Reverend: “What does the military put on gravestones of atheists, a thumbs-down?”

Reverend: “What does the military put on gravestones of atheists, a thumbs-down?” February 20, 2012

The recent article about mandatory Spiritual Fitness in the Pasadena Sun was overall quite positive. Out of a group of 10 or so religious leaders from various religious preferences, the vast majority were on our side. I’m actually happy that only a few took a stand against us.

One of them at least tried to pair his response with the US Constitution, but fell victim to the Army’s smoke-screen ‘this is about team-spirit’ etc. I left a comment containing a thorough refutation. I invited civilians to educate themselves with the Army’s Virtual Spiritual Fitness Center to decide the religiosity of Spiritual Fitness (website by the same people). My comment was actually supposed to be a part of the article itself, not sure what happened there.

But then Rev. Bryan Griem lost his damn mind. Fuck everything about this:

There’s an adage I expect will be repeated by other ministers responding to this question. It goes, “there are no atheists in foxholes.” Meaning, when bombs burst, everyone hedges their bets and prays, “God, save me!” There’s a joke about one combat vet who prayed “Lord, if you’re there, I’ll serve you and attend church every Sunday; just get me through.” The Air Force immediately comes and blasts everything, answering the man’s prayer. He then looks up to heaven and says “never mind….”

Look, you just read the stats: “Researchers have found that spiritual people have decreased odds of attempting suicide, and that spiritual fitness has a positive impact on quality of life, on coping and on mental health.” Atheists be damned. They will be. So I really don’t care what they think regarding these tests. I’m tired of having their constant nagging, their constant opposition against God — their evil. They contribute nothing positive in the long run.Their very name, “a” theist, means they are “against,” with a big “no” regarding America’s “creator” and “Nature’s God” (the one mentioned in our Declaration of Independence). I’m frankly sick of them. Why they are here on the In Theory cast is beyond me. It’s like saying, “I have no spiritual input because I don’t believe in the spirit. So here’s my ignorance….”

I wonder what the military puts on gravestones of atheists, a thumbs-down? Listen, all religions are protected by our laws, but atheists don’t countenance America’s documents that mention God. They don’t actually deserve rights that even bizarre religionists have. If it could be shown that people who deny God create military weakness, however small, what should commanders do when choosing a winning military? I agree with you.

The Rev. Bryan Griem

Montrose Community Church


Readers quickly noticed that Pastor Bryan has a form that lets you contact him. I sent him an email, and I recommend you do so as well. Let me know what you get in response. I imagine a big fat nothing.

Here’s what I asked Rev. Bryan Griem:

(below the fold)

I am willing to die for your right to say nasty things about atheist soldiers like myself. I am willing to die for your right to preach how you want to preach, including trashing myself and thousands of others who also fight for your rights.

There are foxhole atheists out there fighting for your rights. Are you not willing to return the favor by standing up against the unconstitutional religious testing?

Spiritual Fitness motivational

This motivational poster was made by my friend SGT Dustin Chalker. Dustin was a foxhole atheist who has very recently left the service. He’s studying law right now. Hurry up, man, graduate! We need you.

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  • Listen, all religions are protected by our laws, but atheists don’t countenance America’s documents that mention God. They don’t actually deserve rights that even bizarre religionists have.

    I have heard this from multiple theists recently. I don’t know if this is a new meme, or an old one I had not noticed before.

    This very much demonstrates all the love and good-will theism engenders.

  • Sly

    This was my response… but I didn’t leave an email because I don’t care what he has to say…

    “So, in reading your response to the Pasadena Sun article on the Army’s Spiritual Fitness test… and I had to laugh! Your faith must be terribly weak to be so shaken by the existence of Atheists in the military! Your response is so full of weak arguments and flat-out fallacies that I can’t begin to address them all.

    Yeah… funny and sad at the same time… your comments were quite pathetic.”

  • Steve

    In all seriousness, the available choices are “nothing”, the “atheist logo” or the “humanist logo”

    Atheist symbol on headstone:

  • Ellie

    Hello. I’m a Christian, but my father was not. Therefore, I am well aware that there are Atheists in foxholes. I noticed the heading to this blog post, and did indeed, write to the church. This is the body of my email. And yes, I left my email address.

    “I understand that you are not aware of what symbol the military might put on the headstone of an Atheist. One wonders why a patriotic citizen would not know. However, if you visit

    your question will be answered.

    I am a Christian, but my father who fought in the Ardennes Offensive, was not. He has no headstone, so this “question” was irrelevant. We do have the flag that was draped over his coffin. I hope this will increase your knowledge.”

  • Paul

    This is what I had to write him:

    Pastor Bryan

    My name is Paul. I am a combat veteran with multiple tours to both Iraq and Afghanistan. I am an atheist. I volunteered for every deployment. I am on the front lines and have lost friends. I have respect for my religious friends and they have respect for me. We have stood side by side in firefights, in fighting holes, in machine gun pits, and in conditions that I’m sure you could never imagine.

    Why should I receive any less respect for my lack of belief. If anything people like myself are more virtuous than people like you. I have no afterlife to look forward to. I have no Jesus to greet me if I die. Yet I live the life I do and put myself in harm’s way knowing this. My intentions are to achieve the best heaven on earth while I am here.

    But I guess that must not be good enough for you. If you would like to have a real discussion with an atheist who genuinely cares about his fellow man and IS his brother’s keeper then feel free to email me back.



    U.S. Marine

  • Dave

    Yeah, he’s a real winner. Left him a comment, I’ll let you know if he answers.

  • Alverant

    Is it me or does the way he describes soldiers ready to meet Jesus disturbingly similar to suscide bombers ready to meet Allah?

