Atheism Ruining Military Careers!? pt. 1

 

 

This is going to be a 3 part series…so please stay tuned!

Who Here Is Offended By Religion?

 

 The fear is

So many people have come to thank me for coming out as not only an atheist in the military but an activist as well. I’ve heard harrowing stories about how some people have had their careers completely sidelined due to the fact that they are atheists. I wanted to convey some of those stories now. When I am able and when those people are willing I will divulge that information. However, many of these people are still on active duty and afraid to come out. They fear retribution even more than the harsh and unfair treatment they have already received.

*All Names are made up to protect the innocent victims from further victimization.*

 Secular SoldierThe Army Captain

I recently met this Captain in the U.S. Army. He’s been in for quite a few years and initially wanted to come out and tell his story to the public. Eventually he will…

For now he’d wish to remain anonymous. He’s still active duty and has a family to protect from the evangelical fundamentalist community that HOLDS THE OFFICER CORPS captive!!!

He tried his best to hide his atheism from the Officer Corps for as long as he could. He was hounded by superior Commissioned Officers to attend prayer breakfasts, prayer meetings, god discussions and the like. For the longest time he was able to circumvent them through feeble excuses and the like. He was a junior Lieutenant at time. Eventually he was confronted by a Colonel about his lack of involvement within the “Christian” community and admitted to his superior that he was in fact an atheist.

He exclaimed as respectfully as he could that he was uncomfortable supporting a religion he didn’t believe in and felt that it was a horrendous act to even pretend he believed. Rather than respecting the openness and honesty of such a moral decision this “Christian” officer backhandedly destroyed an atheist’s career.

The atheist officer was actually one of the finest officers in the Army. He had a perfect score on the physical fitness test, was a valuable leader, and was well-respected by not only those he led but his peers as well. Unfortunately, his religion, or lack thereof, will result in his removal from the army later this year.

For years he was a star performer. Not only was he a leader but he also happened to be the ONLY officer within his entire battalion to achieve a perfect score on his physical fitness test. YES! The only officer to attain a PERFECT score in physical fitness. He led, motivated, and trained his soldiers and didn’t meet the standard….he SET the standard. Well, that’s good enough, right? Wrong! Apparently, in the US Army you need to go above and beyond that in order to receive good marks for your performance….

So this superb officer was relegated to #2 when time came for evaluations. And I’m sure we’re all wondering why. Well…

As it turns out…

If you attend mandatory prayer breakfasts, prayer meetings, and other sectarian ventures that are quite illegal to enforce as mandatory (even though they regularly are in the United States Army) then you can gain favoritism from you local Evangelical Fundamentalist Commanding Officer.

Here enters: Lieutenant Fatass McFundie. Lt McFundie was an overweight semi-achieving officer who paled in every way in comparison to Lieutenant “Nothing-Happens-When-You-Die” and yet he quickly made friends with Lt. Col Joshua Cristo. Kernel Cristo and Lt McFundie began to hit it off real well since they prayed together often at all the illegally mandatory religious events being put on by the battalion.

The funny part that Lt McFundie enjoyed was that even though he was fat (quite literally out of military standards) and had no leadership ability he was still able to receive better marks than Lt Atheist because he cowered to the pressure of religious sectarianism within the US Army.

So when the time for evaluations came around the atheist Lieutenant with excellent leadership abilities was consistently ranked below the fat Christian. More than once! These officers aren’t stupid. They know they can’t sideline your career just because you are an atheist. They have to make up other shit so they can promote their friends of the same belief instead of you. Because religious discrimination is illegal, right?

Needless to say this has gone on for years for this (now) Army Captain. He has more to his story and doesn’t want me to delve into all the details. But he will be sharing all of it by the year’s end. He’s getting out of the Army in a few months and will talk publicly to anyone who questions this because as he’s told me

“I don’t need the Army. The Army needs good officers like me.”

