Sergeant Joshua Gould is a foxhole atheist stationed at Fort Bragg. He wrote to me with two important questions, so I’m breaking them into two posts.
Do you have some sort of club?
So I have been reading your blog for a while and I went to the Rock Beyond Belief a few months ago. I have been lucky in my Army career and have always been open with my beliefs and have never dealt with any persecution of any kind. Well, aside from the strongly religious folks who get upset when discussions come up. I thoroughly enjoy discussions about people’s beliefs. I try to keep it as neutral as possible and I have never been accused of being condescending or otherwise. There is one guy in particular that gets very heated when I ask questions that he can’t answer. Obviously he is frustrated at his own ignorance being shown to him by a non-theist. I guess he fails to realize that most atheists are very well versed in Christianity and can probably quote their Bible better than they can.
That aside, I have an actual reason for contacting you. I seriously admire what you do. Your blog and the events you organize bring a lot of us together. I would like to volunteer to help out in any way. Do you have some sort of a “club” or the equivalent where you meet up and discuss things concerning upcoming events? If not, I propose that something like that happen. Even if it is to organize a small scale thing locally here on Bragg or the Fayetteville area.
You need to join Military Atheists & Secular Humanists of Fort Bragg (MASH Fort Bragg). We’re still banned from meeting on post (as are all MASH chapters in any meaningful way). Please join the meetup site, as well as their Facebook group. Attend the meetings, make friends, suggest improvements, vote at the org meetings, volunteer time/resources… we need all of it!
This is a shirt that members of MASH Fort Bragg use to get around the chaplaincy’s ban on atheists meeting on post. We simply ‘happen to be wearing this shirt’ for the post-wide 5K runs that MWR sponsors every month. It’s a chance to spread visibility and thereby gaining tolerance, acceptance, maybe even respect. American Atheists donated the first batch of 30 to us at Fort Bragg, and those are nearly all spoken for now. We’re going to have to get a new set now.
Not at Fort Bragg?
For readers not at Fort Bragg, there are MASH-styled groups popping up all over the globe now. I’ve donated the concept to our ally Jason Torpy, President of MAAF. Shoot him an email and he’ll steer you to a group or help you start a new one. The ultimate goal is for proper integration and equality just like all the other religious preferences. For instance, Wiccans have a lay-leader and are allowed to meet on post under her direction. We’ve been fighting that battle for 18 months now, and word on the street is that a decision is finally forthcoming. All MASH-styled groups should feel free to reach out to me for direct support as well - American Atheists is ready to pounce as needed!
If any other MASH groups want to get a batch of t-shirts for this purpose, contact me. I’m afraid it will have to be at-cost – but it wouldn’t be too hard to pool together a few hundred dollars. Ken Loukinen, AA’s national State Director owns all the machinery. Prices will be much less than you’d get just about anywhere else (especially CafePress or Zazzle shit). Get with me, and I’ll coordinate something.
Part 2 of SGT Gould’s letter is about fighting mandatory prayer – stay tuned for more.