Atheists in Foxholes

A forum for people in the armed forces.

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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#21  Postby Aern Rakesh » May 18, 2011 10:04 am

Very interesting article, Weaver. Or should I say frustrating and annoying. I face a similar battle as I (and others) lobby to get religious education transmuted into 'human beliefs and values' education. I can't tell you how many times I've been told "religious education is about religion; you've got citizenship". Well, citizenship education isn't just for atheists is it? No. Plus, I was just at a school where an atheist parent had said to a teacher that her son had come home saying "so-and-so is Muslim, so-and-so is Christian and I am nothing!!" (It's a school where 45% of the kids come from Muslim homes, 33% Christian and 16% non-religious.)

It's both the lack of parity and similar need that I would have thought are the issues. I really hope the US armed services wise up.
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#22  Postby Weaver » May 18, 2011 10:44 am

I do too - but I don't see any signs that it will ever happen. The US Military chaplancy has gotten more evangelical and more Christian in it's makeup over the past two decades, even as they claim they're more expansive because they allowed one or two Muslim chaplains in.
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#23  Postby Crocodile Gandhi » May 18, 2011 10:48 am

Hi Weaver! Long time, no see. Have you started life as a civillian? How is it treating you?

I have a friend who is currently part of the Australian Defence Force Academy and he has told me some very creepy stories about their chaplain. Apparently, he likes to address them before certain dinner events and then walk up behind some of the students while they are eating and whisper in their ear, "I pray for you, my son". Yet he only does this for the same few people each time.

When my friend reported this to a superior he was told that he must have been lying.
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#24  Postby Weaver » May 18, 2011 10:53 am

I am still on active duty, due to retire at the end of the year. Great to be back from Afghanistan (been back for 3 months now), and looking foward to partying with 5 of my Norwegian friends from there who are coming over to visit me starting tomorrow.

That chaplain is pretty creepy all right. I've never had to deal with anything like that - but my current chaplain, like many I've had, is a freaking rock.
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#25  Postby Aern Rakesh » May 18, 2011 11:01 am

Weaver wrote:I've never had to deal with anything like that - but my current chaplain, like many I've had, is a freaking rock.


Couldn't tell if that was a good thing or a bad thing, lol! If it's a good thing, what does he think about the whole idea of humanist chaplains?
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#26  Postby Weaver » May 18, 2011 12:05 pm

He doesn't see the point, because he thinks "a little religion never hurt anyone". For real.
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#27  Postby Aern Rakesh » May 18, 2011 12:46 pm

Weaver wrote:He doesn't see the point, because he thinks "a little religion never hurt anyone". For real.


And probably with the best intentions in the world.

The problem is that unless we keep banging away at it, things aren't going to change. So I hope that the atheist and humanist groups in the US armed forces keeps pushing for humanist chaplains. That they keep demanding 'parity'. That when they're told "oh, but you've got this, this and this (e.g. counselling services)", they respond "but these are also open to religious people, so it's not the same" (which is what I say when told "but you've got citizenship education"). And people keep writing articles like the one you posted, which points the finger at the supposed 'joke' about no atheists in foxholes and says "yes there are and this isn't funny!"
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#28  Postby Mister Agenda » Jun 16, 2011 4:14 pm

I did a hitch as a Zoomie, 79-83. There wasn't as much protection for atheists then as there now is on paper, but it was less of a deal back then. I wasn't an atheist then, more an agnostic theist. I had a friend who was, though. Probably because Christianists hadn't thought of targeting the AF Academy for a conversion campaign yet.
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#29  Postby Weaver » Jun 16, 2011 4:24 pm

I first joined in '88 - I recall much fewer problems with religion being pushed (especially after reporting to my first unit) than I saw more recently. As you say, I think this was before the big Christian groups started deliberately targeting the military for conversion - I think the patriotism wave that swept the country with Desert Shield/Desert Storm was the beginning of that. Plus then the Chaplain's Corps was more from conventional schools and hadn't made the switch to recruiting from the unaffiliated, unaccredited Bible Colleges.
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#30  Postby chairman bill » Jul 05, 2011 6:41 pm

An interesting case involving a navy medic who had conscientious objections to serving in Afghanistan - http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/jul/05/navy-medic-afghanistan-rifle-training

Lyons was unable to speak publicly about his case, but his wife, Lillian, wrote in the Guardian that she felt his appeal for conscientious objector status was damaged because of his lack of religious belief.

