Regulations Regarding Nontheists in the Military

The list of regulations are related to MAAF policy and goals. The list is sorted into functional categories – Equal Opportunity, Chaplains, Ministry,and Religious Programs, Standards of Conduct, and Administrative Procedures. We will verify each regulation has the current version and make comments about the important points within each regulation. Note that each regulation has a certain area – AF is Air Force only, as with Army, Navy, and Marines. DoD is Department of Defense, and there may be Joint documents. Also, each document has a different level of legal authority. For example, a Pamphlet and Field Manuals are not necessarily binding, whereas DoD Directives, Air Force Instructions, Army Regulations, and Navy Instructions are considered most binding.

First, here is a useful DLA aggregate of chaplain resources.

Command Policy

  • AFI1-1v2014, also see: Air Force Standards updated 2014. 2012-2014 changes. Governs values, conduct, and appearance in the Air Force. This regulation also serves to codify the interim guidance on religious accommodation released in 2000, 2006, and 2011 (listed below in the Treatment of Religion section), and was updated in 2014 to reflect “conscience protections” of the National Defense Authorization Act”. The guidance recognizes the right not to express a religion but still does not explicitly recognize humanist and other nontheistic beliefs in a positive way. In addition, the regulation asserts the need for spirituality while providing no definition. [2012]
    • Air Force Values v1997 [external] Secular treatment of values with a specific statement that the values are the ‘price of admission’ to the air force, have no particular faith basis, and that leaders should not influence the religious views of subordinates.
  • ArmyReg600-20v2011 Army Command Policy. Chapter 4 provides instructions on conduct and Chapter 6 provides guidance on equal opportunity. The policy provides the following definition: “The spiritual state centers on a person’s religious/philosophical needs, providing powerful support for values, morals, strength of character, and endurance in difficult and dangerous circumstances.” in context of physical, material, and mental states, the four totalling “Well-being.” [2002]
  • AFPD36-29v1996 Military standards of conduct, in particular those regarding personal solicitation on installations.
  • General Order 1B (4-star)General Order 1B (3-star) General Order #1B, the governing prohibition for servicemembers in the middle east, updated for the current conflict. Covered specifically in the recent Bagram Bibles fiasco
  • ArmyPam600-15v2000 Extremist Activities
  • DODD1325-6pv1996 Handling dissent and protesting activities by service members
  • DODD1344-10pv2000 Political activities by active duty service members
  • AFI51-902v1996 Political Activities in the Air Force
  • DODD5500-7rpv1996 Joint Ethics Regulation cover sheet

Equal Opportunity

  • DODD1350-2pv2003 Department of Defense Equal Opportunity. Establishes a comprehensive Defense Equal Opportunity Council (DEOC). This council has responsibilities analogous to those suggested in the 2008 joint MAAF/SCA recommendations to the incoming Obama administration.
    • Definition of religion: A personal set or institutionalized system of attitudes, moral or ethical beliefs, and practices that are held with the strength of traditional religious views, characterized by ardor and faith, and generally evidenced through specific religious observances. (repeated in other regulations)
    • Previous version: [1997]
  • AFI36-2706v2010 Air Force Equal Opportunity. The regulations prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion. 1996 version – This regulations specifically states that organizations that discriminate (like the Boy Scouts) shall be denied use of military facilities or resources, but the restrictions seems to have been deleted or relocated in the 2010 version. Research ongoing.
  • ArmyPam600-26v1990 Army Affirmative Action
  • AFI36-2707v1998 Nondiscrimination
  • AFPam36-2705v1995 Discrimination Prevention Manual
  • AFPD36-27v1993 Social Actions. This provides for measurement of discrimination compliance
  • ArmyReg601-210v2007 Army Enlistment Program. This provides a specific exception to allow enlistees to drop the “so help me god” clause from the oath of enlistment.

Chaplain Accessions and Appointments

  • DODD1304-19v2007 Appointment of Chaplains. Details the requirements to be appointed as a military chaplain, including education and ecclesiastical endorsement. States specifically, “chaplains [shall] facilitate ministries appropriate to the rights and need(s) of persons of other faith groups” [1993]
  • VHAH1111-01v2011 Ecclesiastical Endorsing Agencies for the Veterans Health Administration 2005
  • Just for good measure, Bureau of Prisons accessions: CPD3939-07v2001. There seem to be no explicit qualifications for endorsers, just implied qualifications similar to those of the DoD.

