House Forbids Humanist Chaplains


A push has been on to get the military to allow the appointment of at least a handful of humanist chaplains to represent the needs of non-theistic members of the military. Naturally, the Republican party is totally against that idea and the House just voted for an amendment to forbid that from happening.

The effort to pass the ban was led by Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana. His arguments were predictably stupid and bigoted.

“The notion of an atheist chaplain is nonsensical; it’s an oxymoron,” said Rep. John Fleming, R-Minden, sponsor of the amendment to a House defense spending bill. He said it marks the third time the House has voted to insist the Pentagon appoint only chaplains certified by endorsing religious agencies…

“It is absurd to argue that someone with no spiritual inclination should fill that role, especially when it could well mean that such an individual would take the place of a true chaplain who has been endorsed by a religious organization,” Fleming said. “Opponents of my amendment make vastly exaggerated claims about the religious demographics of the military.”

Fleming said less than one percent of service members identify themselves as atheists, “and all chaplains stand ready to serve any member of the Armed Forces, regardless of whether he or she shares the chaplain’s faith.”

Even if only one percent were atheists (and that isn’t accurate), so what? Make 1% of the chaplains humanist. It would hurt nothing and it would help those soldiers have some representation and someone they can talk to who isn’t going to tell them that God is looking out for them or wants them to do something. But when Republicans claim to “support the troops” they only mean the troops they approve of. Gay soldiers? They couldn’t care less. Atheist and humanist soldiers? Screw them.

Only two Republicans in the entire House voted against this amendment, one of which was Michigan’s Justin Amash.

Comments

  1. Don Williams says

    1) Well, in the glass-is-half-full vein I would like to note that the military now allows its members to choose Thor’s hammer Mjolnir as the religious emblem to be placed on their tombstone:

    http://www.cem.va.gov/hmm/emblems.asp (Item 55)

    2) They also allow the Atheist’s A to be selected (item 16). Black only unfortunately –not available in red.

    58 choices in all –including the Buddist Wheel of Rightousness (item 2).

    3) In view of how Republican Presidential candidates Milt Romney and Newt Gingrich were practically auctioning off the lives of 50,000 soldiers –for the invasion of Iran — to Sheldon Adelson in the 2012 campaign, I think the military should add the Extended Middle Finger symbol as an option.

  2. eric says

    Kinda runs afoul of the whole ‘religious test for office’ part of the constitution.

    AFAIK the courts have basically ignored how the military selects chaplains up until now. But I could see how this could force them to get involved. Congress putting in an admentment that explicitly prevents the military from hining people based on their atheism is going to get someone’s attention.

  3. says

    eric “AFAIK the courts have basically ignored how the military selects chaplains up until now. But I could see how this could force them to get involved.”
    News of the Future:
    “In a 5-4 split today, the Supreme Court says that banning atheist chaplains is ‘simple ceremonial deism’ and is neither discriminatory nor exclusionary…”

  4. says

    Fleming said less than one percent of service members identify themselves as atheists, “and all chaplains stand ready to serve any member of the Armed Forces, regardless of whether he or she shares the chaplain’s faith.”

    Just like the humanist chaplains are required to serve any member of the Armed Forces, regardless of their faith. Yet somehow, this is good enough for atheists, but not for Christians.

  5. D. C. Sessions says

    Moved and seconded, Modus@8 for winning the thread.

    Do we have a motion to close nominations?

  6. Randomfactor says

    Symbol #45 intrigues me–double Spock Hands for the win*

    *(Nimoy actually said that’s where the got the “live long and prosper” gesture)

  7. slc1 says

    Re Don Williams @ #3

    Invasion of Iran? What invasion of Iran. There is nothing wrong with Iran that a couple of well targeted Tsar bombs won’t cure. Got to show them who’s boss.

  8. Donnie says

    @12: nice! Genocide Dickweed on line #1….Dick Cheney would like to hire you as his running mate for 2016. Your campaing slogan will be, “We have nukes, so fuck you”

  9. Don Williams says

    Re Random at 11:

    Let me guess — he also said the Palestinians are stupid Klingons who have to be bitchslapped every so often?

  10. Synfandel says

    1. The counseling service provided by a religious chaplain to an atheist soldier is considered just a good as counseling service provided by a religious chaplain to a religious soldier.

    2. Clearly the religious beliefs of the two parties are irrelevant to the quality of the service being provided.

    3. Therefore counseling provided by a humanist chaplain is very bit as good as counseling provided by a religious chaplain.

    4. Therefore discriminating against a humanist chaplain for employment positions is a violation of his civil rights.

  11. dannyftb says

    That Justin Amash is a GOP libertarian populist. I wonder if he fits your previous post about rightwing libertarians and white identity. Except for his newfound fame for trying to defund the NSA phone surveillance, I don’t know much about Amash.

  12. Erp says

    It wouldn’t surprise me if one or two of the double handful of Unitarian Universalist military chaplains are atheistic humanists.

    Note that one big reason for having humanist chaplains is to make non-humanist chaplains and the rest of the military aware that humanism is a valid life stance and that they have a person to contact if they have questions. BTW pagan soldiers also have problems in regards to chaplains and recognition.

  13. skinnercitycyclist says

    eric “AFAIK the courts have basically ignored how the military selects chaplains up until now. But I could see how this could force them to get involved.”
    News of the Future:
    “In a 5-4 split today, the Supreme Court says that banning atheist chaplains is ‘simple ceremonial deism’ and is neither discriminatory nor exclusionary…”

    I think we may stand a better chance than that. “Ceremonial deism” is usually cited for “In God We Trust” on money and public buildings. The opponents’ very examples of soldiers in distress and the role chaplains can play in that would go against the “ceremonial” argument, I think.

    The whole chaplain thing may have made sense when Army posts were far-flung and away from amenities. It may make sense in Afghanistan, maybe even Germany where the language could be a barrier. But to have chaplains at Forts Hood or McClellan? Please.

  14. slc1 says

    Re Don Williams @ #14

    A citation as to Leonard Nimoy ever making such a statement is in order. Now of course, ole Don’s claim about Nimoy has nothing to do with his ethnicity, not a bit of it, perish the thought.

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