Surprisingly, 39 percent of Marines in this platoon are nonbelievers

These Marines are stationed at Camp Pendleton. This platoon is in an artillery ground combat unit. Names are withheld.

Here is some more information from the source:

I didn’t get to ask the two Lieutenants and my other Sgt but I know they are religious. As I stated before there were 7 avowedly open atheists, 1 agnostic, 1 no preference (his description made him an agnostic), 3 Jedi (1 serious, 2 atheists joking around), 2 protestant Christians and 2 Catholics who admitted to me (because of my openness about my lack of faith) that they were closet atheists who did not wish to reveal that information on a roster for fear of hurting their family… I know some of these guys I think there are 2-3 others that just didn’t want to address the issue.  

The lined out one is a Marine who just left the platoon so disregard that one. So the totals come to 16 who are free-thinking individuals that are atheist/agnostic (and maybe one Jedi?…not sure how anyone seriously believes that) out of a platoon of 41.

About half the guys who openly volunteered their lack of belief are combat vets with at least one tour. Some, like myself, with multiple tours.

(Name withheld)

Camp Pendleton 

39% may be a bit of a statistical anomaly, but it’s certainly indicative that  the ’30 under 30′ message that Dave Silverman drives home is correct. He’s referring to the nation’s growing ‘young atheist’ demographic, some measurements apparently at 30%. This particular sample is obviously not large enough to extrapolate demographics for the entire USMC. Still, though… this is extremely encouraging, and it does make you wonder.

One of my first thoughts was that this was from a Psy-ops, intel, medical, or other specialized support unit. I thought that would explain the higher numbers. Discovering that this was actually a combat-ready artillery unit was a pleasant surprise. I think the real explanation for the higher numbers are the four closet atheists who are too afraid to even put the word down on a silly piece of paper. The person who sent me this mentioned that his own ‘out’ atheism was likely a key factor for the four of them whispering their true religious preference into the ear of someone they felt they could trust.

We are extremely under represented in the military. I’d bet that most of these foxhole atheists do not have “ATHEIST” on their official records. Some are too afraid, some are wrongfully told that atheist isn’t an option (and they’re stuck with the disastrous  NO-REL-PREF).

I want all atheist military members reading this now to take the time to fix your official records to say ATHEIST. It only takes two minutes to fix them. You can either go to your S-1 or click below to find out how to fix it yourself online.

Fix your records

Out of those closets. Walk tall brothers and sisters, silence is part of the problem. Silence reinforces the culture of shame and fear.

  • We are banned from meeting on posts.
  • We are forced to take spiritual fitness tests (and mandatory remedial training).
  • Hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars are spent on converting you and your families to Christianity.
  • Many chaplain-endorsing agencies have an official proselytizing policy: “We reserve the right to evangelize the un-churched.”

This list is not even close to exhausting the problems our community faces, yet it represents active discrimination on a massive scale. If nobody calls them on it, the situation festers. You can help at the local level. Stop turning the other cheek. We love the military. It’s our responsibility to make it better. It’s our duty to report violations of law and ethics. Identifying as an atheist and standing up for your rights simply makes the military a better military.

Change can be rapid, as we already see at Fort Bragg.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • JMH

    When you’re seriously a Jedi, it’s kinda like a Western form of Buddhism. So still no gods required, though perhaps the idea that life is a game the universe is playing with itself.

  • Justin Griffith

    It’s not possible to be ‘seriously a Jedi’. Medichlorians aren’t real. Jedis must construct their own laser swords with only a three foot reach (and no mirror or other stopper at the end).

    Also, if humans (like Luke Skywalker) appear in a galaxy far far away a long time ago… we have a new enemy to evolution science.

    In space nobody can hear you scream. Unless you say “PEWWW PEWW PEWWW!!!!”

  • Michael

    The lack of equal representation by my Sith brethren is disturbing.

  • Jen

    Sadly, I don’t think you can put Sith as an official religion. Which is a shame, because it seems way more fun.

  • Steve

    Your lack of faith is disturbing


  • Harry Beaton

    Show me proof (tangible, not stories) of a deity, “any” deity, and I’ll be on board. Until then, just call me Mr. Skepic. At the end of the day, it is 100% belief. You do or you don’t. That is all one can hang one’s hat on; belief or not.

  • first good thing I’ve read all day. Hopefully, one day the nation will wake up and see religion is poison.

  • Kelly

    Being a soldier in one of the “specialized support units” that you listed, I can tell you that I have consistently worked on teams with around 50% non-believers. One of my previous teams consisted of 5/7 non-believers. My current team is for sure 4/9, and I am only sure about 2 of the other 5 as believers (1 non-Christian (believes in a “creator”) and 1 Christian). If I had to guess, I would say that it is quite likely that at least 2 of the others are non-believers. It’s pretty great to be surrounded by like minded people. What’s even better is that (for the most part) the believers we work with are equally as open minded, which allows us all to have discussions and spread the word that we are not, in fact, horrible people who want to kill god and eat babies.

  • ChadW

    The 39% doesn’t really surprise me. I am in an active Army tank company at Fort Hood and probably have similar stats. A tank company has about 56 Soldiers and including myself, I can think of about eight Athiests. There are some agnostics, a handful of No Religious Preference, and some who just go ahead and claim thier childhood religion but are not at all religious. I also thought it was unusual at first but it seems more and more people are either giving up religion or are finding it easier to be open about thier disbelief.

  • Dakota

    I’m a Marine at an Intelligence unit, and I can’t say for sure by my guess would be that we’re at about >40% non-believers or freethinkers. Well over 25% open Atheists for sure. I’m glad to know that us POGs aren’t the only ones!

  • Vet

    When you are bleeding out dying from wounds sustained, I guarantee that you will find religion. The old quote “There are no atheists in foxholes” does apply. But, only when you know the enemy has you ass in a sling will you come to realize it is true. So, you non believe all you want, don’t go crying for GOD to save your sorry ass when you feel that last breath escape your lungs. Rest in nowhere worm bait.

  • Paul Loebe


    The new quote “there are no chaplains in foxholes” comes to mind. Pray all you want when you got shit raining down on you. I prefer to sling bullets back at the enemy and do what I was trained to do.

    Trust me, God is the last person I would ask for help from.