Coming Soon: AtheistFighterPilot.com
Some who have visited ChristianFighterPilot.com have made accusations of exclusivism, favoritism, and even violation of the Constitution for mixing “church and state.” At the extreme, conspiracy theorists have accused ChristianFighterPilot.com of being bent on world domination. After all, only Christians would have the gall to so publicly mix their military service and religious faith, right?
Actually, Christians aren’t the only ones integrating their faith and their service, and others, too, have “exclusive” websites featuring their faiths.
To mention but a few, the “American Muslim Armed Forces and Veteran Affairs Council” recently proposed a highly controversial addition to the UCMJ. Another Muslim military site currently features the recent death of an American Muslim fighter pilot (and another entitled “Serving God and Country”). It notes that
The [Muslim Military Members] is an organization providing information, communication, and coordination for Muslims in the US Armed Forces.
Being a Jew in the service presents some unique challenges. My hope is that by creating this website, other Jews serving in our armed forces can learn what resources are available for them, share their experiences with one another, and offer support when needed.
Some of those sites aren’t that different (in stated intent, at least) from that of ChristianFighterPilot.com:
This site is intended to provide the military Christian with the information, resources, and support they need for living an active life of faith as a professional military officer. Read about relevant current events, opinions of the military Christian life, and mentor and encourage others. Find resources, support at military bases, and link to any variety of Christian sites across the web.
Not to be left out, there’s even an organization for military atheists:
[The Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers] provides geographically dispersed service members with information, resources, and contacts. MAAF provides information about nontheistic services members to other organizations as well as the media. MAAF is a community support network that connects military members from around the world with each other and with local organizations.
Despite lawsuits to the contrary, the American military is an amazingly diverse and accepting place when it comes to religious beliefs (or the lack thereof). That diversity extends to the external organizations of faith (or non-faith) that seek to influence military members with their point of view. “Grassroot” support organizations are merely a natural result of the bonds shared among military members. Such desires are not limited to Christians. For example,
The [x] is a new program to recruit and train lay leaders to lead programs at every U.S. military base worldwide. [We want to] recruit [x] military members, their spouses, or retired service members to run [x] programs at those bases.
Christian organizations with statements as benign as this are subjects of lawsuits. This quote, though, came from a Jewish website. Even the atheist site has a recruiting section for military bases (including the military Academies). The point isn’t to belittle those sites, but to point out that Christians aren’t the only ones who want to provide support “targeted” to the military community. While some have recently objected to the existence of Christian organizations who explicitly state their intent to influence the military, other religions (and non-religions) have similar organizations.
If nothing else, the prevalence of spiritual (and non-spiritual) military support organizations shows that no one group is alone in its desire to influence members of the military. Truthfully, the relationship between religion and the military is not nearly so dire as some may believe (on either side of the issue). In a free society, balance occurs by allowing opposing views to flourish. As a reflection of its society, the American military certainly has exposure to an abundance of such views, both within its walls and without.