For the last couple years, some atheist and humanist groups have been pushing for the appointment of humanist chaplains in the military, but military rules don’t allow that because it’s not a religion. An amendment has now been submitted in Congress to change that, but some conservative legislators don’t like that idea at all.
That’s after New Jersey Democratic Rep. Rob Andrews offered an amendment to the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act Wednesday that would allow humanists or members of ethical culture groups to join the chaplain corps. Andrews’ idea was to help members of the military who don’t believe in God, but want someone to talk to about problems without having to seek a medical professional.
But Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee objected mightily, saying that atheists can’t offer spiritual counseling and would likely offend dying soldiers or their families.
“They don’t believe anything,” said Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) “I can’t imagine an atheist accompanying a notification team as they go into some family’s home to let them have the worst news of their life and this guy says, ‘You know, that’s it — your son’s just worms, I mean, worm food.'”
“This I think would make a mockery of the chaplaincy,” said Rep. John Fleming (R-La.). “The last thing in the world we would want to see was a young soldier who may be dying and they’re at a field hospital and the chaplain is standing over that person saying to them, ‘If you die here, there is no hope for you in the future.'”
Another perfect instance of Christian privilege — their religion is the default and anyone else is weird. Never mind that there are atheists in the military who wouldn’t feel comfortable getting counseling from a Christian chaplain. It’s a Blues Brothers moment — we got both kinds here, Catholic and Protestant.