  • TGAP Dad

    Don’t quite know if pastor Bryan changed the form or not, but the link leads to a simple form to ask a “bible question.” Nonetheless, I put my thoughts in there.

  • What bugs me about this guy is that, while disparaging atheist soldiers, he’s painting a picture of christians thats not at all flattering.

    Apparently no Christian would ever sacrifice himself for his fellow soldiers if they didn’t think they would go on to an eternal happy place. Self-sacrifice is just a workaround to those pesky suicide prohibitions that prevent you from choosing your own time to meet Jesus. A grenade that falls among your squad is really your shortcut to heaven.

    I have no doubt most Christian soldiers have no such base motives, but I am having many doubts about this chaplain.

    Is this what they call ‘spiritual fitness’? A willingness to die so you can get your 72 virgeternal reward?

  • Anneliese

    I posted this to the pastor:

    “I feel very sorry for you, Pastor, that your heart is so filled with hatred towards those who do not share your beliefs. My son is in the USAF and he is willing to put his atheist life on the line for you so you can revile him.

    Would you really take away the rights of atheists who are protecting your right to be a hate-filled bigot?”

    Now I feel like I need a bath after visiting that church site.

  • Don

    My submission to Pastor Bryan’s church; I do so hope the promise of a response was not just another Christian lie.


    Please thank Pastor Bryan for helping to show the world just how ignorant and evil Christianity really is. His spewage of hatred and bigotry revealed far more behind the religious curtain than any atheist book ever has.

    You might want to find out if he’s on Richard Dawkin’s payroll – he’s doing a better job of exposing the absurdity of his religion than anyone has recently save perhaps Hitchens!

    Bravo, Pastor Bryan. Bravo.

  • I left him a comment as well, Justin. Doubtful he’ll reply, and if he does, I bet it’ll be wonderfully hateful.

  • syd

    “Researchers have found that spiritual people have decreased odds of attempting suicide [..]”

    In other words, they’re more likely to chicken out during one of the reverend’s kamikaze missions:

    “If you believe you’re nothing but worm-food at death, you aren’t going to jump on a grenade to save the platoon, or charge a machine-gun nest expecting to meet Jesus. You’re going to be reserved, second-guessing, and probably be a big fat chicken.”

  • Sharleen Nelson

    Any soldier fighting for freedom is fighting not only for freedom OF religion, but also freedom FROM religion.

  • ‘Tis Himself, OM

    I wonder if the ever-so-patriotic pastor ever spent a day in uniform. I’d be willing to bet large amounts of money the answer is “no.”

  • Timberwoof

    The link worked for me. I wrote… 

    I read your article in which you made up all kinds of interesting “facts” about atheists. Like most theology, it was based in assumptions and beliefs—things accepted as true without independent confirmation.

    I was confused by the phrase “America’s creator.” You imply that God made America. I remember my history lessons quite clearly: people made America—people who had very different and sometimes conflicting ideas about God. Throughout history, Christians did not support democracy; they supported kings and bishops. If God made America, what was he waiting for. (The Enlightenment, perhaps?)

    When you wrote, “I wonder what the military puts on gravestones of atheists, a thumbs-down?” you demonstrated your ignorance on the subject. In short, you don’t know what you’re talking about. How can any rational thinker accept your words once you wrote that?

    But then you wrote, “atheists … don’t actually deserve rights that even bizarre religionists have.” I find this disturbing. Let’s leave aside the demonization that you are so transparently attempting. You’re contradicting the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and state Constitutions that declare that all people have certain rights. They don’t say that one has to claim a religion to get those rights. In fact, they say that a religious test is not necessary to hold public office. Do you not remember that from your civics classes?

    You said that God made America, is He the author of those documents? Since they don’t actually say what you say they do, does that make you a blasphemer?

    Only someone blinded by religion would accept the nonsense that you wrote. I am now even more convinced that religion poisons everything.

    I expect that this will be one of the emails that he sees as indescribably rude and obscene.

  • Alison Wonderland

    I wrote the following to the asshole:

    I am a firefighter and I risk my life to save other lives on a regular basis. I do this because I want to protect my fellow humans and innocent animals. I am an atheist. What you said about our atheist soldiers sickens me. You call yourself a Christian? I think you need to take a better look at your book you claim to be living by. According to the way I live my life and the way I love my fellow man, I am more like a Christian than you are.

  • Randomfactor

    atheists don’t countenance America’s documents that mention God.

    We do, however, swear to uphold the ones that don’t mention him at all. Like the Constitution. And the nation’s laws.

  • F
  • Here is my (open) letter to the pastor:

    “In 1995, I wrote a blank check to the United States of America when I joined the US Army. That check, in effect, was good for every ounce of my being, my wholehearted support, my unwavering, loyalty, and my life if needed. I purposely volunteered for combat arms – postponing my overall goal of an engineering degree, in order to guarantee that I had “served my time” in a combat-ready position. I still have my dog tags, which read “no pref” in the religion section. Had I realized that there were others like me willing to protect my rights and my beliefs, I would have insisted on having “atheist” stamped on them instead.

    I served our country proudly alongside men and women of all creeds and beliefs, and never thought less of them. I live life with everything to lose, which makes every day special, and every good deed more important. I cannot simply rest on my laurels with the comfort that I always have a second life to rely on. Then again, neither does my brother man or my family, which is why I would sacrifice everything to protect them.

    In 1999 I read the Bible from cover to cover and I have to say, it changed my life. I can now say with authority that I will never be a Christian any more than I would follow Zeus, Ganesha, or Mohammad.

