The Wisdom of Atheist Midshipmen
Kate Donovan posted text from interviews she conducted with atheists at the US Naval Academy as part of a series on atheists in the US military academies. The text is interesting as an overview of the midshipmen’s group, but what is fascinating is the mature perspective from some of the mids:
…the paperwork process is slow for all groups, regardless of whether people like our group or not…
…Although our group has not been “official” for this past year — it was due to the fact that all prospective ECA’s must submit paperwork for official review every year in April — no other opportunities are afforded, our group included.
We can host events, but just have to go through the same bureaucracy as everyone else on that…
The theme is consistent: The mids recognize they are subject to the same “issues” as every other extracurricular group. They don’t have a persecution complex or an antagonistic attitude.
By contrast, some atheists on active duty seem to have exactly that: Justin Griffith of Rock Beyond Belief fame inaccurately claims atheists are “banned” from meeting on Army posts, a claim that was, until recently, repeated by Air Force atheists. Now, these Air Force atheists have apparently decided to do what everyone else has to do and are applying to be recognized as a private organization, which will give them the same access every other non-religious group gets.
Atheist cadets at the US Military Academy had a somewhat mixed response to the same questions:
Our first attempts at official recognition were shot down outright…[but the new director of clubs] has given us reason to believe that we will be recognized sometime in the near future. Currently, the Academy’s club program is being revised. After the revision process is completed this summer, we will know if our efforts were successful.
At first it seems they acknowledge their unofficial status — but they then complain about being denied certain things, which require official status. Similarly, they complain about not having access to public advertising — but then say they actually do have that access, but they don’t have a use for it. Finally, the cadets make global statements about being denied the ability to travel — implying it has to do with their atheism and failing to acknowledge their unofficial status or the fact other groups get denied, too. It seems West Point atheists could use a lesson in humility and maturity from their Annapolis peers.
Hopefully, the atheist midshipmen, who will be commissioned as officers after they graduate, will maintain their level heads and the maturity they’ve so far displayed — maturity that seems to exceed that of some of their counterparts.