Military backs off threat to pull atheist from ceremony

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Military backs off threat to pull atheist from ceremony

#1  Postby DoctorE » Oct 20, 2011 1:21 pm

Washington (CNN) - After almost being pulled from a graduation ceremony for refusal to lower the head during a benediction, a soldier is now allowed to attend but must instead stand at attention.

The 20-year-old private first class, a proclaimed atheist, is graduating from Advanced Individual Training at Fort Jackson in South Carolina on Thursday.

The soldier, who requested that CNN not give a name and gender for fear of repercussions, called the Military Religious Freedom Foundation on Wednesday after taking part in a rehearsal for the graduation.

The soldier told the watchdog group that during the rehearsal, officials ordered the soldiers to bow their heads and clasp their hands during the chaplain's benediction. As an atheist, the soldier refused to do so.

"I immediately pointed out that not only is a prayer at a public ceremony unconstitutional, but to force someone to give the illusion of religion when the individual does not believe in any religion is blatantly wrong and very illegal," the soldier said in an e-mail to the foundation.

The rest of the platoon "groaned" at the soldier's stance, but the soldier wrote that "I stood my ground."

Continues: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/10/1 ... -ceremony/
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Re: Military backs off threat to pull atheist from ceremony

#2  Postby trubble76 » Oct 20, 2011 1:47 pm

Well, the optimist could point out that once you had to be christian, now you just have to pretend to be christian. A move in the right direction.
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On the other hand, wtf is their problem with just letting him stand in silence? Lucky that he fights for their freedom to deny him his freedom.
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Re: Military backs off threat to pull atheist from ceremony

#3  Postby byofrcs » Oct 20, 2011 1:49 pm

Why can't they just bless the faithful ? That way you could look at casualty statistics to see how successful this blessing is. My guess is that it doesn't actually work.
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Re: Military backs off threat to pull atheist from ceremony

#4  Postby HughMcB » Oct 20, 2011 2:07 pm

No! Everyone must feel the touch of His noodly appendage.
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Re: Military backs off threat to pull atheist from ceremony

#5  Postby Strontium Dog » Oct 20, 2011 2:31 pm

I think official US military policy should be changed so only atheists get guns. Christians can go into battle armed with nothing but crucifixes and holy water. We'll see how effective their God is then.
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Re: Military backs off threat to pull atheist from ceremony

#6  Postby The_Metatron » Oct 20, 2011 3:09 pm

During my 25 years of service, I never once bowed my head during any chaplain's prayer. It's how I figured out who the other atheists were. They weren't bowing their heads either.

This guy did it right. Good on him. He has balls. I like balls.
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Re: Military backs off threat to pull atheist from ceremony

#7  Postby Jie » Oct 20, 2011 4:11 pm

Strontium Dog wrote:I think official US military policy should be changed so only atheists get guns. Christians can go into battle armed with nothing but crucifixes and holy water. We'll see how effective their God is then.

Nah, that would just result in a repeat of the iron charriot fiasco. :whistle:
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Re: Military backs off threat to pull atheist from ceremony

#8  Postby Ironclad » Oct 20, 2011 4:20 pm

The Taliban have iron chariots now? :panic:
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Re: Military backs off threat to pull atheist from ceremony

#9  Postby chairman bill » Oct 20, 2011 5:56 pm

Prayers at the end of training? What the fuck is that about? Is this the Salvation Army, or the real thing?
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Re: Military backs off threat to pull atheist from ceremony

#10  Postby quill » Oct 20, 2011 6:02 pm

I was in Texas just last week for my sister's graduation from Air Force Basic Training and they had a chaplain who conducted a prayer "in your holy name" and gave God credit for the "wisdom" he "imbued" into the writing of the US Constitution. My sister said she felt quite insulted by it and I must say I was rather annoyed myself. But there was no mandatory bowing of the head and clasping of the hands as far as I can remember. Just some shockingly bigoted remarks.
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Re: Military backs off threat to pull atheist from ceremony

#11  Postby Animavore » Oct 20, 2011 10:16 pm

The_Metatron wrote:During my 25 years of service, I never once bowed my head during any chaplain's prayer. It's how I figured out who the other atheists were. They weren't bowing their heads either.

This guy did it right. Good on him. He has balls. I like balls.
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Re: Military backs off threat to pull atheist from ceremony

#12  Postby Animavore » Oct 20, 2011 10:17 pm

The_Metatron wrote:During my 25 years of service, I never once bowed my head during any chaplain's prayer. It's how I figured out who the other atheists were. They weren't bowing their heads either.

This guy did it right. Good on him. He has balls. I like balls.
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Re: Military backs off threat to pull atheist from ceremony

#13  Postby Weaver » Oct 20, 2011 10:26 pm

I've never bowed my head during the prayers at military events and ceremonies. I usually look around to identify the others who refuse to talk to their imaginary friends, and give a little nod of recognition.

This Soldier's unit was completely out of line for trying to require adherence to something as silly as bowing hisher head - I've never encountered anything of the sort in over 20 years in the Army. Absolutely insane, and even worse to try to threaten himher with not graduating.
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Re: Military backs off threat to pull atheist from ceremony

#14  Postby The_Metatron » Oct 21, 2011 12:37 pm

What do we have here? A little Army political correctness gender neutral speak? "hisher"? "himher"?

I have to say, the Army always gave me a chuckle over that. Very heavy use of the words "female" and "male", most notably on bathroom doors. I always thought of classifying animals as female and male, and reserved the words "men" and "women" for bathroom doors. Another funny example: When answering the phone, soldiers tend to identify their office, give their rank and name, then say: "...can I help you sir or ma'am?" Instead of simply saying: "...can I help you?".

I suppose our Air Force does it, too. But, I've never seen it so institutionalised.

Of course, people in the Air Force have a bad habit of calling people in the Army "army guys", and those in the Navy "navy guys", instead of soldiers and sailors. Or the other way, calling airmen "air force guys". Funny stuff sometimes.

Sorry. Off topic. Your Army-speak was showing.
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Re: Military backs off threat to pull atheist from ceremony

#15  Postby Weaver » Oct 21, 2011 12:49 pm

Well, considering that the reporting Soldier specifically requested his/her gender be concealed in reporting to avoid future issues ... I thought it was best to comply.

I've been doing an unofficial poll of my fellow AiFs around the Net - none of them have ever experienced what this Soldier did. Sounds like a problem with one set of cadre, 1SG and Company CDR who don't know what the fuck they were talking about (they even suggested this Soldier could call the IG if unhappy with the illegal order!) but figured things out pretty quickly.

Good on the Soldier for standing up for individual rights. (That better, The_Metatron? :tongue: )
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Re: Military backs off threat to pull atheist from ceremony

#16  Postby The_Metatron » Oct 21, 2011 12:57 pm

I agree with you. This guy did it right, and with any luck taught that particular cadre a little lesson on what they can and cannot get away with.

I've gone to the IG once upon receiving an unlawful order. Very effective. The order to provide government network access (read, free internet) to the local airbase's employee's union was struck down. And, the chain of command didn't dare twitch with any action against me. Righteous. That Inspector General can do the trick.
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