    I and others like me have been building communities free from religion for years now. You no longer have to live in fear of being alone without religion. We are compassionate, caring, and the fastest-growing religious identity in America. When you exclude tithing, nontheists are the most generous givers of charity. We don’t run the streets like thugs, we don’t encourage hate crimes or even hate speech, we support law and justice, we raise loving families, we are enthusiastic about education, and amazingly, we do all of this without having to be “commanded” to do so.

    I suppose that makes me us little more Christ-like than you. If anything, you appear petty and jealous. Although I don’t pray, I do hope that you can gain the comfort to heal, and the strength to leave behind the tales of bronze-age shepherds who had no idea that the Earth revolved the Sun, let alone how to explain lesser natural phenomena.


    Randall Bennett


    Hawaii Secular Society”

  • timberwoof

    RebTurtle wrote, “When you exclude tithing, nontheists are the most generous givers of charity.”

    Over in Dispatches there’s a story about Christian televangelists fighting over their ill-gotten gains. Has anyone ever audited those “charities” and subtracted money that made the televangelists rich?

  • Makoto

    “If you believe you’re nothing but worm-food at death, you aren’t going to jump on a grenade to save the platoon, or charge a machine-gun nest expecting to meet Jesus. You’re going to be reserved, second-guessing, and probably be a big fat chicken.”

    Really? He’s using the promise of reward after death as a reason to jump on a grenade? How is this much different from the reward of 72 virgins? I don’t do the things I do for the promise of reward or the threat of punishment. I do them to help make the world a better place, because this is all we have. Various religions point to various possibilities after death, but none can be proven, so I’d prefer to focus on what I can make better in the things I and those around me can observe, rather than a possible reward/punishment that may or may not exist.

    If his best reason to jump on a grenade to save his platoon is to meet Jesus, he obviously cares little for his platoon and their worth as people and soldiers.

  • oakborn

    I went and left him a message, as follows:

    “So atheists don’t serve in the military and laws shouldn’t apply to us, eh? Wow.

    I am a nurse in the US Army, currently on Active Duty. I am not likely to be in harm’s way where I am, but it’s possible. I raised my hand and said that I will serve my country as other soldiers have before me.

    If I have to give my life for my country, it will be because I believe in the United States. I believe that I have a duty to serve my country. I believe in something larger than myself and that is the society and mutual support that I believe the United States stand for.

    Incredible that you don’t believe that the laws of this country apply to me.”

  • Cuttlefish
  • TCC

    I’m surprised that only one pastor’s message got attention – there’s another one (perhaps a bit less vitriolic) by the Rev. Jon T. Karn that includes this gem of a paragraph:

    The combat veterans I know have come from their tours of duty with a far greater appreciation of the gift of life and a broader view of the human experience and our place in God’s universe. It comes as no surprise that a substantive and spiritual attempt to cope with the residual aspects of the horrors of war offends an atheist. What doesn’t offend atheists anymore? We are spiritual creatures, made in the image of God. The Bible says, “The fool says in his heart that there is no God”. Who am I to disagree with God in order to placate an atheist?

    Those of you with bingo cards might want to take them out at this time and mark your spaces.

    There’s also some rationalization for the program, like quoting an official to the effect that spiritual fitness “is not related to religiosity,” all of which I’m sure has been addressed by Justin.

  • Unlike most Americans, I have actually read the Constitution. Nowhere in it did I see god or jesus ever mentioned. As a matter of fact, the only times religion was mentioned was to make sure that it isn’t part of the government (Article VI and the First Amendment). Add to this, the Treaty of Tripoli of 1797, Article 11. Sometimes I wonder if pastors like Griem are as bad at reading the historical documents of our nation as they are with their bible?

    Griem seems to espouse a mentality that is virtually indistinguishable from the motives and thought patterns of al’qeda members, or the Taliban. Sometimes it seems that America’s evangelical community isn’t actually frightened of the Taliban, but rather bear some sort of professional jealousy. The Taliban accomplished their dream of a theocratic paradise; it was just to the wrong version of their imaginary friend.

    I spent 20 years in uniform, and never once did I ever have an inclination, nor a need to turn to some higher power. I think that I speak for many other foxhole atheists when I say that this spiritual fitness test is nothing but an evangelical sham that is a constitutional violation. I for one will defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. I’m looking at the likes of Griem…

  • sieveboy

    Dropped this on that liar for Jeebus:

    “Did the big fella, god or his self parenting zombie son Jesus, warn you of the attention you would get when you tainted your reputation and that of your church by writing that repulsive piece in the Pasadena Sun?

    Yes or No?

    Don’t lie now, you shouldn’t bear false witness against your neighbours in the military.

    I suggest you get out of the comfy church, with its constitutional protections and go serve with the troops for a while, maybe go to Afghanistan and get mortared by the taliban or the warlords. Pray for protection, but remember it will be the man made bunkers, body armour and luck that will save you not your zombie friend.”

    As you so adroitly note Justin: There are no chaplains in Foxholes

  • Dustin

    Just sent him this:


    Mr. Griem,

    I am an Iraq war veteran and former Army combat medic. During my 15 month tour in Iraq, I earned the Combat Medical Badge for providing care under fire to US and Iraqi casualties. I was in a total of 9 IED explosions and received the Purple Heart for injuries due to one of these blasts. I served this country for 9 years and left the service honorably last November.

    I have been there “when bombs burst”, and I am outraged that you dare presume to speak on how foxhole atheists respond to the circumstances of combat. The opinion you expressed is based on nothing more substantial than anecdotes and speculation, and bears no resemblance to the reality you would observe if you put your own boots on the ground. I have seen the religious and the non-religious in combat and there is no difference whatsoever in performance. Believing in the supernatural does not endow you with special courage, knowledge, or virtue.

