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← Civilian Pastor Attacks Atheist Soldier - Reverend Bryan Griem Claims Atheist Solders Are "Big Fat Chickens"

Civilian Pastor Attacks Atheist Soldier - Reverend Bryan Griem Claims Atheist Solders Are "Big Fat Chickens" - Comments

Richard Dawkins's Avatar Comment 1 by Richard Dawkins

In case anyone feels like writing a complimentary letter to the Rev Bryan Griem, the charming fellow who thinks an atheist soldier must be a "big fat chicken", you can find his contact details here:

His email address is

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 15:12:35 UTC | #927819

gr8hands's Avatar Comment 2 by gr8hands

Professor, why are you being so strident?

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 15:22:48 UTC | #927824

Tyler Durden's Avatar Comment 3 by Tyler Durden

A recent article in the Pasadena Sun featured the opinions of various religious leaders about the Army's mandatory Spiritual Fitness test.

Is this akin to a Bicycle Fitness test for fish?

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 15:26:58 UTC | #927825

CleverCarbon's Avatar Comment 4 by CleverCarbon

"If you believe you and your squad mates are going to heaven, you aren't going to jump on a grenade to save the platoon, that would be selfish, only you would get sent to paradise...You're going to be...a loving Christian and let them die sooner"

See how easy it is to misrepresent people, Pastor? It's also mighty rich to question the honor and bravery of someone when all you do, all day every day, is saunter around in complete safety acting superior.

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 15:35:13 UTC | #927828

caseyg5's Avatar Comment 5 by caseyg5

This is ridiculous! $125 M spent by government on a religious test. What happened to separation of church and state?? Utter discrimination against atheists' rights not to believe.I am outraged....

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 15:39:35 UTC | #927829

wald0h's Avatar Comment 6 by wald0h

Hahaha, the thumbs-down on the gravestone idea nearly made me spit out my drink.

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 15:40:19 UTC | #927830

Hhanover's Avatar Comment 7 by Hhanover

Pastor G's website has a picture of him eating a double dip chocolate ice cream cone. Easy on the "big fat" talk, guy. Just saying.

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 15:46:22 UTC | #927832

wetbread's Avatar Comment 8 by wetbread

Thanks for posting the email address, Professor Dawkins. That made it easy for me to send him the following:

Dear Reverend Griem:

I just read your comments in the Pasadena Sun, and thought I should send you a quick bio of my father: Thomas L. Minnis, Major USAF (ret.); veteran of 2 tours in Vietnam; Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross recipient; career officer; educator after military retirement; devoted father and husband of 48 years; atheist.

I wonder if you'd care to walk up to this man and call him a "big, fat chicken." Then be sure to tell him that, "atheists don’t countenance America’s documents that mention God." I'm sure he'd ask you exactly which documents you mean. Surely not the U.S. Constitution, which never once uses the words "God," "Creator," or "Jesus." Perhaps you should actually read it sometime.

You, sir, are an ignorant, hateful clown.

Most Sincerely,

Stu Minnis

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 15:48:50 UTC | #927835

Peter Grant's Avatar Comment 9 by Peter Grant

Some soldiers are still willing to fight and die even though they realise it's not a video game. I thank that takes real courage.

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 16:00:02 UTC | #927838

irate_atheist's Avatar Comment 10 by irate_atheist

Guess he'll be looking for a new flock to fleece.

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 16:05:38 UTC | #927840

AsylumWarden's Avatar Comment 11 by AsylumWarden

Emailed him.

Dear Rev. Griem

I am writing to you with pride about my Grandfather who served his country, alongside yours I believe, in World War II. He was shot in the shoulder by a sniper, lost a finger and held in a POW camp for his troubles. Fortunately he survived to tell me these tales and be a loving grandpa to my entire family until he lost his battle with chronic bronchitis. He was also an Atheist. Being that he fought so bravely to help secure your freedom of speech, would you exercise it to call him a 'big fat chicken' to his face were he still alive?

