Atheists in Foxholes

A forum for people in the armed forces.

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Atheists in Foxholes

#1  Postby Weaver » Feb 27, 2010 3:18 pm

Greetings, fellow atheists who have spent time in foxholes - or at least the modern military version of the same!

As I understand it (Mods, feel free to correct me), this sub-forum will be open to all - not limited to current or former military members. This is intended to foster more discussion, and to enable more free communication and questions from those who haven't served in a military somewhere. Of course, this openness comes with a greater overall responsibility to ensure the forum isn't misused by those who only want to bash militaries in general (or in specific), or for those who are tempted to express un-justified opinions as fact.

I'm sure that with the already-evidenced professional moderation we have here that such abuse won't be tolerated - and I'm personally glad that those curious about AiF will be more able to ask questions and post relevant news stories.

Thanks to everyone who helped make this happen! :cheers:


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MODNOTE
Posts on militarism and the rights and wrongs of war have been moved to this thread in News, Politics and Current Affairs.

As mentioned before, this forum aims to support those facing particular challenges living and working as atheists in the military.

Please avoid further derails.
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#2  Postby LarianLeQuella » Feb 27, 2010 4:21 pm

And a howdy from the Zoomie. I suppose we can recreate some of the topics here and see if there is any new blood or discussion.
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#3  Postby Aern Rakesh » Feb 27, 2010 4:35 pm

Weaver wrote:

As I understand it (Mods, feel free to correct me), this sub-forum will be open to all - not limited to current or former military members. This is intended to foster more discussion, and to enable more free communication and questions from those who haven't served in a military somewhere.


I also welcome the chance to give support to people currently serving in the military, who will undoubtedly be posting at times from precarious situations.

Thanks for letting us into the forum. :cheers:
Nora

PS Don't know if it counts, but my Dad was an incredibly proud member of the US Air Force and served in the Pacific in WWII. I also currently have a 2nd cousin serving in a Tank regiment in the Marines.
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#4  Postby dogsgod » Mar 13, 2011 3:07 am

Many in the U.S. could use help fighting peacefully on home soil for freedoms that politicians are unwilling to grant or are taking away such as in Wisconsin while the bravest of the brave are off in some far away land fighting so called enemies. Atheists no doubt find themselves in foxholes, but what makes atheists believe that freedoms are won by invading and occupying foreign lands?

I seriously want to know. This is not a rhetorical question. I understand religion glorifies the soldier and the cause, but how do atheists come to believe?
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#5  Postby Weaver » Mar 13, 2011 4:11 am

"So called enemies"? You mean like the people in Afghanistan who attacked us 10 years ago? Should we have allowed the attacks without retribution, and without working to try to ensure the place couldn't be used as a safe-haven for future terrorist attacks with global consequences?

Or do you object to the idea that "freedoms are won by invading and occupying foreign lands"? How about Bosnia or Kosovo? Should we have simply have remained on our side of the Atlantic and allowed the massacres to continue?

Maybe we shouldn't have fought WWII either - I mean, the whole idea of a free, democratic Europe is surely overrated, right?

:roll:
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#6  Postby dogsgod » Mar 13, 2011 7:37 am

The official record has it that fifteen of the 911 attackers were from Saudi Arabia, two from the United Arab Emirates, one from Egypt, and one from Lebanon. The plans were made in Germany, finances originated in Pakistan, flight school training took place in the U.S. and airport security has since been beefed up so at to prevent a repeat. Afghanistan and Iraq are attacked, invaded, and occupied because they have to pay. Meanwhile on the home front workers rights are being taken away by politicians that sent troops over there. But I do agree on this, there probably is no God and there are atheists in foxholes.
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#7  Postby Weaver » Mar 13, 2011 12:30 pm

Are you really trying to assert that Afghanistan had nothing to do with the attacks on 9/11? Seriously? Yes, AQ had a widespread effort, and recruited their suicide attackers from a variety of places - but their primary headquarters at the time was clearly in A-stan, and A-stan refused to give them up for international justice. Some of the invasion there was certainly retribution - that is one way in which nations convince other nations that the price for violence is too high. Having been attacked first, we were legally allowed to do that.

And yes, workers' rights are being taken away in places like Wisconsin - what does this have to do with the US military?
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#8  Postby dogsgod » Mar 13, 2011 8:29 pm

Weaver wrote:Are you really trying to assert that Afghanistan had nothing to do with the attacks on 9/11? Seriously? Yes, AQ had a widespread effort, and recruited their suicide attackers from a variety of places - but their primary headquarters at the time was clearly in A-stan, and A-stan refused to give them up for international justice. Some of the invasion there was certainly retribution - that is one way in which nations convince other nations that the price for violence is too high. Having been attacked first, we were legally allowed to do that.

