For the first time ever a group of atheists and humanists are pushing for ‘atheist chaplains’ in the Defense Department.
The idea, of course, was recently proposed by Democratic lawmakers.
House Republicans passed legislation that banned “atheist chaplains” in the Department of Defense.
The U.S. House has approved a measure that bars the Defense Department from appointing atheist chaplains. The vote, late Tuesday, was 253-173.
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“The notion of an atheist chaplain is nonsensical; it’s an oxymoron,” said Rep. John Fleming, R-Minden, sponsor of the amendment to a House defense spending bill. He said it marks the third time the House has voted to insist the Pentagon appoint only chaplains certified by endorsing religious agencies.
Opponents said it is wrong to take away the flexibility of the military to appoint chaplains that can serve the spiritual needs of all military personnel.
“When a young man or young woman raises their right hand and swears allegiance to this country and agrees to serve in the Armed Forces, they do not consign themselves to serve as a second-class citizen, irrespective of their faith or their life philosophy,” said Rep. Rob Andrews, D-N.J. “It is wrong to say to a solider who comes from such a tradition, that he or she, if they have an issue on which they’re troubled, must go to a mental health professional in order to receive counseling, rather than someone who comes from their philosophical faith or tradition.”