Atheists in Foxholes
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23-09-2011, 06:09 PM
 
Atheists in Foxholes
I wasn't really sure where to put this post, but I figured it was mostly about the personal side of being an atheist, so this would be the best place for it.

I am eighteen years old and enlisted in the United States Navy. I am set to head to boot camp on November 15th. Once out of boot camp I will be receiving training in Nuclear Engineering and hopefully getting in to Sub School at some point.

I am also an atheist, and have heard only scattered stories, with mixed messages, on what it's like to be an atheist in the military, so I was wondering if any of you had stories about you or someone you know serving as an atheist.
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24-09-2011, 04:56 PM
 
RE: Atheists in Foxholes
First off, congrats for joining and the experience you will have is only what you make it. Second, don't drift on your studies when you go nuke, the attrition rate is very high. There is going to be plenty of time to cut loose out in the fleet.

Being an atheist in the military isn't looked at as a big deal. No one goes out of their way to single you out, save you, or try to convince you that you are wrong. Active for 8.5 years now, and even as a christian I never witnessed any accounts of attacks or belittling of atheist.
There are a surprising amount of atheist in the military. My shop is a diverse mix of religions. We have actually had really interesting debates on religion and remained mindful of each other.
Granted there will always be one person who will try to save you and change your mind. They exist, but are very rare.

Good luck in DEP and getting ready for Great Lakes..
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01-10-2011, 08:34 PM
 
RE: Atheists in Foxholes
Thanks for the response. I'd heard of high attrition rate in the Nuke program, it was actually one of the reasons I went in to the program. I originally wanted to be a MA.

As for individuals, I wasn't worried about them. I've spent the last sixteen years of my life in a town of 5,000 people with over twenty churches. I can deal with individuals. I was more worried about official action, like one practice I'd read about in the Army, called the "Spiritual Fitness Initiative", which labeled anyone not spiritual as unwell. Peers, I can handle.
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01-10-2011, 09:31 PM
RE: Atheists in Foxholes
I was active USN '69-'89, retired MMC(SW). I didn't have much trouble with religion. One incident, which I'll relate when I'm not exhausted.
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02-10-2011, 06:16 AM
RE: Atheists in Foxholes
Okay, this was in 1969. I was training for deployment to a lovely little place a good ways from Great Lakes. We were in four man rooms and for fun I decided to change the regular 3x5 card bunk assignment sign to a peace symbol.

That afternoon I was called to the Chief's office. He was there grim faced with another chief, both glowering at me. They handed me a xeroxed copy of an article that explained that the peace symbol was the Cross of Christ inverted and the arms broken downward. I dutifully read the article and then told them, "that's the funniest thing I've ever read." The two chiefs went at me for a while and I told them that their Jesus had nothing for me and never had. This pretty much ended the matter, except that I was transferred to another team shortly after. I later found out that the Chief and his entire team were killed. I guess they're with Jesus now.
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02-10-2011, 06:51 PM (This post was last modified: 02-10-2011 07:04 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: Atheists in Foxholes
(01-10-2011 08:34 PM)Homunculus Wrote:  I can deal with individuals. I was more worried about official action, like one practice I'd read about in the Army, called the "Spiritual Fitness Initiative", which labeled anyone not spiritual as unwell. Peers, I can handle.

US military's got no problem with atheists. I was in the USN nuke program myself some 30 years ago. The US military is perhaps the most tolerant organization on the planet. They don't give a shit about your metaphysics, your skin color, or where you want to stick your dick. They care about your capabilities. I think you'll be fine. ... My dogtag reads NO PREF under the religion category. They didn't have a separate code for atheism then, not sure they need one now.

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03-10-2011, 03:40 AM
RE: Atheists in Foxholes
(02-10-2011 06:51 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  
(01-10-2011 08:34 PM)Homunculus Wrote:  I can deal with individuals. I was more worried about official action, like one practice I'd read about in the Army, called the "Spiritual Fitness Initiative", which labeled anyone not spiritual as unwell. Peers, I can handle.

US military's got no problem with atheists. I was in the USN nuke program myself some 30 years ago. The US military is perhaps the most tolerant organization on the planet. They don't give a shit about your metaphysics, your skin color, or where you want to stick your dick. They care about your capabilities. I think you'll be fine. ... My dogtag reads NO PREF under the religion category. They didn't have a separate code for atheism then, not sure they need one now.

They do, and they even have a atheist/fsm one as well. I was a chapel guide in my flight and a chapel rope in tech school... I just liked volunteering and helping people.

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03-10-2011, 07:01 AM
RE: Atheists in Foxholes
(03-10-2011 03:40 AM)monkeyshine89 Wrote:  
(02-10-2011 06:51 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  
(01-10-2011 08:34 PM)Homunculus Wrote:  I can deal with individuals. I was more worried about official action, like one practice I'd read about in the Army, called the "Spiritual Fitness Initiative", which labeled anyone not spiritual as unwell. Peers, I can handle.

US military's got no problem with atheists. I was in the USN nuke program myself some 30 years ago. The US military is perhaps the most tolerant organization on the planet. They don't give a shit about your metaphysics, your skin color, or where you want to stick your dick. They care about your capabilities. I think you'll be fine. ... My dogtag reads NO PREF under the religion category. They didn't have a separate code for atheism then, not sure they need one now.

They do, and they even have a atheist/fsm one as well. I was a chapel guide in my flight and a chapel rope in tech school... I just liked volunteering and helping people.
Sounds like things are getting better there. 'Bout damn time, too.
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18-10-2011, 01:18 AM
RE: Atheists in Foxholes
(23-09-2011 06:09 PM)Homunculus Wrote:  I wasn't really sure where to put this post, but I figured it was mostly about the personal side of being an atheist, so this would be the best place for it.

I am eighteen years old and enlisted in the United States Navy. I am set to head to boot camp on November 15th. Once out of boot camp I will be receiving training in Nuclear Engineering and hopefully getting in to Sub School at some point.

I am also an atheist, and have heard only scattered stories, with mixed messages, on what it's like to be an atheist in the military, so I was wondering if any of you had stories about you or someone you know serving as an atheist.

First of all, congrats and good luck. Got myself weeded out of Air Force basic for being a nutbag - they said I shoulda went Marine - but I got respect for American military service.

You might wanna google just that phrase "atheists in foxholes," as I know from previous experience that there are atheists serving in the military that clearly disprove that old saw. I must offer a bit of warning, however. I don't know about the Navy, but the Army seems to be gung-ho about pushing a Christian agenda; might wanna get a word up from a squid in active duty to make sure it'll be smooth sailing.

The problem in basic is gonna be your fellow boots. How you play it is up to you; but my advice is to volunteer nothing and be vague as required until you form up with some mates. You don't wanna stick up like a solitary nail in that environment, cause you'll get hammered. Any basic is a lot of guys pumped up on testosterone, adrenaline, and ego - all of which will not impress the DI - so it's got be sorted among themselves. You don't wanna be odd-man out in that sorting process. It is no loss of face to prevaricate in a dangerous situation - if I were back in the mix right now - I'd give some vague bit of fluff like being "culturally Christian" - a dodge I still use - or "I come from a Christian family," - that kinda stuff. It's your play, but from sitting here reliving memory, I'm thinking "I'm an atheist" is not the kinda thing you wanna start out with unless you acquire mates of the same alignment with the quickness.

You make it through boot with your chin up and minimal "bad memories," you'll be all projecting the "Navy man" aura - when it comes right down to it, the guy next to you wants to have faith in you when shit gets crucial; so unless you're going SEAL or some other kind of special forces, it's all downhill after boot - and the religion stuff will just be politics.

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