Freethought Today · Vol. 27 No. 5 June/July 2010

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Atheist in a Foxhole - Richlin Chan

Name: Richlin Chan
Where I live: Sacramento, Calif.
Where and when I was born: Sacramento, Dec. 26, 1981.
Education: Associate’s degree (bachelor’s in progress).
Occupation: Correctional officer at San Quentin State Prison; drill sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserves.
Military service: Four years’ active, six years’ reserve.
How I got where I am today: Positive mental attitude.
Where I’m headed: Business and politics.
Person in history I admire: Christopher Hitchens, because he gives great debates and points out all of the inaccurate nonsense people of faith try to tell less-educated people.
A quotation I like: In 2007, a soldier named Jeremy Hall was threatened and persecuted by fellow soldiers and a higher-ranking officer for holding an atheist meeting in Iraq. After a firefight in which a protective screen deflected enemy fire, his commander later asked him if he believed in god. Jeremy responded, “No, but I believe in plexiglass.”
These are a few of my favorite things: Spending time with family, movies, exercise, studying and researching for religious debates.
These are not: Organized religion, irrational thinking.
How long I’ve been a freethinker: On and off, steadily on for the last 10 years.
Why I’m a freethinker: After inquiring about the origins of the bible and learning about other religions, my mind would no longer allow me to believe in a higher power.
Best way I promote freethought: This month I’m hosting Afghanistan’s first-ever atheist/nonbelievers meeting. I’m located in Kabul. My position is on the convoy team. I got here a month ago and have 11 more months to go. This is a mission I volunteered for.
I heard the words “god bless” and “I will pray for you” while leaving Sacramento, which I found particularly disturbing. When I return home safely, those individuals will think their imaginary god was watching over me. And if something does happen to me, they will have to alter their previous statement to accommodate their god.
Soldiers will die while I am here, by the hand of an enemy who also has god on their side. Why should those soldiers, who obviously have more faith than I do, die while I live? I am no better than any of them.
I know people mean well, but I strongly oppose religious references about this war. It’s almost as if they think soldiers are pawns on a divine chessboard.
I engage in as many debates with religious believers as possible. Most of them only know what they’ve been taught. When you ask the appropriate questions and bring them accurate facts, they tend to regress into the “it’s just faith” corner, especially when you know the bible more then they do and start pointing out scriptural quotes that contradict the ones that they say.

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