    The Declaration of Independence is not a legal document of our nation. It merely ended British rule, but did nothing to establish our current government. The US government was founded by the Articles of Confederation, and later the Constitution. The Constitution is the godless, atheist-friendly Supreme Law of the Land that I swore to support and defend, against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

    How dare you deny that atheists “deserve” equal rights? My rights do not come from your god and are not subject to your opinion. Can you prove your god exists? I don’t mean “can you repeat one of the dozens of arguments that have been debunked since ancient Greece.” I mean, can you PROVE it? Of course you can’t, and no serious theologian would argue otherwise. Now: if rights come from god, and you can’t prove god, then you find yourself in the utterly ridiculous position of not being able to prove that our moral rights have a basis in reality. Oops. Looks like natural rights don’t depend on mythology after all.

    If your mythology turns out to be correct and I am damned – as you gleefully predicted – then I have a prediction of my own: you’ll be burning in that lake of fire right next to me. You’ve shown nothing but prideful arrogance, avarice, and intolerance. No benevolent deity would accept your company in his kingdom. Keep telling yourself you’re “forgiven” while you walk around spewing such hateful bile toward those you deem less enlightened than yourself.

  • Charlie Quaid

    I just left this biblical question:

    Where does it say in the bible that bigotry and intolerance are virtues? I ask you this question because I assume that as a pastor you consider yourself to be a virtuous man; but after having read your recent bigoted intolerant rant against atheists in the military I have my doubts. There are atheists in foxholes and in every other place your narrow mind can imagine. Remember, I only disbelieve in one more god than you disbelieve in. Signed, an atheist pursuing virtue.

  • Reasongal

    I am not a servicemember, just a grateful atheist U.S. CITIZEN, and this is what I wrote to that sack of rotten dogma:

    “I wish you had to face Pat Tillman, who gave his life in service, and tell him he did not deserve his citizenship; you certainly do not deserve his service or life.”

  • John Hodges

    Assume for the sake of argument that everything he says about atheists is correct. They still might be better soldiers than Christians. With Christians, you have the risk that they might actually read the gospels and discover that Jesus told his followers to not resist one who is evil, but instead turn the other cheek, give him your cloak also, go with him a second mile, love your enemies, and so forth; basically to practice nonviolent pacifism.


  • Wendy Cohoon

    I also emailed this vile person. [(I am Canadian and not allowed in the USA anymore because I can’t afford passports for my family for the few times I would drive across the bridge to shop, or spent a few weeks driving around the country and camping on our family vacation, but that’s another story and pet peeve of mine. Anyone know of any atheists doing bad things like the 9/11 events?)] This is what I sent…

    You should be ashamed to teach others about the bible that teaches that God is Love and Love thy Neighbour. You refer to,” bizarre religionists”. They are people who are deserving of basic human rights just as everyone is. What should anyone expect from a typical hypocrite who believes their fantasy should be everyone’s. You attack any atheist soldier claiming them to be cowardice, yet has it occurred to you that the religious soldiers are also wearing helmets and flack jackets. Your god does not protect them because they believe?

    The atheist does not have a rule book tell them ‘thou shall not kill’ and then going ahead and killing anyway.

    As to grave stones – they are for the living and not the dead, so the most important thing is that it says whatever the surviving relatives wish it to say. I expect to be cremated so as not to take up space in some groomed monoculture plot of cemetery that could be better left wild for living creatures, or donated to science for education, that is once any needed organs have been harvested to help a living person.

    You say “I’m tired of having their constant nagging, their constant opposition against God — their evil. ” Huh? I guess we are tired of being preached to. Christ will soon go the way of the Greek gods – it will be taught as mythology.

    Frankly I find it hard to believe that your opinion is representative of even your congregation. I’d like to think that even religious people have some common sense.

    What is your military history? Were you deployed in active service? Did you kill people for your country?

  • Elizabeth

    On Mon, Feb 20, 2012 at 4:12 PM, Elizabeth wrote:

    Dear Reverend Griem,

    I am writing to you to express my disappointment in your comments on the recent In Theory piece on whether the military should be testing the spirituality of its soldiers. I was encouraged as I read the comments of the other reverends who responded, but then I came upon yours, and my jaw dropped. I thought, HOW could a minister of Jesus’ word joke about the death of an American soldier, no matter what their faith or lack thereof. You said, “I wonder what the military puts on gravestones of atheists, a thumbs-down?”

    I have a nephew serving in the Army over in Afghanistan as I type. So many young, brave men and women have died in that country, giving their lives to protect the innocents who cannot help themselves. I have seen pictures of my nephew helping Afghan children in the medical facilities near where he has been stationed. He doesn’t care what religion these children practice, he sees that they need his help, and he gives his all to make sure that they are helped. He has made the ULTIMATE sacrifice, and for you to joke about his fellow soldiers this way is disgraceful. It doesn’t matter what religion these soldiers practice, ALL of them deserve our respect and gratitude. Your comments are a slap in the face to ALL soldiers, as it sounds like you have a flippant attitude about their service and the possibility that they could get killed. 

    As the old saying goes, you should practice what you preach. If I were a member of your church I would immediately leave, as I find your comments disgusting. I respectfully request that you formally publicly apologize for your statements. You should be ashamed to call yourself an American, let alone a Christian Reverend. 

    The chances that my nephew will come home from Afghanistan alive are very good, but if he dies, your callous words will again stab me through the heart. I wish I could un-read them, but you can’t take these words back. Please, watch what you say in the future, and give our soldiers the RESPECT they deserve.



