Calling all atheists for academic research into notorious ‘Spiritual Fitness’ testing

Calling all atheists for academic research into notorious ‘Spiritual Fitness’ testing February 8, 2012

Please, if you have 10 minutes. We need your help fighting the unconstitutional nonsense behind the military’s mandatory Spiritual Fitness testing and training.

Researchers are doing actual science to combat this corporate zombie nonsense psychology that the Army got suckered into. You can help.

Civilian Version


Military / Veteran Version

U.S. Military Personnel and Veterans’ participation wanted for national online survey study about Military Spiritual Fitness

The Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program includes a training module designed to enhance military personnel’s “spiritual fitness”.  The Center for Atheist Research is conducting an online research study to evaluate the perceived usefulness of this training.  Whether or not you participated in our earlier survey study (which investigated the validity of a test designed to measure spiritual fitness), you are eligible to participate in this study.

This study is being conducted with the authorization of the University of Tampa Institutional Review Board, and is open to all U.S. Military Personnel and Veterans.

To participate in, or learn more about, this survey please visit the appropriate link above (Civilian or Military)

If you would like to speak with the principal investigator, Dr. Ryan Cragun, about this survey, please contact him at Thank you for your consideration.

Anatomy of a 140 million dollar lie


Here is the pitch to keep this craziness legal: “Spiritual Fitness is not about religion. It’s about team spirit and human spirit.”

They repeat this every time journalists and lawyers are around. But the training suggests otherwise. The whole thing is absolutely swimming in religion. But the journalists eat up their claims otherwise. Despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary!


This mind-numbing vignette is entirely representative of the whole.

Seriously, this thing needs to go.

The 'Human Spirit' defense for the mandatory Soldier Fitness Tracker in action. What does it look like these Soldiers are doing?

Here are some more examples of Team Spirit and Human Spirit:

(below the fold)

Are you a Christian wondering how this affects Christians? Well it really fucks them over too. Are you wondering how much tax-payer money was spent on this? A criminally insane amount of money (brace yourself- you are warned.)

This survey actually embeds a tiny sample of the religious crap that permeates this thing. The people behind the Spiritual Fitness concept push out a smokescreen. They intend to give the impression that it’s not about religion at all (thereby admitting that such a thing would be illegal!) The good folks at the Military Religious Freedom Foundation have also been sitting on this same information for quite some time. I asked them to make it available for this post.

A few thousand participated in their last sample, and those people should still participate in this new one too. FYI- they check for people just ‘clicking through’. So don’t waste your time. This one should only take 10-15 minutes, as they intentionally kept it short this time. It seems a frighteningly large people answered this question wrong last time: “Please select answer 5”.

Seriously, it’s short. You can do this. Please, these researchers need a large sample. Use those buttons at the bottom, and share this!

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  • confused

    Sorry, I am confused. What, exactly, are you asking us to do? Which link are we supposed to use for this survey: the Civilian, the Military, both?

  • movablebooklady

    This was a mess to try to do. Pages only loaded halfway; clicking “next page” did nothing until I went to the URL and clicked it again; the first video stopped at 20 sec, again at 30 sec, again at 40 sec.

    I’ll just go the Atheist Research website and start from there. Maybe it’ll work better there.

    I’ll also tell them that reversed type is very hard to read, especially when its size is so small.

  • Nathair


    Where’s my cookie?

  • Done. The videos made me want to shoot myself. I also did the one for non-religious women. How can anyone view the videos and not see the god soaking?

  • Lanie

    Took it. The guy who was like “god will take care of my wife and kids if I die” is kind of a moron.

  • Anonymous Atheist

    ‘confused’ wrote: “Sorry, I am confused. What, exactly, are you asking us to do? Which link are we supposed to use for this survey: the Civilian, the Military, both?”

    Um… If you have never been a member of the military, use the Civilian link. If you are a current or former member of the military, use the Military/Veteran link.

  • Rod Chlebek

    Done 😉

  • Done and tweeted. Those videos made me really sad for all the atheist/ non-religious people in the military. There’s nothing wrong with not believing in god. And I too did the one for non-religious women.

  • Tsu Dho Nimh

    I took it, and Oh My Sweet Aunt Franny … if that is neutral, than I’m Lady Gaga.

  • NikkiDove

    You are suppose to click the Civilian link if you are not in the military . Click Military if you are or have been in the military. I just did the survey and it did not take long at all. Be nice and truthful to the scientists, they need a hug!

  • NikkiDove

    Ya, it’s kinda Wonky but lets try not bias people too much before the test. You’ll make the Science Goddess angry, lolz!

  • biogeek

    Did it. no problems with the pages. watched all the videos.

    I selected answer 5!

    This thing creeped me out. Do they seriously force military people to watch this crap? wtf?

  • Oli

    Done 🙂 Hopefully this survey will help build up the needed traction to bust through this offensive, expensive waste of time!

  • James

    Just got done watching The Tillman Story.

  • mangopudding

    Just finished the survey. Why did DA think the spiritual fitness test was needed.

