Humanists host speaker at Ft Bragg chaplain facility
At Ft Bragg on Sep 22nd, David Niose presented topics from his new book Nonbeliever Nation. Central North Carolina Atheists & Humanists (CNCAH) coordinated to make the event happen. Ft Bragg chaplains showed openness to nontheists in allowing the event at Watters Family Life Center on Ft Bragg. This is a positive step forward, showing openness from the chaplaincy and community-building by the local humanist community.
The primary organizer for the event was Ray Bradley, board member of CNCAH and humanist lay leader. The event was promoted and attended by members of MAAF and local group MASH Ft Bragg, currently led by Brenda Germain. While individuals might navigate their way independently, this event was made possible only with collaboration between local and national humanist groups, military and civilian humanist groups, and with support from the military chaplaincy.
During the event, Mr Niose encouraged the “Secular Americans” in the audience to help build a community within the military, drawing an analogy between military groups and the value he sees in student groups:
This seemingly simple act—creating groups in public schools for students who are atheist, agnostic, humanist, or otherwise nonreligious—could do more to validate the idea of being personally secular than anything else the secular community has done.
The next event at Ft Bragg is sponsored by MASH Ft Bragg and will feature psychologist Dr Andy Thomson in a conference room at the Airborne Inn on Ft Bragg on November 18th. This will be a good opportunity to continue to build a supportive atheist and humanist community on the installation. Hopefully will also provide an opportunity to address ongoing concerns. Soldiers have been denied the opportunity to simply identify officially as humanist. In addition, requests to volunteer as an Army DFGL (lay leader) have been obstructed for over a year while there are reports that Ft Bragg is hiring a senior youth minister to expand already extensive Protestant ministry programs. (Requests for comment from Ft Bragg weren’t immediately returned.)
Earlier this year, Ft Bragg opened to Rock Beyond Belief but that was done expressly without chaplain involvement. At the military Academies, humanist groups have official recognition but outside the chaplain area. At MacDill AFB, MCAS Miramar, and precious few other locations have chaplains actually agreed to provide basic services to nontheists. That’s why this most recent event, with chaplain approval, at Ft Bragg is so special. Hopefully, openness to the nontheist community like we saw at Ft Bragg last weekend will help bring atheists and humanists equality in the military.