"[Michael] was ordered to see a chaplain, even though Michael is an atheist, and the chaplain's statement implied Michael had a slight political reservation, not a moral objection," she said. "If Michael had been dishonest and said he was a committed Christian, and because of his faith he could not be part of war on moral grounds, perhaps this would have been over in an instant."
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#31  Postby Weaver » Jul 05, 2011 9:35 pm

In America it is very difficult to gain conscientious objector status - and I believe (though I've never actually dug for proof) practically impossible without religious reasons.

It is one of the questions one must answer before enlisting, and it is difficult to change status once on duty status - rightly so, IMO.
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#32  Postby mrjonno » Jul 08, 2011 3:16 pm

How can you have conscientious objector status in a volunteer army?, its completely meaningless outside conscription. You join the army are basically saying its justified to kill people (even as a medic).

This person is just saying I don't agree with this war, well he should write to his Member of Parliament/vote appropiately like everyone else
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#33  Postby Weaver » Jul 08, 2011 3:34 pm

That's what I was saying - if you answer "yes" when you first see the recruiter, you won't be allowed to enlist in the first place. After you're in, having answered "no", it is hard to change.
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#34  Postby mrjonno » Jul 15, 2011 7:46 am

Weaver wrote:That's what I was saying - if you answer "yes" when you first see the recruiter, you won't be allowed to enlist in the first place. After you're in, having answered "no", it is hard to change.


The British Humanist Association has taken this case up because he is a atheist and while its a good organisation this is absolute bollocks.

By the way what does no atheists in foxholes actually mean?

Does it mean no atheists ever join the army (which is absurd as many armies the vast majority of people are atheists) or that if you arent religious before you joined when people starting shooting at you that you will start praying (which makes a bit more sense)?
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#35  Postby Aern Rakesh » Jul 15, 2011 11:00 am

mrjonno wrote:
By the way what does no atheists in foxholes actually mean?


wikipedia wrote:The statement "There are no atheists in foxholes" is an aphorism used to argue that in times of extreme stress or fear, such as when participating in warfare, all people will believe in or hope for a higher power.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/There_are_ ... n_foxholes

I was interested to find out who first said it, but according to wikipedia it's not entirely certain.
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#36  Postby mrjonno » Jul 15, 2011 11:05 am

Well I'm sure 'luck' plays a large part of survival in war, but not convinced thats the same as god getting your colleague killed rather than you
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#37  Postby Weaver » Jul 15, 2011 12:52 pm

Luck, or rather chance, plays a huge part of survival. As the saying goes "Anything you do in war can get you killed - including doing nothing."

The AiF meme is a claim, unsupported by evidence, that once the shells start falling everyone finds gawd all of a sudden in an effort to survive. Of course, the same gawd is directing that enemy shell into your buddy's foxhole - but that's part of his inscrutable plan or some shit.
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#38  Postby Ivy Mike » Nov 29, 2011 1:41 pm

I've been a member here for a while now, but haven't had the time to post much of, well, anything. Reason being, I'm and Active-Duty US Navy Sailor, 18 years and counting.

I'm an Aircrewman...Enlisted type. I fly about on P-3 ORIONs and track submarines, as well as doing long-range patrols and overland missions. I'm also an atheist. Doing a good, thourough preflight and knowing your NATOPS manual work way better than prayer.

I must say that, outside of some teasing I've gotten in the shop, I've never experienced much in the way of religious discrimination in my little corner of the Navy. I don't know if the theo-fascists targeted the other services first, or if the Navy is just more sensitive to discrimination complaints since "Tailhook", but I've never felt pressured in any way to participate in religion.

Anyways, it's good to be here, and good to know I'm not the only one.
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#39  Postby Aern Rakesh » Nov 29, 2011 2:41 pm

A warm welcome to you, Ivy Mike! :cheers:
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#40  Postby Weaver » Nov 29, 2011 3:12 pm

Welcome, Ivy Mike!

It's about time we got some squids around this place - all the blue-suited flyboys were starting to think they ran the place or something.
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