Yours in utter contempt for your misguided (and rather un-Christ like, I must say) judgment on your fellow man

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 16:13:52 UTC | #927843

Starcrash's Avatar Comment 12 by Starcrash

Prejudice is wrong. It's always wrong. Of course there are brave atheist soldiers, just as there are cowardly atheist soldiers, as well as brave and cowardly Christian soldiers. If it's not true by definition, then it's not true of the whole. Reverend Griem's argument is blatantly prejudiced.

He has an excuse, though. He claims to be citing stats, but doesn't actually "cite" them (unless I'm missing something). In contrast, this article does cite its factual claims about rape prevention's cost compared to the cost of the spiritual fitness test (although I imagine the $125 million is not an annual cost as opposed to rape prevention's annual cost --- the citation just doesn't give the relevant details and the citation's citation is a missing web page). His title of "Reverend" doesn't mean that we should give his claims the benefit of the doubt. If he pulled them out of his ass, Reverend ass or otherwise, it's still just a load of shit.

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 16:15:08 UTC | #927845

Sean_W's Avatar Comment 13 by Sean_W

Woo-wee, what's heaven for Christians dumb as you? Van Damme's role in an infinite series of Bloodsport movies?

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 16:17:33 UTC | #927846

glenister_m's Avatar Comment 14 by glenister_m

I must admit, reading the headline "Civilian Pastor attacks atheist soldier", even with the "Big Fat Chickens" ending, I initially assumed it meant "physically attacked". The chicken comment at the end could have been stated after the fight was stopped/ended.

Sensationalist headline perhaps, but my bets are on the soldier if the two do come to blows. (Pay per view???)

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 16:38:01 UTC | #927852

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 15 by Cartomancer

Well bugger me - a christian priest mouthing off on topics he knows nothing about. That sure doesn't happen very often...

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 16:47:29 UTC | #927857

Tintern's Avatar Comment 16 by Tintern

I think the vote-winner here is for the holy man to throw himself on the grenade. Just a spiritual fitness test, you understand.

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 17:14:25 UTC | #927866

Metamag's Avatar Comment 17 by Metamag

Comment 5 by caseyg5 :

This is ridiculous! $125 M spent by government on a religious test. What happened to separation of church and state??

Oh come on, that was always a myth, president actually has to say that he is a dumb idiot who believes in magic before he is elected and then when he is elected he has to constantly pander to superstition and give billions of dollars to it, directly and indirectly.

And that's just for the highest political office..

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 17:17:48 UTC | #927868

Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 18 by Ignorant Amos

Neither an Atheists nor a Theist throw themselves on a grenade to save their pals....a comrade that is a hero does.

Awarded the V.C., his citation reads:-

No. 14/18278 Pte. William Frederick McFadzean, late R. Ir. Rif. For most conspicuous bravery. While in a concentration trench and opening a box of bombs for distribution prior to an attack, the box slipped down into the trench, which was crowded with men, and two of the safety pins fell out. Private McFadzean, instantly realising the danger to his comrades, with heroic courage threw himself on the top of the Bombs. The bombs exploded blowing him to pieces, but only one other man was injured. He well knew his danger, being himself a bomber, but without a moment's hesitation he gave his life for his comrades.

There is no time for any thoughts either way. But let's look at the Pastors diatribe for a moment and consider who would be the most likely to be a "big, fat chicken."

Last I heard, taking ones own life was a sin against God if one is Christian.

The Abrahamic religions traditionally consider suicide an offense towards God due to the belief in the sanctity of life. It was often regarded as a serious crime and that view remains commonplace in modern Western thought. However, before the rise of Christianity, suicide was not seen as automatically immoral in ancient Greek and Roman culture.

This ignorant Pastor is another example of a religious rocket talking a lot of pish. Christian heroes are brave in spite of their silly religious beliefs, not because of them.

