Skip to comments.Army approves ‘humanist’ as religious preference
Posted on 04/23/2014 3:10:11 PM PDT by NYer
WASHINGTON (RNS) More than two years after first making his request, Army Maj. Ray Bradley can now be known as exactly what he is: a humanist in the U.S. military.
Im able to self-identity the belief system that governs my life, and Ive never been able to do that before, said Bradley, who is stationed at Fort Bragg in North Carolina and works on supporting readiness of the Army Reserves medical staff.
Lt. Col. Sunset R. Belinsky, an Army spokeswoman, said Tuesday (April 22) that the “preference code for humanist became effective April 12 for all members of the Army.
In practical terms, the change means that humanists could face fewer hurdles in trying to organize within the ranks; military brass would have better information to aid in planning a deceased soldier’s funeral; and it could lay the groundwork for eventually adding humanist chaplains.
The change comes against a backdrop of persistent claims from atheists and other nonbelievers that the military is dominated by a Christian culture that is often hostile to unbelief. In recent years, activists from the broad spectrum of freethinking organizations have demanded equal treatment as the tradition-bound military grapples with the growth of the spiritual-but-not-religious population.
Jason Torpy, president of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, has been pushing for greater recognition of humanists in the armed services; in February, the American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to the Pentagon on Bradleys behalf.
This is a big victory, Torpy said, who noted the decision was by the Army and not the other military services. This is one part, and the easiest part, of a very long list of other reforms that have to happen before we have equality, not just belief or no belief but theistic belief and nontheistic belief like ours.
The ACLU wrote in its letter that members of nontheistic faiths should have the option of describing themselves, just as members of theistic faiths do.
Given the wide range of religious-preference designations currently allowed by the armed forces, there is no reason to deny Humanism similar recognition, ACLU lawyers wrote.
According to a survey by the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute, humanists make up 3.6 percent of the U.S. military.
Bradley, 47, said the ability to officially state humanist as a religious preference is technically an additional code in the militarys database.
The real importance of this change is that our official military records can reflect humanists now, said Bradley, who initially was listed under the broad category of no religious preference.
Although he doesnt believe in God, Bradley determined that the term atheist was not sufficient for him. Frustrated with the lengthy process in getting the humanist designation, he had switched to atheist in January 2013. But he said humanist explains his life stance, which stresses scientific explanations and maximizing human happiness.
He hopes to work now with Torpy to encourage other humanists in the military to officially identify themselves and to seek opportunities for them to meet in facilities and advertise their meetings as many religious groups do.
It may be very difficult, especially for young soldiers, to take such a step, he said, noting some would be wary that they might be discriminated against if they reveal they are humanists.
Chaplain (Col.) Kenneth Stice, director of operations for the Army’s Office of the Chief of Chaplains, said the religious preference information — though voluntary — helps the military know how best to respect the religious wishes of an injured or deceased soldier. He said the chaplain corps is beginning to grapple with those who are in the spiritual but not religious category and will learn from humanists how to address their particular needs for accommodation.
Bradley said a 2012 meeting at Fort Bragg featuring the president of the American Humanist Association required a special request because the group wasn’t officially recognized.
Humanists have life events, just like any other human being, such as weddings and naming ceremonies for babies, he said. Accommodation for that type of events in life, I think, would be important for the chaplaincy to support.
The religious preference designation could mean that humanist chaplains arent far behind.
Torpys organization and groups such as the Secular Coalition for America continue to seek humanist chaplains in the military. But Bradley said he sees a more gradual process: first the designation, then a layperson designated as a distinctive faith group leader and eventually a chaplain.
The military doesnt usually turn on a dime like that, he said. I would see it more as a progression of steps.
“Not our Army any more” ping
If humanism is a religion then liking rock music is a religion
They’re already approving Wicca, Paganism, Santeria and Satanism and have chaplains for those. To quote our next president “What difference does it make?”
