Most popular press covered the religious freedom portions of the controversies surrounding the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act. Another interesting conversation, though, occurred with an official attempt by Congress to mandate atheist chaplains.
Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) offered the amendment to the [NDAA]. The amendment would have allowed humanists and other nonbelievers join the Chaplain Corps.
(The topic of atheist chaplains has come up many times before.) Polis said atheists were “denied” a “right” because they could not “confide in an adviser who is not a mental health professional.” The amendment was defeated, according to some reports, because it was “absurd.” (This was actually the second attempt to attach the amendment. It previously failed in committee but still made it to the floor for a vote.)
A few reports, though, highlighted the fact that 150 representatives voted for it. David Niose, Secular Coalition President who has previously spoken to military audiences, blamed Republican “anti-atheist prejudice” — ignoring the fact 44 Democrats also voted against it. The Secular Coalition also supported the amendment using precisely the same false demographics created by Jason Torpy years ago, creatively presenting numbers to make it appear more than 23% of the US military is atheist.
Retired Chaplain (Col) Ron Crews expressed concern that Congress might incorrectly understand the chaplaincy try to make such a mandate — or that the DoD might choose to do it anyway.
Jason Torpy’s atheist group MAAF highlighted the legislation, with MAAF and MRFF supporter Eric Flanders, who describes himself as an Air Force atheist supporting the call for atheist chaplains while criticizing Christian chaplains as “holy wizards…on the government dime.”
As a military atheist in the flying portion of the Air Force (arguably the most proselytizing of any sector of service), I would love to have someone to talk to that didn’t push me to ask jesus what to do. The fact that these holy wizards get paid on the government dime exponentially what I do blows my mind.