Guest / Limited Access /

The military chaplain is a staple of the armed forces. Many have suggested that the sense of mortality that one feels as bullets fly and bombs explode lends itself naturally to prayer and supplication of a divine being. The axiom "there are no atheists in foxholes" emerged based on battlefield scenarios.

There may soon be atheist chaplains in foxholes, however. A recent story in The New York Times, titled "Atheists Seek Chaplain Role in the Military," covered recent efforts by atheist members of the armed forces to secure chaplaincy positions for atheists. More than 9,000 military personnel self identify as atheist or agnostic, the Times reports, and some claim that many more members of the military adhere to these camps without reporting their preference. Conversely, about 1 million troops say they are Christians. They represent roughly 70 percent of troops and about 90 percent of chaplains.

The story mentions Military Atheists and Secular Humanists (MASH), a group attempting a grassroots organization and advocacy for the cause. Based in Fayetteville, North Carolina, the group announced on its website that it is composed of "all shades of non-theism, be it: Atheist, Agnostics, Skeptics, Humanists, all are welcome and represented here." Interestingly, the group proposes a calendar of activities that bear remarkable resemblance to those in a traditional church. It seeks to "[p]rovide a safe, and fun environment for community oriented meetings" and offers "[p]otlucks, speakers, secular kids' play-dates, nights out on the town." The 86 members of the group, called "heathens" on the website, do their part to ensure that it is not only wizened Baptists who fellowship over covered-dish dinners.

One project of the group, called Rock ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current IssueNew & Noteworthy Books
Subscriber Access Only
New & Noteworthy Books
Compiled by Matt Reynolds
RecommendedEvangelical Critics: Franklin Graham’s Evangelism Won’t Work in Vancouver
Evangelical Critics: Franklin Graham’s Evangelism Won’t Work in Vancouver
Canadian pastors debate whether Trump baggage will hurt local outreach efforts.
TrendingAll 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing
All 240 Family Christian Stores Are Closing
More than 3,000 employees in 36 states will be laid off in the liquidation of one of the world’s largest Christian retailers.
Editor's PickA Tale of Two Calvary Chapels: Behind the Movement’s Split
A Tale of Two Calvary Chapels: Behind the Movement’s Split
Chuck Smith’s successor says he is expanding founder’s vision. Other leaders say he’s diluting it.
Christianity Today
Atheists in the Foxholes—as Chaplains
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

March 2011

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.