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← Soldier Sues Army, Saying His Atheism Led to Threats

Soldier Sues Army, Saying His Atheism Led to Threats - Comments

SRWB's Avatar Comment 1 by SRWB

This fascination with faith and religion in the US military is not unheard of at all, unfortunately. The US military has a well-deserved reputation for ramming this stuff down their members' throats. Thankfully we don't have the same experience in the Canadian military, although we still have a chaplain's branch which has some influence. But by and large, faith is a personal matter and not one endorsed by the military hierarchy as a rule - there are exceptions of course.

Sat, 26 Apr 2008 10:26:00 UTC | #161136

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 3 by mordacious1

The first thing the army gave me when I enlisted during Viet Nam was a copy of the new testament. Things got worse from there. In basic, on Sundays, you could go to church then have free time, or stay in the barracks and clean toilets. By the time I got out in '84 the real Christianization of the military was in high gear. The churches were sending people on "missions" to preach jesus to us heathens. The main problem was that if I asked one of my christian privates if the Soviets came across the border would they shoot to kill. Everyone of them said "no", killing is a sin. THEN GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE ARMY YOU MORON! I've heard it has been getting worse now.

Sat, 26 Apr 2008 10:27:00 UTC | #161138

Hypoluxa's Avatar Comment 2 by Hypoluxa

As a fellow Army Vet, I served in Bosnia and I had a few religious comrades, but luckily never had any pressure from them. But then I didn't consider myself an atheist at that point in my life, just an agnostic from what I can remember...

At any rate you get people of all kinds of backgrounds when your in the military, from Kool-Aid drinkers (like the soldiers this guy served with), to free thinkers, but not many of the latter. Its good this guy finally made a complaint, military life is already stressful enough, no need to get harassed and more stressed over something that is unprovable and highly improbable...

Sat, 26 Apr 2008 10:27:00 UTC | #161137

Liquid's Avatar Comment 4 by Liquid

Feel bad for him, he's getting shot at by religious fanatics and he's getting pounded on from his own camp by religious fanatics.

Sat, 26 Apr 2008 10:37:00 UTC | #161141

akado's Avatar Comment 5 by akado

http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/treaty_tripoli.html
treaty with tripoli
art. 11
everyone should read this to shut them up
very important to what the founding fathers wanted ;P
and it's sad to see our soldiers at this way.........

Sat, 26 Apr 2008 10:41:00 UTC | #161143

Diacanu's Avatar Comment 7 by Diacanu

Ah, the "the founding fathers were christians", meme.

That one just won't go away, will it?

Guess they know it's the only leg they have to stand on, even though it's a lie.

Tch.

Well, all we can do is keep spreading the anti-virus of truth.
The historical record is on our side, not theirs.

Sat, 26 Apr 2008 10:45:00 UTC | #161145

huzonfurst's Avatar Comment 6 by huzonfurst

One more example of how religion is another tool for bullies. Aggressive, socially coercive behavior apparently does have some survival advantage or it should have disappeared by now.

Thank gawd I refused to go to Vietnam or the other soldiers would have done me in before we ever went on patrol...

Sat, 26 Apr 2008 10:45:00 UTC | #161144

Hypoluxa's Avatar Comment 8 by Hypoluxa

Comment #169596 by Liquid on April 26, 2008 at 11:37 am
Feel bad for him, he's getting shot at by religious fanatics and he's getting pounded on from his own camp by religious fanatics.
No kidding! How ironic is that!

Sat, 26 Apr 2008 10:46:00 UTC | #161146

mordacious1's Avatar Comment 9 by mordacious1

To huzonfurst: not true, once the bullets start flying the only thing thing that matters is who's gonna save your ass. The worst guys in my unit were the born agains, they were praying when they should have been thinking, and were slackers and dumbasses. Give me an atheist who can think for himself anyday.

Sat, 26 Apr 2008 10:54:00 UTC | #161149

phil rimmer's Avatar Comment 10 by phil rimmer

Good stuff akado, but lets post it.

Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

Sat, 26 Apr 2008 10:55:00 UTC | #161150

bluebird's Avatar Comment 12 by bluebird

There was a similiar article in our paper today:
http://www.kansascity.com/440/story/592901.html

When we hear about Fort Riley, it's usually about deployments or homecomings. Very pleased this story is making national headlines. I have a maternal urge to give him a hug and say "good job".... probably a note of encouragement would suffice!!

Sat, 26 Apr 2008 11:14:00 UTC | #161162

IaninPA's Avatar Comment 13 by IaninPA

If I was in an organization where I had to put my life in the hands of the guys next to me, and most of the guys next to me were christians and I was an atheist.... well, I think I would shut the fuck up about my atheism.

