Nontheists in the Military
Those who serve our country should be treated with respect. Yet nontheistic servicemembers are often subjected to proselytism and forced to participate in religious activities.
There are atheists in foxholes, despite what some may say. Yet some continue to deny veterans credit for their service and dishonor those who even now are in harms way for our nation. According to a comprehensive survey conducted by the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (MAAF) in 2012, nearly one-quarter of all service members listed “no religious preference” as their religious affiliation, while 0.67% listed “atheist.” The number of atheists may sound small until you consider that of all self-identified religious preferences, 88 of them comprise a smaller share of the Armed Forces than atheists.
On May 12, 2014, the U.S. Army officially added “Humanist” to the list of recognized religious preferences for service members. This was a huge victory for the nontheistic community as the label “humanist” reflects the positive worldview and ethical commitments that define many nontheist’s identities. Currently, the American Atheists symbol for atheist and the “Happy Human” of humanism are on the list of grave emblems approved by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, a member organization of the Secular Coalition for America, continues to build community for atheists in foxholes in all branches of the Armed Forces around the world.
This week SCA’s executive director Steven Emmert and I attended a briefing for Members of Congress and government affairs staff from secular organizations on the issue of humanist chaplains in the mil…