The Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers, a group which campaigns on behalf of atheists and humanists in the armed forces, has protested the appearance of a video showing a military officer delivering a Christian prayer during a training event.
“Restore, refresh and renew their bodies and souls,” an unnamed officer says on the video clip. “On their missions, may they remember the words of Isaiah — ‘They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint’.”
“The video … shows a prayer that is explicitly Christian with a quote from Isaiah in an official Air Assault graduation ceremony. This prayer goes far beyond something simply ceremonial, non-denominational, and optional,” a blog post by association President Jason Torpy stated, according to The Blaze. “This is Christian-specific, mandatory, and requires participation, and hopefully Christians will stand up against such bad leadership as readily as non-Christians.”
Torpy encouraged members of the armed forces to stand up for their right not to pray if this was their belief.
“Soldiers expect commanders to respect and include everyone equally and not to use their rank and command to impose Christianity on subordinates,” Torpy’s blog post continued. “In the face of God-and-country, anti-atheist politics from Congress down to unit military events, it’s important to call out commanders who go overboard with promoting their personal beliefs.”
Torpy explained that the training program lasted only 11 days.
“Too often in short training programs like this trainees show up and then they leave,” Torpy commented to TheBlaze. “Commanders and chaplains [can] get away with enforcing Christianity on these trainees.”
Torpy’s hope is that by bringing these issues to public attention, more support for atheists in the armed forces can be established.
“By raising awareness they will be able to advocate on they own,” he explained. “Our primary focus is to support atheists and humanists in the military.”
Sources: Military Association for Atheists and Freethinkers, TheBlaze/ photo credit: TheBlaze