Not saying it's right; but the military is a different world. Let's get civilian society sorted first - it all flows from that anyway.

Sat, 26 Apr 2008 11:14:00 UTC | #161163

Koreman's Avatar Comment 11 by Koreman

Unbelievable.

Sat, 26 Apr 2008 11:14:00 UTC | #161161

MorituriMax's Avatar Comment 14 by MorituriMax

Sleep of Reason wrote,

As a non-American I will feel much safer when they get religion out of the White House and the Pentagon.

You might want to pick the people who really want to kill you for religious reasons. Fanatical Muslims top the list. If you're worried about the White House and the Pentagon instead of them, then maybe the terrorists have already won the PR war in your mind.

Skepticon, there are ocasional loonies in every organisation, what makes you think the Army is excempt? Sad but true, my dad was in the Army for 25 years and he was raised with the n-word being normal fare. He's not racist because he will treat anyone with the same amount of courtesy that they show him, but he does hold the same views of blacks that some of the blacks hold of whites.. sad but true.

Sat, 26 Apr 2008 11:15:00 UTC | #161164

HappyPrimate's Avatar Comment 15 by HappyPrimate

I would love to be able to at least give this guy some emotional support. Anybody have a way to send him a message of support and let him know we are out here for him?

Sat, 26 Apr 2008 12:00:00 UTC | #161181

mesomodel's Avatar Comment 16 by mesomodel

This is now on the front page of cnn.com. Sweet.

Sat, 26 Apr 2008 12:02:00 UTC | #161183

MelM's Avatar Comment 17 by MelM

The organization: Military Religious Freedom Foundation:
http://militaryreligiousfreedom.org/


The book: "With God on Our Side: One Man's War Against an Evangelical Coup in America's Military"
http://www.amazon.com/God-Our-Side-Evangelical-Americas/dp/0312374836/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1209241979&sr=1-1

Sat, 26 Apr 2008 12:33:00 UTC | #161199

MaxD's Avatar Comment 18 by MaxD

SRWB said,

This fascination with faith and religion in the US military is not unheard of at all, unfortunately. The US military has a well-deserved reputation for ramming this stuff down their members' throats.


I attended my first prep-drill (kind like pre-training for National Guard enlistees) and have seen first hand how this happens. The SSG whose class I was in was always working God, and biblical morals into the lessons. Fucking annoying. I think I go with Madison who was against the whole Military Chaplaincy thing anyway.

Hopefully this will not become to much of a problem. But I hear OCS is often rank with this kind of religious bullshit even thought there is a greater number of non-believers in the officer ranks (there is that education trend Dawkins was on about in TGD showing itself) there is still a great deal of religious non-sense to attend to.

Sat, 26 Apr 2008 12:43:00 UTC | #161204

newskin's Avatar Comment 19 by newskin

As wrong as this is, you simply cannot deny the power of god as a motivator for combat. The best modern example is probably suicide bombers.
I have spoken to a few friends that have served in Afghanistan and i believe the thing that makes the taliban hardest to fight is that they have little to no fear of death.
Who really wants to die? What better than to comfort yourself (or read: 'indoctrinate your subordinates') with the fact that after a bullet eviscerates your cerebral cortex you will awaken, glowing in white, next to a bearded old bloke and his pearly gates?

Sat, 26 Apr 2008 12:52:00 UTC | #161206

godless1's Avatar Comment 20 by godless1

You bet the military is going to be pumping religion. A person who believes that once he dies there is no afterlife - such a person won't be too inclined to get in harm's way by going "over the top" as it were.

Sat, 26 Apr 2008 12:59:00 UTC | #161208

Peacebeuponme's Avatar Comment 21 by Peacebeuponme

All this talk of what the "founding fathers" wanted. Makes for stirring rhetoric, but not really relevant. What should matter is what the Americans who are alive today want.

Sat, 26 Apr 2008 13:03:00 UTC | #161210

MelM's Avatar Comment 22 by MelM

From the AP story:

"...took several bullets in its protective shield. Afterward, his commander asked whether he believed in God, Hall said. I said, 'No, but I believe in Plexiglas,'" Hall said
Priceless.



Dear Mr Commander,
So, God protected Hall but not 4000 other soldiers?
This is proof enough that God loves atheists; back off.

Sat, 26 Apr 2008 13:04:00 UTC | #161211

JayLee's Avatar Comment 23 by JayLee

As a Vietnam veteran U. S. Marine (and an atheist from day one) I never experienced any of this pressure to be religious. Most of the comments here seem to be from people who imagine the worst and have little direct experience and knowledge. The dogmatic tone of this blog is just as bad as the silly religious stuff people don't like.