If we, as Christians, are smart, this might not exactly be a bad thing.
If “humanism” is a religion, that means that there must be, according to them, “separation between church and state”, right?
That means that the humanist philosophy cannot be constantly shoved down our throats as “neutral”, “non-religious” “reality”...dismissing Christian philosophy as an imposition of religion on folks.
Could potentially be VERY interesting...if we are smart about it.
or just fill in the blank
Exclude them from military service?
Some of these guys need a little more combat ..as there are no atheists in fox holes .
Yeah, but do they approve of a religion that hates all other religions and actually carries out murderous attacks against other religions on a daily bases?
Is that the same thing as a homosexualist? That’s the trendy thing to be in today’s army. Rapid advance in the ranks awaits the homosexualist. Be put in charge of those that like to call themselves Christians, what few are left in the army. Be all you can be. Call your nearest recruiter now and be briefed on the new and exciting career opportunities for homosexualists.
How does one define ‘humanist’? Is it a cult and a way to bury ones head in the sand and escape from the real world?
Thanks for the Not our Army any more ping.
Name originally given to the intellectual, literary, and scientific movements of the fourteenth century through the early sixteenth. Their aim was to base every branch of learning on the culture of classical Greek and Roman antiquity. On its pagan side, it extolled the early non-Christian writers who stressed the full development of human nature, only vaguely interested in life after death. On its Christian side, believing humanists encouraged the free use of the treasures of antiquity without compromising the truths of the Gospel. Christian humanism began with Dante (1265-1321), while pagan humanism reached its peak in Petrarch (1304-74). Popes Pius II, Sixtus IV, and Leo X favored Christian humanism and did much to promote it. St. Thomas More (1478-1535) typified its best spirit in England. After the French Revolution the extreme humanistic spirit rebelled against Christian revelation and the Church.
All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.
Correct. Government schools are all about humanism.
The U.S. Supreme Court cited Secular Humanism as a religion in the 1961 case of Torcaso v. Watkins (367 U.S. 488). Roy Torcaso, the appellant, a practicing Humanist in Maryland, had refused to declare his belief in Almighty God, as then required by State law in order for him to be commissioned as a notary public. The Court held that the requirement for such an oath “invades appellant’s freedom of belief and religion.”
The Court declared in Torcaso that the “no establishment” clause of the First Amendment reached far more than churches of theistic faiths, that it is not the business of government or its agents to probe beliefs, and that therefore its inquiry is concluded by the fact of the profession of belief.
Actually, the Court in Torcaso rested its decision on “free exercise” grounds, not the “Establishment Clause.” Abington v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203, 264-65 (1962) J. Brennan, concurring.
The Court stated:
We repeat and again reaffirm that neither a State nor the Federal Government can constitutionally force a person to “profess a belief or disbelief in any religion.” Neither can constitutionally pass laws or impose requirements which aid all religions as against non-believers,10 and neither can aid those religions based on a belief in the existence of God as against those religions founded on different beliefs.11
Footnote 11 concerning “religions founded on different beliefs” contains the Court’s citation of Secular Humanism as a religion. It states
Among religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God are Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, Secular Humanism, and others. See Washington Ethical Society v. District of Columbia, 101 U.S. App. D.C. 371, 249 F.2d 127; Fellowship of Humanity v. County of Alameda, 153 Cal. App. 2d 673, 315 P.2d 394; II Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences 293; 4 Encyclopedia Britannica (1957 ed.) 325-327; 21 id., at 797; Archer, Faiths Men Live By (2d ed. revised by Purinton), 120-138, 254-313; 1961 World Almanac 695, 712; Year Book of American Churches for 1961, at 29, 47.
It is important to note that this citation of Secular Humanism as a religion is not merely dictum. The Supreme Court refers to the important 1957 case of Washington Ethical Society v. District of Columbia (101 U.S. App. D.C. 371) in its holding that Secular Humanism is a non-theistic religion within the meaning of the First Amendment.