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 17:53:11 UTC | #927883

aroundtown's Avatar Comment 19 by aroundtown

Stupid is as stupid does and these religious fools are heavily invested in that mindset. No need to stoop down to their level and give them the time of day but that's just me I guess. I am a Military Veteran and had procured a reservation at the local Veterans cemetery for interment. I could have requested a nuclear looking symbol to designate myself as an atheist so the thumbs-down bullshit was a stupid comment by this idiot clown. I have since decided to just let my ashes fly and have no marker at all for several reasons. When is the last time you talked to anyone who visited a grave of someone who died two hundred years ago. Hell I'm still alive and no one visits me now, so what do I care if they visit some grave with my ashes in a hole. Just seems like another institution/ceremony that should be ditched.

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 18:00:11 UTC | #927884

CyrusSpitama's Avatar Comment 20 by CyrusSpitama

I love the fact that many believers are totally oblivious to the hypocrisy of claiming the existence of a being - God/Gods - who's life has meaning intrinsically, but then saying that our meaning in life must come from outside ourselves - from God/the Gods. Why can't our meaning be intrinsic as well?

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 18:21:13 UTC | #927887

caseyg5's Avatar Comment 21 by caseyg5

"What happened to separation of church and state??"

Metamag: "Oh come on, that was always a myth..."

Well, we know that is frequently violated in practice but if the public is not constantly reminded that this comes from the Constitution then you may as well button up your objections to what political cultists do as having no real authority. An atheist would be unelectable as president at this point in time, but as the nonsense is highlighted repeatedly over time this can change.

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 18:25:14 UTC | #927889

Agrajag's Avatar Comment 22 by Agrajag

Here's another big, fat chicken atheist: PAT TILLMAN.
The good pastor is a total douchebag.

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 19:12:24 UTC | #927903

mirandaceleste's Avatar Comment 23 by mirandaceleste

From Griem's letter:

Look, you just read the stats: “Researchers have found that spiritual people have decreased odds of attempting suicide, and that spiritual fitness has a positive impact on quality of life, on coping and on mental health.”

He's quoting the article he's responding to, which, in turn, quoted an NPR piece called "Army's 'Spiritual Fitness' Test Angers Some Soldiers" This vague and unsupported claim about unnamed "researchers" was made by Brig. Gen. Rhonda Cornum, who heads the CSF program.

Nowhere, not in Griem's letter, or in the article he's responding to, or in the NPR piece, does Cornum explain what research she's referring to. It's frustrating to see media outlets unquestioningly repeat vague and baseless claims. Also, the Wikipedia page on the CSF program says this, under the "Criticism" section:

There is currently no peer reviewed research that shows any given religious belief necessarily advances mental health. According to the fourth edition of Psychology of Religion by Hood, et al., "The study of positive psychology is a relatively new development...there has not yet been much direct empirical research looking specifically at the association of religion and ordinary strengths and virtues."[13] In a review of the literature on the relationship between religiosity/spirituality and PTSD, amongst the significant findings, about half of the studies showed a positive relationship and half showed a negative relationship.[14]

The cited sources can be found on the above-linked Wikipedia page.

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 20:01:48 UTC | #927916

rod-the-farmer's Avatar Comment 24 by rod-the-farmer

Surely someone in the U.S. military can find a foxhole for this character to test his own mettle....?

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 20:02:33 UTC | #927917

The Jersey Devil's Avatar Comment 25 by The Jersey Devil

I became quite convinced reading Griem's letter that he was a closeted atheist. So I sent him this letter to the email provided by RD. Some of the language I use is ripped off from my days of being a 12-stepper.

Rev Bryan Griem:

I was amused to read your letter in the 2/18/12 Pasadena Sun. I say amusement because I have a solution for the hatred of atheists you feel inside. It’s simple really – just become an atheist yourself!!! It’s very liberating to accept what you know to be the truth – what we both know is the truth. There is no God at all.

I understand the misery of knowing the truth and wishing it weren’t so. I once felt if I accepted the truth it was to admit my life had been for nothing. That I had been duped. That I had played the fool. However, I couldn’t force myself to believe as I once had no matter how great the desire. Stuck in limbo I was prey to anger, self-pity, loneliness and despair.