And yes, workers' rights are being taken away in places like Wisconsin - what does this have to do with the US military?


You misrepresent the facts, Afghanistan did not refuse to give them up for international justice. Afghanistan and Germany requested evidence as is procedure before handing over suspects, Germany was granted the evidence as per their request and Afghanistan was attacked.

I just wonder why so called freedoms are being fought for in Afghanistan while real freedoms are being taken away in Wisconsin by the same politicians that would have you fighting for freedoms in Afghanistan.
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#9  Postby Weaver » Mar 13, 2011 9:38 pm

RE: Afghanistan handing over bin Laden - the Taliban was required (by UN mandate) to hand over bin Laden for trial, and stop serving as an AQ safehaven, back in 1999.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/1162108.stm

We gave them an ultimatum following the 9/11 attacks, but it's not like it was the first time they'd been told they had to do it. Requesting evidence for the attacks doesn't wash - especially when bin Laden was gleefully proclaiming to the world that he'd arranged the whole thing.

RE: Domestic politics. Strawman. US military forces, like ALL military forces in civilized nations, don't choose the missions we operate on, and don't carry out operations (other than providing humanitarian assistance) domestically.

All this has nothing to do with Atheists in Foxholes, anyways - you could start another topic in another forum if you want to criticize US policy.
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#10  Postby dogsgod » Mar 13, 2011 10:06 pm

Weaver wrote:RE: Afghanistan handing over bin Laden - the Taliban was required (by UN mandate) to hand over bin Laden for trial, and stop serving as an AQ safehaven, back in 1999.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/1162108.stm

We gave them an ultimatum following the 9/11 attacks, but it's not like it was the first time they'd been told they had to do it. Requesting evidence for the attacks doesn't wash - especially when bin Laden was gleefully proclaiming to the world that he'd arranged the whole thing.

RE: Domestic politics. Strawman. US military forces, like ALL military forces in civilized nations, don't choose the missions we operate on, and don't carry out operations (other than providing humanitarian assistance) domestically.

All this has nothing to do with Atheists in Foxholes, anyways - you could start another topic in another forum if you want to criticize US policy.

Bin Laden was not proclaiming to the world that he'd arranged the whole thing, that was from a dubious tape found a year later, and asking for evidence before handing over suspects does wash in a civilized society, something some Americans forget.

Anyways, I was just curious as to how an atheist finds himself in a foxhole.
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#11  Postby Weaver » Mar 13, 2011 10:30 pm

Seeking cover ...

I joined up the same way, and pretty much for the same reasons, as theists do. Only difference is I was under no illusions that I was on a "mission from god".

We done with the historical revisionism regarding bin Laden, then? The evidence was clear, and available, and was shared as widely as appropriate given security constraints. Handing bin Laden over to the Hague would have been an appropriate course of action long before 9/11. Afterwards, there wasn't much patience - nor should there have been. Our actions were entirely in step with what's done in OTHER civilized countries.
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#12  Postby talkietoaster » Mar 17, 2011 9:27 am

Is it really that much of an issue that Athiests are in the military in America? I would have thought with the experiences of American fighting with other nations that you don't need to be religious to fight for your country.

Is atheism actively discriminated against in the US military?
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#13  Postby Darwinsbulldog » Mar 17, 2011 10:05 am

Soldiers do not make wars. They are just doing their jobs. It is like blaming a police officer for a silly law. It is not up to the police officer to make the law-just to enforce it. Bashing soldiers is a bit like blaming doctors for your cancer. Politicians and governments decide to go to war or not go to war. if people have an issue with a war then they should take it up with governments-their own or someone's else's.
Armed force's are a nation's insurance policy. An ethical nation will use their military only when it is deemed necessary. No doubt people have views on "Just" and "unjust" wars.
If any soldier does something illegal, then it is his/her government that is ultimately responsible for not selecting and training that soldier properly. There are bad soldiers just like there are bad cops or bad doctors-tarring a whole profession because some soldiers don't act properly in combat is both a logical fallacy and unethical because it tarnishes the reputation of all military persons everywhere.

In some sense, all wars are war crimes. Better not to have them. But again that is an ethical and a political issue, and has nothing to do with those who serve their country well. A military cannot function if a soldier questions every order. So the debates on the ethics of war should not involve soldier-bashing. [Unless it is a specific soldier who committed a war-crime]. The forum for wars should be fought in parliaments and ballet-boxes.

I have no time for "peace-niks" who spit on soldiers. Quakers are fine. They don't spit on soldiers and they share their risks as combat medics. Anybody who pisses on a soldier randomly deserves a broken nose. They can fuck off, all of them, and go write to their MP or summat. Cunts.
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#14  Postby Weaver » Mar 17, 2011 10:13 am

talkietoaster wrote:Is it really that much of an issue that Athiests are in the military in America? I would have thought with the experiences of American fighting with other nations that you don't need to be religious to fight for your country.

