There was this thing recently with Congress. They somewhat set the tone a few months ago, when they up and canceled after all the involved parties had already landed at the airport.
Sadly, the tone continued, and Congress (or at least the sub-comity that deals with the military) has reinforced that they only take religious liberty seriously when it applies to their brand of their religion.
Yes, Weinstein is loud, and flamboyant, and angry, but he is also one of the handful of people who have had the will power and determination to take on this cause. He also was not near as angry a decade ago.
The goal is not to secularize the Chaplain Corps.
The goal is not to stomp out Christianity in the military. The only people you hear talking about that are the talking heads who make money off of fear.
The goal is simply to make room for the measurable number of service members who are currently unrepresented in the military.
In the current environment, there are no Humanist Chaplains, Secular or otherwise. People seeking to become Humanist lay leaders have to run a gambit, and fight an uphill battle, just to prove that they have a right to exist much less be allowed space in the Religious Programs. In fact, a few days ago the one “Atheist” lay leader that the Navy had approved was reclassified by his CO to fall under MWR rather than the Chapel. “This re-designation aligns the atheist-freethinker leader under the appropriate non-religious instruction.” Is how they describe this. I know that the guy apparently considers himself Atheist rather than Humanist, but still…
Some branches are better than others, and some commands are better than others. I personally have dealt with Chaplains that will do everything they can to support everyone spiritually, regardless of faith. I have also dealt with Chaplains though that would be all smiles and politics while a perspective lay leader is in the room, and then once they left specifically suggest that I not support that person because he is not sure he wants their kind in the Chapel.
Christianity is not in any danger of being driven out of the Military. It is not even in any danger of being replaced as the majority religion. There is no danger there. What does feel like a very real and present threat though, especially with the new comity leaders that are coming into place in congress, is the danger that many minority groups may be trampled, with the vast majority of the herd that is trampling them not even knowing it is happening.
The majority of Service Members are Christian. This is true. Not all are though. Many service members are not Christian, Muslims, or Jews. The military handles these three faiths just fine.
A large number of service members either have no religion or fall into a category not currently available in the military records system.
A measurable number of service members specifically consider themselves Humanists. The last time I checked, the reported number was 3.6%. That is a higher percentage than some Christian groups that have multiple chaplains, and have no problems getting lay leaders approved. That is three times the rate of Jewish service members, and the military is actively seeking Rabbis.
Embedded in all of the appropriate documents, from the manuals that organize the military, all the way to the instructions that organize and direct the Chaplain Corps of the various services, is a message of inclusiveness. On paper, the military does not endorse ANY religion, or “faith group,” and supports them all.
In practice, we still have a long way to go.
Humanists have been doing everything they can to express the need for support. Congress has done everything they can to make it known that they do not give a damn what we need.
The most screwed up part is that the party giving us the most grief is the one who has screamed “Support our Troops!” at the top of their lungs for at least as long as I have been alive.
I actually typed most of this a few days ago, but I got side tracked mid-rant. This is probably a good thing, because on review, I think this is a good stopping point for now.
I will include a link to an article on the subject. The first link I saw was written by Mikey Weinstein. He has been in the fight too long, and what he wrote showed it. The guy needs a rest. This article was posted on a Humanist news site, and is a lot more level headed. Anger may be useful for rallying the troops, but it isn’t the best tool for explaining your needs to those who don’t quite understand.