Theists in the foxholes

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Theists in the foxholes

#1  Postby Varangian » Nov 17, 2014 2:04 pm

I attended the yearly Home Guard exercise last weekend. Four days trying to keep skills moderately honed. The commander of the three battalions in our part of the country wants to instil some esprit-de-corps, so a closing ceremony was held. The Home Guard band played a few marches (I like marches, and the flute players were pretty women), there were medals and promotions, and then a Lutheran service was held. WTF? There was a sermon, a psalm, and prayer with blessing. This was like old times, back when I did a refresher manoeuver in 1989. I kept silent throughout the farce, but decided to check up what the Armed Forces policy on the matter is. True enough, not only is freedom of religion mentioned, but also freedom from religion. Church and state were separated in 2000, so the Home Guard has to follow that decision. I will write the commander and point out that religious services have no place in situations where the soldier has no opportunity to opt out.

More to come when I've received a reply.
Last edited by Varangian on Nov 17, 2014 6:22 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Theists in the foxholes

#2  Postby quisquose » Nov 17, 2014 2:13 pm

Well done, keep us all posted.
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Re: Theists in the foxholes

#3  Postby Mike_L » Nov 17, 2014 2:30 pm

Varangian wrote:I attended the yearly Home Guard exercise last weekend. Four days trying to keep skills moderately honed. The commander of the three battalions in our part of the country wants to instil some esprit-de-corps, so a closing ceremony was held. The Home Guard band played a few marches (I like marches, and the flute players were pretty women), there were medals and promotions, and then a Lutheran service was held. WTF? There was a sermon, a psalm, and prayer with blessing. This was like old times, back when I did a refresher manoeuvry in 1989. I kept silent throughout the farce, but decided to check up what the Armed Forces policy on the matter is. True enough, not only is freedom of religion mentioned, but also freedom from religion. Church and state were separated in 2000, so the Home Guard has to follow that decision. I will write the commander and point out that religious services have no place in situations where the soldier has no opportunity to opt out.

More to come when I've received a reply.

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Re: Theists in the foxholes

#4  Postby Varangian » Nov 17, 2014 4:05 pm

Well, the Russians claim to have the Russian Orthodox variety of the magic sky pixie on their side, so unless the fucker is schizophrenic, we cannot expect any divine meddling intervention.
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Re: Theists in the foxholes

#5  Postby The_Metatron » Nov 17, 2014 4:18 pm

Well, at least it was Lutheran voodoo. Can't be having any of that alien episcopal supremacy crap. Hell, you can wear a French Tickler, if you want!
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Re: Theists in the foxholes

#6  Postby Varangian » Nov 17, 2014 9:00 pm

Email sent to the commander, where I pointed out that the rules and regulations for the Armed Forces prohibits involuntary participation in religious ceremonies. Now I'll wait for the reply...
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Re: Theists in the foxholes

#7  Postby Weaver » Nov 17, 2014 9:17 pm

Wish the hell my military had such protections for non-believers - for us, invocations and benedictions are an integral part of every event and ceremony, part of the "ceremonial deism" excuse the US Supreme Court invented because they knew such prayers were blatantly unConstitutional but they really wanted a way to keep them around.

I was able to fight a few times to keep them from being TOO overtly sectarian - but it was a constant struggle, especially when evangelicals thought that their "duty" to spread their faith extended to mass gatherings of people who couldn't opt out.

I'd rebel in my own little way - when they asked everyone to bow their heads, I'd keep mine up, and try to make eye contact with everyone else who was doing the same - little nod of acknowledgement between fellow non-conformists. In fact, that would be the only time I'd move my head while at "Parade Rest" - because, I figured, if everyone else was bowing their heads for prayer, I could fucking move all I wanted to.
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Re: Theists in the foxholes

#8  Postby The_Metatron » Nov 17, 2014 9:18 pm

Yep, did that same thing.
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Re: Theists in the foxholes

#9  Postby Varangian » Nov 17, 2014 11:59 pm

This is what I wrote:

Hello,

I participated in last week's field exercise for the 39th HG Battalion. The official closing ceremony was a mostly nice event, with the band, medals and promotions. However, there was a feature that I found highly dubious, and it was the service. There were a hymn, a sermon, prayer and a blessing. It was certainly a nice initiative for the handful of believeing Christians present, but for me, and most likely the majority, it was slightly offensive, or at least irrelevant. I hope we do not experience anything similar in the future, and I base this on the following:

1) Since 1/1 2000, church and state are separate. The Armed Forces shall, as part of the state, not favor any particular creed.

2) The Armed Forces' written policy on equality from 2012 to 2014 (16 100:54891), page 16, states that:

"[The commanding officer is responsible to] ensure that personnel can freely practice their faith and be given the opportunity to celebrate religious holidays, which also includes the freedom from religious practices, celebrations and ceremonies"

Regarding the latter point, Sunday's (16/11 2014) prayers can be seen as a violation of the right of those present to not participate in religious ceremonies, especially as they weren't given any option. Practitioners of other religions and atheists had a Lutheran ceremony inflicted on them, without the option to leave. If this is repeated, I will see myself forced to take it to higher authorities, but I hope that the whole thing was a mistake and that the current regulations will be followed in the future.

