“A-week” for the military: Demand ‘ATHEIST’ on your records

“A-week” for the military: Demand ‘ATHEIST’ on your records March 20, 2012

Don’t back down brothers and sisters. Out of those closets.

If you have NO-REL-PREF on your records, you are wrong. Go to S-1 today.

You walk right in. Tell them you want to update your records. Tell them your religious preference is wrong. They will type a few things. When they get to the correct screen, they’ll ask you what you want instead of NO-REL-PREF. You look them in the eye and tell them “ATHEIST”. That’s it. Nothing else to it. It takes two minutes.

“ATHEIST” is on the list, despite what 99% of us were told at MEPS and boot camp. You can purchase dogtags to match if your unit does not have a machine. A few bucks, and again, a few minutes.

The Wiccans did it a decade ago. They used to be looked down upon as satanic puppy stabbers. Now they’re world of warcraft nerds. I’ll take that kind of upgrade. Perhaps we can be the military’s bookworms? Whatever your fear is, it’s part of the problem, rational or not. When we come out in great numbers, we will change some opinions. More importantly, we will change the conversation.

Just 18 months ago, nobody thought Rock Beyond Belief was possible (myself included). We’ve got a breakthrough on our hands. Stand up and be counted. See you at Fort Bragg.

“If you’re scared to die, you better not be scared to live.”

Don’t let this happen to you and your family:



Shortly after this post hit, Fort Bragg’s official Facebook page advertised the atheist festival for the first time. Within minutes, there were atheist-bashing trolls. But we changed the conversation by being out of the closet. It’s the front line in the culture war. This is the conversation that needs to happen at every military base (festival or not). This is consciousness-raising, and barrier shattering. Thanks for helping!

Soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen… it’s time. Update your official records at your s-1. The “NO-REL-PREF” you probably have on your records is really just a way to hold you down. Slam the closet door behind you. Now.


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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Olaf

    In the words of Harvey Milk, “I would like to see every gay doctor come out, every gay lawyer, every gay architect come out, stand up and let that world know. That would do more to end prejudice overnight than anybody would imagine. I urge them to do that, urge them to come out. Only that way will we start to achieve our rights.” In other words, I would like to see every atheist doctor come out, every atheist lawyer, every atheist architect come out, stand up and let that world know.

  • Justin Griffith

    Beautiful, Olaf

  • Old_Warhorse

    This particular mostly Agnostic, non-practicing Wiccan did it 20 years ago. Never did get into World of Warcraft or any other computer gaming, though, and I’m still an anthropology/archaeology nerd, i.e. a bookworm.

    Yep, just had to call you on this rather silly generalization: “The Wiccans did it a decade ago. They used to be looked down upon as satanic puppy stabbers. Now they’re world of warcraft nerds.”

  • Usernames are stupid

    Oh man, my tags say REL:No Pref.

    Oh well, too late to change ’em now. 🙂

  • Elba Kunsman

    How about the Personnel Office changing your tags from NRP (No Religious Preference) to Protestant? Happened to me twice and at no time in my life was I ever a Protestant. But no….someone insisted and with obvious heavy heart they did change the tags back to NRP. At the time, 1980s, Atheist was not an option, IIRC.

  • Synfandel

    In the Canadian army back in 1981, I lost a running battle to have “None” or “Not Applicable” as the religious designation on my tags. I didn’t want (and they wouldn’t have allowed) “Atheist”, because that’s not my religion and they didn’t have a code for it. I simply have no religion.

    In the end some bureaucrat, tired of seeing my file come back, stamped “CS” for generic Christian on my tags. I was not, and am not, a Christian, but that was their version of “REL: No Pref”.

    A friend who enlisted around the same time—also an atheist, but with a quirky sense of humour—put “Druid” on his form. That went onto his tags with no complaint. That’s a religion, you see.

  • Synfandel

    The problem with NO-REL-PREF, of course, is that “no religious preference” is simply incorrect. I had a preference. My preference was “no religion”. None. No incense and mumbo-jumbo. No pretending you’ll leave your shrapnel-riddled corpse behind and go to a better place. I wasn’t indifferent; I was decidedly NOT religious. Why’s that so hard to accept?

  • ‘Tis Himself, OM

    Soldiers, sailers, marines, airmen…

    You can tell it was a soldier who wrote this. Sailors know how to spell their profession.

  • echidna


    I’m not sure what you associate with the word “atheist”, but your description of yourself as having “no religion” fits it as far as I can see.

    Why do you reject the label “atheist”?

  • I remember when I was first asked what my religious preference was when I was first in processing. I just responded with a simple “no religion,” as that was my religious preference. Of course, they obviously misinterpreted it as “no religious preference,” as that’s what I got stamped on my tags. Which was, in fact, wrong, because that made it sound like I didn’t give a crap what religion people chose to impose on me. Like I’d be cool if they sent a chaplain of any religion at me or something. Glad I got it changed to atheist when I got out of AIT.

  • Tyrant of Skepsis

    Tinker, tailor,

    soldier, sailor,

    atheist, agnostic,

    rastaman, druid…

  • catdog

    > Why do you reject the label “atheist”?

    I’m going to guess that it’s due to “atheist” not being a religion. If you’re an atheist your religion is “none”.

  • Tyrant of Skepsis

    Sounds to me like there is a subtle difference between specifying your “religion” or your “religious preference”. I’m not a naytive speaker, but I would guess it makes sense to give the former as “none”, the latter as “atheist”. ymmv