The Hell With Atheists After the Foxholes

Many people say, “There are no atheists in foxholes.” As a practical matter this obviously isn’t the case, but the Army’s new Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program (CSFP) implies it should.

The mandatory program measures soldier fitness in a variety of dimensions to help them cope with the rigors of combat. It’s spiritual dimension has a wealth of information for believers. However, it  implies that only believers need or can be helped in this dimension. In short, non-theists need not apply.

There’s nothing wrong with measuring and grading this dimension. It is critical to overcoming battlefield trauma. Whatever gets you through the terrors of war is great. But grading and providing solely religious-based feedback can demoralize non-believers and deprive them of helpful information in much the same way DADT chose to simply ignore the presence of gays. Non-theists are similarly marginalized.

Clean Toilets or Go to Chruch?
And, this ignoring of other than religious – more often than not non-Christian points of view – is larger than this program.

As a young airman in basic training during the 1970s everyone was offered two choices each Sunday – attend church or stay in the barracks and clean toilets.

Hmm…clean toilets or escape the tedium of 24×7 training for an hour singing and laughing with friends? Which shall I choose?

To the Air Force’s credit, the services were non-denominational and mentioned God only once or twice per service. There were two prayers, both of which were generic enough to interpret in any way, including as a non-theist statement. Services were comprised of signing vaguely religious, up tempo, and “modern” songs. To escape cleaning toilets with a toothbrush most atheists saw it as a good trade.

Nods to religion for the rest of my Air Force career were limited to my dog tags – which you could label as atheist, any religion, or not applicable. I entered “Granitellism” a faux belief that race car driver Andy Granitelli was God because he could pick up a screwdriver covered in oil. It didn’t cause an eyebrow to flutter.

It seems there has been a steady movement backward since those days.

In addition to CSFP, the Air Force Academy has suffered a long-standing bias against all but Christians and despite several Pentagon attempts to change, it continues. Individual unit commanders sometimes cross the same line and chaplains – which in my day did more social work than God’s work – have upped the ante.

Service members sometimes refuse to attend nondenominational services conducted by Islamic chaplains or vice versa. The Navy has squabbled over building mosques on large bases. National cemeteries banned atheist and multi-theist symbols on graves until recently because they “offended” the religious.

Unreasonable Demands?
Generally speaking, non-thesists haven’t made unreasonable demands for accommodation just as gays haven’t. When services build chapels and mosques there isn’t a clamor for an atheist house for contemplation. Asking for a symbol on a veteran’s grave is hardly a big thing. But, the CSFP goes a step beyond.

By refusing to include non-theists in CSFP the Army denies help to those service members, even though they remained atheists while in the foxholes…arm to arm with straight, gay, and minority soldiers.

The military is all about releasing some individuality to serve a greater purpose, a non-religious purpose. The Army used to call this, “An Army of One”. It degrades the contributions of non-believers because they didn’t give up an individual right guaranteed by the Constitution, and at least nominally by military training.

It’s simply wrong for the military to tout individual rights during training while denying those rights when the bullets fly.

After all, bullets don’t have an opinion about God.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!



The Economy and The American Dream.

Driving to work in Charles Town, WV, this morning I stopped to pick up coffee at the drive-thru window of the Ranson Chic-Fil-A on Route 9. I don't usually get my coffee at Chic-Fil-A... but there was such traffic at their drive in window I thought it must be pretty good.

Well, it wasn't any different than the coffee at McDonald's, Dunkin' Donuts, Sheetz, or the counter at Needful Things (which, as it turns out, is all that remains of an old F.W. Woolworth lunch counter).

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The Source of American Mythology.

It's hard for a guy in his sixties who often poohpoohs the kinds of movies that show up for the masses as latent garbage to admit it, but I sat in a theater surrounded by teenagers watching STAR TREK this weekend. My wife wasn't interested and had work to do at school, so I went alone, which I rarely do.

And I got a kick out of it.

Driving home, I started thinking about the story that was originally developed by Gene Roddenberry when I was in my early twenties and going to Northwestern (where our theatre history studies started with the development of drama in Greek Mythology)  and it has gone through many television and film iterations, each adding or filling out more story parts.

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Going Galt -- Conservatives love Ayn Rand?