Chaplains, Ministry, and Religious Operations

  • AFI52-101v2011 Section 2.3.2 provides for “Special Resource Personnel” including lay leaders to assist the chaplain with support functions. Air Force Ministry Program – provides for the privilege of total confidentiality in communications with a chaplain … made either as a formal act of religion or as a matter of conscience. v2008
  • AFMan52-103v1997 Chaplain Service Readiness
  • NavyWP1-05v2012 Religious Ministry services – with new categorizations that exclude nontheists.
  • NavyTTP1-05-1Mv2016 Religious Lay Leader, supersedes [NavyTRP1-05-1v2010]. 76 pages of requirements, training, guidance, and paperwork for lay leaders. Lay Leaders are regular service members who can lead ‘services’ for faith groups not represented by the chaplaincy. Chaplains still provide oversight to ensure the lay leader has some qualification and that the events are in accordance with applicable regulations. This is important for nontheists because we have no chaplains at all. The Navy has interpreted this regulation to include only military personnel, so some civilians may be turned away when applying; however, nowhere in this or other regulations is there a restriction against civilians being appointed lay leaders. Also, the regulation calls for appointments by a ‘Schedule A’ religious organization, and the Humanist Society and other humanist organizations meet this requirement. The requirement also requires all publicity to be approved in writing with the “name the RO represented and accurately describe the service being offered.”
    • NavyI1730-7dv2008 Religious Ministries Support requires civilian Contract Religious Ministry Professionals be “endorsed by a specific DoD-listed RO.”  [2000]
    • NavyMan1730-010v2000 Use of Lay Leaders in Religious Services – provides for chaplains, lay leaders, or contract civilian personnel to perform services.
  • ArmyFM1-05v2003 Religious Support, [formerly 16-1, 1995]
  • ArmyReg165-1v2015 Chaplain Activities – key regulation for lay leaders and other chaplain activities in the US Army, [2009][2004][2000]
  • NavyI5351-1v2011 Professional Naval Chaplaincy Instruction, and the associated Guide with implementation instructions. The Instruction itself requires in recruiting that (paragraph 5a) “Consideration is given to religious diversity, particularly
    where an RMP’s RO is not currently represented in the CHC, but is represented by Service members in the DON.” All those acronyms mean that chaplains representing beliefs (like humanism) that aren’t currently in the chaplaincy should be preferred.
  • DODD5120-8pv1995 Armed Forces Chaplains Board Charter
    • “A chaplain of a particular religious faith group may be appointed by the Board as a special consultant for matters about that religious faith”
  • JP1-05v2013 Religious Ministry Support.
    • This publication provides an excellent overview of the wide variety of secular services a chaplain is beholden to provide as well as the great range of training a chaplain would need to perform these activities.
    • Chaplains are responsible for “religious affairs” includes counseling to service members and advice to the chain of comamnd, including “to support welfare and enhance morale, and to help the command understand the complexities of religion … to advise on religious structures and monuments of antiquity (as valid military targets) … [counseling activities including] work-space visitation, counseling, coaching on military life, pre- and post-deployment training for Service members and their families, crisis prevention and response, family life programs, memorial observances… “building relationships and collaborating with other government agencies, NGOs, and IGOs … caring for the wounded and honoring the dead.”
    • This publication includes sectarian wording implying that religion is consists only of “faith or spiritual principles” or “religious worship, rites, sacraments, ordinances, and ministrations” rather than the more appropriate definition found in other higher-level regulations, including DODD 1350.2 (listed abobve).
    • George Washington is quoted saying, “reason and experience both forbid us to expect that National Morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” This is a quote discriminatory to nontheists within the military. Following MAAF complaints, this quote was removed.
    • Previous version: [2009[2004] [1996]
  • MCMp2816v1995 Chaplains and religious affairs
  • MCWP6-12v2001 Religious Ministry Support
  • NavyFMFM3-6v1989 Religious Ministries
  • NavyFMFM3-61v1992 Ministry in Combat
  • NavyI1730-3Gv1989 Employment of civilian clergy
  • NavyI1730-6v1974 Visits of Civilian Religious Leaders to Overseas Installations
  • MCO1730-6Dv1997 Command Religious Programs
  • MCO1730-6Ev2012 Religious Ministry in the Marine Corps – Para 4a(2)(l) Lay Leaders (military only in operation environments with MCRP 6-12B below) and (m) Contract Religious Ministry Professional (competitively-selected civilian froma  DoD-listed RO.)
  • MCRP6-12bv2000 Religious Lay Leaders Handbook – requires “substantiated” need, nomination of a lay leader who is military, appointment, and training before providing services. 2 requirements: is clergy available and if not does faith require oversight?
  • NavyMan15555cv1993 Military Funerals
  • CAPReg265-1v2007 Chaplain Service Activities