With kind regards,

(signed)
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Re: Theists in the foxholes

#10  Postby Weaver » Nov 18, 2014 12:24 am

Well written. Wish we had protections like that in our regulations.
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Re: Theists in the foxholes

#11  Postby Varangian » Nov 18, 2014 8:06 pm

I got a reply today, both from my company commander and the commander of the regional Home Guard battalions. It seems like there was an option to leave during the ceremony, but as I was assigned to tasks in the battalion staff, the officers responsible for informing me missed it, thinking I had already got the info about opting out. I accepted the apologies, but pointed out that it is better for teambuilding to have a secular ceremony where everyone can participate, than having a ceremony with a service where people of other persuasions may leave while it lasts.
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Re: Theists in the foxholes

#12  Postby Weaver » Nov 19, 2014 3:20 am

Nice excuse. How many others "didn't get the word"?
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Re: Theists in the foxholes

#13  Postby Varangian » Nov 19, 2014 8:13 am

From what I heard, 3-4 opted out of the sermon + prayer. Those who wanted to opt out had been told to stand in the back, so they could slip out without discretely.
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Re: Theists in the foxholes

#14  Postby akigr8 » Nov 20, 2014 6:26 am

The same happened to me two years ago. We had the priest talk about moral issues previous years, but that year we suddenly had a ceremony and he blessed us! WTF! Almost everyone complained to our representative, he took it up with the brass and we haven't seen the priest since then.
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Re: Theists in the foxholes

#15  Postby thirsting » Nov 20, 2014 9:35 am

I escaped one such ceremony by hiding in the bathroom. Accidentally, but still. I just HAD TO go just before we were supposed to go out stand and parade and listen to a sermon of some kind. One of the sergeants (?) checked all the bathrooms, but somehow missed me, which was lucky as I really needed to stay in bathroom. O_o I don't know how nobody seemed to notice, not even the other guys I shared a room with.

And yeah, very annoying how there really was no way to bow out of those religious parts, except by sheer luck.
Well that was awkward.
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Re: Theists in the foxholes

#16  Postby jinxu » Mar 31, 2015 8:59 pm

Not sure if this question belongs in the Atheist in Foxholes or here, correct me if I am wrong.

Question : As an atheist in the military, do you feel at all discriminated or not trusted by fellow soldiers during times of war / battle? I know there have been polls done, at least here in the US, where people tend to trust atheists less because of misinformation / misrepresentation. Regardless of religious background (hindu, muslim, christian, etc.) in general people had a notion that because atheists don't believe in a supreme being that they are more likely to be dishonest or some other negative. As far as I know those polls were from the civilian population and not strictly military.

If that is the case then I can begin to further understand the general "outcry" of atheists. In fact I just saw a youtube ad for "Non-Secular" kind of in line with some old Mormon commercials (not trying to make any comparisons or imply anything). As a Christian there is a general undertone of atheists = anti-christian as if simply being an atheist puts you in the "enemy" camp. And that is unfortunate and counter to what the Bible teaches.
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Re: Theists in the foxholes

#17  Postby Thomas Eshuis » Mar 31, 2015 9:22 pm

Varangian wrote:From what I heard, 3-4 opted out of the sermon + prayer. Those who wanted to opt out had been told to stand in the back, so they could slip out without discretely.

This just seems completely ass-backwards.
There's a reason why 'school prayer' is banned.
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Re: Theists in the foxholes

#18  Postby Varangian » Mar 31, 2015 11:57 pm

Thomas Eshuis wrote:
Varangian wrote:From what I heard, 3-4 opted out of the sermon + prayer. Those who wanted to opt out had been told to stand in the back, so they could slip out without discretely.

This just seems completely ass-backwards.
There's a reason why 'school prayer' is banned.

Yup, and when we have our exercise in May, I will pay very close attention to what is in store for us. If another service is planned, I'll raise a stink.
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Re: Theists in the foxholes

#19  Postby Thomas Eshuis » Apr 01, 2015 8:42 am

Varangian wrote:
Thomas Eshuis wrote:
Varangian wrote:From what I heard, 3-4 opted out of the sermon + prayer. Those who wanted to opt out had been told to stand in the back, so they could slip out without discretely.

This just seems completely ass-backwards.
There's a reason why 'school prayer' is banned.

Yup, and when we have our exercise in May, I will pay very close attention to what is in store for us. If another service is planned, I'll raise a stink.

:cheers:
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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Re: Theists in the foxholes

#20  Postby Weaver » Apr 03, 2015 4:58 pm

jinxu wrote:Not sure if this question belongs in the Atheist in Foxholes or here, correct me if I am wrong.

Question : As an atheist in the military, do you feel at all discriminated or not trusted by fellow soldiers during times of war / battle? I know there have been polls done, at least here in the US, where people tend to trust atheists less because of misinformation / misrepresentation. Regardless of religious background (hindu, muslim, christian, etc.) in general people had a notion that because atheists don't believe in a supreme being that they are more likely to be dishonest or some other negative. As far as I know those polls were from the civilian population and not strictly military.

If that is the case then I can begin to further understand the general "outcry" of atheists. In fact I just saw a youtube ad for "Non-Secular" kind of in line with some old Mormon commercials (not trying to make any comparisons or imply anything). As a Christian there is a general undertone of atheists = anti-christian as if simply being an atheist puts you in the "enemy" camp. And that is unfortunate and counter to what the Bible teaches.

I didn't.

My combat patrol unit in Iraq had many devout theists in it, and they would do a group prayer before we left every day. I never participated after the first one (I was unaware of the tradition). I was asked to participate, and declined - whereupon a couple other guys stopped going as well. But nothing anyone ever said to me indicated they trusted me less if we got in the shit.
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