Atheists in the Trenches
The New York Times has a story today about atheists seeking to gain entry in to the U.S. military’s chaplain corps in an attempt to bring a more inclusive atmosphere for non-believers in uniform and to tend to their moral and humanistic needs.
While our military has traditionally been a secular and non-political organization focused on the mission and the rules, there is an obvious friction that faces freethinkers of any kind among the rank and file. The pervasive nature of Christian evangelism and proselytizing in the U.S. military is an insidious cancer that threatens the secular nature of our country and undermines the legitimacy of our wars of self defense, especially when they’re fought in predominantly Muslim countries. Whether subtle or not, the pressure for a young soldier to convert must be immense, and providing them with a realistic alternative seems like a great idea, except when you realize that a military chaplain must have a formal education in Theology and accreditation from a religious institution (r/atheism doesn’t count.) But if you bore this problem down to what it really is – that young soldiers are subjected to extreme and constant stress, forced to witness and occasionally commit senseless and murderous acts, and through years of conditioning and mind alteration, are tricked into feeling good about it in the name of corps and country – then you realize that all these kids don’t need a priest, or an anti-priest. They need a shrink, and proper mental health care to overcome the horrors we ask them to endure on behalf of our safety and liberty.