Big Win! ‘Humanists’ Now Recognized by the US Army

Are you a nonbeliever in the US Army or know someone who is? Let them know you can now identify as “humanist” on dog tags and military records. Unfortunately the other four services still don’t allow this (absurdly), but you have a chance to change that if you or someone you know are serving in the other forces, because they can now make a request and cite the Army as precedent. And maybe those forces will change to recognize that humanists exist, too, and have the same rights as Christians, Jews, Muslims, or anyone else.

This is a major accomplishment by the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (in coordination with the ACLU). An official “Religious Preference” is important to military personnel not only because it allows their beliefs to be recognized on equality with any other belief system (and be counted in military statistics), but also because it can affect which chaplaincies get created and funded (and other related rights, such as access to chapel facilities, and everything else the religious get in the military), which is crucial for men and women in the service, who need these things in ways ordinary civilians do not.

The religious have the right to counsel from a chaplain, for example, to discuss problems or seek moral advice, and this comes with several privileges–such as, conversations with a chaplain are confidential (whereas, for example, albeit perversely, conversations with a psychotherapist often are not, even though that increasing lack of confidentiality destroys the medical efficacy of therapy). Chaplains can also act as advocates throughout the chain of command (most important for adherents of minority belief-systems facing discrimination or being ignored, but again just to be on equality with believers: believers can avail themselves of chaplain advocacy; atheists and humanists should have that same right). Chaplains can also facilitate requests for access to literature or family communications on the front lines. Everything they do for Christians can and should be available equally to atheists and humanists. And getting humanism recognized is the first crucial step toward that goal.

The MAAF is working to have a humanist chaplaincy finally created in the military to serve the military atheist and humanist community. There is no reason for the military not to do this, other than prejudice and immoral opposition from religious leaders. In other words, discrimination. One way to ensure the military cannot claim to be a religious body is if it officially recognizes non-religious chaplaincies. That’s precisely why religious leaders oppose this. Even though it would be an expression of fairness and equality under the law. So this recent victory with the Army, Continue reading

Time to Buy Greta Christina’s Awesome New Book!

Greta Christina’s new book, Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why, is superb. I am confident it will be the definitive read on its topic for decades. She researched the hell out of it and covers nearly every conceivable angle. For example, there’s a chapter discussing the problem from the perspective of atheists in the military, and it’s very thoughtful and useful. And that’s just an example. An amazing number of awesome leaders and thinkers in our movement have given this book powerful endorsements, for a variety of reasons you can read about (Greta covers a lot of them here, and tons are included on her book’s Amazon page under editorial reviews). There are also electronic and audio editions (for a full list of editions and links, including for buyers who don’t want to use Amazon to get the print edition, go here).

Help Ed Brayton Battle a White Supremacist

Our colleague Ed Brayton is being sued by a white supremacist for calling him a white supremacist. It’s a case that Ed is sure to win. But the guy attacking him has minimal expenses (since being a lawyer, he is representing himself) and Ed needs to cover enough of his own costs to answer him capably. Read all about it in Please Help Me Fight a Lawsuit, where you can also send Ed some bucks to help. It’s worth a little dosh at least. Because this is yet another case of our backwards legal system disadvantaging the non-rich by making them pay for justice.

Major Godless Chicago Conference: Last Chance to Get Discount Rate!

From Ed Brayton: The Foundation Beyond Belief, the nation’s largest humanist charitable organization, is holding its first national conference, “Humanism at Work,” this July 18-20 (2014) at the Hilton Rosemont in Chicago, Illinois.

This conference, the first of its kind in the freethought community, centers on how nontheists can put their compassionate humanism to work for a better world. It will include TED-style presentations on philanthropy, volunteering, and community building, as well as practical workshops, panels, and hands-on volunteer opportunities.

Speakers include:

  • Evidence-based giving expert CAROLINE FIENNES
  • Nigerian humanist and human rights activist LEO IGWE
  • Atheist homelessness activist SERAH BLAIN
  • HEMLEY GONZALEZ, a humanist at work with the poor in Calcutta
  • Atheist authors HEMANT MEHTA and GRETA CHRISTINA
  • Social psychologist DR. BRITTANY SHOOTS-REINHARD
  • THE PATHFINDERS, three humanists just returned from a year of global service

To register, go to the Humanism at Work website. We’ve worked hard to keep the conference affordable at $129 up to April 15 and $149 after that date. Included in that price is a formal dinner at which we will give away the Heart of Humanism awards to those who have put humanism into action in their local communities and around the world.

This is definitely worth attending! Especially if you–or any atheist, humanist, or secularist group you are a part of (and thus can report back to)–want(s) to get more involved in humanitarianism and philanthropy, or community or other charitable work, or just engage with that realm of activity more as atheists.

If you can afford to go, I recommend it!

Even if you miss the deadline tomorrow, the price bump after that is only twenty dollars.