Skip to comments.Atheists Complain of "Spirituality" in Army's Mental Health Program
Posted on 01/01/2011 2:50:50 PM PST by wmfights
Atheist organization Freedom from Religion Foundation demanded the Army halt a spiritual fitness program designed to combat stress because its diagnostic tool allegedly promotes religion.
FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor wrote a letter to Army Secretary John McHugh Wednesday to protest the spiritual fitness assessment of the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program. The co-presidents say statements in the mandatory spiritual fitness evaluation tramples on the freedoms of nonbelievers.
The spiritual statements include: I am a spiritual person; My life has lasting meaning; and I believe there is a purpose for my life.
Barker and Gaylor called the assessment of nonspiritual soliders deeply offensive and inappropriate.
By definition, nontheists do not believe in deities, spirits, or the supernatural. The Army may not send the morale-deflating message to nonbelievers that they are lesser soldiers, much less imply they are somehow incomplete, purposeless or empty, stated the letter.
The Army established CSF to address the increased stress induced by sustained combat. The program is meant to enhance the resilience, readiness and potential of soldiers, family members and Army civilians.
The CSF uses Global Assessment Test to diagnose the soldiers overall level of physical and mental fitness. The assessment has a section titled Spiritual Fitness that questions soldiers on their personal support systems, motivation, and methods of dealing with stress, among other things.
Besides the survey itself, FFRF also criticizes the curriculum for those who score low in the spiritual fitness as overtly religious. Soldiers in the programs are told that prayer is for all individuals and to seek out chaplain guidance, according to the group of freethinkers.
Yet contrary to FFRFs claims, the program does attempt to acknowledge and cater to the beliefs of secular soldiers. According to the training manual, spirituality and the human spirit is defined, for the program purposes, as the essential core of the person.
The manual does make mention of religious practices such as prayer and talking with a chaplain. However, it emphasizes that prayer can be quiet thinking time. It also emphasizes that soldiers can talk with a fellow soldier for support rather than chaplains.
Army chaplains trained last month to participate in the CSFs spiritual fitness initiative say it is about protecting soldiers mental health in the event of a traumatic experience, not conversion.
"Most traumatic events have an element of soul wounding," said the Rev. Dr. Chrys Parker, an Army chaplain, in a statement about the training.
Parker asserts that chaplains are best equipped to deal with issues involving the soul.
"Quite frankly, the chaplains have the expertise on how to deal with the spiritual damage that is inherent in trauma," he said.
I'm afraid you might be right. Everything seems to be upside down.
Nobody made them join the army.
Religion provides a competitive advantage during combat, and should be supported even if you're not religious yourself. It's a fighting advantage we have over the Chinese and Russians. Most human specific traits can be traced to their competitive advantage during tribal warfare. Large brains, religion, speech, walking upright to carry weapons, having well-lubricated armpits that respond to stress, all were selected for on the battlefield. Based on archaeological evidence of religious items, the first tribe that discovered religion wiped out all the other competition. If atheist soldiers want to survive combat and be on the winning side, they should just suck it up and go along with the program as best they can.
Actually, that's simply not true. "A"theists might not believe as they state above, but a "non"theist isn't necessarily an "a"theist.
That aside, their complaints are silly since the issue of the "esprit de corps" has been around a lot longer than the American Atheists.
And to suggest that the individual is not possessed of a "spirit" is to deny that death renders the flesh different than it was prior to death. Something has "left" or "leaked out" or "changed" or whatever term one wishes to use.
To define "life force" or "core of the person" as a spirit is acceptable to me with reservations withheld for my own theological take on those explanations.
I hope all of our God-fearing Freepers notice this essential element of the program.
It is not now, nor has it ever been legal to compel another person to believe in any god and it's certainly not Christian.
"Ain't no atheists in foxholes."
Of course it's spiritual. Those soldiers put their lives on the line for us every day!
Prayers for the troops!
You and I had the same thought.
As an effective alternative to the current religion-based Army training, the atheists are proposing.... what exactly?
They mainly turn to substance abuse, mind altering pharmaceuticals, illegal drugs, etc. The atheist Russian soldiers favor cheap vodka. It's always easier to fight against atheist soldiers than soldiers with a superior religious culture. If someone hates America's military, they'd work to ban religion.
I have a question. I know that atheists deny the reality of God. Do they also deny the reality of the human soul?
Another question: What is it about God that gets atheists so upset?
Still another question: Are atheists generally unaware that the DoI and the Constitution which instantiates its values speaks of "Nature's God," the Creator? That the entire American idea of liberty is predicated on the understanding that God gives human beings their natural rights, not governments; and that such rights are unalienable because they are divine endowments?
That's certainly true, dear xzins! Buddhism and Hinduism are examples of "non"theistic belief systems.
To me, the term "American Atheist" is an oxymoron.... There were zero atheists among the ranks of the Founders/Framers.
And to suggest that the individual is not possessed of a "spirit" is to deny that death renders the flesh different than it was prior to death. Something has "left" or "leaked out" or "changed" or whatever term one wishes to use.Indeed. We can't directly "see" what has "left" or "leaked out" or "changed" at death; but we can directly observe the result of its having left.
Thank you so very much for your insightful essay/post!
You bet I will, wmfights! Truly, I would love to "see the thinking," too! I'll be very disappointed if I don't get an answer to my questions, from A_perfect_lady, or from any other qualified atheist, for that matter.
I know from your posting history you are not looking to just take some "cheap shots" and a real opportunity exists for an interesting discussion.
I can’t speak for other atheists, but I don’t think we have souls, no. That’s just something we came up with because we can’t comprehend death. As for the Constitution, what he really does is give us the courage to say “we have these rights because we SAY we do, and no one is going to argue us out of it.”
Lost in this discussion is the core issue, doing what is best for our troops. Healing a traumatized mind is in the interest of the mission. If this program helps, it should be continued.
Constitutional rights baloney from atheists is irrelevant and should be discarded.