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Oct 10 2011

Help Make Foxholes Safe for Atheists

One of the best things about blogging on FtB is being surrounded by energetic, dynamic writers, thinkers, and activists. That includes many of the commenters as well as my fellow bloggers. This place keeps me on my toes.

You may have already seen this interview with Justin Griffith posted a few places, including his blog, where he comments a bit more. If you haven’t taken the time to watch it yet, I strongly recommend that you do so (though, as Justin notes, perhaps not at work). He talks about the various challenges atheist soldiers face, their common cause with many religious soldiers, the original purpose of the chaplaincy and what it has become, and his own activism, both with Rock Beyond Belief and in regard to an atheist chaplaincy. He also explains why my title for this post is a bit misleading.

Even if the folks running the show don’t rock your boat, don’t miss Justin.


(Watch here if embedding doesn’t work.)

It is people like Justin who make me acutely aware that, really, aside from some donations, a tiny bit of campaigning, and being willing to put my name and sometimes my feet behind my causes, I’m just a writer. I have an incredible amount of respect for the real activists.

Luckily, along comes Chris Rodda to remind me that sometimes being willing to put that name down counts. A few days ago, she pointed to a petition at WhiteHouse.gov that needs more signatures in order to be put before the president. It calls upon the president to end the military’s discrimination against non-religious service members:

The US military fails to provide Equal Opportunity for non-religious service members.

We are forced to participate in religious rituals during official ceremonies. This is not free exercise, this is forced exercise. Worship belongs in voluntary services, not in mandatory formations. This is unconstitutional establishment of an official preference for religion over non-religion.

We are forced to take an unconstitutional religious test for “Spiritual Fitness”. Those who fail the test are forced to take remedial training instructing them to go to church and pray. This proselytization by the US military is forced onto us against our will.

These policies create a hostile environment, division, and resentment within the military, destroying morale and threatening national security.

This only required 5,000 signatures, but they must come from U.S. citizens willing to register for the site (no, it doesn’t put you on a spam list) and they must be gathered before the end of this month. As of right now, fewer than half the required signatures have been obtained. The petition still needs more than 2,800 additional signatures.

So listen to Justin, and while he’s inspiring you with his work–or even just his tattoo–help another Military Religious Freedom Foundation client be heard.

4 comments

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  1. 1
    Jason Thibeault

    I’d sign, but, you know.

  2. 2
    Justin Griffith

    That’s a really nice article Stephanie. Thank you so much for the nudge. It’s hard to explain to people that there are fundies trying to evangelize LITERALLY over my dead body (as part of my military funeral!)

    @Jason – My dad’s amateur hockey team in Texas had a few Canadians on it. The team also had some rednecks. The rednecks called the Canadians ‘upper Mexicans’. Possibly the most adorable racism I’ve ever encountered.

  3. 3
    Stephanie Zvan

    Justin, you do a damned good job of explaining. We really just need to get people to listen to you. I mean, come on, when even the chaplains like you….

  4. 4
    dizzlski

    FYI, you apparently cannot sign any petition while on an iPad. You can create an account, sign in, stay signed in, but then it won’t let you sign any petition. When I click the sign button it tells me that I shouldn’t create a new petition because it might make the current one less influential. Thanks White House.

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