VFW Auxiliary Votes to Discriminate Against Atheists

Did you know the VFW Auxiliary discriminates against atheists? You probably didn’t, but this summer, a proposal to remove that discrimination was voted down at their national convention. They had the opportunity to serve all personnel, yet they chose to discriminate against atheists. Auxiliary national leadership provided form letter responses with no details to various inquiries on the matter. The ironic thing is that the VFW itself makes no distinction among its membership. A local print form often refers to a ‘Almighty’ supernatural god but that is not found on the national application and not a requirement for membership. MAAF called for a change to the religious national application in 2005. Hopefully VFW national leadership will override the Auxiliary to ensure the entire organization puts veterans first without discrimination based on religious beliefs.

Here is a story from one of the military family members excluded by this policy. She is a veteran herself, though not herself a veteran of a foreign war. She nonetheless wants to honor her father’s memory and support other veterans. Yet the VFW Auxiliary wants to deny her that opportunity.

My father died last March, and I’d gone to the VFW with him many times over the years to see him work as Post Service Officer. As his daughter, and as a Humanist Celebrant, I performed his celebration of life at the VFW. I partnered with a Catholic priest who did the religious portion to honor my dad’s wishes. In May, I was asked to place the Navy wreath in honor of my father and all Navy vets during the city Memorial Day ceremony, which was also facilitated by this local VFW. I sat through Christian prayers at this event as well. This city-sponsored event had a religious bias, but I do want to support veterans and my father’s memory, so I started asking about being able to join the Auxiliary, which was one of my father’s wishes. I don’t qualify for the VFW because I never deployed, and it was clear that I wouldn’t qualify for Auxiliary membership because I don’t believe in a god. This is very hurtful to be discriminated against due to my beliefs, but, I was also told that the Auxiliary national convention was reviewing this membership requirement over the summer. I waited patiently, hoping the Auxiliary would remove this discriminatory membership requirement. The voting membership at the national Auxiliary conference did not do so. I really want to give back to the veteran community. As a veteran myself and the daughter of a veteran, I’m excluded purely due to my beliefs about religion. – former Army Sergeant Renee Reif.


4 Responses to VFW Auxiliary Votes to Discriminate Against Atheists

  1. I have been an atheist for 80+ years. I am retired from the Military (20 yrs service). Served in Korea during the Korean war. I would not spit on the VFW if its hair was on fire.

  2. I am a retired Navy veteran. I have been approached several times about joining the VFW. I have always quickly declined. Each time I have been pressed about why younger veterans don’t seem to be interested in joining. I’ve always been forthright about my own personal reasons, I am not an alcoholic, I am not sexist, I am an atheist. Each of the three times I was then asked why do people keep thinking we’re alcoholics? No denial of the other two points.

  3. I guess the VFW is not unwavering at all.

  4. Why bother?

    We don’t need to come to these outfits, hats in hand, begging membership into their clubs of god-botherers. I’ve been retired from active duty for ten years now. There has been nothing I needed from the VFW in that time.

    That organization is confused over who needs whom.

    Stuff the VFW, if they want to discriminate.

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