"Going Galt " - Conservatives Love Ayn Rand? by Al Bratton April 3, 2009 "What with all this economic turmoil of late, not to mention a suspected socialist in the White House, right-wing pundits like femmebot Michelle Malkin and fellow Fox-friendly cretin Glenn Beck are looking to `author, philosopher and female comb-over pioneer' Ayn Rand for guidance. Stephen Colbert thinks they should move to an island all their own, where less work gets done on purpose." 90312_colbert_report_conservatives_heart s_ayn_rand/ In almost every nook and cranny of the internet these days it seems there can be found some citation to Rand and her book Atlas Shrugged and "Going Galt"an allusion to John Galt the main character in the 1957 novel. In one instance, a web page was captioned "Conservatives Love Ayn Rand." The website The Democratic Strategists, posted an article by Ed Kilgore titled, "Rand & Conservatives: A Reminder to Galt Fans" March 15, 2009. read the complete article: ac/2009/03/rand_and_conservatives_a_remi n.php These are excerpts from Kilgore's article: One of the odder phenomena of contemporary public life is the enthusiasm of conservative gabbers and even elected officials for the idea of "Going Galt:" the suggestion that the oppressed wealthy of America withdraw their vast contributions to the commonwealth in protest against the supposedly confiscatory taxes and redistribution of income to the morally depraved underway at the behest of the Obama administration. The allusion is to John Galt, the hero of Ayn Rand's 1957 novel, Atlas Shrugged, that massive tome that represented the Summa of her rigorously capitalist, atheist, and anti-altruist philosophy of "Objectivism," which has captured a vast number of adolescents and an impressive number of adults over the last several decades. I've written about this in the context of U.S. Rep. John Campbell's (R-CA) claim that "we're living through the scenario" laid out in Atlas Shrugged, wherein the industrial leaders of the West, ..." drop out, take to the Rockies, and finally, through Galt's voice--...chastise an economically helpless nation. about "going Galt" has spread like kudzu. It's merged, ... with the Rick-Santelli-spawned Tea Party "movement" of "productive" people fed up with the poor-and-minority scum .... ... I also don't need to analyze the absurdity of well-heeled, not-going-anywhere conservative bloggers and pundits like Michelle Malkin ... to encourage others to "go Galt,"... ... I'd like to ... remind folks tempted to "go Gault" or to gush ignorantly about the subject in blogs or on Fox that they are flirting with a philosophy... expressly hostile to anything that could remotely be described as "conservative." ... Galt's speech, ...the inspiration for all this excited Tea Party chatter, was a distillation of Rand's ... philosophy of Objectivism, ... And Rand, ... would ... object to use of her words and character, ... by political "conservatives," whom she ... despised as life-hating slaves to an imaginary God, ... The following are a sprinkling of quotes from Rand's work:. --Conservatism: An Obituary" from Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal I consider National Review the worst and most dangerous magazine in America...[b]ecause it ties capitalism to religion. The ideological position of National Review amounts, in effect, to the following: In order to accept freedom and capitalism, one has to believe in God or in some form of religion, some form of supernatural mysticism." [...] Rand On Religion: Faith, as such, is extremely detrimental to human life: it is the negation of reason. Rand on Abortion: Abortion is a moral right--which should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved; morally, nothing other than her wish in the matter is to be considered. [...] Rand on Ronald Reagan: I am profoundly opposed to Ronald Reagan. Since he denies the right to abortion, he cannot be a defender of any rights. Since he has no program or ideology to offer, his likeliest motive for entering a Presidential race is power-lust. [...] "Going Galt"- Conservatives Love Ayn Rand? Do they really?

Is Obama really 'reaching out' to nonbelievers?

[This is a cross-post from my column at]

The potential political ascendancy of atheists is continuing to catch the attention of the mainstream media. Yesterday's Wall Street Journalfeatures a report on that very subject, noting the rise in the numbers of the American nonreligious, the stigma that atheists continue to face, and Obama's inclusion of nonbelievers in the inaugural address. But of course such inclusiveness involves a gamble. Writes WSJ's Laura Meckler:

The outreach toward both ends of the religious spectrum makes for a complicated balancing act, one that runs the risk of alienating one group, the other, or possibly both.
Note the choice of the word "outreach." There is no doubt that Obama has been doing considerable outreach to the conservative religious community. But can his actions regarding the nonreligious truly be considered "outreach"?

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