  • beerslayer

    I had the same problem as movablebooklady. Videos only loaded the first few seconds, then stopped downloading and there was no way to make it resume. I’m reluctant to answer the questions that ask what I thought of the video when I am unable to view the entire video. That leaves me unable to complete the survey. 🙁

  • PSG

    Done. That is required?!? What a bunch of religious bullshit. Except the one lady talking about purpose, she seemed legit.

    Also, like how the military thinks it can redefine “spiritually” because they want to, as if that changes anything. m-|

  • Besomyka

    Done and provided feedback.

  • Justin Griffith

    I’ve passed along concerns about the videos freezing. I’d recommend hitting ‘CTRL+F5’ one time to see if it fixed it without fucking up the whole test. (hit yes, if prompted)

    This is assuming chrome/ff/ie… not sure about safari and exotic browsers.

    I’m glad the vast majority of people have no problem, though!

  • SherryH

    I tried to complete the Civilian survey. The first video didn’t seem to load properly. There was no progress bar, so I waited for the triangle and clicked it. The video played for a second or two, and then stopped. Clicking again started it from the beginning again, with another second or two beyond what was there. I tried once or twice more, with little improvement, and then gave up.

    I suspect either my connection is wonky (it does that at night sometimes) or the site was extremely busy.

    I’ll try again in the morning.

  • Illustratheist

    Ho-ly crap (literally).

    I mean, wow. I didn’t think it would be that mind-numbingly bad, or obviously Christian for that matter (I clicked through and did the survey before reading the rest of the post). I know I shouldn’t be surprised, but dang.

    And they spent THAT MUCH money on this bullshit?

    Brb, gonna go bang my head against a brick wall.

  • sc_9de9640c9d8a6530b5656f76bfadcd9c

    Videos loaded fine for me. Did the civilian version.

    That was *appallingly* blatantly religious. There was literally one sane video in there.

  • Spiritual module 1: Spiritual Support: Chaplains: Remember that chaplains are advocates for everyone, regardless of where you stand on your beliefs.

    This slide states that military chaplains are advocates for all military personnel, regardless of where they stand on their beliefs.

    How true do you think this statement is?

    I answered 2 (1 being “not at all,”) and was then asked, “In 1 or 2 sentences, please explain why you think this statement is not true:”

    I answered: Chaplains are often hampered by their inherent belief in a higher being. I have no belief in a higher being, so I have trouble believing a chaplain could be spiritually impartial.

    At the end:

    Are there any comments you would like to make about the training materials you saw here, or about this survey study in general? If so, feel free to respond here:

    My answer:

    Spiritual fitness training should not be mandatory in the military. It discriminates against non-spiritual people who are already happy with their well-being.

  • Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    Justin, I tried to take the survey but about 20-25% of the way in it started to give me connection errors. It looks like there’s some sort of trouble at the server (maybe you’ve overloaded them?). I may try again later.

  • Thomas Schratwieser

    Done, and I did my best to give helpful feedback. I may have chosen “4” for the question asking for “5” because I was unwilling to give bias to either end of the scale when I didn’t know what that question was for. Now I know — stubborn skepticism being what it is — and I hope they won’t discount my results…

  • HumanisticJones

    Just read the numbers on the linked post on how much they spent on this bullshit, all the while wondering how much vehicle and body armor could have been bought with that. How many of my friends that came back from Iraq and Afghanistan with near crippling or traumatic injuries (I’ve been lucky that all my friends that went came back) might not have those if someone higher up thought saving their skins was more important than saving souls. Damn… rage…

  • tms


    Thanks for passing this along. Please stay on this and follow up. I would be very interested in the results of the surveys.

  • Makoto

    Isn’t it amazing how most of the “testimonial videos” for a “human spirit” program that isn’t supposed to be religious.. ended up mostly either blatantly religious or sounded like they wanted to be, but were using cleaner terms.

  • Paul Hunter

    Know theyself and be trueful

    All of the survey is nonsence, just pushing some ill defined form of religion

  • SherryH

    Tried again. First video continued to cut out after 7 seconds each time I tried to play it. Sorry I couldn’t help out.

  • liminus

    Using firefox, first video did not load even with refresh; skipped through just to test another video and that one did not load either.

  • ‘Tis Himself, OM

    As a discharged Navy E6, I did the military version. I had no problem with it loading using Firefox.

    When they asked the question “what should spiritual fitness be renamed to?” I entered “religious propaganda”.

  • Aquaria

    The Army would have been better served paying for some licensed psychiatrists and psychologists than this moronic propaganda.

  • trog69

    Done. I hope this helps. The only “positive” remark I had on those videos was the divorcee who needed was helped by her fellow church-members. I was honest in that regard, as of course having a support group like that would help anyone, though I only gave it a “5” because it being a church-group was irrelevant.

  • trog69

    Tis Himself, mine was “God-soaked nonsense”.

  • Did it. Signed up on their mailing list, too. Please post the results, when they come out.

  • Henry


    I noted that one as well. The others were blabbing about higher powers and had clearly been prompted to tone down their god-botting, but her having a personal support group (in this case a church) is exactly how one ensures their personal well-being. This sort of thing IS informative, so I gave it a 4/5. The others all got 2s and 1s.