Unfortunately they’re promoting the second-rate ones because they are Fundamentalist Christians…

Next blog

I’ll be telling you about a Marine Officer. He’s managed to stay in the closet and so far his career hasn’t been harmed. The hardest part is that most people aren’t willing to come out and expose their story, which is understandable. It is the way they put food on the table and those who are in it for the long haul really want to be in the military because they genuinely enjoy it. Unfortunately, these Fundies are trying to overtake our military. It hasn’t always been like this and it’s our duty to ensure it remains a secular institution.

[important]The more that come out like Justin and me the easier it will be to expose and fight this extremism. At the end of this blog series I will be posting and publishing ALL of my fitness reports, evaluations, and master brief sheets online for all to see. Being an atheist SHOULD NOT hurt your career and I assure and promise you that if we start letting them know we are here and willing to bring down the hammer for this blatantly unconstitutional discrimination they will start to respect us.[/important]

Semper Fidelis.

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About Paul Loebe
  • Alex P

    Have either of these officers contacted Mikey at MRFF? He could do some serious damage on this issue.

  • sc_67bb5977d4314b6c05da49448768e0f3

    I have a few problems with this story, which I will treat as hearsay. This story is certainly the exception not the rule. There are avenues of redress for issues like this. If he really thought he was “second-rated” because of his religious preference then he could have taken it to the Inspector General.

    Being rated 2nd isn’t a career-ender at all, in any way shape or form. If you think one bad evaluation is going to “ruin” your career you might need to seek help for anxiety and find a new career. There is also no way he could know whom his senior rater rated first unless he asked the senior rater himself or viewed the evaluations of the Lt. As Captains you are blocked in thirds out of the whole, not in any rank order, except for when the senior rater might state it in the senior rater comments of the evaluation.

    Next, I don’t know what position a captain is holding that he shares the same rater and senior rater as a Lt.

    And yes networking, like in any profession will help your career. It wouldn’t matter if you were meeting at church or the Officer’s Club. Just a fact of life in any profession. It sucks for the non-religious but shift the cultural paradigm and it won’t be an issue.

    As an anecdote in the opposite spectrum, I’ve been in the Army for 13 years. I have gone from Private to Captain/Promotable. I have never hidden my atheism. Never. Not once. Not at basic training, not jumping out of planes, not on my two extended deployments, about to start my third. It’s never hurt me. There is an illusion that the officer ranks are filled with religious fundamentalists. Most of the officers I have ever worked with mildly identified as religious, as a matter of fact, many I work with identify on the non-religious spectrum.

    I certainly don’t condone discrimination of any kind, especially religious preference. But there are gaps in this story. Until he comes out and fills those gaps this story lacks information that would provide credibility to a complaint that I would say is anecdotal. It certainly shouldn’t be used to perpetuate a stereotype that the officer corps will fire you if you’re not a Pentecostal fire breathing snake handler.

  • Paul Loebe

    Not all units are equal. This Captain will come public with his story in a few months. As a fellow skeptic I appreciate your skepticism.

    Some of these battalions are extremely fundamentalist. There’s a reason why MRFF has over 33,000 clients…

  • Reginald Selkirk

    To your attention:

    No atheists in foxholes: WWII vets remain religious

    In which the writer uses the “no atheists in foxholes” myth while reporting on a study by a marketing guy and a chair of religious studies, which concludes that marketing religion to veterans is a good thing.

  • Paul Loebe

    Thank you. I will certainly look into this!

  • http://www.facebook.com/yakk0 Michael Lawson

    I was in the Navy for 5 years, enlisted. Many of my fellow enlisted were non-believers of varying stripes. The closest I ever came to experiencing any “discrimination” is when I was asked my religious preference by my recruiter and said “atheist” he said “Soooo…. ‘no preference’, right?” I said “No, I have a preference, my preference is ‘none’” and he looked at me like I just took a shit on his desk… I thought it was funny.

    • Paul Loebe

      Let me just say I understand that many of you have had good experiences. But this officer has clearly seen a ddifferent side where fundamentalism has overtaken the oath to our Constitution. There are many more stories out there.

