Atheist Chaplains

atheist in foxholeAs if a religious chaplain could even begin to help an atheist. It is astounding to me that it is even a question. Of course my secular take on it is why chaplains instead of psychologists, psychiatrists, and professional counselors in the first place? My memory is too strong of Mormon Bishops and Catholic Priests who think they can cure people’s mental issues without any training whatsoever–malpractice. Once you do allow religious psychology in the military then you really must have someone for each sect which makes the entire affair a circus.

Of course the religious right’s insistence that you can’t go to war unless god is beside you shows just how peaceful their god is. You’d think even a just god would slap his forehead and groan every time someone is shot, on either side.

While Fox News is always yammering about how Christian First Amendment rights are supposedly being attacked by atheists, they have no concern about the First Amendment rights of those who don’t follow Fox’s one true faith. Fox friend Elisabeth Hasselbeck recently channeled Gretchen Carlson’s belief that there should be no free speech rights during Christian holidays. And yesterday, in keeping with the patented Fox atheists suck big time meme, Hasselbeck provided a platform for “pre-Vatican II” Catholic Judge Andrew Napolitano’s argument that those filthy atheists do not deserve to have their own military chaplain.

According to Fox News, an atheist group is in the process of lobbying the Defense Department for the appointment of a chaplain. The push for atheists to be represented in the military’s chaplain corps has been happening since 2011 and hasn’t gone unnoticed by Fox News. Fox’s morning Christian show, Fox & Friends hosted Fox’s one true priest and Tim Tebow fan boy, Fr. Jonathan Morris, for a discussion of how the presence of an atheist chaplain would “degrade” the military.” Flash forward to 2014 and Fox & Friends is picking up where they left off.

As the chyron defined the issue as a “controversy,” Jesus BFF, Elisabeth Hasselbeck reported that “an atheist group is demanding an atheist chaplain.” (Notice the more inflammatory use of “demand” as opposed to the reality that the group is requesting this position). She set the propaganda message as a question: “Is the DOD being politically correct?” She tossed to Judge Napolitano who said that while it’s not surprising, given the number of atheists in the military, “it’s surprising that the military is considering it” because – wait for it – “they have lot more important things to do than figure out how to provide a chaplain for an atheist.”

He spoke of how chaplains are provided for other groups “who believe in God.” (Buddhism’s theology is very different from those who, in Napolitano’s world, “believe in God”). He asserted that atheism isn’t a religion and doesn’t fit government statutes which require the provision of a chaplain to the military. In invoking the patented Fox & Friends evil “political correctness” meme, he proclaimed “this is political correctness gone crazy.” As the chyron read “(Non) Religious Freedom, MAAF: Atheists In Military Need Own Chaplain,” Napolitano claimed that the 14th Amendment doesn’t apply here and that “when you join the military, you give up certain rights.”

Unless you’re Christian.

Jim Newman, bright and well


About Jim Newman

Jim Newman is a philosopher. When I was young I wondered what was the ultimate truth. How should I behave? What makes it all work? I was intensely curious to know what it all means. It was enlightening to realize there is no ultimate truth, but nevertheless sufficient and necessary turth, and that meaning was a meta analysis of living one’s life. In this sense my work has been living large. Living and experiencing life has made me learn many things. Building boats, motors, houses, electronics. Raising animals. Teaching. Writing. Photography. Drawing. Knitting. Sewing. Cooking. Music. Painting. Hiking. Aboriginal living skills. All material aspects of reality that seem irrelevant until you realize they allow you to experience more. My epiphany came when I read Christopher Hitchen’s “Letters to a Young Contrarian” and I felt vindicated in my many meals of sacred cow.
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