When they wrote the constitution
The framers thought it best
To make it clear
An office here
Needs no religious test
To defend the constitution
To the clause, the word, the letter
The framers knew
What best to do
But Congress, now, knows better
A chaplain serves the public trust
And Congress foots the bill
By their decree
A chaplain’s free—
“Choose any church you will”
The framers couldn’t mean, of course,
The godless get a voice!
You must pick one—
You can’t say “none”…
And that’s religious choice
Yeah, so… I was wondering about this chaplaincy thing. Chaplains are (duh) government employees–otherwise, Congress would have no authority to regulate them. Which, smarter people than I have already noted, brings to mind Article VI, Section III of the US Constitution–the “No Religious Test Ban Clause“:
no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.
This clause, along with the first amendment clauses, is the basis of what we atheist types like to call the “wall of separation between church and state”. Sometimes called (again, by us atheist types) “freedom from religion”.
But, of course (as I am so often told), there is no freedom from religion, only freedom of religion. That’s the only explanation for the recent votes about atheist chaplains–religious choice must mean “your choice of religions”, not “your choice to worship or not”. Mind you, today’s Congress is not the beginning of the kerfuffle: here’s a nice source discussing the radical nature of the clause at its beginning. (Interesting note–religious types keep reminding me of how often our founders wrote and spoke about God. They don’t notice that there is a conspicuous lack of such talk in the Constitution itself.)
Anyway… I did want to quote one thing I read about the manufactroversy here…
Surely some basic equity—allowing service members without a religious tradition to have a safe space to talk about the fears and anxieties that come with military service—would benefit the military as much as it would benefit atheists. But for the House Republicans, it seems that acknowledging the needs of nonreligious service members would be another nail in the coffin of god-fearing America.
I couldn’t agree more.