American Atheists, the “Marines of Freethought”, this weekend hired a new Military Director to help ensure that no egregious religious violations conducted by the Department of Defense maintain a status quo for religious inequality in the armed forces. Rock Beyond Belief wants to congratulate American Atheists on filling this much needed position. Many times atheists serving in the military are overlooked by the vast civilian populace and it’s a comfort knowing that there is someone or something that we can turn to if our rights as non-believers are being trampled on. Fortunately, the individual that Dave Silverman and the rest of the Board at American Atheists have chosen has already proven himself to be an adept activist who cares deeply about the sanctity of the separation of church and state within the US Military.
Thomas Faulkner has established himself as an atheist activist without reserve. While serving as an active duty soldier stationed aboard Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, he has challenged the status quo 0f the privilege that Christianity holds over other minority religions, and especially the non-religious.
Though inundated with veiled threats from other members of the armed services, derided by the Chaplaincy, and even lacking support or recognition from any reputable official organization he started a small group that began to meet up and build support for the atheist and humanist community on the island of Oahu. And then he went on a rampage, stepping on the toes of the fundamentalists.
From putting together and sponsoring events supporting the LGBT community, to building alliances with other freethought organizations within the state, and even challenging the fundamentalist Dominionists within his own unit. His activism was so successful he was even prominently featured in the Christian Fighter Pilot blog, with a deriding story poorly misconceived by its author – but a sure sign of doing something right.
In fact were it not for Major Dowty’s expose’ on Thomas Faulkner it is highly unlikely he would have risen so quickly in the world of activism. So I, and every volunteer that helps behind the scenes at Rock Beyond Belief, would like to take a moment to thank the Christian Fighter Pilot for introducing us and the world to this highly successful and extremely talented activist.
Faulkner is no stranger to community building and what he has been able to accomplish without the assistance of any major national organization backing him is quite astounding. Not only is he standing up for the rights of atheists to not be subjected to unwanted proselytization, against religious harassment at the hands of their superiors, and equality within the ranks – he is also excellent at community building and outreach for the Humanist community in the state where he is stationed.
Now that he is working on a national level I would highly encourage everyone to reach out to this fine soldier and let’s get behind him and give him the resources and contacts he needs to accomplish the mission of the Military Director at American Atheists. I’d suggest you do it before he just finds a way to do it without you, as he clearly has shown he is capable of 😉
Friendly jesting aside, we’re a small community and we all need to continue to work together to accomplish the goal of equality in the armed services. Faulkner is more than capable for the task at hand. I’m really looking forward to seeing what he has in store for the future.