  • EnoNomi

    My last comment was to voice my disappoinment that the miliary is basically relying on their soldiers magical thinking to protect them instead of equiping them with real tools. We don’t expect our soldiers to fight the enemy with magic wands so why do we give them magic hoo-hoos to protect their mental and emotional welfare. America just sucks when it comes to mental health – be it civilian or military.

  • I did it. That was bad. Propaganda, plain and simple.

  • zmidponk

    OK, I think I’ll post a sort of running commentary as I’m doing the Civilian one.

    Q1:How interested are you in being “spiritually fit”?

    Define ‘spiritually fit’. If that means ‘religious’, not at all, so that would be 1. If it means, as is claimed, fit to work as part of a team, and fitting in with ‘team spirit’, that would be 6-7. As it’s unclear, I’ll go middle of the road – 4

    Q2:This video explains that, for the purposes of this military spiritual fitness training, “spirituality” will be defined as “that which you value most deeply or hold sacred.” How well does this particular definition of spirituality work for you?

    Not at all, really, as what I value most deeply (the love, respect and friendship that I give and receive from friends and family) isn’t really ‘spiritual’. They’re more sort of abstract concepts rather than in any way ‘spiritual’. 1

    This video also explains that, for the purposes of this military spiritual fitness training, “spirituality” refers to the “human spirit”, which is defined as the “the essential core of the person, the deepest part of who we are. How comfortable would it be for you to think about spirituality in this particular way?

    Again, this isn’t really ‘spiritual’, but more an abstract concept of individuality. So, again, 1.

    Q3:In 1 or 2 sentences, please describe the reason(s) it would be uncomfortable to think about spirituality in this particular way:

    Which way? You’ve actually defined it two different ways. However the answer is the same for both – those definitions simply do not fit my understanding of the meaning of the words ‘spirituality’ or ‘spiritual’.

    Q4:This slide states that military chaplains are advocates for all military personnel, regardless of where they stand on their beliefs. How true do you think this statement is?

    Having no personal experience of military chaplains, no idea. I also think it could very well vary quite a bit, depending on the chaplain in question. So, I’ll go middle of the road – 4.

    Q5:In 1 or 2 sentences, please explain why you think this statement is not true:

    I don’t think it’s necessarily true or untrue, which is why I picked 4, in the middle.

    Q6:Imagine that you are participating in the military spiritual fitness training and that you just finished watching this video testimonial. How helpful/informative was this video testimonial?

    It’s very informative about the beliefs of the soldier in the video. Apart from that, not informative at all. So I’ll give it a 3.

    How relevant to your worldview or belief system was this video testimonial?

    1. I’m an atheist. Nuff said, methinks.

    Q7:Same questions, new video.

    Again, informs me of some details of a soldiers life and beliefs, but not really useful apart from that. Same scores.

    Q8:Same questions, new video.

    Little bit different. This soldier actually gives examples of non-religious motivations. However, again, it’s someone else giving reasons to succeed/persist/whatever. So it is relevant in the sense that her thinking mirrors my own as an atheist, but it’s not really relevant in that her specific reasons may be different from mine. So I’ll put 3 and 4 for that.

    Q9:Same questions, new video, with one additional question:

    Please select “5” for this item.

    Hmm. Why? What does this do?

    However, the other questions, I gave a 1 and 1 because this video seemed to be a soldier giving a somewhat confused, garbled mess about how people have different kinds of faith, like faith that America was the greatest country in the world and how people can gain strength from the idea that, if they die, they’re going to a ‘better place’, which I didn’t really follow very well.

    Q10:Same questions, new video, without the mysterious addition.

    Some guy talking about how ‘whichever god you choose’ gives you strength. Not really informative or relevant to me. 1 and 1.

    Q11 (forgot to copy and paste):Is the name for this course appropriate, and, if not, is there a more appropriate one?

    No. ‘Religious’.

    Then comes a page of questions all about beliefs in god, beliefs in ghosts and goblins, plus some details like race, gender, age and education level.

    Are there any comments you would like to make about the training materials you saw here, or about this survey study in general? If so, feel free to respond here:

    My comment:

    Whilst there is some nods towards non-religion, this is a predominantly religious teaching course. If this survey indicates the standards of ‘spiritual fitness’ soldiers have be up to, then simply being an atheist makes you ‘spiritually unfit’, according to this course, and, frankly, this is simply untrue.

  • Atheists stop rebelling Nihilism

    Stop creating your own moral pot to piss in and stick to the truth, which is there is no morality. You create your own morality, and you use Christianity as a “crutch” to get you through your purposeless, valueless, pointless, meaningless life.

    The universe does not care about you so stop acting like it does, Atheism = philosophically consistent with nihilism

    “Being is without reason, without cause, and without necessity”

    – Jean-Paul Sarte

    “That man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; …that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the aspirations, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the temple of Man’s acheivement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins- All these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.”

    “Unless you assume a God, the question of life’s purpose is meaningless”

    – Bertrand Russell

    “If death is the unequivocal and permanent end of our existence, the question arises whether it is a bad thing to die”

    – Thomas Nagel

    The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference

    – Richard Dawkins