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Non-Theist Army Group Seeks Formal Recognition

Non-Theist Army Group Seeks Formal Recognition

An army group of non-theists has applied for the right to hold meetings on-base at Fort Bragg in the same way that religious groups are allowed, with the aim being to have formal recognition that there is a sizable denomination of nonbelievers in the predominantly Christian U.S. Army, and also to help fellow soldiers better understand what the atheists, humanists and other non-religious denominations among them actually think and about religion and faith.

From Statesman Journal:

“We exist, we’re here, we’re normal,” said Sgt. Justin Griffith, chief organizer of Military Atheists and Secular Humanists, or MASH. “We’re also in foxholes. That’s a big one, right there.”

For now, the group meets regularly in homes and bars outside of Fort Bragg, one of the biggest military bases in the country. But it is going through the long bureaucratic process to win official recognition from the Army as a distinct “faith” group.

[...]

Similar groups of non-theists at about 20 U.S. military bases around the world are watching the outcome at Fort Bragg in hopes it will lead to their recognition, too, said Jason Torpy, president of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers.

[...]

Meetings of military personnel who are non-theists — an umbrella term for the many varieties of nonbelievers — have been held at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida and aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. But groups of any kind are prohibited from meeting on Army bases without official recognition.

Should the group be successful it will mean that MASH literature would be made available alongside religious texts and that the group would be able to raise funds on-base.

As the above article goes on to note, this push isn’t based on incidents of express discrimination against non-theists in the army, for instance members being denied promotions because of their lack of belief. Rather, it would be geared toward unit cohesion and breaking the taboo on non-theism.

According to the article, the Pentagon’s Military Leadership Diversity Commission estimates around 20-25 percent of military personnel would say they are not religious. A much smaller percentage define themselves as atheist or humanist, but clearly there is a significant proportion for whom the stereotype of devout soldiers doesn’t fit.

For those individuals it will be important to have some kind of non-faith based support and therein the feeling that there is a group to which they can go when they have issues that would perhaps be discussed in religious terms by those who do have a religious faith.

It is also hoped that in providing equal resources for non-theists in this small way, the military might avoid tensions seen in wider civilian life where faith issues and growing secularism is concerned.

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Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to the U.S. Army Photo Stream.

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62 comments

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4:00PM PDT on Apr 9, 2011

Vernon C. All creation myths say that what exists was created. You can hardly say that as things really do exist then all the different creation myths must be true can you? Some readings of the Bible lead to ideas of a young Earth when all around you can see evidence of the Earth being very old indeed. At least some myths have the Earth being millions of years old - in Hinduism the Day of Brahma is 4,320,000,000 years which is impressively near to the age of the Earth as revealed by the evidence.
You say you can look around. Look at a chalk cliff. Not very old on the timescale of the Earth's history. Chalk can be laid down at up to about 10cm/1000 years in ideal conditions. There's chalk cliffs where my parents live that are over 400m high. And that chalk is on top of older rock that has been shaped by tectonic plate movements.
All the evidence points to a huge and very old Universe; why would God make a Universe so much smaller than it appears to be, and why would He make one that appears to be so much older than it is? In a nutshell: why did God pretend He'd created something so much more wonderful than He had?

11:07AM PDT on Apr 9, 2011

Keep my fingers crossed for this groups reckognition because as always: Religion is an OPIUM for the PEOPLE!

8:15AM PDT on Apr 8, 2011

CONTINUED

So u feel that we believe in old stuff & are uncreative in our ways of thinking. But u know what let us go to the beginning. Let us see what Genesis say & compare that with what is today.

Genesis says that in the beginning God created the Heavens & the Earth. U know what when I look around I see the heavens & the earth. Genesis says God created the sun, themoon & the stars. Look outside. There they are. It says he created animals, fishes, birds, plants, all crawling things. I see tham every day. It says he created humans, male & female. Here we are.

