Air Force atheist will no longer keep her mouth shut

I love to read these messages in my mailbox.

Wow, I was shocked to discover you’re planning to bring the next Rock Beyond Belief to Camp Pendleton.  I’m an 18 yr veteran of the AF (formerly AD, now a reservist at March.)  After 9/11 I was activated for 2 years to Camp Pendleton. 

I’ve been an atheist the entire time, and I’ve kept my mouth shut from the beginning. Tonight I posted your article to my Facebook page and “came out”.  Admittedly, I still haven’t come out to anyone in my unit since I don’t accept friend requests from unit members, but it was still a huge step.  I can’t wait for you to succeed in your efforts and I’ll be at that event, no question.  I’m looking forward to being surrounded by others like me, at least once, before I retire.  Good luck, and nice job!




If any service members are out there with ‘NO RELIGIOUS PREFERENCE’ on your official records – fix it now. You can fix it in five minutes, and Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps can even do so online. The consequences of not doing this can be quite extreme.

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  • Adam B.

    Is there a way to change this post-separation so that one’s record reflects this for dealings with the VA?

  • Popeye Kahn

    I’ve been watching this issue with interest. I was in the ANG in the 1980s and when asked, said for the record that I was an atheist. Regardless, ‘no preference’ was recording on my records and dog tags. Years later, in OCS, the company of officer candidates was marched to chapel on Sunday and asked en masse whether ‘anyone had any objection to going to the service’. I felt sure I’d be the only hand, but surprisingly there were a few others. Each one of us was then approached and verbally bullied until we relented. I was the last to cave and was forced to meet with the commandant, who agreed that if I attended the service I would not be forced to participate. However, over the next several months (this was a year-long weekends/annual training program known as the Indiana Military Academy), I was verbally accosted each time I remained seated during hymns. In short, the OCS staff did not live up to their end of the bargain. I always felt like I should have made a stand then and there, but at the time I did not want to jeopardize my chances of getting a commission. I felt (and still feel) that I would have necessarily destroyed my chances then and there. But, as the memories of my times in the ANG (both good and bad) fade, I am more sorry that I did not take a more aggressive moral stand.

  • Karl

    I just wanted to comment that when I was in the Navy (1987-1989 active, 1989 – 1993 reserves) this was not an issue. I was out as an atheist during my entire service tenure. No criticism from the command, my superiors or my colleagues. This freezing out and/or ridiculing of secular service members is, apparently, a recent phenomenon. I would also add that my time in the service was well before DADT. Everyone on my ship knew who was gay, and no one cared. It’s so sad to see you socially repressive the military has become since I served. Hopefully events like Rock Beyond Belief mark the start of the pendulum swing in the other direction.

  • Christopher Petroni

    Hopefully events like Rock Beyond Belief mark the start of the pendulum swing in the other direction.

    Hopefully, events like RBB knock the pendulum down altogether, and the military becomes and remains as secular as the Constitution requires.

  • ‘Tis Himself

    When I was on active duty ever so many years ago (1966-1972), being an atheist was more socially acceptable than being a god-bothering Bible-thumper. We had a guy in my ship who asked someone else: “Are you saved?” He was told, in no uncertain terms and by several people, to keep his religion to himself. The guy’s chief told him that religion and politics were personal matters and not topics for general discussion.

    Things appear to have changed since then.

  • Robin

    You GO Debbie! Stand up for yourself as you stand up to protect all us civvies! I at least will stand behind you and support your right to believe or not as you see fit.

  • Reasongal

    Justin, the “Honest Atheist” on Facebook has brought up an issue with “Debbie” above, stating (or reiterating others’) concerns that you outed “Debbie.” Can you clarify that situation? He dislikes AA and considers them to be bullies. I am unhappy with his attitude, but I want you to be able to address this accurately yourself.

    All my best to you and rock on! to Paul Loebe (love your posts).

  • Paul Loebe

    Debbie outed herself on her own on this blog site. This was a repost.

  • If Debbie fully outed herself on her own website as Paul Loebe says above, I’m happy to hear it. As I wrote in my own article (, I hoped I was wrong about it.

    Provide a link, please? I’ll be proud to print a full retraction. Thanks.