Treatment of Religion

  • AFPD52-1v2006 Accomodation of religion in the Air Force [This and other regulations below are reinforced by AFI1-1, listed above]
    • AFMemo-GovtNeutralityv2011 Chief of Staff guidelines on government/command neutrality toward religion.
    • AFGuide-RelAccomv2006 Air Force Guidance interim guidance regarding accomodation of religion. This guidance was published in response to the MRFF exposure of discrimination at the Air Force Academy and led to the later update of AFPD52-1. Previous version: [1999]
    • AFMemo-StaffPrayerv2000 (superseded by more recent guidance) this memo was provided by the Air Force Chief of Chaplains to defend prayer in a wide variety of situations despite a legal decision to the contrary
  • ArmyPAM600-75v1993 Accommodating Religious Practices
  • ArmyPam600-63-12v1987 Spiritual Fitness. This publication freely associates “spiritual” with “emotional” fitness, providing a mostly secular treatment of the subject.
  • DODD1300-15v1985 Military Funeral Support
  • DODI1300-17v2014 Accommodation of religious practices. The 2014 update adds important language to account for conflicting beliefs while opposing discrimination, [2009][1988]
  • NavyI1730-8av1997 Accommodation of religious practices

Administrative Procedures

  • AFI34-223v2010 Private Organization Status requests to conduct local group operations on AF installations
  • ArmyReg210-22v2001 Private Organization Status requests to conduct local group operations on Army installations
  • DODI1000-15v2008 Private Organization Status requests to conduct local group operations on DoD installations [1997]
  • DODD5400-7pv2002 Freedom of Information Act. Procedures for acquiring documents and records from the DoD.
  • DODD5400-11pv1999 Privacy Program
  • USCode10v2008 United States Code – excerpts related to chaplains and worship. These are high-level, often outdated and having little direct effect on daily operations. USC 10 Section 502 has the oath of enlistment and does not specify an optional portion; however, lower-level regulations do.
  • Breaking update: The Assistant Secretary of Department of Defense on recommendation from the Armed Forces Chaplains Board has recommended major changes. Read about the memo and changes here. Further updates pending April 2017.
    • Online listing for military demographics and faith/belief codes official live update dod site (bottom of page). Rather than updating DoD Manual 1336.05 (below) with codes directly, the list will be maintained online.
    • DODM1336-05v2013 DMDC Values for Military Personnel Data Extracts. Governs requirements to report personnel data to the Department of Defense. This governs reporting to DMDC as a minimum but does not necessarily exclude what individual branches of service can report (eg, the Army has added Humanist). Also the “Faith Group” label for the codes does not exclude atheist, agnostic, and other non-faith entries that are important to have visibility on. Between the 2012 MAAF demographics request and this 2013 update, the only change to the list was the addition of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations.
    • DoDI1300-18v2000 Military Personnel Casualty Matters. Includes two-letter codes for religious preference including Atheist (75).
    • ArmyReg680_29v1996 Military Personnel, Organization, and Type of Transaction Codes. This regulations prescribes codes to be used in a variety of situations, including to categorize someone by religion. Section 1-68, page. 40 has religion options, including 00 – blank, 01 – No Rel Pref, 74 – Other, 99 – Unknown, 75 – Atheist, so don’t just take no preference as an option. AR 680-29, 1996
    • MCOP1100-72Cv2004 Marine Corps Religious Preference transaction codes.
  • DODD13541pv1980 Unions
  • DODPM11-2v2008 Private organizations on at Military Enlistment Processing Centers. This is a new message precipitated by an Americans United lawsuit. There are significant loopholes and issues with the new regulation, but it does recognize the damage done by providing special access to proselytizing organizations.
  • DODI1015-9pv1999 Scouting on Installations Overseas. Provides for brought support of scouts on overseas installations.
  • DODI1330-7pv1994 Visits of civilian leaders to overseas installations
  • NavyI4651-8v1989 Attendance at and Participation in Meetings by Military Personnel
  • DODD1334-1pv1969 Wearing of the uniform

Other Documents of Interest

  • Military Demographics showing over 20% nontheists in the military, including a MAAF 2010 Report on religious demographics in the military and previous studies from 2004 and 2002.
  • “Justice, Justice Shall You Pursue. Legal Analysis of Religion Issues in the Army”. Major Michael Benjamin highlights not only free-exercise issues but also tackles establishment clause problems within the military. Army Lawyer, November 1998
  • The writings of George Washington – An interesting letter regarding the dangers of ill-fitting chaplains in units.