The solution is simple. Accept the truth with all its consequences. It will free your mind of the aforementioned negative emotional state. It may seam a little scary at first but it really is a relief to step through the door of enlightenment into the sunshine of understanding. To unburden yourself of the inner-secret that no one must ever find out.

Further, all the things that you find worthwhile in life as a theist will still bring comfort and satisfaction. This includes the ability to help your fellow human, pontificating about morality and eating ice cream.

Best of luck in your de-conversion. Please feel free to contact me if you need any assistance!

Best regards,

Bob Van Orden

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 20:22:32 UTC | #927921

The Big Holey Cheese's Avatar Comment 26 by The Big Holey Cheese

Wars only exist due to the posturing of men (mostly men) who themselves can't fight.

I have only contempt for politicians who send young men and women to war for reasons most of the population can barely fathom and only respect for the those young men and women who go.

None of these people regardless of their beliefs are chickens.

Would we wish to swap places with them? NO

This man is an idiot.

Call them a chicken to their face but please don't cry to me if a punch in the face is only the worst you receive. Better still swap places with them and see how chicken you are in their shoes.

you chicken shit head.

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 21:01:34 UTC | #927930

Misfire's Avatar Comment 27 by Misfire

I have to say though, that headline wasn't quite accurate. Saying someone would be a coward in a hypothetical situation is not the same as claiming he is a coward.

It comes out about the same, and I realize an accurate headline would be difficult to craft, but I really have a problem with any willful inaccuracy in reporting.

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 21:34:15 UTC | #927935

ridelo's Avatar Comment 28 by ridelo

I have not the slightest idea what I would do if suddenly confronted with a life grenade. The pastor obviously does.

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 22:07:14 UTC | #927940

jamiso's Avatar Comment 29 by jamiso

" He continued, "I wonder what the military puts on the gravestones of atheists, a thumbs down?"

This part was interesting, partly because it's stupid, but also because there is an answer...... The military doesnt put anything on anyone's tombstones.

The VA however offers the many options that can be placed on a government Headstone if the person buried there requests it. These range from a Zoroastrian Farohar, a Seicco-No-Ie symbol, some humanist thing, and even a little atheist atom thing (which I honestly find goofy)....if one is so inclined. Personally I'd just go with the default choice of nothing.

If the one you want is not there, you can also request one, and the belief represented by an emblem need not be associated with or endorsed by a group or organization.

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 22:12:28 UTC | #927941

ukantic's Avatar Comment 30 by ukantic

Rev. Griem said, "If you believe you're nothing but worm-food, you aren't going to jump on a grenade to save the platoon...You're going to be...a big, fat chicken." He continued, "I wonder what the military puts on the gravestones of atheists, a thumbs down?"

As a former member of the Armed Services, I believe Rev. Griem paints a completely distorted picture of what service life is about.

These stories of people throwing themselves on top of grenades are not that unusual. For example, I can recall an instructor telling the story of a soldier whom was killed after throwing himself on top of a grenade that had bounced off an obstruction and landed amongst a group of men.

My personal reaction in such circumstances would be to dive away from it and just hope for the best. But that is just idle speculation. Who really knows how an individual is going to react in such circumstances or what their final thoughts would be. They could conclude they were going to die anyway and it would therefore cost them nothing to shield others from the worst affects of the blast. In which case, an individuals religious beliefs or lack of them would be completely irrelevant.

But the main point I would like to make about this is that for every person in the Armed Services who throws themselves on top an exploding grenade there are probably another 20 million or so who never will. In short, this type of event is extremely rare and isn't representative of what service life is about.

Although service personnel are obviously expected to sometimes take more risks than civilians, nobody gets any smarty points for giving away their position when there are bullets flying around, or stomping their size 10 boot on an ejector seat handle, or smoking underneath an aircraft dripping avtur all over the place.

What's more, if you have got any sense, the last thing you want is to have to be teamed up with people like that. In short, service life is more about professionalism, responsibility, competence and team work rather than this Boy's Own rubbish about religion and people diving on grenades.

Fri, 16 Mar 2012 22:25:08 UTC | #927943