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On June 5, the House of Representatives debated the idea of adding atheist “chaplains” to the U.S. military with interesting results.
Democratic Rep. Rob Andrews of New Jersey introduced the idea as an amendment to the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act.
“The Secretary of Defense shall provide for the appointment, as officers in the Chaplain Corps of the Armed Forces, of persons who are certified or ordained by non-theistic organizations and institutions, such as humanist, ethical culturalist, or atheist,” Andrews’ amendment reads.
But the idea didn’t sit well with everyone.
Representative Mike Conaway (R-Texas) wondered just what an atheist “chaplain” would do.
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“They don’t believe anything. I can’t imagine an atheist accompanying a notification team as they go into some family’s home to let them have the worst news of their life and this guy says, ‘You know, that’s it — your son’s just worms, I mean, worm food,” Conaway said.
Representative John Fleming (R-La.) was also unhappy with the amendment. “This I think would make a mockery of the chaplaincy. The last thing in the world we would want to see was a young soldier who may be dying and they’re at a field hospital and the chaplain is standing over that person saying to them, ‘If you die here, there is no hope for you in the future,” he said.
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But Representative Adam Smith (D Washington) had his own take on the issue, though. He insisted that atheist “chaplains” is a good idea and scoffed at those who say atheists “don’t believe in anything is just ignorant.”
“Atheists have a very developed beliefs and value systems,” Smith claimed, though he didn’t elaborate on just what those “value systems” could possibly be.
It doesn’t look like there is enough support to pass the amendment, though, and it will die on the floor.
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What do you think? Should we have atheist “chaplains”? And just what the heck IS an atheist “chaplain,” anyway?