Most of the posts here read like, "I had a friend who knew a dude..." The US military is full of all kinds just like anywhere else. Paint with a broad brush and you're often wrong.

Sat, 26 Apr 2008 13:08:00 UTC | #161212

newskin's Avatar Comment 24 by newskin

All this talk of what the "founding fathers" wanted. Makes for stirring rhetoric, but not really relevant. What should matter is what the Americans who are alive today want.


Dont knock the Founding Fathers! They had the foresight to separate church and state, a line that is being eroded by the current incumbents. It is not often in history that a group of people living several hundred years previous hold more progressive ideals than a significant majority of the current population.
For the record, I am English, but i do view the US constitution as one of the most important documents ever drafted.

Sat, 26 Apr 2008 13:11:00 UTC | #161213

Peacebeuponme's Avatar Comment 26 by Peacebeuponme

newskin - don't get me wrong. I'm not knocking them at all.

Sat, 26 Apr 2008 13:15:00 UTC | #161217

Lionspoint's Avatar Comment 25 by Lionspoint

Mordacious1's comment brought me straight back to the early days of my basic training. Clean the barracks or go to church? Um, gee, let me think...

As for this soldier being harassed, that is rediculous. If a person is deployed to Iraq and the best thing they can think of to spend their time is to harass another person's views, then why not join Al-Sadr. He suppresses differing views, too. I was an outspoken atheist while deployed to Iraq and I didn't get crap from anyone. Of course I was a sergeant, too, and would have taken anyone down that thought to scrap...

Being an atheist he was likely in intelligence and they aren't well known to be good scrappers...

Sat, 26 Apr 2008 13:15:00 UTC | #161215

Diacanu's Avatar Comment 27 by Diacanu

newskin-


Who really wants to die? What better than to comfort yourself...


By protecting your family?
Protecting your friends who you love like family?
Protecting the ideals that keep your family and friends free and safe?

No?
Just the invisible spook stuff?

Sat, 26 Apr 2008 13:32:00 UTC | #161221

newskin's Avatar Comment 28 by newskin

Diacanu-

Whilst those may be valid reasons for me going to war, i'm not sure that they would make me any more inclined to hasten my own demise!

Sat, 26 Apr 2008 13:38:00 UTC | #161223

MelM's Avatar Comment 29 by MelM

Remember the "Aroma of Jesus" video? I don't recall reading about the outcome of the investigation of the vidio. It turns out that Mr Weinstein (of The Military Religious Freedom Foundation) got a victory.

http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1649845,00.html

...the Inspector General's office of the Department of Defense released a report concluding that a former Pentagon chaplain and several generals inappropriately loaned the prestige of their positions--and that of the Pentagon and the U.S. government--to make a fundraising film for a non-governmental evangelical group, the so-called Christian Embassy. The report identified Christian Embassy as affiliated with the group Campus Crusade for Christ.

...

In the course of defending himself to the Inspector General's office, one of the generals asserted his belief that the Christian Embassy had become a "quasi-federal entity." This seems to support assertions by Weinstein that there is real confusion in high ranks of the military regarding armed service's secular status.

Repeating:
"This seems to support assertions by Weinstein that there is real confusion in high ranks of the military regarding armed service's secular status. "

Sat, 26 Apr 2008 13:52:00 UTC | #161227

swordsbane's Avatar Comment 30 by swordsbane

As wrong as this is, you simply cannot deny the power of god as a motivator for combat. The best modern example is probably suicide bombers.
I have spoken to a few friends that have served in Afghanistan and i believe the thing that makes the taliban hardest to fight is that they have little to no fear of death.
Who really wants to die? What better than to comfort yourself (or read: 'indoctrinate your subordinates') with the fact that after a bullet eviscerates your cerebral cortex you will awaken, glowing in white, next to a bearded old bloke and his pearly gates?


I disagree. Many suicide bombers are chosen from among those who have nothing to lose, and given comfort by having their families recieve money when they die, not necessarily having a diety to believe in or a divine crusade to fight, and it is unclear how many of the terrorist leaders actually believe in what they're saying and how many are using the faith for political ends.

On the other hand, self-sacrifice tends to increase as society's become more and more secular. The old adage that there are no athiests in fox-holes is turning out not only to be false now, but that there have historically been MORE athiests in armies than in the populations they defend, and that being in military service is the greatest conversion mechanism getting people away from religion. There are always exceptions to the rule, but even the crusades brought far more people who felt that their religion justified trying to get rich off the Muslims than true Christians out to right a wrong. Papal endorsement just gave them an rationale for what they did.

Add to that that religious people are far more likely to pick and choose those they protect from among those that believe as they do, wheras athiests are more likely to just do their job.

Sat, 26 Apr 2008 13:53:00 UTC | #161229