Atheists Demand End to Prayers at Pease Air National Guard Base
A concerned guardsman informed FFRF that ceremonies at the Pease Air National Guard Base regularly have chaplains delivering invocations. These include readings from the bible and references to a Christian god. Attendance at these ceremonies is mandatory for all guardsmen.
The FFRF’s legal analysis was short and to the point:
FFRF reminds the Air National Guard that such ceremonies are illegal under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
The FFRF forgot to say it was their opinion prayer at such functions is “illegal.” There are a great many other people — and reputable civil rights groups — who would disagree with the FFRF’s “analysis.”
As an aside, the FFRF repeated and misused Jason Torpy’s long debunked statistics about US troops with “no religious preference”, saying [emphasis added]:
The Air National Guard must refrain from lending its power and prestige to religion, amounting to a governmental endorsement that excludes the over 23% of military personnel who either express no religious preference or are atheists.
That’s a grossly dishonest representation on the FFRF’s part. It is factually known that the “NRP” status includes “religious” troops, so the FFRF is wrong to categorically claim that 23% are “exclude[d]” during prayer at an event. At best, the FFRF could reliably attempt to claim 0.5% of military personnel are “excluded”, but that number wouldn’t make their case look as important, would it?
In truth, most US troops are not such delicate flowers as the one the FFRF claims as a complainant. If a chaplain stands up and offers a prayer inconsistent with the theology of an individual Airman at Pease, the vast majority of Airmen will stand quietly while the chaplain says his peace, and then get on with their day.
This is true regardless of the theology of the chaplain. Think about it: There are non-Christian chaplains in the US military who also give invocations, etc. When was the last time you heard a Christian service member file a complaint because they were offended at a non-Christian chaplain’s prayer? (The closest was probably Gary Christenot, an Air Force officer who recalled a non-military story from the mid 1980s).
If Christians are so intent on being dominant, as the FFRF would claim, or taking over the world, as Michael “Mikey” Weinstein and Chris Rodda would claim, why don’t Christians routinely object to non-Christian chaplains?
It couldn’t be that Christian troops are tolerant of other beliefs, could it?
The objective of the US Constitution — and the US military — isn’t to restrict liberty to prevent offense. Not everyone will like prayer at an event or the content of the prayer, and that’s ok.
A world in which any and all religiosity is banned from public view isn’t a world of religious freedom — and it isn’t the worldview of the freedom-protecting United States of America, despite atheist claims to the contrary.
You can read the FFRF letter here.