    His reply:


    The thing you did not tell me in this negative letter to me is if your nephew believes in God or not. That was the question to me. “Does it matter if someone believes in God or not when serving the military?” It had nothing to do with the people we send our soldiers to defend. They can be anything, and we still have to be the good guys and do as you say your nephew does, help the Afghani children who need us. Where was I making light of this? My whole argument is against those who hate God, who pull down our cross monuments to our US soldiers that die serving our country, who want us to remove all the crosses from Arlington Cemetery because they are offensive to the atheist who hates God and essentially everyone who believe in Him. What have any of my comments got to do with good soldiers that serve this country, unless they are like the complainers that hate God and country, and only serve the military to get college money or advancement?

    I don’t know your nephew, so how can you chew me out for insulting him? My nephew too serves the United States Marines. I’m proud of him. He serves God too. My father was in the United States Coast Guard. My brothers serve in the  California state police departments as a result them. I have nothing but the utmost respect for the military, but I tire of these oddballs who hate God and want witchcraft symbols on their gravestones, or as my answer proposed, a “thumbs down.” Only the atheist hates God, and the Bible calls him a “fool.” The Bible calls him that because the fool denies what is true and right and good. The Bible is God’s Word, and as a good Christian minister I have not remained like those other cultic ministers on IN THEORY and kissed the Devil’s behind, I have said what is right. If you would leave my church because I echoed the words of Almighty God, then I think it says more about your faith than mine. I do not want to be an antagonist, I do not want to insult the soldiers, but if a soldier hates God and doesn’t like me telling him that God says he’ll end up in hell for his rebellion, that’s kind of too bad, wouldn’t you agree? Should I just say nice things and tell people who are going to hell that they will be fine; don’t worry about that loser Jesus?

    How is that loving? My job is to give them the truth and let the Holy Spirit work within them to save them. Everyone of us is lost without Jesus Christ. If you can attend church and say that’s untrue, then I doubt you are truly Christian. Again, that is not to insult you, it is simply the biblical truth. I’m not in this to be popular with you or people who don’t want preachers to actually say that people must be saved, I just say it and let the chips fall where they may. I have not been mean to anyone of other religions, but I admit in this last article I was hard on those who openly hate god and define themselves as “atheist.” If that is their position, be they soldiers, nephews, or boy-scouts, they are offensive to our Holy God and to the whole of his people (all of Christianity). Tell me where I am wrong in this. Show me a passage of Scripture that says the atheist who dies is just fine having rejected God. Do you believe that? Is your nephew an unbeliever? If he is, thank him for me that he serves our country, then tell him with all seriousness of life and death, that he must serve God and accept Jesus Christ as savior. If you do not, then his destiny will be on your head, not mine.


    ~Pastor Bryan

  • Well crap. After a response like that, it’s clear that any further effort we make will only serve to bring us down closer to his level…..

  • Andrew

    Seeing as his website lists all sorts of contact information, and that after all these emails from military personnel and their families he STILL is being an asshole, I think it’s high time his church received a LOT of pizzas.

  • thebookofdave

    Everyone here seems to waste no time taking a (well deserved) potshot at Reverend Griem. If you’re going out of your way to mail him a personal critique of his style or ask him to justify the moral basis of his opinion piece, though, please take a few extra minutes to review the entire article. Most of the contributors deserve praise for their sympathy of soldiers placed in a difficult position, even where they seem more concerned about their beliefs than the constitution that protects them.

    A few of them offered more cogent and thoughtful remarks than I ever expected from a religious representative. They aren’t difficult to look up, either. So on my way to stuffing the Montrose Community Church inbox, I’m going to drop a note to Rabbi Backman, Rev Lindeman, and a few others to let them know someone noticed they did good on this day.

  • Katie

    Go f*** your damn self. This is how you’re trying to get respect and be known? You’re worthless. Don’t talk about shit you’ve only read about in the LYING, POS MEDIA. They lie, cheat and steal. They put “HONORED HERO” AND AN AMERICAN FLAG on our grave stones. A LOT MORE THAN WHAT YOUR SORRY, PATHETIC LIFE WILL EVER GET YOU. DON’T CRITICIZE OTHERS…….. I THOUGHT ONLY GOD WILL JUDGE. What a hypocrite.

    And on the Army’s Spiritual Fitness test… I laughed until I fell out of my damn chair! Sly wrote it perfectly: “Your faith must be TERRIBLY weak to be so shaken by the existence of Atheists in the military! Your response is so full of WEAK ARGUMENTS and flat-out fallacies that I can’t BEGIN to address them all.”

    You’re getting less hate than you deserve. Get your fat civilian ass out of your comfy office and go sweat for once in your life. Look in the eyes of a Veteran in pain, a dying man and go to an outpost and suck on OUR HEROES, ATHEIST OR FUCKING SCIENTOLOGIST’S COCKS.

  • Sent:

    “Your recent comments in the Pasadena Sun have left me puzzled. How can someone claiming to be a pastor be filled with such hate, bigotry and ignorance? It is truly mind-boggling.”

  • Kaonashi

    So an atheist is someone who won’t blindly waste their own life, and won’t indiscriminately bomb villages and let god sort’em out, that sort of thing?

  • Justin: Copy of my email to the Rev. follows:


    Justin Griffith (Military Atheist attributes the following quoted

    data to you:”Atheists be damned……. . They contribute nothing positive in the long run.”

    Is it your opinion that Atheist

    contribute NOTHING to our society by the very fact that they are seemingly law abiding in that well less than one percent of all incarcerated criminals ,in the US, are professed Atheists?

    Dr. Emanuel Klein”

  • I’m not planning on having a gravestone but if I were I’d embrace a thumbs down or maybe a middle finger to all the god botherers who say such stupid and insulting nonsense as this.