In fact u say that we creationists are the stupid ones, yet everything that the bible says that God did I can see very clearly STILL HERE. All I have to do is open my eyes.

But u believe in a world of speculation & theory & fairy tale. Things that u cannot see. Nothing that has ever been proven despite trillions of dollars spent in research. Of books written by men who dont have a clue of what is going on. And we creationists are the illogical ones?? I think not. What the bible says was done I can see everyday with my own eyes. What more proof can anyone need?

So show me what u believe in.

8:01AM PDT on Apr 8, 2011

Heather G

No U have it turned around. I had said that the sperm was more required than the egg. But if u understood tongue-in-cheek remarks u would have realised that I said that to stress the importance of the male in decision-making when it comes to abortion & children issues. That the male is just as important as the female. I will give u the benefit of the doubt that maybe there was a typo made, but just in case u do not understand the nuances of the english language, let me clarify that both the female egg & the male sperm are both required to create life. Cheeeee!!!!

Secondly, somehow we have this idea that just because we live in a modern age, everything that we believed in the past must be false & we must change our way of thinking. Even tho there is still no solid proof of what is claimed. All a scientist or someone with a few letters behind their name has to do is write a book on their beliefs & suddenly it is the truth.
I dont buy into that. We all speculate on what was. One scientist having one theory & another having another theory. One day there is a certain position, the next day it is a totally conflicting position. And this is what u choose to believe over what is already there.

CONTINUED


12:18PM PDT on Apr 7, 2011

Vernon, aren't you the one who thinks artificial insemination is about eggs rather than sperm?? oh let me guess, you read about it in the bible so it MUST be true. and no, don't bother reading anything else, new ideas and perspectives would just be a waste of your time, right?

11:16AM PDT on Apr 7, 2011

Dee B

U werent too smart as a lil girl, werent u? And u still havent reached your most shining moments as yet, right?

First of all I am not a fundamentalist christian. I'll admit that my beliefs lean towards christianity tho, & the reason why I spoke about the 3 types of atheists & the outside forces is because my spirituality goes beyond the Bible. Incidentally, the Bible is a very truthful book but unfortunately most people dont read it, they just see the words & align the words with what they heve been thought as children. A good example is that Adam & Eve were the first people on earth. But that is not in the Bible. We were only told that as children. Actually God created many people before he created Adam & Eve. Check Genesis 1 to verify.

In any case, u want me to read a few books, one of which voiced the opinions of a feminist, & the other written by another feminist who has some theory that the Hebrews suppressed feminist religions. And these books, written by these feminists, assisted u in overcoming your childhood beliefs in the Bible, a thousand year old book that is written by prophets & inspired by God. And u actually brag about this?

Let me thank u very much for confirming what I said in my earlier posts which I will repeat. It isnt that atheists do not know that God exist. Everyone knows, but there are outside forces that target those with certain vices & weaknesses in their thought processes & influence their

9:38AM PDT on Apr 7, 2011

I can't for the life of me figure out what the conservative Christians have to fear from allowing those who disagree with them to meet on military a base, or anywhere else.

If you believe that God is really in charge (that is my understanding of the fundamentalist Christian view) than don't you have to accept that EVERYTHING happens as "HE" wills it? This need to defend and protect an almighty God, makes no sense to me. If God needs humans to defend/protect/create his ideal world, than I am happy to side with those who hold a more naturalistic/science/provable world view. Besides which, I will would rather try and take the Bible seriously rather than literally as there is much to be said for following the teachings of Jesus.

Peace, happiness and freedom of thought/belief to each of you.

6:31AM PDT on Apr 7, 2011

Thanks for the article.

6:21AM PDT on Apr 7, 2011

As my late father always said: we do not need freedom OF religion nearly as much as we need freedom FROM religion.

11:29PM PDT on Apr 6, 2011

Again, I must thank James D., first of all for the Constitutional quote, which many have not read nor understood, and then his comment.

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