So there are Atheists in foxholes

Stars & Stripes looks at Atheists in the military.

Ed Brayton makes a good point:

I do believe that most military chaplains would be more than willing to counsel atheists as they would anyone else and I don’t think most chaplains are hostile to atheists or to atheism. But even the most liberal chaplain is going to have a very difficult time providing meaningful dialogue that might help a soldier cope with a situation because they start from entirely different sets of beliefs. That’s the same reason why they have chaplains of faiths other than Christianity available to non-Christian soldiers.

If atheists in the military are looking for fellowship & guidance, the military should do all it can to accommodate them.


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7 Responses to So there are Atheists in foxholes

  1. eriko says:

    Don’t be so sure that the Chaplain will have an issue.
    According to a recent news report, one in six clergy in the Protestant Church in the Netherlands (PKN) and six other denominations is either an atheist or agnostic, reports Christian Concern for our Nation.

  2. Bram says:

    Why talk to Chaplin if you are an atheist? What is going to say that your Drill Instructor didn’t already say? Suck it up, pussy!

  3. Mad Rocket Scientist says:

    If the wisdom of the Drill Instructor is all the support & guidance needed, why bother with the Chaplin Corps?

  4. Mollbot says:

    Tradition I suppose. We had a great head chaplain on our first deployment. Father O’Shaughnessy was the most amazing stereotype of an “Irish Catholic Priest” I have ever met. He would happily discuss doctrinal differences (and/or football – American or European) over a pint… or a 12-0z can if that was what was available… and he loved to make fun of the sissies in the Air Wing. We Nukes all loved him. Even the athiests, I’m pretty sure. I was raised a Methodist but the good Father was hands down my favorite chaplain.

  5. Kurt P says:

    Isn’t that what bartenders are for?

  6. Kresh says:

    I always thought atheist chaplains were called psychologists.

  7. Ragin' Dave says:

    “If the wisdom of the Drill Instructor is all the support & guidance needed, why bother with the Chaplin Corps?”

    Because the wisdom of the Drill Sergeant is NOT all the guidance needed. The vast majority of the military espouses one religion or another. However, if troops out there are evangelical atheists, then they are probably not going to want to speak to a spiritual adviser, or pastor of any stripe. Let them go talk to a psychologist.

    Also, Chaplains in the military exist not just to provide religious support to their particular denomination, but to ensure that all Soldiers have the freedom to exercise their religion. A Lutheran Chaplain also ensures that Jewish or Hindu Soldiers have a place and any necessary supplies for their worship. When I was in theater the chapel had a space set aside for Wiccan celebrations. Chaplains advise commanders on religious matters, and Unit Ministry Teams are expected to be the subject matter experts on religious considerations in the area of operations.

    There’s a lot more to being a Chaplain than just saying prayers.

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