Report: Group to press military for atheist chaplain - FOX 35 News Orlando

Report: Group to press military for atheist chaplain

Posted: Updated:
Military News Military News
By FOX NEWS -

In what some might see as an oxymoron, an advocacy group apparently is preparing to ask the Defense Department to appoint a chaplain -- for atheists.

A source tells Fox News that the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers plans to make the request on Tuesday, floating its president Jason Torpy as the proposed chaplain.

Asked for comment, the association referred Fox News to its position in support of a prior bid to name a "humanist" chaplain. The Defense Department has not yet returned requests for comment.

But an aide to Rep. John Fleming, R-La., who last year opposed the creation of such a position, said Monday that the congressman is "aware" of the revived push and "very concerned."

The move would come after lawmakers, including Fleming, battled over the same issue last year.

Democrats tried, unsuccessfully, to pass legislation creating such a post in 2013. In response, Republicans offered up a measure of their own to prohibit the Pentagon from naming such a chaplain. The House approved the measure in July.

With Congress at odds, though, the Defense Department could decide on its own.

A separate organization, The Humanist Society, endorsed Oxford-educated religious scholar Jason Heap last year to be the first-ever humanist chaplain in the U.S. Navy.

The MAAF supported the application. All along, the group has argued that more people identify as atheists and humanists than any other non-Christian denomination.

But Republican lawmakers who have fought these efforts have described the push as nonsensical. The motto of the Army Chaplain Corps is, after all, "Pro Deo et Patria," or "For God and Country."

Fleming said last year that the idea of an atheist chaplain is "an oxymoron."

"It's self-contradictory -- what you're really doing is now saying that we're going to replace true chaplains with non-chaplain chaplains," he said.

But the MAAF argues that military chaplains are not providing enough outreach for those who do not believe in God.

According to research in 2009 by the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, about a quarter of military servicemembers who participated in the study said they had "no religious preference." More than 3.6 percent identified as humanist, while a little over 1 percent identified as pagan.

Several organizations and religious scholars have pressed the U.S. military to consider naming chaplains for those servicemembers.

"Such broad-based and growing support of professionals and experts should make it easy for the Department of Defense and the Navy to open their doors to diversity of belief that includes humanists and other nontheists," the group said in a statement last year.

Read More

Fox News' Jim Angle and FoxNews.com's Judson Berger contributed to this report.

  • MilitaryMore>>

  • Staff Sgt. Ryan M. Pitts

    Army veteran receives Medal of Honor for bloody Afghanistan battle

    Army veteran receives Medal of Honor for bloody Afghanistan battle

    Monday, July 21 2014 4:17 PM EDT2014-07-21 20:17:48 GMT
    White House imageWhite House image
    President Barack Obama bestowed the Medal of Honor Monday on a former Army staff sergeant who fought off enemy fighters during one of the bloodiest battles of the Afghanistan war. Ryan M. Pitts is the ninth living recipient of the nation's highest decoration for battlefield valor for actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    President Barack Obama bestowed the Medal of Honor Monday on a former Army staff sergeant who fought off enemy fighters during one of the bloodiest battles of the Afghanistan war. Ryan M. Pitts is the ninth living recipient of the nation's highest decoration for battlefield valor for actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Coast Guard Cutter Eagle: 'America's Tall Ship'

    Coast Guard Cutter Eagle: 'America's Tall Ship'

    Friday, July 18 2014 6:22 PM EDT2014-07-18 22:22:04 GMT
    The boatswain's pipe aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle rendered honors, Friday, not for Fox 5 but for some more dignified individual who'd just climbed aboard one of the very few active square riggers still in U.S. government service. Riveted together in Hamburg, Germany, for the German Navy, the Eagle earned its American citizenship when the United States seized it after World War II.
    The boatswain's pipe aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle rendered honors, Friday, not for Fox 5 but for some more dignified individual who'd just climbed aboard one of the very few active square riggers still in U.S. government service. Riveted together in Hamburg, Germany, for the German Navy, the Eagle earned its American citizenship when the United States seized it after World War II.
  • Soldiers' use of mental health services up, stigma down

    Soldiers' use of mental health services up, stigma down

    As war raged in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. soldiers almost doubled their use of mental health services -- and they felt more comfortable seeking such treatment, according to new research.
    As war raged in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. soldiers almost doubled their use of mental health services -- and they felt more comfortable seeking such treatment, according to new research.
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • Fire destroys 3 stores in Long Island

    Fire destroys 3 stores in Long Island

    Thursday, July 24 2014 6:53 AM EDT2014-07-24 10:53:35 GMT
    A fire started in a shoe repair store in Long Island and destroyed two other stores on Thursday morning. Firefighters were called to Willis Avenue and Goodrich Street in Williston Park around 2:30 a.m. They believe the fire started in a shoe repair store and spread to a dry cleaner and a bar. 13 fire departments responded to the blaze. The fire is not under control yet. No injuries were reported.
    A fire started in a shoe repair store in Long Island and destroyed two other stores on Thursday morning. Firefighters were called to Willis Avenue and Goodrich Street in Williston Park around 2:30 a.m. They believe the fire started in a shoe repair store and spread to a dry cleaner and a bar. 13 fire departments responded to the blaze. The fire is not under control yet. No injuries were reported.
  • FAA ends ban on U.S. flights to Tel Aviv

    FAA ends ban on U.S. flights to Tel Aviv

    Thursday, July 24 2014 5:39 AM EDT2014-07-24 09:39:16 GMT
    The Federal Aviation Administration has lifted its ban on U.S. carriers from flying to Tel Aviv. The announcement was made late Wednesday night.The FAA had extended the ban on Thursday afternoon after its first ban went into effect 24 hours earlier. The decision was made after a rocket launched into Israel from Gaza landed near the Ben Gurion Airport.
    The Federal Aviation Administration has lifted its ban on U.S. carriers from flying to Tel Aviv. The announcement was made late Wednesday night.The FAA had extended the ban on Thursday afternoon after its first ban went into effect 24 hours earlier.  The decision was made after a rocket launched into Israel from Gaza landed near the Ben Gurion Airport.
  • Funeral for man who died after NYPD choke hold arrest

    Funeral for man who died after NYPD choke hold arrest

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 10:46 PM EDT2014-07-24 02:46:09 GMT
    An overflow crowd packed a church on Wednesday night for the funeral of a man who died in police custody after an officer placed him in an apparent choke hold. Eric Garner's relatives stopped in front of his open casket, some weeping and wailing. A preacher opened the service at Brooklyn's Bethel Baptist Church with a mix of solemn prayer and an organ-backed gospel medley.
    An overflow crowd packed a church on Wednesday night for the funeral of a man who died in police custody after an officer placed him in an apparent choke hold. Eric Garner's relatives stopped in front of his open casket, some weeping and wailing. A preacher opened the service at Brooklyn's Bethel Baptist Church with a mix of solemn prayer and an organ-backed gospel medley.
Powered by WorldNow

35 Skyline Drive
Lake Mary, FL 32746

Phone: (407) 644-3535
News Tips: (866) 55-FOX35

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices