Air Force Atheist Ponders Spiritual Fitness, Officially

An official article by Moody Air Force Base’s Public Affairs Senior Airman Jarrod Grammel is entitled “Atheist ponders spiritual fitness.”

As an atheist, people sometimes ask and wonder where I get my sense of purpose. I don’t believe that God created me and has a special purpose for me in life, but rather that I’m the result of 4 billion years of evolutionary success on a minor planet of an average star in a universe with at least 100 billion galaxies.

And that’s perfectly fine with me. My purpose and meaning comes from a desire to improve the world, help people, achieve my goals and enjoy the simple things in life.

The article is interesting and has been fairly well received, even by atheists.  That’s interesting, given that atheists have generally lambasted the US military’s spiritual fitness efforts and Michael Weinstein has even threatened a lawsuit over it (though he threatens lawsuits over everything…).

Airman Grammel concludes by saying

However you chose to think about spiritual fitness, it doesn’t have to be reserved only for the religious. Whether you believe your purpose in life comes in the form of God’s divine plan or not, everybody should feel their life has meaning. And maybe we don’t have a divine purpose, but rather that we must find our own.

As the Air Force’s publication of SrA Grammel’s article demonstrates, there are a wide variety of ideological viewpoints within the military — and those ideological viewpoints can be expressed, despite claims by critics like Michael Weinstein that they can’t.

A few years ago, the MRFF was still in search of its raison d’etre, and Chris Rodda habitually cited the “Chaplain’s Corner” section of local military base papers — where chaplains said chaplain-y things — as proof that the military was coercively and illegally Christian. Contrary pieces — where Colonels publicly and officially criticized religion, for example — went unnoticed (or intentionally ignored) in Weinstein’s criticisms of religious freedom.

SrA Grammel wrote a benign article on an atheist’s view of military spiritual fitness (even with his suggestion “we don’t have a divine purpose”).  Other members of the military — chaplains, or not — may write articles on their religious faith.  In an environment where religious freedom is valued, such discussions and expression should be valued.

Within the US military, it generally is — so long as it isn’t up to Michael Weinstein.