      Check out militaryreligiousfreedom.org to hear some more of them.

  • todmann67

    I was a captain in the Marine Corps, luckily I never saw or had to deal with anything like this in my battalion.

  • Ali

    I think this tends to be a very unit-specific thing. When I was an active duty Army officer serving in the AMEDD, there was plenty of religious activity, but I also felt comfortable pushing back. This included going to my LTC and telling him, “I don’t want to join hands in prayer, because I don’t believe in God, ” and having him say: “No problem.” I wasn’t aggressively “out,” but I didn’t make it a secret, either. My tags read: Atheist. Now, I’m an AMEDD officer in the Army Reserves. I’ve been in two units. In both, the fundamentalism has been nothing short of fanatical. There have been discussions regarding atheism in my presence (I’m not out) with suggestions of violence included in them. I am 95% certain that if my current CO found out, well.. he’s not a stupid man. He wouldn’t say anything TO me, probably. But those would be poor OERs, with phrases like, “She is a fine officer.” My tags now read: Non-denominational.

  • lochaber

    prior marine here (but really not a good fit- we all make mistakes, i guess?…), initially enlisted as ‘no preference’, but pretty after, I realized that’s basically shorthand for ‘loves churches so much they don’t care which one’. I then changed all my stuff to atheist (I’m not even sure if I actually self-identified as atheist at that point, but I knew that was what I wanted on my tags and records).

    .

    Had a handful of issues/interactions that I thought were possibly questionable. I think the first was in boot camp, where we all listened to some chaplain talk about the (satanic) dangers of sex, drugs, and rock&roll. I didn’t mind so much at the time, cause it was pretty over-the-top, and I didn’t have drill instructors yelling at me for a bit.

    .

    Anyways, It wasn’t really much of an issue for me. but I also ended up in a unit with marines who’s stated religion was: Islam, satanic, occult philosophy, and agnostic. so I was in pretty good company.

    .

    Although, I’m a bit puzzled at the idea that anyone who managed to spend time in the military could have managed to remain unaware of the numerous ways that someone can be penalized for an action/belief/position/etc. without that action/belief/position/etc. ever actually going on the official record. – If someone is an outsider (for whatever reason, race, religion, geographic origin, political beliefs, etc.), amongst a platoon/company/battalion/whatever, their record is going to take some hits, and it’s all going to seem completely aboveboard and everything.

    .

    But, yeah, if you were active duty and still believe this sorta thing couldn’t happen, I’m pretty envious of you’re experience.:)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000263140906 Donovan

    When I served in the Navy, I had a very different experience than Michael. My career was very akin to this captain’s, except as a petty officer.

    And if anyone thinks there’s plenty of help for soldiers and sailors black listed like this, you’re rather ignorant of the truth. My captain and CMC both made the situation worse and strongly suggested I would regret even more any further complaints. It wouldn’t be hard for them to find flaws in my day to day and turn me out with a bad conduct. While I began my career with high honors and numerous awards, I ended my career with my head held low.

    • Paul Loebe

      And all those extreme cases are what I’m trying to highlight and prevent in the future. I want people to get ahold of me. I CAN fight this and I WILL win. The movement to protect Foxhole Atheists is big now!

  • stormthief

    It started to happen to me as soon as I was at 43rd AG BN at Fort Leonard Wood. The fundie lady processing the information for my tags asked me what religion I was. I Simply told her atheist. She said I wasn’t allowed to put that on my tags. I was defending my case when she started to signal for the DS on duty to come to her station. So I just sputtered Roman Catholic (the religion I was indoctrinated in) and that what that, She didn’t say another word to me while her fat fingers pounded on the keyboard. My husband was able to put down whatever he wanted (he put no preference)
    Really pissed me off when they would Make secular soldiers go to church services though I did enjoy the R.C priest stories. (not a a lot of god mumbo jumbo and bible reading from him mostly world events with a silver lining) So glad when I got into AIT did nothing but sneak cigarettes at the mini mall on a sunday XD Sorry for a late reply just found this community.


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