Secular Chaplains And A Tale of Two Service Members

field chaplain

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion... A few days ago, the House of Representatives of the United States set aside work on real problems so that they could pass a ban, sponsored by Rep. John Fleming, to prohibit the armed forces from appointing atheists or secular humanists to the chaplaincy.  Rep. Fleming had this to say: "The notion of an atheist chaplain is nonsensical; it's an oxymoron. It is absurd to argue that someone with no spiritual inclination should … [Read more...]

A letter from Kathleen Johnson, VP at American Atheists concerning DOMA and the Military

I received this letter from Kathy earlier today. It touched me and I felt compelled to share it.   Back in February, I became aware of the tragic story of Tracy Johnson, who was left widowed when her wife, Donna Johnson, was killed on active duty while serving in Afghanistan.  The Johnson’s, while legally married in their home district, were partners in a marriage that was not, and could not, be recognized by the Department of Defense due to that pernicious bit of legislation known … [Read more...]

Considering a military career? What every atheist needs to know first.

Dear Justin, I am considering joining the Navy, and would like advice on how to go about it as an atheist. What do I tell the recruiter? Are there atheist chaplains? What do I put on dog tags as my religion? Is being an atheist in the military looked at like being gay/lesbian, in regards to "don't ask don't tell"? I really appreciate your time, and thank you for getting back. - (name withheld) Advice on how to go about as an atheist: Start out strong, out of the closet. Encourage … [Read more...]

Arthur C. Clarke’s ‘Pantheist’ WWII Dog Tags

Arthur C. Clarke was one of my favorite authors growing up. I never read his war-themed 'Glide Path', but I was aware that he had served in WWII. I had no idea that he rebelled against the RAF's liberal application of the "Church of England" on its service members. Clarke demanded that the RAF reprint his dog tags with 'pantheist' instead of 'Church of England'. He said that organized religion was basically antithetical to the scientific method. Personally, I don't see how 'pantheist' escapes … [Read more...]

“Bow your fucking head down, recruit. Pray with the rest of us!”

Back in December I wrote about a fierce young Marine Corps recruit who was told that she couldn't have "ATHEIST" on her records and dogtags. I gave her some advice; she fought back, and won. She recently graduated from Boot Camp in top form. She had a blast despite the USMC's grueling 13 week training. It's clear that becoming a Marine is something she is quite proud of. If you'd like to congratulate her, do so in the comments here - I'm certain she'll see it. This is long, but certainly … [Read more...]

Jedi dog tags are actually 100% legit

Kris Thomas Flory just added his dog tags to the pile in the American Atheists Military group on Facebook. Kris Flory: Today was my last day in the US military. These tags cause a minor shit storm when I had them made by another soldier on an army tag making machine at our mobilization station prior to deploying to Africa. Anybody else have "official" tags? Thanks for the service, hero! The government legally can't decide which religions are 'true religions'. The dog tags are not … [Read more...]

Canadian foxhole atheists also have trouble getting accurate dog tags

It's like the guy at almost every dog tag machine all of a sudden forgets about pluralism when an atheist approaches. Len Blakely wrote to me about his experiences in Canada. It sounds all too familiar. After trying about 150 times to photograph it I decided it wasn't working. I managed to cobble together a power cord for my scanner and electrical tape up the usb cable so it worked. At any rate here they are, Atheist dog tags Canadian style. (NRE=No Religion Expressed.) When I first … [Read more...]

Captain Ryan Jean: “Getting ATHEIST on my records took two minutes”

A while back I posted about a heart wrenching and debate-ending example of why foxhole atheists need to demand NO-REL-PREF be accurately updated on their records to ATHEIST. Many are being told that it's not possible - and on the contrary it has been for decades. Captain Ryan Jean wrote to me: It took me two minutes and an open-minded Admin NCO to change my religious affiliation from "NO-REL-PREF" to "ATHEIST" back in 2009. It took me a week of waiting and ten bucks of my own money to … [Read more...]


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