Sunday, May 1, 2011

Atheist Chaplains

Would you ever go to an atheist for spiritual council? Probably not. That, however, is what several atheists would like to see happen in the military.

This article reports that several atheists are lobbying to have atheist chaplains in the military to offer support to atheist troops. But, from what I understand, military chaplains don't necessarily counsel soldiers in their particular faith, but in the professed faith of the soldier seeking counseling. So how could an atheist chaplain council someone in his or her faith, if said atheist chaplain had no faith whatsoever? If it sounds like it doesn't make much sense, it doesn't.

The article goes on to say that the atheists want atheist chaplains in order to "win official acceptance in the military." The only problem with that is that atheists already have official acceptance in the military. How don't they? They aren't discriminated against for their lack of faith. Nor are they prohibited from any type of military service in any way as a result of their lack of faith.

What's really behind this is that the existence of atheist chaplains will allow atheist groups to be able to publicly promote their beliefs (or lack of beliefs) and distribute literature. So it has nothing to do with faith (obviously) but more of an abuse of the chaplaincy, if you ask me. If you just want to be a chaplain to get yourself out there, you shouldn't be a chaplain.

But what's interesting about this is that if atheists truly feel the need to promote their worldviews (and counsel those who adhere to them within the context of such a worldview) then their views, it seems to me, must be identified as a faith group. Any and all worldview of faith system is guided by principles of belief and not fact, making every worldview a matter of faith. And certainly atheists hold beliefs that others don't, even if they are beliefs that state that beliefs are useless and ignorant (and they are beliefs, and don't let anyone tell you different), so what they think and believe is unique to itself, making it a matter of faith. So if atheists want to be chaplains in order to promote their beliefs and to counsel fellow atheists, go for it. They just have to admit that their supposedly faithless way of seeing the world is actually brimming over with faith (just faith in nothing).

No comments: