Atheist Gets Secretive Agency to Change Motto
You have to give Jason Torpy a little credit. Unlike Michael Weinstein, who is characterized by ellipses, alliterative vitriol, and threats of lawsuits, Torpy has demonstrated an ability to actually communicate with people and achieve at least some level of influence (that is, until he steps into more “controversial” areas.)
The one-man wonder that is the Military “Association” of Atheists and Freethinkers recently “needled” an Air Force agency into changing the motto that has graced their patch for some years.
The US Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office “expedites” acquisitions programs, many in “sensitive activities.” The RCO had a patch that, like many units’ patches, contained embedded in-jokes, clever double-speak, and probably even hinted at national secrets. Torpy’s beef? The slogan at the bottom:
Opus Dei Cum Pecunia Alienum Efficemus
“Doing God’s Work with Other People’s Money”
Apparently, the phrase “Doing God’s Work” is not “welcoming to atheists and humanists,” despite its fairly frequent usage in greater American society to refer to a great deal of things that have nothing to do with theology. How bad did Torpy think this was?
A few phone calls and emails were worth the effort to coax these AF officials to exercise restraint in government endorsement of religious activities. [emphasis added]
So a clever quote at the bottom of a patch was a government endorsement of religion. Right. And an officer who says God’s name in vain is endorsing a deity, too.
The new motto, which has “quietly” graced the patch in only the last few weeks:
Miraculi Cum Pecunia Alienum Efficemus
“Doing Miracles with Other People’s Money”
Not quite the same ring to it (and Torpy still takes issue with the reference to “miracles”). The sad part is the original phrase was an understood idiom. The new phrase is also in common usage — as a pejorative in the financial industry. Still, the Air Force unit will surely be happy to know former Army Captain Jason Torpy helped them out in changing their motto.
Actually, if they hold onto that other military “tradition,” they’ll probably display the “politically correct” patch where they are required to — and go right on using and wearing the one they actually like.
Wonder if Torpy will now unload on all the other US military patches that “endorse” a religion, though Michael Weinstein fell flat when he was tempted in that direction. If he does, he’ll have to make sure he goes after the resemblance to atheist ideology, too.
If these are the battles Torpy feels he has to fight, life can’t be too bad for atheists in the US military. Still, its a bit of a shame to see the US military fold in the face of emails from a single former Army officer’s extremely hypersensitive complaint.