Atheists Seek Chaplain Role in the Military
The front page of the NY Times today covered the efforts of MAAF to better support atheists and humanists and to endorse humanist chaplains in the military. The Chaplain Outreach program at MAAF also seeks to ensure that the 3000 chaplains already serving in our military underst and both why and how they should support atheists, humanists, and other nontheists. Hemant Mehta with Friendly Atheist highlighted Department of Defense Demographics showing there are more atheists than Jews, Buddhists, or Muslims, yet those smaller groups have endorsed chaplains. “Strange as it sounds, groups representing atheists and secular humanists are pushing for the appointment of one of their own to the chaplaincy … It would help ensure that chaplains, religious or atheist, would distribute their literature, advertise their events and advocate for them with commanders.” All of these services are already provided by chaplains for all religious groups (Christians for Jews, Jews for Muslims, etc). MAAF simply seeks equal support.
There are already closeted atheist chaplains in the military who just need a humanist endorser so that they can provide their services openly and fully according to their conscience.
Travis Dove NY Times
Justin Griffith with MASH Fort Bragg also took time to host NY Times report Jim Dao at the MASH Fort Bragg meeting. His efforts are part of local activism around the world to bring military atheists out of the closet and to advocate for our needs. Local groups are already set up from Japan to Italy, including Fort Hood, Fort Bragg of course, MacDill Air Force Base, and the USS Abraham Lincoln, to name a few. The military academies are leading the way so far, with recognized groups at the Military (Army), Naval, and Air Force Academies.
MAAF is also sponsoring Justin’s efforts to be recognized as a lay leader, an officially-recognized leader of atheists and humanists at Fort Bragg. Lay leader certification will give atheists and humanists equal access to chaplain services, like facilities, scheduling, and rooms. Fort Bragg is still reviewing the application and after about a month has yet to confirm that the application has been sent forward to higher command. Pending the outcome of this effort, MAAF has other local group leaders waiting in the wings to be recognized at their installations. The student situation is different and they benefit from the support of the Secular Student Alliance, but the military is slowly recognizing that atheists and humanists deserve fully equal support.
Through chaplain outreach, humanist chaplains, local group support, and official recognition by the military, nontheists in the military will know that they are fully equal members on the military team. The Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers is stepping forward to make that happen, but the military must be willing to accept that help.
Check out the following media for opportunities to hear more (all appearances may be deferred/cancelled):
- Mike Smerconish, Apr 27th, 1:40PM eastern
- Canada TV (CTV), Apr 27th, 3:15PM
- Lockwood Phillips (Eastern North Carolina AM 1240 and FM 107.1), Apr 28th, 6:15 PM
- Michael Medved, Apr 29th, 4pm full hour, call-in 800-955-1776
- Alan Colmes, Apr 29th, 11PM, call-in 877-367-2526
- Mike Feder (Sirius Left 146), 1PM, call in 866-997-4748
- Jeff Baird, BBC World Today, airing 10PM Eastern May 1st to 330AM May 2nd