For the second time, the US Navy has denied the application of Dr. Jason Heap to become a “humanist chaplain” in the sea service. A Navy board had supported his appointment; when word of that decision leaked, members of both the House and Senate wrote the Navy in protest. Those congressmen have now revealed that the Navy has rejected Heap’s application, again.
Heap’s application as been widely opposed by religious liberty groups, largely because humanism isn’t a religion — and the chaplaincy is religious.
On that point, Hemant Mehta, the poorly Read more
Responding to the leaked news that the Navy is considering a “humanist” chaplain, Republican Senator Roger Wicker wrote a column published at FoxNews that said an atheist should not be put in the “undeniably religious position” of a military chaplain:
I oppose the appointment of a “secular-humanist” chaplain, and I have formally requested that the secretary of the Navy and the chief of naval operations reject this application. I am not alone in my request. Twenty-two of my colleagues in the Senate have joined me in this effort.
Senator Wicker notes with some irony that Read more
Though not officially announced, a few websites and organizations have revealed that the Navy Chaplain Appointment and Retention Eligibility (CARE) Advisory Group has recommended that Jason Heap, an atheist, be appointed a US Navy chaplain. (The official silence may be because CARE’s decision was leaked in violation of Navy policy, which dictates the sessions be “closed” with members forbidden from “discussing deliberations or recommendations”.)
Heap had previously sued the Navy over its denial of his application to become a chaplain. The lawsuit was largely dismissed, though some claims proceeded. One site claimed the suit was subsequently “settled” under unpublicized terms.
Navy regulations say the CARE group is primarily composed of senior chaplains and other senior leaders. CARE ensures the “full spectrum” of professional qualifications is considered when someone applies to be a chaplain. The objective, in context, is to prevent people from becoming chaplains just because they meet the bare minimum requirements.
CARE’s role is to validate Read more
Army Specialist Samuel Keenan of the Massachusetts National Guard recently wrote an article out of Hanscom AFB entitled “Getting in the foxhole: how chaplains serve nonreligious service members” — apparently a subtle play on the “no atheists in a foxhole” phrase.
In short, the article uses the example of Guard Air Force Chaplain (Capt) Derek White to show that chaplains serve everyone, even those without a religious faith:
“It doesn’t matter if they’re religious or if they have no religious preference,” said White. “The fact that I am the person that they feel they can share their life with… that’s a really great feeling…”
“Regardless of religious preference, or non-preference, everybody hits a wall with human limits,” said White. “Chaplains provide hope that the wall is not an obstacle that cannot be overcome.”
That’s a valid discussion — even if the “non-religious” issue feels somewhat forced to the exclusion of everything else. Based on the article, it seems Keenan, more than Chaplain White, focused on the non-religious aspect. There’s no clear reason why.
Unfortunately, Keenan relied on an “interesting” source for part of his article: Read more
An interesting article about Navy chaplains noted a recent annual training event whose topic was “A Strategy for the Delivery of Religious Ministry to None, Dones, and Millennials.”
The [course] is designed to provide chaplains and [chaplain assistants] with the knowledge, skills and abilities to deliver meaningful religious ministry to millennials who are religious, have no religious preference, or who have disaffiliated from religion.
Some militant atheists have said the only Read more
The Freedom From Religion Foundation and American Atheists sent a letter (PDF) yesterday to Secretary of Defense James Mattis calling on him to act to end “coerced religious observances” within the military. Alison Gill and Rebecca Markert write that
The complainants allege, among other things, that facility organizers regularly include scheduled prayer in graduation ceremonies, cadets who opt not to attend worship services on Sundays are instead given menial tasks to perform, and instructors regularly lead recruits in prayers prior to administering tests.
The letter provides no examples. It appears to Read more
The Walk of Heroes Veterans War Memorial in Rockdale County, Georgia, was vandalized in December. A plaque, two statues, and the globe they held, all made from bronze, were ripped from the site. Three people have been arrested.
At this point, there’s no immediate indication the vandalism was connected to the nationwide purge of “racially offensive” monuments. One source estimated the cost of repairs at more than $200,000.
Another question, however, is whether the monument, repaired or not, will survive the newfound fury of atheists.
Atheist Jason Torpy and others like him have been on a crusade Read more
Hemant Mehta, an atheist blogger at the pay-per-click Patheos, celebrated a “gotcha” against one-time Senatorial candidate Roy Moore when Mehta decided how to describe the faith of their lawyer.
The “issue” started when Kayla Moore, Roy Moore’s wife, reacted to claims they were anti-Semitic by noting “one of our attorneys is a Jew.”
Truth be told, the “I have friends who are…” defense is always awkward — but it is also common. (Even Michael “Mikey” Weinstein uses it in defending against claims he’s anti-Christian.) But not yet satisfied, critics began an in-depth investigation to figure out who this mystery Jew was — because, well, who knows?
Finally, Kayla Moore simply told them: Read more