Skip to comments.Where Did God Go in Afghanistan? An Atheist Writes.
Posted on 11/18/2010 7:03:06 AM PST by SeekAndFind
On Nov. 5, 2010, I read an article titled Where Did God Go in Afghanistan? by Capt. Michael Cummings. Captain Cummings, who reported his thoughts concerning sparse attendance at religious services in Afghanistan, speculated as to why so few soldiers were willing to attend these services. He stated that he personally could not imagine anyone being in combat without a belief in God, but theorized that being openly religious wasnt cool enough for modern troops and thats why they failed to attend religious services that were arranged for them.
Throughout his heartfelt article, it was clear that he was distressed by the seeming lack of overt religious practice in combat theater and was bewildered by the cause.
I, however, as an atheist who has served in Afghanistan and Iraq, viewed his experience as a reason to hope that the problem of religious coercion in the military has perhaps reached a peak and is starting to subside, at least in some places under some commanders. It has been a few years since I last served in a combat zone (my last redeployment was after a tour in Iraq near the end of 2007), but what Captain Cummings reported was far, far different than the situation I remembered from both Afghanistan and Iraq.
In both combat theaters, I recall endless and constant mandatory prayer circles being held by small units before military operations at which unit members who elected not to participate risked harassment, rebukes from their peers and supervisors, and even punishments. I recall dining halls decorated with bible verses, units adorned with bibles, and meetings started with Christian prayers. I recall the panic in a young soldiers voice when he called me to tell me how his approved social meeting of military atheists was intentionally disrupted by an Army officer
(Excerpt) Read more at atwar.blogs.nytimes.com ...
As an atheist, this author chooses NOT to attend a public prayer meeting.
Her argument is public piety does not always correspond with private virtue. The faithful who choose not to attend these meetings practice their faith as a private relationship between them and the deity of their choice, as they should, with no coercion or interference. And for some, perhaps the horrors of war have shown them that there is no benevolent, loving god guiding the universe and they choose not to pretend to believe otherwise.
She is against an environment where service members are strongly encouraged to attend religious meetings through the implied threat of negative consequences should they fail to conform.
She wants the officers in the military to recognize that religious coercion is a blight that destroys morale, creates conflict, and turns friends into foes. I truly hope we are starting to see the end of those days.
Is she married, with several children?
I, for one, am confused. Do you want to see the end of those days in which religious coercion is a blight that destroys morale, etc., or do you want to see the end of those days where nosy athiest reporters try to bias the story to suggest that religious effort is essentially coercive (when it is not)?
Just asking', brotha'. :)
“The real irony is that commanders like these truly believe they have the duty and right to force their faith on others”
If this has been this former First Sergeant’s experience, I hope - and pray - that she brought her concern to the chain of command and/or the IG. As a sold-out, born-again believer in Jesus Christ, I know (based on scripture) that Christ has no use for coerced “followers”. That’s what they call Islam.
I can only speak to my own observances. Yes, in the military there are a lot of very religious and committed Christians. However, I was never in a command where the climate was one of forced participation in religious services, even in a combat zone. Being a nominal Christian I never felt forced to participate or not participate in religious services by anyone. I remember having an Egyptian Marine who was a muslim (a nominal one at that) who the unit went out of their way to accomodate. This was long before 9/11.
This must go by unit. I went to war and, although the environment was quite religion-friendly, it was not in any way coercive. I even thanked the chaplain for obtaining a bunch of paperback books for us to read during downtime. The books were generic, not religious, and didn’t come with any catch like attending a service or such. The chaplain deeply cared about the morale of all troops, not just the religious ones.
However, this isn’t the first story I’ve heard about a coercive unit that alienates the non-religious, through news sources and within the Army.
as someone whos been there, i can say that some people in the chain of command do try and force it on you which just pisses everyone off.
almost everyone is a christian, but we dont want it force fed to us. nor do we like mandatory church time either.
it definitely happens. more than you think.
An old friend told me that when he was in Boot Camp he was offered a choice on his first Sunday morning. Church, or “GI Party”. He chose GI Party....and cleaned toilets with a toothbrush.
My daughter spent 11 months in Afghanistan and my son-in-law much the same amount in Iraq. I’ll try and ask them about this when they get a chance (they are in transit to a new posting at the moment and really would not be helped by me asking something like this right now).
That said, I’m still not sure that this wasn’t push-reporting and that the non- and anti-religious are notorious for construing every encouragement to religious expression to be toxic coercion.
I happen to know a number of chaplains and what you report is what they do and how the minister. They are there for whoever under whatever circumstance and do not ask about affiliation nor do they press for any kind of particular expression of belief. What the men and women on the front lines need is confidence and reassurance. That need not involve praying (though, as a priest, I naturally tend to that kind of expression) and the chaplains I know would not insist on it lest someone who needs care decides not to seek it. That could lead to diminished morale and might lead to injury and death from despondency and lack of resolve.
That’s funny right there, I don’t care who you are. (h/t Jeff F.)
Basically, if you don’t like a religious environment, then don’t join the military. The military is fine for reasonable atheists, I was an example, but militant atheists or anti-Christians just won’t be comfortable with all that religious expression going around. BTW, our chaplain educated himself about Judaism as much as he could so he could at least help out the Jewish soldiers in my unit. Rabbi chaplains are apparently kind of rare. We also had a rather outgoing pagan soldier, everybody liked him.
As with all large organizations you will eventually get bad apples, in this case commanders or chaplains who consider it their mission to make it hard for non-Christians. They’re a throwback to hundreds of years ago when it was considered acceptable for Christians to convert by the sword. This is not allowed in the Army, and the Army has mechanisms to deal with it, from going higher in the command, to the IG, to a congressional.
BTW, tell the kids thanks from me, and to keep their heads down.
I totally forgot about that. I had that too. But since I don't think I'll go up in flames if I set foot in a church, I chose church and read a magazine during the service.
I thank you for your service, but good grief, there isn't any "religious coercion" in the military. Me thinks you're just feeling the tug of God on your heart.
Be careful. If you continue to harden your heart, you just might get a few plagues thrown at you.
Show me this. I challenge you. Dumb broad.
To bad we can’t enforce a return to the Military as we trained 69-77-under the guidance of leaders who knew and
respected the foundations- and taught us to consider the General Orders issued by Gen.George Washington, and similar
utterances by men of that era.Es verdad the atheist who has
rejected God and the record declared in stone would probably
reject a Moral and Religious Congress governing a Moral and
Religious people as seems true when the Articles of War were
There are also probably some unbelievers in the chain of command who mock people of faith. It has nothing to do with the armed services, but with the individuals involved in the situation. People are people, no matter where you are.
It’s also called “free will” espoused by several theologians
and here is my contribution. http://www.theusmat.com/freewiil.htm . That theological aspect of Islam is avoided by MSM whenever a discussion of Sharia law, a suicide bombing, or Allah’s authorized killings of Christians and other “infidels” by muslims takes place .
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