Members of Congress are set to square off over a push to create military chaplains for people who do not believe in God.
The effort to create a chaplain for atheists and "humanists" has been building over the last several weeks. While the title might sound inherently contradictory, supporters say the point is to give atheists in the military someone who will pro-actively reach out to them and facilitate meetings.
Jason Torpy, president of the Military Association of Atheists and Free Thinkers, claims that 23 percent of those in the military ranks assert no religious preference. And he argues chaplains are not providing enough "positive outreach and support" in the way "they do for all of those beliefs that aren't their own."
"When it comes to the idea of an atheist chaplain, which is an oxymoron -- it's self-contradictory -- what you're really doing is now saying that we're going to replace true chaplains with non-chaplain chaplains," said sponsor Rep. John Fleming, R-La. "It's just total nonsense, the idea of having a chaplain who is an atheist."
Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., who is also an Air Force chaplain, said he often dealt with atheists who were simply asking about their problems.
An oxymoron, really? How judgmental!
Rep. Fleming is right, of course, although "nonsense" may be even a little mild. Chaplains can and do provide counseling for people outside their faith and people of no faith at all. And of course there are other people in the military not affiliated with religion whose job is to listen to the soldier's problems and concerns so they can provide guidance. So this silly position would serve no function whatsoever. If you were cynical you might be tempted to think the whole point is another progressive poke in the eye at religion. Unless I'm wrong and the Army today is much different from the one I served in. Perhaps there are thousands of atheists in uniform screaming for their own chaplians so they will have somebody to sit down and not pray with.
Are there atheist chaplains in foxholes, I wonder?