  • Bruce Long

    Griem is just a typical mindless jabbering Christian moron whose conception of reality has been permanently damaged by pathological delusions of imaginary beings considered real on the basis of his fear of facing the reality of death and permanent morbidity.

    The ‘a’ prefix does not mean ‘against’ it means ‘sans’ or ‘without’. It’s a person without any theism – without any godism: someone who is without his comprehensive reason retarding mind-deleting delusion.

    After reading Griem’s intellectually and morally retarded anti humanist tirade, it is clearer to me than ever before that his faith – his ‘god’ism – is most certainly a pathology: an intellectual, informational and psychiatric disease.

    His nonsense about ‘the spirit’ and the ignorance of those that don’t have this ill defined imaginary spooky fictional thing – that he pretends is real so he can bullshit little kids into submission – is a demonstration of his total and utter logical ineptitude and psychopathological incapacity to form a sound cognitive impression of reality.

    An argument from ignorance involves making positive ontic claims about something for which there is no material or verifiable proof whatsoever because one doesn’t know the answer to something: it doesn’t involve pointing out to vacuous faither twits that the crap that they spout has no real referent or correspondent fact in the real universe, and that if they wan’t to say otherwise they are doing what most rational people would normaly call ‘lying’. Just substitute ‘Flying Purple Spaghetti Monster’ in for every instance of the term ‘god’ in Griem’s diatribe, and enlightened you will be.

    Vacuous half wits like Griem make even the odd half-sensible faither that exists cringe, and prove everything that Dawkins and Hitchens have said about faith and faithers – resoundingly. Griem is a standing psycholigical test case for natural kind psychopathological delusion driven by an aversion to cognitive dissonance.

    Sad idiots like Griem spend their whole life fixated on an imaginary being and browbeating and demonising everyone who isn’t deluded with their nutbag narrative. I doubt he could trusted to zip up his fly let alone protect anyone from a fox hole. Not to mention the fact that if idiots like Griem didn’t go to war over imaginary beings, we would need a lot less foxholes and soldier’s graves than we have.

    Griem should be treated in a psychiatric ward, not given access to young people as an authority figure. Obviously people who deny the existence of any god don’t create military weakness. Clearly – based on Griem’s example alone – people who believe in imaginary beings to the extent that he does create widespread contagious intellectual and psychological weakness. Griem carries the moronic delusion meme as a pathogen. He and his ilk would make more objective sense if they farted.

  • Bruce Long

    I wonder now if Griem is not just a skeptical troll doing a piss take. Anyway, here is ‘the Griemage’ with a few words changed (I think it makes a lot more sense now):

    “There’s an [idiocy] I expect will be repeated by other [insane] ministers responding to this question. It goes, “[brain fart].” Meaning, when bombs burst, everyone hedges their bets and [ruminates on the ceiling, “Purple Flying Spaghetti Monster, save me!”] There’s a joke about one combat vet who prayed [“Spaghetti Monster,] if you’re there, I’ll serve you and attend [mind-removal] sessions every Sunday; just get me through.” The Air Force immediately comes and blasts everything, answering the man’s prayer. He then looks up to the [pasta bowl] in the sky and says “never mind….”

    I know that [my fellow space-faithers] have [delusions] that atheists don’t. If you believe in [noodles] after life, you fight [reason], risk [insanity], and serve [beetles] better than a guy who thinks, [“this is real!”] If you believe you’re nothing but worm-food at death, you aren’t going to jump [on a bandwagon to save yourself from cognitive dissonance], or charge a machine-gun nest expecting to meet [The Son of the Purple Spaghetti Monster]. You’re going to be [rational], [seriously effective], and probably be a big fat [robot chicken].

    Look, you just read [the shit I make up as I fugger delusively] along: “Researchers have found that heavily deluded people have decreased odds of attempting sensible discourse, and that believing in fictions like ‘spiritual fitness’ has a negative correlation with basic honesty, on coping and on mental health.” Atheists be touched by a noodly apendage. They will be. So I really don’t think regarding these tests (or at all). I’m tired of having [internal constant nagging of little voices in my head], their constant opposition against the [spaghetti monster— their poo poo headedness]. They contribute nothing positive to my [minister’s salary]. Their very name, “a” theist, means they are “against,” with a big “no” regarding America’s [“delusion”] and [“Nature’s Spaghetti Monster”] (the one mentioned in our Declaration of [Intolerant Ranting]). I’m frankly sick of [waffles]. Why they are here on the In Theory cast is beyond me [(as are most things rational)]. It’s like saying, “I have no [spooky meatball] input because I don’t believe in the [spooky meatballs]. So here’s my [ignormince….]”

    I wonder what the military puts on gravestones of atheists, a thumbs-down? Listen, all [spaghetti-worship is protracted] by our laws, but atheists don’t countenance America’s documents that mention [The Purple Flying Spaghetti Monster]. They don’t actually deserve rights that even bizarre religionists [(Like ME!)] have. If it could be shown that people who deny The [Spaghetti Monster] create military weakness, however small, what should commanders do when choosing a winning military? I agree with [poo].”

    [The Right Ridiculous Reverberating. Bryan Griembo]

    Montrose Community [Mind-fuck]


  • Hans Felsh

    And here is my email to him:

    Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding atheists and the military. I have learned a great deal from your article and website, and I try to share what I’ve learned with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle (and gays in the military), for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate.

    Seeing as you are so religiously educated and wise, I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific biblical instructions, and how to best follow them.

    1) When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord (Lev 1:9). The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

    2) I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

    3) I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness (Lev 15:19-24). The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

    4) Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can’t I own Canadians?

