In an article by Kay Campbell in the Huntsville Times shows that the situation in the military towards the separation of church and state continues to erode.
Though the U.S. Constitution mandates that the government apply no test of faith for employment – and, one presumes, deployment – of American citizens, soldiers who are open about being non-believers can face harassment and ostracizing from fellow troops and their officers, some say.
“We didn’t let anyone know we were atheists,” said Steve Moore of Huntsville, who served two tours in Iraq as an Army staff sergeant.
Moore and his wife, Renee, also an Army veteran, were taking a break a couple of weeks ago from packing goody boxes for non-believing soldiers for the project Operation Foxhole Atheist sponsored by the North Alabama Freethought Association.
“We didn’t want any stigma to thwart our career,” Moore said. “There is nothing more frightening than a radical fundamentalist with an assault rifle.”
Chaplain Major Rajmund Kopec, a veteran of Serbia and Iraq now stationed at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, has seen it all – both the violation of military principles of respect for each soldier’s conscience and the heroic support of it.
As a Catholic, he’s been assured of his own eternal damnation by some Christians, he said during an interview in his office recently. He’s not surprised some atheists would rather keep their beliefs to themselves, though he remembers enjoying long conversations and friendly debates with one atheist stationed in Iraq.
Well it seems that a few chaplains are doing their job correctly. Sounds like this particular chaplain is an alright guy. I think that the religious people who force their beliefs on another are very insecure and probably haven’t thought about why they believe what they believe.
“My own personal experience in being in the Army and working with different denominations and faith groups has helped me,” Kopec said. “Number one, I have come to appreciate my own tradition even more. Number two, I appreciate, respect and love other traditions, too. You find a balance: to work in a pluralistic environment and to not compromise your own faith.”
Too bad many Christians don’t share this point of view. I think a lot of Christians have grown up in an overly sheltered life and don’t really know to work with others who don’t share their background. They have grown up in an environment where their beliefs have never been challenged and have never really given them much thought. I grew up in the South and would run into these people. They seem lost and threatened when they are not surrounded by other Christians or in a non-Christian environment.