I stumbled across this recently, an article about possibly adding Atheist “Chaplains” to the military.
Although I do think that an “Atheist Chaplin” is a little bit of an oxymoron, I think it’s a wonderful idea! Perhaps not to call them an “Atheist Chaplin”, since the whole idea of the Chaplin position is religiously focused, but to have a non-religous position to provide services to atheist service members, similar as those that the Chaplin provides.
As an atheist myself I found the authors take on the issue to be very accurate.
As of right now, if that young soldier dying in the field hospital, or that family receiving word of their loved one’s combat death, is atheist, there is no chaplain to represent them. Take myself for example; I am atheist, so is my husband. He is a soldier in the Army who has served three tours in Iraq. If something had happened to him over there, and I’m hurting, the last thing I want is some chaplain who would come and try to comfort me by telling me that he’s gone off to a better place that I don’t believe in. I don’t want to hear that God has taken him in his glory. I don’t believe that. So who will be there for those like me? No one.
And if my husband should be in the position of the dying soldier, the last thing he would want to hear a chaplain doing his best to comfort him with ideas that he doesn’t believe in. He would rather not have a chaplain with him at all. But as a service member, dying for his country, wouldn’t he deserve to have a kind heart there to help him deal with tough emotions without the shadow of religion standing between them?
What do you all think? I would be interested to hear a religious perspective on this issue