    5) I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

    6) A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an Abomination (Lev 11:10), it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don’t agree. Can you settle this?

    7) Lev 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

    8) Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev 19:27. How should they die?

    9) I know from Lev 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

    10) My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? (Lev 24:10-16) Couldn’t we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

    I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help.

    Thank you again for reminding us that God’s word is eternal and unchanging.

    “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” – Richard Dawkins

    “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?” – Epicurus

    “Man created God in his image: intolerant, sexist, homophobic and violent.” – Marie

    “Doesn’t it bother you that you put more logical thought into choosing a car than you do in choosing a god?” – unknown

    “George Bush says he speaks to god every day, and christians love him for it. If George Bush said he spoke to god through his hair dryer, they would think he was mad. I fail to see how the addition of a hair dryer makes it any more absurd.” – Sam Harris

    “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, on your own intelligence rely not.” – Provers 3:5


    Clearly, you should see that I am not a “Christian”; I am a PASTAFARIAN. The Church of The Flying Spaghetti Monster is the only TRUE religion! Our ancient manuscripts clearly prove that the FMS has been hard at work for many years, and his Noodly Appendages are waiting to caress you. RAMEN.

  • Zugswang

    Many of the world’s most religious people are also among the world’s biggest cowards: they commit and endorse horrific atrocities against their fellows, and instead of taking responsibility, they blame it all on their imaginary friend.

  • James
  • You know, its always interesting when you see these guys throwing bland platitudes about “no atheists in foxholes” out there, primarily because the bulk of them have never bothered serving. That isn’t to say that not serving somehow excludes you from having an opinion, but if you’re so sure of yourself on such a complex issue with such absolute certainty I would hope you have SOME kind of experience from which to call on.

    I’ve gone to war twice now. I’m likely to volunteer for a third tour so I can put that hard-won experience and expertise to use, since that will hopefully help accomplish the mission. My lack of a belief in god has never gotten in the way of that. That’s because I recognize that precisely because I understand that life on this mortal plane (to borrow from their parlance) is all we can expect. It makes sense for me to want to try my damnedest make it better, both for myself and my fellow citizens, because that’s the only part of me that has any chance of living on after I die. In other words, the only long-lived impact any of us can have is changing changing the world, however little that might be.

    What’s amusing, at least for me, is that his whole argument could be so easily flipped around. What incentive is there for the God-fearing Christian to get out there and do his job properly? Military operations tend to be rather undone when somebody is fanatically willing to die above everything else, to include mission accomplishment. After all, the afterlife is only one bullet or mortar shell away. Why not just charge headlong screaming at the enemy line so you can get to the afterlife faster? Now, of course that’s an absurdly stupid argument. I would hope that fact should clue him into the utter idiocy of his position. I will admit, however, that means he would be capable of any kind of critical self-examination, which is a huge assumption given his past statements.

    The implicit argument here is clear: the only way he could ever hope to get somebody to sign onto my belief system is with the threat of death followed by an eternity of torment. What does that say as to how he views his religion and the validity of his arguments? He’s basically acknowledging that he can’t win people over with rational arguments alone and must compel them with thoughts of their own mortality. Of course, I just so happen to agree with him on that point.

    The bottom line is that I’ll keep going back, and hopefully that’ll mean that in the long term people like this ignoramus can keep espousing your incredibly ignorant and insulting views. After all, that’s what freedom of speech is all about. The freedom of speech for any given country is directly proportional to how loud the most ignorant, hateful bigots can yell. That doesn’t protect them from the rational folks shouting back at him, but the fact that he can legally get away with saying half-baked, intolerant garbage like this serves a pretty good case as to how free we are as a society.

  • Aliasalpha

    Its like he’s a real life incarnation of an internet troll. All it really needs is worse spelling, the belief that “a lot” is one word and a liberal sprinking of ‘L0l!!’

  • Pastor Bryan,

    I’m a Mobility Officer in the United States Marine Corps, a fiercely loyal supporter of the Constitution, an advocate of reason, and an opponent of faith and mysticism. I was raised in a fundamentalist Christian household, by an exclusively fundamentalist family. I no longer buy into any faith-based philosophies or ideologies.

    The US Constitution as a tremendous achievement of brilliant men coming from varying points of view all converging with the ideals of the Enlightenment as their primary guide. They were very deliberate in ensuring that the only reference to god or religion was to ensure that neither of those concepts could ever become part of the fabric of the United States government. They were very wise men.

    Part of what I have committed to protecting is the freedom of all American citizens to say, think, feel, and believe whatever they like, however offensive and irrational.

    Just as the provocative demonstrations led by Christian pastor Fred Phelps tend to always show the difference between those who only give lip service to the ideas of freedom and those who are truly committed to it, your recent rant in the Pasadena Sun is a fantastic opportunity for service member like myself to demonstrate that commitment.

    I just wanted to drop you a note reminding you that it’s people like me that provide the freedom and protection for people like you to denigrate people like me. It has never been the other way around. You’re welcome, by the way.

    CWO2 Ray


  • Coral

    I’m a little puzzled by his apparent belief that people who believe there’s a “life after”, necessarily fight harder for the here and now.



    Here’s the message I left this useless bag of foreskin:

    “Good morning!

    My wife was in the Army, during wartime, for several years until she broke her neck after volunteering for a dangerous mission in the sandbox. If you ever said any of your evil shit to her face you’d join her with a broken neck. Two of my best friends have Bronze Stars with a “V” for valor. One of them and another of my best friends have injuries for which they could easily leave the Army with a lifetime of pay but choose to stay in the Army out of love for their fellow soldiers and a sense of duty. All four of these people are atheists. “A” as a prefix means “without” not “against, douchebag.

