“The cliche notwithstanding, there are atheists in foxholes. In fact, atheists, agnostics, humanists and other assorted skeptics from the Army’s Fort Bragg have formed an organization in a pioneering effort to win recognition and ensure fair treatment for nonbelievers in the overwhelmingly Christian U.S. military.” This from The Washington Times on an article on MASH: Military Atheists and Secular Humanists.
In an effort to be recognized MASH is going through the same process as other religious groups do to be considered a distinct “Faith” group despite being a “lack of Faith” group. The reason is that they need this status in order to meet on base instead of the surrounding homes and bars near Fort Bragg. Mash members have said that the Army Chaplains Corp has so far been supportive. Increasingly, The Army has had to open its doors for support for a variety of religious faiths, not just the predominately Christian service men and women.
Jason Torpy, President of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, is waiting patiently on the outcome as it means possible recognition of their organization too.
MASH was originally formed when Sgt. Griffith tried to organize an atheist festival for fellow nonbelievers but could not find the same support given to an earlier Christian festival held on base. The higher ups deny they showed any favoritism.
The longstanding myth of “There are no atheists in foxholes” is slowly being stomped out of existence by army boots, but this convenient argument still persists by Christians. I believe I saw a recent comment on Freethunk in the last two months with that same argument. The same myths surround atheists on their deathbed. Commonly called deathbed confessions these myths are placed upon well known unbelievers who cannot defend themselves.
Atheists face death in a multitude of ways, much like everyone else, and do not suddenly cower and pray to god. It is a Christian wet dream. Even further, when you’re stuck in a foxhole you can either give in to superstition or you can mentally prepare yourself to face the next battle. I would suspect that much of war is a mental game to overcome fear and think strategically in the face of chaos–this is not aided by praying to a deity that can’t even tell you where the enemy is hiding.
Has there ever been an atheist in a foxhole? Possibly, as there is for sure to have been a Christian who ditched his faith due to the agony and senselessness of war. It proves nothing either way in relation to a god’s existence. All that is being done here is allow for like-minded individuals to meet and greet. I would think most Christian military men and women would not have a problem with that since the usual view is that they serve to protect freedom. Freedom means tolerating a variety of viewpoints and what better place to see that happen and still show unity than on an army base?