Is atheism actively discriminated against in the US military?
Yes, to greater or lesser extent. See some of the other threads in this forum.
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#15  Postby Aern Rakesh » Mar 23, 2011 9:08 am

Weaver wrote:
talkietoaster wrote:Is it really that much of an issue that Athiests are in the military in America? I would have thought with the experiences of American fighting with other nations that you don't need to be religious to fight for your country.

Is atheism actively discriminated against in the US military?
Yes, to greater or lesser extent. See some of the other threads in this forum.


Weaver, do they still not have atheist/humanist 'chaplains' or counsellors in the armed forces? Have there been any moves in this direction?
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#16  Postby Weaver » Mar 23, 2011 9:26 am

There are no atheist/humanist chaplains or counselors (other than those employed in the mental health arena as psychologists or the like, and most of them are religious to some degree, some severely); to my knowledge there never have been.
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#17  Postby Aern Rakesh » Mar 23, 2011 9:33 am

Weaver wrote:There are no atheist/humanist chaplains or counselors (other than those employed in the mental health arena as psychologists or the like, and most of them are religious to some degree, some severely); to my knowledge there never have been.


I just wondered because they are starting to have requests for humanist pastoral counsellors here. And it seems that they do exist in other countries...

British Humanist Association Website wrote:From the many requests that the BHA receives for it, the BHA recognises that there is a demand for humanist ‘chaplaincy’ equivalents, in particular in closed environments such as hospitals, the armed services, prisons and (to some extent) tertiary and further education. Such services need to be distinguished from

* psychotherapy (where a trained professional treats 'disorders of the mind or personality by psychological or psychophysiological methods' [OED])

* counselling (a form of psychotherapy where a trained 'counsellor adopts a permissive and supportive role in enabling a client to solve his or her own problems' [OED])

* and from plain befriending or contact, as in prison visiting.

When referring to these services, the BHA prefers not to use the word 'chaplaincy', which retains sufficient religious connotations to be inappropriate as a meaningful description. Whatever it is called, pastoral care specifically for the non-religious in this sense needs to give advice and reassurance on an existential level, helping with questions relating to beliefs and ethics and to a person’s worldview or lifestance. There are successful examples of humanist 'moral counsellors' performing this function for the non-religious in prisons, hospitals and the armed forces in Belgium, Norway, the Netherlands and elsewhere, alongside religious chaplains.


http://www.humanism.org.uk/campaigns/eq ... chaplaincy
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#18  Postby Weaver » Mar 23, 2011 9:38 am

Ah, I was speaking of the US military. I've heard that other militaries are more sensible about this issue - good to see some links.
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#19  Postby Aern Rakesh » Mar 23, 2011 9:42 am

Weaver wrote:Ah, I was speaking of the US military. I've heard that other militaries are more sensible about this issue - good to see some links.


I was actually asking about the US military, seeing as you are our resident 'expert'. :smile:

Hopefully this just won't be an issue in the near future, i.e. they'll become much more a universal option.
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Re: Atheists in Foxholes

#20  Postby Weaver » May 18, 2011 4:07 am

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree ... m-religion
At a May 2011 prayer breakfast, reported by TRCB News:
"[Keynote speaker and Naval Station Great Lakes Commander Robert Sullivan] shared an army saying which said that there are no atheists in foxholes. This moment made the audience chuckle."


This kind of unquestioned, joking derision by a senior official shows just how difficult it is to be atheist in the US military. This is not surprising considering the priority given to religious activities and the widespread misunderstanding of nontheistic perspectives.

The Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers (MAAF), which I presently serve as president, represents atheists, agnostics, humanists, freethinkers and other nontheists within the military. MAAF is based in the US, but includes members in Canada, Australia, and even Israel and Egypt. The UK Armed Forces Humanist Association similarly represents UK service members. The US Military Leadership Diversity Commission recently consolidated four studies of religious demographics showing that there are more secular humanists than Jews, Muslims and even many Protestant denominations. Yet, we find no humanist chaplains, and little, if any, outreach or training on the humanist perspective; rather, we find discriminatory comments from senior officers.

In the US military, the chaplaincy is afforded great responsibility, access to service members, funding and senior positions within the chain of command. During America's revolutionary war, chaplains were established to provide Protestant Christian worship services for the troops. Fast forward to today, one finds chaplains representing over 100 different faith groups and performing a wide range of counselling and staff duties well outside the realm of religious worship services. Similar non-chaplain services are available for counselling, mental health and recreation, but they are not as accessible, not integrated within the command, not confidential and simply not equivalent. With the expanded counselling, training and advisory roles of the modern chaplaincy, chaplains must represent all service members.
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