whatever you want on your dogtags. Mine say “ATHEIST / FSM”. Lot’s of people put Jedi. But your official records don’t have that option.

    (The ad that came up on your blog site read, “Free Baby Samples”. No mention as to what flavours.)

    Yeah we like to have fun here.

  • Josh Williams

    When you deploy in the Air Force your vMPF records must match your dog tags, however they will provide you a new set of dogtags on the spot when you are doing your final records review.

  • Steve

    21-year Coastie on Terminal Leave here — I always listed NRP, “No Religious Preference”

  • James

    WoW! The Air Force really pays attention to detail! I’ve deployed more than one time and the Army has never given more than a cursory glance to see if I had two shiny things on at least one chain.

  • Good to see this is happening! I used to put down “Zoroastrian”! Confused the brass hats and let me make up my own holidays. :hehe:

    Larry J



    (“I saw the elephant.”)

  • SS

    10 options for “Baptist” and not one for “Humanist” – baby steps, I suppose.

  • Anonymous Atheist

    Perhaps the Coast Guard’s diversity office could get you some information on their procedures: 800-242-9513

    Although not apparently given much emphasis, religious diversity is within their purview:

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  • John

    Thank you very much! I will bookmark this page for when I commission or just be very up front about it when I get to OCS. Also I when I take the oath of the officer I shall not swear to god-I already don’t say “under god” in the pledge of allegiance. No point in pledging my service to something I DO NOT believe in-I will swear my service to the Marines under me, beside me, and above me.