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Old 08-17-2006, 12:37 PM   #1
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No Atheists in Foxholes

The latest "offense"


Beliefwatch: Foxholes


Quote:
Aug. 21-28, 2006 issue - There are no atheists in foxholes," the old saw goes. The line, attributed to a WWII chaplain, has since been uttered countless times by grunts, chaplains and news anchors. But an increasingly vocal group of activists and soldiers—atheist soldiers—disagrees. "It's a denial of our contributions," says Master Sgt. Kathleen Johnson, who founded the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers and who will be deployed to Iraq this fall. "A lot of people manage to serve without having to call on a higher power."
Was the WWII Chaplin's statement insensitive? Are we readlly trying to eliminate offenses in society? Is this the best way to improve society?
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Old 08-17-2006, 12:53 PM   #2
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there was also this part:

[q]Just last month Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said, "Agnostics, atheists and bigots suddenly lose all that when their life is on the line."[/q]

so, aside from the "bigots" comment making the whole thing hugely contradictory (i suppose bigotry against atheism is only for peacetime?), this might firstly underscore the atheists point about thier beliefs -- God is a social-construction that makes us feel better.

but, anyway, let's just replace "agnostics, atheists and bigots" with "Christians" and see how that would go down with, say, the Air Force
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Old 08-17-2006, 12:58 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511


but, anyway, let's just replace "agnostics, atheists and bigots" with "Christians" and see how that would go down with, say, the Air Force
Again why always pic on the Christians as examples. You do know there are other religions out there that say the same shit.
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Old 08-17-2006, 01:02 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by Justin24


Again why always pic on the Christians as examples. You do know there are other religions out there that say the same shit.


in this country? in the armed forces? who else prostheltyzes in the same manner? who screams most loudy at the atheists?

it's like a saying i once heard: most men are not rapists, most rapists are men. same thing applies.

while i agree with the overall comment of your focus, in the US Military, you don't see too many Hindus takling about Muslims suddenly finding Vishnu whilst in the foxhole, nor do you see too many Jews saying that Christians suddenly realize that Jesus isn't the son of God whilst in the foxhole.
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Old 08-17-2006, 01:02 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
there was also this part:

[q]Just last month Lt. Gen. H. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said, "Agnostics, atheists and bigots suddenly lose all that when their life is on the line."[/q]

so, aside from the "bigots" comment making the whole thing hugely contradictory (i suppose bigotry against atheism is only for peacetime?), this might firstly underscore the atheists point about thier beliefs -- God is a social-construction that makes us feel better.

but, anyway, let's just replace "agnostics, atheists and bigots" with "Christians" and see how that would go down with, say, the Air Force
I agree with Irvine. If anything, the Chaplain's saying basically imposes generalities on all people. It says all humans' psychic, spiritual and emotional responses are the same when they're facing personal danger. The Chaplain might've meant this to illustrate an ultimate truth (i.e. God), but it sounds more like an insight into human psychology and the drive for self preservation.
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Old 08-17-2006, 01:14 PM   #6
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Boy, talk about a slow news day. One statement at one time at one point in history, and sixty-two years later we're suddenly getting bent out of shape about it?

Let's talk about Britney Spears' baby again.
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Old 08-17-2006, 01:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by nathan1977
Boy, talk about a slow news day. One statement at one time at one point in history, and sixty-two years later we're suddenly getting bent out of shape about it?

Let's talk about Britney Spears' baby again.


actually, i can agree with this as well.
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Old 08-17-2006, 01:17 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by nathan1977
Boy, talk about a slow news day. One statement at one time at one point in history, and sixty-two years later we're suddenly getting bent out of shape about it?

Let's talk about Britney Spears' baby again.
Well, i think the story nb linked to pointed out a culture in the armed forces that makes athiests and agnostics feel marginalized. Is that a story? I find it interesting...many others may not.
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Old 08-17-2006, 01:23 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by Judah
If anything, the Chaplain's saying basically imposes generalities on all people. It says all humans' psychic, spiritual and emotional responses are the same when they're facing personal danger. The Chaplain might've meant this to illustrate an ultimate truth (i.e. God), but it sounds more like an insight into human psychology and the drive for self preservation.
Everyone uses generalities and they are often corrected, modified or supplimented by further information. It is not like atheists are not recognized in the military, as indicated by the article.

My question is the response to such a generality. How do we go from the corrective statement "Yes, there are atheists in foxholes" to repeating the old saying "denies our contributions".

Is the Chaplin's statement used as the validating tool for military contribution, or, as you note, an insight into human psychology and the drive for self preservation?
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Old 08-17-2006, 01:31 PM   #10
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I think it's a matter of pride for the veterans who are complaining about this. They're proud of their service and think the statement is unfair to them. Even though I'm a Catholic who believes in God I sympathise. After all, I'm a former agnostic, so I know where they're coming from. I'm grateful to these people for serving me and keeping me safe and free, no matter what their personal religious and political views are.
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Old 08-17-2006, 01:39 PM   #11
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I don't think this statement is at all saying that athiests "aren't in foxholes" and haven't made contributions to the military. I think it's more that when you have bullets flying around you, that you pray to anything - God, etc that you can make it out of the situation alive.

If it wasn't a chaplain that made the original statement, would it be less of an issue? Does his ties to a Christian God automatically make this a matter of faith and not psyche?
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Old 08-17-2006, 11:51 PM   #12
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I took a look at this group's website (this is the "About Us" page) and I don't get the impression their raison d'etre revolves around the ("since uttered countless times") atheists-in-foxholes statement. Rather,
Quote:
MAAF is a community support network that connects military members from around the world with each other and with local organizations. In addition to our community services, we take action to educate and train both the military and civilian community about atheism in the military and the issues that face us. Where necessary, MAAF identifies, examines, and responds to insensitive practices that illegally promote religion over non-religion within the military or unethically discriminate against minority religions or differing beliefs.
In other words, basically what Judah said--they seem to be more generally a support and advocacy group established to address "a culture in the armed forces that makes atheists and agnostics feel marginalized." I don't see this mission as being all that different from those of the organizations that already exist to support and advocate for the particular interests of Jewish and Muslim servicepeople. All these groups are concerned with "marginalization" issues, all have more general interests in supporting the particular "psychological" needs of their constituents (online support networks, etc.) as well.
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Old 08-18-2006, 12:24 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by randhail
I don't think this statement is at all saying that athiests "aren't in foxholes" and haven't made contributions to the military. I think it's more that when you have bullets flying around you, that you pray to anything - God, etc that you can make it out of the situation alive.
You're right; that's what it meant.
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Old 08-18-2006, 01:30 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by randhail
I don't think this statement is at all saying that athiests "aren't in foxholes" and haven't made contributions to the military. I think it's more that when you have bullets flying around you, that you pray to anything - God, etc that you can make it out of the situation alive.

If it wasn't a chaplain that made the original statement, would it be less of an issue? Does his ties to a Christian God automatically make this a matter of faith and not psyche?
That's right, and still enough to make some cringe.

Can it be a matter of both faith and psyche? Fairweather Christians (non believers) need bullets flying around to take the leap, right? Tsk, tsk. Etc.
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Old 08-18-2006, 02:42 AM   #15
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This is not a slight against atheists as much as it is one against foxholes.
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