    – Apastor Bryan (using your definition, of course)”

  • rork

    He was pretty big on atheists being haters of God, you know, the non-existent one.

    I must admit, cohesion and obedience are probably more easy to obtain if you’ve got some slavishness (and other shared values) actually encoded in the religion and can manipulate that to your advantage. Your not going to get that from our citizens easily (any more) and this pisses some people off – in days gone by, they coulda been somebody. You may have shared values of freedom, and family, and other stuff worth dying over, and having moral courage about. The subject will be about human beings.

  • My comment to Pastor Bryan:

    Saw your comment on the Pasadena Sun website. Way to spread the hate. Such a fine representative of your “loving god”. Nice to know that those who don’t agree with you aren’t entitled to the same rights and freedoms that you enjoy. Your zombie worshiping cult is on the wane (“look at the numbers”), luckily for you, the secularists actually do believe in treating everyone equally, so you’ll continue to have the right to be a bigoted hateful excuse for a “moral leader”. Question: In what branch of service were you a soldier? Because if, as I suspect, your answer is “none”, then why should anyone care about what YOU have to say about “spiritual fitness tests” in the military? (For your reference, I served four years in the Marine Corp, so atheist or not, I’m entitled to my damn opinion.)

    Ok, looking at it now, I wish I had been less snarky and insulting, but damnit that guy really pissed me off.

    Also, sorry for the lack of formatting, again, I’ll blame it on the rage.

  • Timberwoof

    MadScutter, don’t let this jerk be a boulder on your tail. Anything but obsequious prayer and reverence is, to him, snarky and insulting. He’s convinced of the correctness of his position and will make stuff up based on it instead of on investigating the real world. Even the kindest letter he answered, he characterized as “negative”.

  • jasons

    At least there aren’t as many raving bigoted lunatics that call themselves atheist. For that level of hate, propaganda, disgusting loathing, you really do need the “love” of God, it would seem. And these are the people who are claiming to have some kind of supernatural and superior morality? Oh, clearly. Yeah, I can see all that love they neighbor just FLOWING out of this bigot!!!

    “They don’t actually deserve rights that even bizarre religionists have.” Even less rights than you? Wow… And I’m not even the author of CLEAR hate speech/propaganda not that dissimilar to those of the most terrifying genocidal monsters in all of history… Actually, all that’s missing, is a clearly laid out “Final Solution” to march us off to the gas chambers. Yet, I have less rights than even completely offensive and unsettling “people” such as this. Nice.

    1. “If you don’t believe in God or an afterlife, why wouldn’t you just kill yourself?”

    2. “If you don’t believe in God or an afterlife, why would you risk your life for a valid cause?”

    Would some one please send a memo to these people, kindly requesting that they iron out their fabricated stories/accusations a little bit, at least to the point in agreeing on a general direction?? Thanks in advance.

    Oh, you might also mention in the memo that one kind of seems like a hypocritical twit, while basking in the irony of making sweeping generalizations about the the cowardly properties of the atheists who actually do in fact fight and die for his freedom to lay around in the safely of his civilian job, IF you can even call it a job that is, licking a chocolate ice cream cone like some kind of man-child, all the while deeply and disgustingly insulting/disrespecting the same people who sacrifice their lives for his right to be an offensive and uncaring monster, with a less than impressive grasp on reality, let alone an education. This blatant disrespect toward those who lay down their lives for our freedom to be juvenile, hate-filled, radically ignorant and clueless people, really does leave a bitter taste in my mouth, to the point that I’m starting to wish that I had an ice cream cone as well.

    But of course, the atheists are the ones without morality, right? As clearly demonstrated by the overflowing cup of love, maturity, and respect shown in these rantings, clearly the sign of the influence of the superior morality and love exhibited by this Christian God!!

    Once again, I guess that ice cream and inciting hate toward those that actually contribute to society, are much more honorable things to indulge in, than some one who doesn’t believe in the supernatural, actually standing up and adding to society, rather than further diseasing it with further ignorance and disgust.

  • Atrocious. I read about this on Unreasonable Faith and blogged a response here:

    I’ll link to your blog, too.

  • Cheeky Bastard

    If any of you atheists are being consigned to the hellfires anytime soon, would you do me a favor and tell Chris Hitchens if you see him that he still hasn’t autographed my copy of “God Is Not Great”…if he thinks being eternally damned is going to get him off the hook, he’s got another thing coming…

  • Jay

    In response to this portion of the article: I know that religious people have security that atheists don’t. If you believe in life after life, you fight harder, risk more, and serve better than a guy who thinks, “this is it!”

    This is a load of self righteous crap if you ask me. If anything my personal experience has shown the complete opposite to be true. I grew up Christian and Christians are supposed to be the stewards of the earth but because so many are focused on the “next life” few seem concerned with keeping the planet green and healthy. Most seem to view this planet as something to exploit on our way to heaven.

    I think the argument that someone will be more likely to jump on a grenade for the rest of their platoon if they are “right with Jesus” makes the Christian faith look extremely weak and selfish. If you can’t or wouldn’t even think of doing something like that unless you already had your “golden ticket to heaven” in your hand then maybe our military doesn’t need you. What if your faith is shaken (which it will be if you ever see live combat)? Then what?

    Nevermind the fact that Jesus never advocated killing other human beings in the first place. If you kill a Muslim as a Christian you’ve robbed him of the opportunity to convert and essentially taken it upon yourself to sentence him to an eternity in hell. (Not that I believe this crap but I just love pointing out the MANY hypocrisies of the modern Christian believer)

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  • Devin Varlas

    Yes, i want you to avoid them Thanks for the comments dude..