The Ethical Culture movement is one denomination of Secular Humanism which reaches moral and cultural relativism, situation ethics, and attacks belief in a spiritual God and theistic values of the Old and New Testaments.
The Washington Ethical Society case involved denial of the Society’s application for tax exemption as a religious organization. The U.S. Court of Appeals reversed the Tax Court’s ruling, defined the Society as a religious organization, and granted its tax exemption.
The Court Stated,
The sole issue raised is whether petitioner falls within the definition of a “church” or a “religious society” . . . . The taxing authority urges denial of the tax exemption asserting petitioner is not a religious society or church and that it does not use its buildings for religious worship since “religious” and “worship” require a belief in and teaching of a Supreme Being who controls the universe. The position of the tax Court, in denying tax exemption, was that belief in and teaching of the existence of a Divinity is essential to qualify under the statute. . . . To construe exemptions so strictly that unorthodox or minority forms of worship would be denied the exemption benefits granted to those conforming to the majority beliefs might well raise constitutional issues . . . . We hold on this record and under the controlling statutory language petitioner qualifies as “a religious corporation or society” . . . .
It is incumbent upon Congress to utilize this broad definition of religion in all its legislative actions bearing on the support or non-support of religion, within the context of the “no-establishment” clause of the First Amendment.
WHAT a load.
A term preferred by some writers in preference to using “homosexual” as a noun.
In a newsmagazine cover article on Gore Vidal in the late 1970s, the celebrated author and essayist explained that, since “homosexual” is used as an adjective (”homosexual fantasy”), the noun form needed something more, well, distinctive and substantive: he used “homosexualist” to describe someone who is gay in practice, or as a state of being.
One doesn’t argue lightly with Gore Vidal but there are precedents either way in forming nouns. “Alcoholic drink” / “Joe’s an alcoholic,” uses “alcoholic” first as an adjective, then as a noun. Similarly, “Green politics” / “Cary has become a Green.”
OTOH a medical practitioner of psychiatry is not a “psychiatric” (better used as an adjective = “psychiatric evaluation”), but a “psychiatrist,” a description of a person, not a field. One who enjoys sensual things is a “sensualist” but has an appreciation of the sensual.
“John is an out-of-the-closet homosexual”; OR
“John is an out-of-the-closet homosexualist.”
BUT ALSO: “John is a homosexual,” OR
“John is homosexual.” — BUT NOT:
“John is homosexualist.”
It is much to be hoped that the definitions above of “same-sex love” or “practitioner of same-sex love” will stand, despite the fact that many right-wingers use it almost as a slur (it can get clinical) and avoid “gay” as a neologism. Don’t think it isn’t political, either.
“There is no God and I hate Him!” seems to be the atheist motto.
And I do not feel better knowing our military, under the self-worshipping Obama, now openly celebrates God Haters.
Mark, you are correct ONLY because you are thinking with a Christian world view. The crowd that declares there are no absolutes will ignore their contradictory behavior and just do whatever they like.
Agreed. I suppose that a military that serves a higher purpose (i.e., God and country) won’t have any qualms about fragging their officers when given an immoral/unconstitutional order. Can’t have that now. I guess it’s the difference between, “serving the country” and “serving the state”. Obama prefers servicemen/women who will view it as the latter.
Thanks for the ping!
That’s right. It’s beyond denial at this point. And as far as I can tell, humanistic belief system includes environmentalism and evolutionism.
How about somebody sue the public school system?
“No Religous Preference” USED to mean that you didn’t care who gave you last rites on the battlefield. IOW, ANY Chaplain would do.
Active Duty ping.
Gotta replace people like us with people like them so they can be counted on to kill the enemy.
That’d be us. Good luck with that, Twinkletoes.
There’s a storm coming.
In the article, the man says he struggled between the words “atheist” and “humanist”. What he reveals is that his version of humanism is atheistic. That seems honest enough to me.
