US House Again Adopts Bill to Ban Atheist Chaplains

Update: Jason Torpy, UCC endorser Stephen Boyd, and US Army Major Ryan Jean have announced their intentions to provide a briefing to Congress on the need for a humanist/atheist chaplain.  Their announcement repeats the misleading fact that many in the military declare “no religious preference.”


US Rep John Fleming (R-La) again added an amendment to the annual Defense Appropriations bill that would prevent chaplains from being commissioned in the US military if they don’t have a proper endorsing agency. Because non-theists don’t have a religious endorsing agency required by military regulations, his bill has the effect of preventing atheists or humanists from becoming chaplains; 

“Faith and spiritual leadership are integral and inseparable from the institution of the chaplain corps,” Fleming said. “It would be difficult for an individual lacking in any faith to be appointed as a military chaplain without first dismantling the purpose of the chaplaincy and making significant changes to [defense] policy.”

The article at the Navy Times recalls the recent application of non-theistic humanist Jason Heap:

Since Heap had an endorsing agency, it is unclear whether Fleming’s amendment would affect his or similar future applications.

As discussed previously, Heap did not have an endorsing agency that met the requirements of the US military — so Fleming’s bill would, in fact, have had an effect.

Fleming proposed similar legislation last year that did not survive the conference committee.

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