Wait, An Atheistic Military Chaplain?

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Recently, Republican Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker appeared on Washington Watch with Tony Perkins, which is a national radio show that airs on more than 240 stations across the country on the American Family Radio Network. On the show, Sen. Wicker highlighted the current debate over whether atheists can serve as chaplains in the Navy.

Sen. Wicker commented, “We are one step toward a DOD where a secular humanist atheist can be a chaplain.” Sen Wicker continued, “All we want the DOD to do is to follow their own guidelines. A chaplain must be a religious ministry professional… defined as an individual endorsed to represent a religious organization and to conduct its religious observances and ceremonies. If they would just follow their own guidelines, we’ll be okay. But, I have seen these things get out of hand before, so we need to take action.”

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, and host of Washington Watch, added, “You are not saying, and I am not saying, that atheists don’t belong in the military. But, allowing them to serve and allowing them to be in the pulpit are two different things.”

In a statement obtained by USA Daily Chronicles, Sen. Wicker stated:

“You can imagine, then, my disappointment to learn that an application for an atheist chaplain could soon be approved by the Navy.  The Navy Chaplain advisory board has moved the application forward in the process, leaving the possibility of an imminent final approval.  Such a decision would be completely out of step with the Chaplain Corps’s religious mission.  An atheist or “secular humanist” has adopted a worldview defined by the absence of a belief in God. Such a worldview contradicts the purpose of the Chaplain Corps and the service of those in it.

“In addition, the Navy’s appointment of an atheist chaplain would counter Department of Defense guidelines.  The guidelines state that those in a religious ministry profession are “endorsed to represent a religious organization and to conduct its religious observances or ceremonies.”

“Beyond the mismatch of atheism and the Chaplain Corps in principle, an atheist chaplain could also fundamentally alter the role of the Corps in practice.  Other “chaplains” with non-religious or philosophical worldviews could petition the military to be included.  These inclusions would erode the specifically religious bedrock that has grounded the Chaplain Corps for 243 years.

RELATED: 22 Senate Republicans Join Wicker’s Letter to Navy Leadership

“My request for the Navy to reject the application of a “secular-humanist” chaplain is in no way an attempt to curb the constitutional rights of any service members.  The Navy has the authority to create separate programs for non-religious expression.  My effort stems from the need to protect the Chaplain Corps from politically correct inclusions that would erode its very identity.

“I am joined in this effort by 22 of my Republican colleagues in the U.S. Senate.  These Senators have signed my letter to Navy leadership opposing the atheist chaplain under consideration.  Like me, they recognize the value that the Chaplain Corps brings to our military and our nation.

“The future of the Chaplain Corps and its integrity as a religious organization should not be put at risk by a shortsighted decision from the Navy regarding the application of an atheist chaplain.  Our military chaplains, representing a variety of faiths, are a reminder that those who serve in our armed forces need not check their religious freedoms when they put on their uniform.”

The truth is, for atheists to have a chaplain would be very discrediting to their larger cause.  Why?  They argue that atheism is not a faith system, but one based on “logic” and “reason.”  If they go the path of becoming “religious leaders” in the military or anywhere else, they will expose atheism for what it is — a faith system like every other religion.  After all, choosing to believe there is no god is done in faith, just like believing in god.

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