In short, he is affirming what the supreme court ruled years ago, and that is that atheism is a religion. All this guy is doing is struggling over the name for his denomination. In short, this has a positive side to it...official recognition that both humanism and atheism are religions.
Now, so far as the Army recognizing this and putting it in their book. Their book has every brand of religion imaginable to include Rostafarian. Why don’t we have any Rostafarian chaplains? First, they don’t have a big enough presence in the population even to warrant a chaplain. Second, they haven’t organized to request consideration.
Should a humanist be a chaplain?
In my view they don’t offer anything. A chaplain is approved by his “denomination” primarily to represent them in the military with their own members who are also in the military. That supposed 3.6% number of “humanists” based on some survey is sneaky because it’s not really measuring those who belong to a denomination...or even some assembly of humanists.
They don’t offer anything, first, because they don’t have a group to which they can provide services. They don’t even have “humanist traditions/services/customs” that are common to the “denomination of humanists”. Nor do they have training institutions at which their “leaders” receive their denominational training at the master degree level.
So, they have no training to teach that which they don’t have in common and which they don’t practice.
Finally, a chaplain is also supposed to be available in general support to provide support for those not of his denomination.
Imagine them coming on a dying soldier on a battlefield. Their response: “Sorry, buddy, but you are checking out and there is no hope for afterwards.”
Salvation, thank you for the definition post.
The modern humanists are the heirs of those who in “...the French Revolution the extreme humanistic spirit rebelled against Christian revelation and the Church.” And they have taken it to the point of total anti-Christianity and “freedom FROM Christian religion” related anything.
See my post #30. The key word with these folks is “Freedom FROM, not Freedom OF.”
A supreme court verdict referred to humanism as a religion,
and now the (US Government’s) army officially recognizes it as a religion.
Can we now sue to get humanism removed from schools as it is a state sponsored religion?
(and see tagline)
Humanism started when its founder said “you will be as gods, knowing good and evil”.
I wonder what the atheist/humanist collar insignia would be? I suspted they will hardly want the cross or tables as currently authorized for wear.
For earthworshipers I guess they could have the globe, but would need to make it look different from the USMC insignia.
Agreed...however, if they take the effort to push through representation in the Chaplain Corps, then their philosophy is recognized as a religion. As xzins stated, the purpose of a chaplain is to provide support (implying "spiritual support") to both members of that particular religious confession and to the body of the troops in general.
What I'm trying to get at is that these folks want to have their cake and eat it too. This desire, which has now been legitized, may provide a capability for some push-back...again, if our side is smart.
You may need to re-familiarize yourself with such people as Mikey Weinstein. He has championed the utter removal of all references to Christianity generally throughout the military (and in particular, the USAF) -- and has, throughout the Øbama regime, been very well connected with the brass at the Pentagon.
The point I'm trying to get at is that outfits like Thomas More and the ACLJ should keep their noses to the ground and be ready to quickly work with military members, particularly students at the Service Academies, NCO PME Academies, and the War Colleges, when humanist revisionist histories are taught...or with military members when humanist agendas are pushed through "diversity training" sessions...or in the event that there is some sort of discriminatory conduct during performance reviews...or, even so aggressively as to take up action when somebody has as a copy of a book like "The God Delusion" on their desk at work (since people have been reprimanded for having a Bible on their desk before).
Always before, our battle has been defensive. We insist that we have the "free exercise" right when somebody attempts to take it from us. Now, we finally have the opportunity to take the initiative and go on the offensive: claiming that another religion is being forced on our folks.
This is a truly unique opportunity. I hope we don't miss it.
I have no idea what the atheist/humanist collar insignia would be.
This is the symbol used on headstones at veterans cemeteries:
There are no Humanists in foxholes.
Excellent insights, dear brother in Christ, thank you!
"Movin" by Atomic Atoms: http://www.theatomicatoms.com/
If a vegetarian only eats vegetables,
what does a humanitarian eat?