November 16, 2011 10:51 AM Subscribe
Atheists in U.S. military seek official recognition. A small but growing movement complains of religious bias and seeks the same status as Christians, Jews and Muslims.
posted by VikingSword (107 comments total)
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'Religion — specifically Christianity — is embedded in military culture. The Chaplain Corps traces its origins to the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. Until the 1970s, the service academies required cadets to attend chapel services. Nightly prayers still are broadcast throughout Navy ships at sea. Fewer than 10,000 of the 1.4 million active-duty members of the armed forces identify themselves as atheists or agnostics. Atheists say many more are hidden among the 285,000 who say they have no religious preference.'
'Whatever their number, nonbelievers describe themselves as a minority that is often isolated and sometimes closeted. Torpy, of the military atheists group, said he heard from service members looking for "affirmation" and "connection to a community of like-minded individuals."'
'Some in the loosely knit but apparently growing movement of military atheists see the recognition of lay leaders as a step toward the appointment of nonbelieving chaplains, who would be responsible — like the priests, ministers, rabbis and imams now in uniform — for responding to the spiritual needs of service members.
Reactions so far, they say, have ranged from perplexity to hostility. Military authorities have yet to approve an atheist lay leader.'