Chaplains in the US Military Do More Than You Think: Why the ‘Humanist’ Designation is a Huge Benefit to Unbelievers

by | April 22, 2014

Remember when Rex Murphy called atheists “whiny” because our American cousins wanted their own chaplains in the military? He characterized atheists thusly and incorrectly assumed the whiny and angry atheists were just wanting something because the religious people had it and they felt left out:

Evidence of this prickly, acutely self-regarding perspective comes from the U.S., where a group of forlorn and (by their measure) much put-upon atheists are making angry demands that atheists in the military be granted their own chaplain.


Other than the whiny schoolyard temper-tantrum logic of “He’s got one, so I want one too,” what has this silly demand got going for it? How can a system of thought built on the not believing of/in something, on the non-existence of any god, require the services of a chaplain, a — need the qualifier be emphasized? — spiritual counsellor. Chaplains offer mediation on the supernatural, the afterlife, the individual’s relation with the/a creator.

I’m not going to focus on the derogatory slurs in this post, but instead show how misguided Murphy’s assumption that atheists’ motivations “unwittingly manifest an admiration and hunger for religion and its many solaces, and proffer anger as a cover for envy” with Richard Carrier’s well written post announcing how Humanists are now recognized by the US Army. Carrier points out that conversations with a chaplain are confidential (while conversations with a psychotherapist are not), chaplains advocate on the behalf of soldiers up the chain of command and facilitate requests for literature or family communications on the front lines. Until now, those things I just listed were only available to the religious while unbelievers were left to deal with things on their own. In understanding what a chaplain does in the military, you can really see how horribly vile Murphy’s characterization is.

Congratulations to the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers who helped bring this about for those atheists in the fox holes!

One thought on “Chaplains in the US Military Do More Than You Think: Why the ‘Humanist’ Designation is a Huge Benefit to Unbelievers

  1. Tim Underwood

    Rex Murphy is all-aglow when conversing about the Vatican. The inquisitions and genocides never happened in his Papal illuminated imagination. The utter foolishness of carrying the enemies backpack the extra mile seems reasonable to him. Acknowledging that all the original saints came from the Roman family that actually destroyed the house of God (as imagined by the Palestinians in those times) never causes him to wince or cry aloud. What would make Rex happier would be additional lessons in medieval Latin so he could further his appreciation of Papal fantasies and related astounding rubbish.

    While fully acknowledging Rex’s religious quirk, I have to admit I usually enjoy his astute insights into secular issues such as the Liberal-Party-destroying Long Gun Registry debacle.

    What’s that old adage? “It takes religion to make smart people stupid.”


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