Secular Coalition Slams Navy For Rejecting Humanist Chaplain

Washington, DC — The Secular Coalition for America released a statement today in response to the United States Department of the Navy rejecting the application of a secular humanist to serve in the Chaplain Corps. The Navy’s decision comes after Republican Members of the House and Senate sent letters to Navy Secretary Richard Spencer urging him to reject the application.

“The nontheistic men and women who bravely serve our country deserve to have access to chaplains who respect their secular worldview,” said Larry T. Decker, Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America. “Our Armed Forces are comprised of individuals from every faith and no faith. As a secular and pluralistic nation, it is imperative that we strive to ensure the Chaplain Corps reflects this religious diversity. By continuing this senseless and discriminatory ban on humanist chaplains, the Navy is denying nontheistic service members their right to chaplain services that reflect their secular perspective and their humanist values.”

According to the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (MAAF), a member organization of the Secular Coalition for America, the percentage of nontheistic active duty military personnel has more than tripled in less than a decade, growing from 0.6% in 2009 to 1.9% in 2017. Contrary to the expression, this means there are currently an estimated 24,000+ “atheists in foxholes.”

“The fact that 67 sitting Members of Congress would sign onto letters opposing a humanist chaplain is shameful, disturbing, and deeply telling,” said Decker. “Their disregard for the needs of these service members shows an appalling prejudice against nontheists and an unyielding commitment to maintaining a status quo of religious privilege in our Armed Forces. Contrary to the actions of these lawmakers, we are a nation built on the promise that people of all faiths and none will be treated equally. It is time that our Armed Forces fulfill this promise.”

CONTACT: Casey Brescia
Communications Associate and Spokesman
[email protected], (845)-380-6201


The Secular Coalition for America is the nation’s premier advocacy organization representing atheists, humanists, agnostics, and other nontheists. Its mission is to increase the visibility of and respect for nontheistic viewpoints in the United States, and to protect and strengthen the secular character of our government as the best guarantee of freedom for all. The Secular Coalition represents 18 voting member organizations.

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