I really don’t like it when I type a comment on a site, submit it, and it falls into a black hole. Now, it could be simply that it will be approved in due time… but just in case, this is what I said:
If chaplains provide tangible benefits regarding the earthly needs of members of the Armed Forces (which they do–confidential counseling, unlike therapist visits which are part of the official record, is just one example), House Republicans have just voted not just against the best interest of atheist servicemen and women, but also against the best interest of the military in general.
Apparently, it is more important to define the word “chaplain” as narrowly as possible than it is to see to the needs of Armed Forces.
It is true that only a small percentage of the military self-identify as atheists (however, there are many stories of atheists asking for “atheist” tags and being issued “no religious preference” instead, so the numbers of official atheists must be considered the low end of a range, rather than an accurate count), but that number is greater than the number of Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim troops combined. Each of those groups has their own chaplains–implying that the military knows that A) having chaplains with your own world view is important, and B) it is not simply that there are not enough atheists to warrant similar treatment.
The faith communities of the chaplains are not at all a good match for the faith communities of the people they serve. Some Christian sects are under-represented, while others are vastly over-represented. The current kerfuffle looks like nothing so much as a power struggle, with a handful of denominations trying to consolidate the power they have accrued, against the force of a rising tide of change.