Quantcast

«

»

Aug 06 2013

More Nonsense on Atheist Chaplains

The torrent of nonsense in opposition to the appointment of humanist chaplains in the military continues to flow, this time from Wallace Henry, an “exclusive columnist” for the Christian Post. He trots out the old “atheism is a religion” line and thinks this will only make that claim more true.

Contrary to what you may be reading, Christians should be disappointed and atheists should be glad.

Why? Because allowing atheist chaplains recognizes atheism as a religion and would make atheists subject to the same legal restrictions they have gleefully placed on every other religion.

In the contemporary environment it is easier to speak against God than for God in the public square. An officially sanctioned military chaplaincy for atheists could actually weaken the atheists’ grip on public religious expression.

Wrong. And ignorant. Allowing the military to appoint atheist/humanist chaplains does not turn atheism into a religion; in fact, it would do quite the opposite. Currently, military regulations require that chaplains be sanctioned by a recognized religious organization. We want to change that, to allow the appointment of chaplains who are not religious and not sanctioned by any religion.

If atheists want it, it’s about time, therefore, that atheism should be recognized for what it is – a belief system regarding deity and ultimate reality. It has its own creeds, high priests, and scriptures. Bygone prophets like Bertrand Russell are revered along with the contemporary evangelists of atheism, like Richard Dawkins. The late Christopher Hitchens is among its saints.

Appointing atheist chaplains would give official sanction of sorts to the religious nature of atheism. In fact, atheism focuses passionately on spirituality. It works feverishly to deny the spiritual nature of the human being, and only wants the chaplains for ethical and psychological guidance.

In that light, maybe advocates for an atheist military chaplaincy might rethink their position.

Or maybe we’ll just point and laugh at you for spewing such absurdities. No, atheism does not have creeds, high priests or scriptures. The fact that this or that atheist has achieved some prominence does not make them a priest. Even as an analogy, this claim is absurd; as a direct factual claim, it’s positively idiotic.

11 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    Randomfactor

    The Atheist Creed: “Nuh-uh.”

  2. 2
    matty1

    Remember atheism is the only religion there is.

    Christianity – it’s not a religion it’s a relationship with Jesus
    Other faiths – it’s not a religion it’s a cult

  3. 3
    adbass

    Ok. Fine. Call it a religion if it makes you feel better. Now…allow atheist/humanist chaplains to help those who aren’t blinkered by one religion or another.
    Oh, and don’t forget to send me my tax exemption.

  4. 4
    Chiroptera

    Because allowing atheist chaplains recognizes atheism as a religion and would make atheists subject to the same legal restrictions they have gleefully placed on every other religion.

    What restrictions placed on “other” religions is atheism exempt?

  5. 5
    Ryan Jean

    Chiroptera, it’s basically code-language for “science”. Remember, these are people who dismiss science as “the religion of materialism,” and equate both with atheism, so if they can label atheism as religion and reduce science down to the same, they think that means science will either have to be removed from classrooms or equal time will have to be given.

  6. 6
    Draken

    Christianity – it’s not a religion it’s a relationship with Jesus

    *barf*
    Does anyone know who invented this personal-relationship-with-jesus crap?

  7. 7
    kosk11348

    Under the law, atheism is already considered a “religion” and is supposed to enjoy the same legal protections enjoyed by every other religion.

  8. 8
    Sastra

    In fact, atheism focuses passionately on spirituality. It works feverishly to deny the spiritual nature of the human being, and only wants the chaplains for ethical and psychological guidance.

    Well, that’s more or less true (if you remove the negative implications in the tone and the implicit assumption that the ‘spiritual nature’ exists.) Atheism is a position on the existence of God/the supernatural — there are no such things — and atheists in the military therefore want chaplains for the humanistic ethical and psychological guidance they can provide (as well as for secular ceremonies like marriages and funerals.)

    This should only be a problem if military chaplains NEVER provide or attempt to provide any ethical or psychological guidance other than urging people to become more religious: pray, perform rituals, and seek to strengthen faith. But chaplains themselves insist they do more than this. They can and often do transcend their own religious convictions in order to meet the soldier on their own turf — and provide what help they can. Does Henry think the chaplains all lie?

    It’s so silly. What makes religion “religion” is a combination of a belief in the supernatural and faith in faith. The pious folks who want to label atheism a “religion” are not doing themselves any favors. They’re taking out God and putting in community. They’re removing ‘faith’ and substituting ‘pragmatic reliance’. That’s not going to end well for them if they succeed. Whatever “churches” remain will probably be UU meeting houses.

  9. 9
    felidae

    And atheists have built large, elaborate buildings for their co-believers to gather every week to sing the praises of and listen to discourse on their nonbelief in a controlling deity!

  10. 10
    rhebel

    Would the passage of legislation banning humanist chaplains make for the argument that No chaplains be allowed, as one recognized group has been banned?

  11. 11
    freehand

    Everybody has beliefs about the nature of reality, however simplistic or unexamined it might be. If everything is a religion, then being Southern Baptist is on par with being a fan of the local football team. Which might, BTW, have some psychological validity. But we would still need a word to refer to what we now call religions. Funny religion atheism is. There are of course no priests, nor sacraments; no inspired and infallible scriptures, no rituals nor ceremonies, no Holy Days. We do have music(1) however.
    .
    (1) “Reverend Jack and His Roamin’ Cadillac Church” by Timbukthree; “Cathedral” by Crosby, Stills, and Nash; “The Vatican Rag” by Tom Lehrer; many, many others.

Leave a Reply

Switch to our mobile site